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Toast, Jell-o, Tea-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

78_ym_toastjellotea_afknott.jpg
Art by A. F. Knott 2020

TOAST, JELL-O, TEA

  

by

 

Cindy Rosmus

 

 

Atlantic City, 1972

 

 

          “Ah, mon cherie, I understand. Oui, I feel your pain.”

          At Cup of Joe’s, we were, the all-night diner next to Howard’s dad’s hotel. In a booth by the window. Simone, a French-Canadian guest, was old, and funny-looking, but she was someone to eat with.

          It was really late. In the Victorian Room, “Marco and the Mustaches” had finished their last set. My mom—in royal blue gown and turban—had snuck off with the keyboardist. A sneering little creep.

          Curly-headed Howard—love of my life—was flirting with Marina, in the hotel lobby. Near the ancient cage elevator she ran. She was fourteen—our age, but super-tall, with legs longer than my whole body. Shiny black hair she could sit on.

          But Howard, I thought, blinking back tears, we had a date. Didn’t we?

          You’re special,” he said, that first night, as we made out, on the mezzanine. That plum velvet couch we just sunk into. “Not like most chicks. Smart, but not annoying smart.” I know I beamed. “I like that,” he breathed. “And . . . these.” He squeezed my breast. Down there, I felt wild, and hot. . . .

“See you later, Pam!” he said, as I rushed past them.

“Men,” Simone said, as I searched for the waitress, “they need to---how you say, ‘be in control.’ Your little Howard already thinks he’s a big man.”

Yeah, I thought, bitterly. Always showing his dick, to somebody. ‘Cos his dad owned the place, he got away with shit.

“Oh, Pam!” He’d wave it at me, but I’d look away. “’Pam the Prude!’”

“‘Cos I’m still a virgin, he calls me that,” I confided in Simone. “But I’m only fourteen.”

“Ahhh.” She smiled, like I’d said “forty.” Maybe the language thing.

“Fourteen,” I repeated. “One-four.”

“When I was your age,” she said, “I had many lovers.”

I signaled the waitress. “Huh?” Simone looked sixty-something. Plain, with gray hair, and corny glasses. Like an old man.

At a nearby table, a song came on the mini-jukebox. The Hollies: “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress.”

Marina. And Howard.

“Yeah?” The waitress said.

My stomach growled. I’d wanted the Cup of Joe Special: corned beef on rye, with coleslaw, and Russian dressing. But now I pictured Howard with Marina. Him toying with her Cher-like hair.

“What’cha want?” Impatiently, the waitress tapped the order book with her pen.

Simone was staring outside, like she forgot we were supposed to order.

“The Special,” I said, imagining choking on coleslaw.

“Toast,” Simone told the waitress, “Jell-O. And tea.”

 

*     *     *

 

“Jacques. His name was Jacques.”

Simone piled cherry Jell-O onto a slice of plain toast. Her tea she took black, without milk, or sugar.

“He had a wife. And many children. But he loved me best, he said.” As she nibbled on the crust, her eyes looked wet. “But he ran away . . . with all that I had.”

Money, I thought. Self-respect.

And appetite.

Right outside, a couple strolled past, arms around each other. A guy, with cherubic golden curls. And a tall . . .

In my throat, the coleslaw stayed, as I watched them duck into the hotel entrance.

I swallowed hard. “So, since then,” I said, “all you eat is . . .”

 “Yes.” Smiling, she picked up her tea. “Till he comes back.”

 

*     *     *

 

Somehow, I knew they’d be in there.

I had waited too long for the elevator. From the lobby, I’d heard Howard’s dad yell,  “Last Call!” in the Victorian Room. That felt like an hour ago.

 

Simone had taken the stairs. “Come,” she said, “walk with me.” I shook my head.

My mom, I was sure, was in the keyboardist’s room, not ours. I wasn’t scared I’d walk in on them.

When the elevator finally came down, I saw Howard, behind the glass. Though the cage hid his expression, his head jerking back told me what was happening.

I’d seen it, before.

Unseen, Marina was on her knees, sucking his cock. Like those blonde French-Canadians he’d dumped me for. ‘Cos I was “Pam the Prude.”

I backed away, hoping they wouldn’t see me. By the time the elevator door opened, I heard slobbering, slurping. Him gasping, “Oh, yeah! . . . Oooh, baby.”

Her giggling.

In silent tears, I bolted up the stairs.

 

*     *     *

 

“Cheap fuck,” My mom said, at Cup of Joe’s, next morning. “Don’t even buy his date breakfast.”  

I didn’t answer.

“What’s up your ass?” For a change, she seemed concerned. “Hungry?”

I shrugged.

“Well, I want the works: omelet, home fries. And pancakes. With lots of syrup, and butter.”

The bottle was caked with syrup, from hours before. The sticky-sweet smell made me sick. I thought of Howard’s cock, dripping into Marina’s mouth.

“What about you?” Mom said, as the waitress—different from last night’s—looked impatient.

“Just some . . . toast,” I said, softly. “And tea.”

“That’s it?”

I shook my head. “And . . . you have cherry Jello-O?”

The waitress just looked at me. “For breakfast?” Mom said.

I forced a smile.

Yes, breakfast. And lunch. And probably . . .

“No man is worth it,” Mom said.  

 

 

THE END

Cindy 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, Dark Dossier, 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.

A. F. Knott is a self-taught collage artist focused on book layout and book cover design as well networking in conjunction with Hekate Publishing, one of its missions, bringing together artist and writer. Sometimes seen selling in New York City's Union Square Park. Work can be found on 

flickr.com/photos/afknott/ Any exchange of ideas welcome: anthony_knott@hekatepublishing.com

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2020