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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

82_ym_cherryorangegrape_afknott.jpg
Art by A. F. Knott 2020

CHERRY-ORANGE-GRAPE

  

by

 

Cindy Rosmus

 

 

Ice pops. Can you believe it? He replaced me with ice pops.

Me, and . . . booze.

Soon’s he quit drinking, my husband Ricky froze, like a human popsicle. Three in a box, they came, but he ate the cherry ones first. Then orange. He hated the grape.

“They taste,” he said, sneering, “like your lipstick.” He hadn’t tasted my grape-y lips, or any of me, in almost a year.

Two years back, he loved sucking on them, lipstick, or not. Like, at that karaoke bar, where we met, the neon flamingo bathing us in rosy light. More thirty, than forty, we looked, that night. Ricky, with his almost-black eyes, and sexy goatee.

“’All . . . my love,’” he sang, looking right at me. “Unchained Melody.” Around us, chicks watched him, dreamy-eyed.

“’If I can’t have you,’” I sang, thinking of my ex, but staring at Ricky, who still had his mic.

“’I don’t want nobody. . .’” With this smug look, he joined me, like that old Dusty Springfield song was his.

What balls, I thought. Maybe. Except for fucking him, I’d blacked out most of that night.

Sure, I drank too much. Blacked out a lot. Bruises all over. And DUIs. Last one, they almost sent me back to driving school! Ricky was disgusted. Hey, once he stopped fucking me, I needed some fun.

Way back, we fucked, nonstop. Sometimes, we’d forget to eat. Now, he ate like a pig, but stayed lean, despite all those ice pops. Sherbert, he loved, too. All our spoons were bent backwards.

Yeah, he was stressed. So was I, when I’d worked. But instead of drinking to relieve stress, he blamed shit on me.

Holding his delicate nose when I came home late. Like I hadn’t showered in days.

“You smell,” he said, “like booze.”

No kidding.

And bedtime? He slept so far away from me, he might’ve fallen out of bed, and cracked his skull.

 I wish.

Ice pops. All over the trailer, were sticks. Most stained blood-red, and stuck to something: kitchen table, nightstand.

The freezer door slammed. “Samantha!” I cringed, when he yelled to me. “There’s no more cherry. All that’s left,” he said, “are orange and . . .”

“Grape!” I screamed. “Grape! Grape!”

“They keep me,” he said, through clenched teeth, “from picking up!”

Picking up.

One day at a time. Sick and tired of being sick and tired.

 All A.A. talk. Like a parrot, spouting age-old knowledge from other dry, self-righteous fucks. Ninety meetings, had been his goal, in ninety days.

How proud they all were, when he made it.

Soon, he’d have a year.

Or, would he?

He didn’t know I knew. That he was “thirteen-stepping.” With some “pigeon.”

Mouse, he called her, though she had some girly first name. Gabrielle? Nah, Giselle, like the ballet. In a tutu, I pictured her, stumbling across the stage. A real loser.

But, loser or not, this pigeon came first. Even before ice pops.

“A friend,” he lied, when she kept calling. “From the rooms.”

The rooms . . .  

Those whispered phone calls . . . abrupt hang-ups. That smug look he got each time I caught him.

Crazy as it was, I still loved him. And even crazier, I believed he loved me.

When you’re sober, and get bad news, you drink. Soon as booze hits you, you’re OK. Maybe for an hour. Even ten minutes drunk beats facing it dry.  

But when you’re trashed first, and you find out . . .

How much more trashed can you get?

At Boxer’s Brew, I was, almost seeing double, when she came in. That gut feeling, when she headed toward me: tiny; mousy; geeky wire-framed glasses. She’d left the tutu home.

Soft-spoken. Couldn’t hear her over White Zombie. The crack of balls on the pool table made her jump. I was glad.

Finally, she had to yell. “I’m Ricky’s friend! Can’t say from where!” The pigeon.

Staring at her, I downed my beer.  

“He loves you, a lot.” She smiled, sadly. “More than he loves me.”

Deep inside me, something clicked. Like my safety got shut off.

 I grabbed my car keys. If she wasn’t wearing glasses, I’d’ve gouged out her eyes. I got up, fast.

She followed me outside.

“Keeps trying to leave you!” Behind me, she burst into sobs. “But he can’t!”

Yellow Mama, I’d named our ’69 Camaro. My ’69 Camaro. After Alabama’s electric chair. Despite DUIs, and the time I’d missed that tree by inches, my mustard-yellow baby was a safe ride.

Till that night.

As she wailed, her tiny fists pounded on my car. I was inside, and it roared alive.

 Like a fool, she threw herself on the hood. Thinking that would stop me.

As I took off, blood thumped in my ears. Drowned out that thud, like when a monster deer greets you.

No deer around here, the cops might’ve said, later.

If not for Ricky.

My mess he was stuck cleaning up, out of love: fenders and grille ruby-red, and sticky. Like from all those cherry ice pops he’d eaten.

In the grille, like bent-backwards spoons, were the wire frames from her glasses. The lenses might’ve cracked beneath her.

Her mangled body was way behind me as I drove home . . .

My mind a complete blank.

 

 

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 advocate.


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