OUT OF JUICE
Nine days without
power. Or is it nine years?
And nobody knows why.
scream. “I can’t take it!” someone screeches. That nut upstairs, with the wild
eyes. Freezers stuffed with rotting meat. Melted ice cream and slime drip onto
Outside, garbage piles up. Always, you smell
it. Why hasn’t it been picked up? No answers, just rumors: the gas shortage,
runaway garbage trucks, sanitation workers are dead.
on your way out to charge your cell, the stench is the worst. It follows you to
U Bust It, I Fix It, that new computer store.
lotta good, you think, technology does now.
Still, this place is the new town center.
Between the generator, and hot dogs sizzling on the grill outside, this place
is your only hope. Dozens of neighbors, chilly in just hoodies, wait impatiently
for their laptops and smartphones to charge. Power strip after power strip is
added, each connected to the ones before, all hooked up to the “Big G.”
And, for what? No answers to the Big
Question. Just crazy theories, fears of Amageddon.
you!” you mouth to Daniel, the young owner, whose smile seems to hold ancient
idea?” someone asks, nervously. “when the power’s coming back on?”
It gets quiet. All eyes are on Daniel,
as he turns a fresh batch of dogs. Finally, he shrugs. “Maybe never.”
Above the franks, the stench of garbage wins
It’s outside U Bust It, I Fix It that
you find Rudy.
“ ‘Einstein,’ ” he says, like it’s the good
the sad, gray sky, he wears his
shades. Something wrong with his eyes, always the palest blue. Dark curls
receding. How long has it been? Since he
just . . . vanished?
He goes home with you. Sex hot as ever, even
on ice-cold sheets. His shades keep you from reading him: Where did you go? you
wonder, as he rams you. Will the power ever come back on? He cums, hard.
Upstairs, that nutjob paces back and
forth. Her “Can’t . . . take it . . . anymore!” sounds muffled.
Rudy lights the gas burners, to cook:
beefaroni, minute rice, spam. Steam makes the windows fog up. But outside, what
is there to see, anyway? Rats crawling up piles of trash.
On the window, he writes his legacy:
RUDY LVS EINSTEIN.
you left, you think. Why?
Outside your window is a grate.
Something huge thumps against it on its way down. Screams say the nutjob
You wipe the window, to see better.
Across the street, another neighbor jumps
to his death. More screams. “Did you hear?” a female voice wails. “Why the
power’s gone? They say . . .”
Trucks trudge along, with megaphones
blasting unspeakable news. Soon, you’ll all be one with that stinking trash
Still, inside here, it’s dreamy. Steam
curls like from a witch’s love potion.
In your bed, Rudy drowses, shades still
on. Very slightly, his thin chest heaves.
You edge closer.
As you reach for his shades, images
haunt you: scarred tissue, empty eye sockets.
You, he once said, watch too many zombie flicks.
From behind one lens, a worm crawls. But
you smile, as it encircles your finger.
“Out of Juice.” Copyright © 2012 by
Cindy Rosmus. Originally appeared in Yellow
Mama, Issue #41, December 15, 2012.
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.