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The Storm-Fiction by Sean O'Keefe
Claire Morgan's Key to Happiness-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Badass Ted's Christmas Adventure-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
As Good on Him as on a Dead Man-Fiction by Jeff Esterholm
Using Your Kit-Fiction by Andrew J. Hogan
The Apathetic Tide-Fiction by Alan Edward Small
Christmas Karma-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Salt Lake City Slaughterhouse-Fiction by J. Brooke
Mean Mama-Fiction by Tom Barker
All You Can Drink $5.00-Fiction by D. L. Shirey
Shell Shocked-Fiction by M. A. De Neve
The Present-Mark Joseph Kevlock
Red Christmas-Flash Fiction by Morgan Boyd
Samurai Santa-Flash Fiction by BAM
Guns and Rose-Flash Fiction by Paul Beckman
Christmas Eve Blow and Doll Houses-Flash Fiction by Luke Walters
Holly, Jolly-Flash Fiction by Mandi Rose
Pineapple-Poem by Cindy Rosmus
Life is Weird-Poem by Meg Baird
Appendages-Poem by Samuel Cardinale
The Means of Production-Poem by Robert Beveridge
Suicide of Living-Poem by John D. Robinson
It's On My List-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Hoarding Life-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Homeless in NYC-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Death Speaks-Poem by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
Time Stops-Poem by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
House of Un-Reality-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
The Ghosts of Borges-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
The Bitchers-Poem by David Spicer
Voltaire and the Literary Guerillas-Poem by David Spicer
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
The Gazing Ball
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Art by Daniel Valentin 2018





Cindy Rosmus



  Needles. Green, spindly ones, all over the lobby floor Bingo Joe had just mopped. And on the stairs, leading to the second floor.

  “What the fuck?” he said.

  I dragged the broom out of the supply closet. “Didn’t Georgie say, ‘No live Christmas trees’?”

  From upstairs, we heard voices. “No, hold the fucker this way.”

Which way?”

This way, bitch.”

Creepy Bobby G., in 2-B. And a whiny chick. Door was wide open. You could smell the tree, all over the building. A nicer smell than most, but still. . .


As I swept the stairs, Bingo Joe confronted Bobby. “Yeah, I know,” Bobby said, “Georgie’s got rules. You’re only doin’ your job.”

“Who’s he?” That whiny voice again.

“The super,” Bingo Joe said.

The whiny chick came out of Bobby’s place. Chubby-cheeked, with that two-toned hair every bitch had, these days. But something about her eyes made me back down a step. They were cold, glassy. Like those dolls in movies that rip your throat out, with their teeth.

“I’ll shut up,” Bingo Joe said. “Just watch the needles, OK?”

The whiny chick snickered. As she went back in his apartment, Bobby said, “That’s Rosalie.” He peeked inside, to make sure she wasn’t listening.  “My new piece. She just loves Christmas.”

“Lucky her,” Bingo Joe said, under his breath.

Lucky her, was right. How strange was it, that two female tenants keeled over, in the past six months? Looney Tunes in 1-E was found hanging, and Kissy-Face in 2-D drowned in a vanilla bath. Both times Bobby G. was too close, for comfort.

Death comes in threes, I thought.

“Guy’s got balls,” Bingo Joe said, once we were back in the basement.

“Should we warn her?”

Itchy, our littlest cat, crawled up his leg, pulled at the drawstring of his pj’s. “About what?” he said.

He might be a serial killer.

“Nothing,” I muttered.

“He picked the wrong one, this time.” How Bingo Joe knew that, was a mystery. But by 10 AM, he’d cracked a beer.

*     *    *

Tenants always called us, for stupid shit. But when one came down the basement, you knew it was trouble.

When the bell rang, all five cats scattered, one clawing me as it jumped off my lap. I sucked the blood from my arm as I answered the door.

Fucking Rosalie. “Know what we should do?” she said, out of the blue. “Play ‘Secret Santas.’ ”

Secret Santas?, I thought. That dumb office Christmas shit?

I shut the door behind me, to keep her out. “With who?”

“Each other!” she gushed. “The neighbors. We’ll pick names out of a Santa cap, and give fun little gifts.”

I forced a smile. “I’ll pass.”

“Samantha,” she said, “We all gotta do it.”

My name on that creepy doll’s voice chilled me. I didn’t even know she knew it.

 She smiled. “Or it’s no fun.”

*     *    *

“Not me,” Bingo Joe told me. “I ain’t doin’ it. I’m the super. They should be givin’ me gifts.”

“Me, either.” I crumpled the paper I’d picked. Old Miss Roberts, who didn’t know her ass from last Wednesday. “Or anybody else, I bet.”

That night, as we lugged out the garbage, I snuck up the back way, checked out each floor. No gifts outside anybody’s doors. Not even Bobby G.’s.

But as I passed Bobby’s, there was a racket inside. “I told’ja!” he yelled. “Nobody wants to do that baby shit!”

“They all took names,” Rosalie said.

“Yeah, to fuckin’ shut you up!”

Heart racing, I ran down to the basement.

In our doorway, Bingo Joe stood, holding a small foil gift bag. “Gee,” he said, “I wonder who.”

Inside were homemade cat treats.


But she’d never been inside our place.

The treats smelled strange. Sweet, not like what you’d expect. The strange sweetness you smelled in a car’s works.


Bingo Joe smelled it, just as I did. The look we shared held fear, disgust. Horror.

He crumbled the treats into the toilet, flushed it a zillion times. As he washed his hands, he was almost crying.

“That . . . psycho . . . bitch,” he said.

A half hour later, I went out to play numbers. On the stoop was the psycho bitch, herself, next to a Despicable Me backpack and overstuffed plastic bags. On her head was that old Santa cap we’d picked tenants’ names out of.

“He dumped me,” she said, “Right before Christmas.”

“Really?” I could still smell those poisoned cat treats.

“Said to get the fuck out.” She stared straight ahead. Then, she smiled. Those doll’s teeth looked sharper, somehow. “And ‘Happy Holidays!’ ”

I couldn’t get away fast enough.

*     *    *

That night, Bingo Joe and I were chilling, watching the Grinch stealing Christmas, when the building shook. Cats raced all over, as the loudest music ever started playing.

“What the . . .” He was already out the door.

From Bobby G.’s, it was coming, two flights up. “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” but it might’ve been Metallica.

Tenants came out as Bingo Joe pounded on Bobby’s door. “Hey! Quiet down in there!”

No answer.

The guy from 2-C had pillows over his ears. “I can’t break down the door,” Bingo Joe told him.

We went back downstairs. “Guy’s got balls,” he muttered.

Between the earsplitting music and the live tree . . .

I had no clue when the music stopped. Somehow, we’d both passed out. But, very early next morning, when only Mrs. Dietz in 1-D would be up, washing clothes, something shocked me awake.

A scream. But had I dreamt it?

With the next scream, Bingo Joe bolted out of bed.

Outside our door, he’d knocked over a foil gift bag. That psycho bitch, I thought, following him upstairs.

In her doorway, Mrs. Dietz wailed. On top of her laundry was a gift bag, its grisly contents spilled onto her whites.

“Oh, my God,” Bingo Joe said.

Gift bags were outside other doors, too. More tenants had come out. Miss Roberts peered inside her gift bag.

“Don’t!” Bingo Joe said, too late. The old lady muffled her scream.

“9-1-1.,” the weary dispatcher told me. “What is your emergency?”

Bingo Joe grabbed my phone. “Body parts . . .” he said, as calmly as he could. “Someone left human . . .”

Bobby G., I thought. Who else?

And he’s just getting started.

Figured: The first cop there was the same bull dyke who’d found Looney Toons hanging in the closet. And yanked Kissy-Face out of the tub.

 “Well . . .” she said, smirking. “It does come in threes.”

On each floor, “Secret Santa” had left neighbors something special: fingers, toes, ears, nose, heart, intestines. Lots of intestines.

People were crying, holding each other, trying not to scream. The hallway floors were marbled with gore. CSI would have a picnic here.

Bingo Joe let the other cops in Bobby’s place. The butch cop came downstairs with me. She would see what was in our gift bag.

“Hey, I’m sorry,” I said, on the way. “It’s a shame she’s dead, but Rosalie was like, crazy.”

She would’ve poisoned our cats.

“Yeah?” the cop said.

“But Bobby is crazier,” I said, as she checked out the bag. “I mean . . . really. And he had some balls . . .”

She interrupted me. “Had, is right.”

I covered my mouth.

Outside, a car cruised past, as “Run, Run, Rudolph” played softly.


Cindy Rosmus is a Jersey girl who looks like a Mob Wife & talks like Anybody’s from West Side Story. She works out 5-6 days a week, so needs no excuse to drink or do whatever the hell she wants She’s been published in the usual places, such as Shotgun Honey, Hardboiled, A Twist of Noir, Megazine, Beat to a Pulp, Out of the Gutter, Mysterical-E, and Twisted Sister. She is the editor/art director of the ezine, Yellow Mama. She’s a Gemini, a Christian, and an animal rights activist. She has recently been branching out into photo illustration, under the guidance and mentoring of Ann Marie Rhiel.

Daniel Valentin is a young artist born in the Bronx, but raised in Jersey City. He has been in a number of musical theater productions throughout his academic career, from the 5th grade all the way up to college. Daniel has been in a few choirs and has even competed in the World Choir Olympics. He currently sings with Saint Peter's University Schola, the Saint Peter's University Choir. Having been a founding member of the choir, he has since been in 2 albums that are available on both Spotify and iTunes. At Saint Peter's University he received a Bachelors Degree in Biology. Daniel has been interested in the arts since very young, and particularly became interested in drawing, painting, and sculpting since having taken classes at Saint Peter's Preparatory School. He considers photography as a hobby, but hopes to one day get more involved with the art.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2018