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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

83_ym_timeshare_header_mdavis.jpg
Art by Michael D. Davis © 2020

TIME-SHARE

 

by

 

Cindy Rosmus

 

 

          Who knew, back then, that someday you could go back?

          Imagine being eight years old, in Grandma’s backyard. The safest place in the world. On the swing, waiting for the Good Humor truck. Chocolate éclair, strawberry shortcake. Eat both without stressing about calories.

Or going back to teendom. Relive your prom . . . if you were lucky enough to go.

Not you. In high school you were a loser. Fat, pimpled, with your big nose in a book. Then one cool kid slammed that book shut. . . .

 

*     *     *

 

          “You have two choices,” the android time-travel agent said. Her turquoise nails matched her eyes, and hair. “The super-ultra package for five thousand euros, or the supreme-ultra package for ten thousand.”

          Broke as you were, you took the cheaper one. This was your Christmas present to yourself.

          Her synthetic eyebrow went up. “Are you sure?”

          Behind her was one of those singing Christmas trees. A real spangly, fake-looking one, also turquoise. “Santa, Baby,” it sang, in a smug, girly-girl voice.

          “What’s the difference?” you demanded.

          “With the supreme-ultra, you relive the day with no memories of the future.” Her eyes sparkled. “But with the other . . .” Her eyes went dead.

          “I’ve only got five thousand.”

          She sighed. “Okay, then.”

Big deal, you thought. So, you knew what was coming.

“But, no matter what you know,” she said, smirking. “You can’t change the past.”

Androids, you thought, all fucking know-it-alls.

“Fine,” you said.

And gave her all the money you had.

 

*     *     *

 

 

August 13, 1994

 

Outside Donny’s Den, the sun nearly blinds you, this time of day.

          You’ve got no shades. Scudder’s, you had, till you flung them in the bay, in a drunken rage.

You’re younger, thinner. These jeans were your favorites: ripped, patched in the thighs. And this cut-off denim top. One married guy left his shirt behind, and you cut it to suit you. You can’t even recall his name.

But Scudder, you never forgot.

Donny’s is mobbed. “Beth!” Phil the bartender beams, when you walk in. “Guess who was just here?”

Your heart sinks. “Scudder?”

Shit, you think. Five thousand euros, and I missed him?

“But he’s coming back!” Still grinning, Phil sets down your draft beer and shot of Jack. “I told him you’d be here.”

“Yeah? How’d you know that?” The cold beer tastes so good. And Jack warms you, all over.

As Phil shrugs, you realize that in two months, a fight will break out at closing. Phil will get stabbed through the heart, trying to break it up.

Can’t change the past, you remember hearing.

“Phil!” you scream, anyway, but suddenly the jukebox is so loud, he can’t hear you: “I Would Do Anything for Love.” Meat Loaf.

Phil turns to another regular, whose “Yo, Phil!” was shrill as a chainsaw.

Shannon.  Worst of the afternoon drunks. Wearing that same flower-print top as every time you saw her.

She’s pregnant, you realize. But doesn’t know it.  

Her poor baby . . .

“Shan—” But you can’t even hear yourself.

Can’t change . . .

When the door opens, light blazes. Through the glare, you see Scudder’s panther-like silhouette.

Same old Scudder: black leather vest, scary tatts. Black hair that looks best right before it’s cut. ‘Stache crooked from that knife-scar. Piercing, dark eyes.

 

As they meet yours, your insides feel like soup. He smiles that half-smile you longed for. “Bethy,” he says in that gravelly voice. Like it really was almost forty years since he saw you.

I love you, you think. Leave your wife. And five kids. Pul-leasse?

You jump into his arms. Suck face, like mad.

There’s nothing like his kiss. Not before, not since. You suck on his lips and tongue, taste blackberry brandy. Feel how hard his cock is, against you.

Around you, the regulars hoot and cheer. “Get a room!” Phil yells, finally, laughing.

“I missed you,” you tell Scudder.

He chuckles. “Just saw you last night.”

“Feels longer.” You just can’t let him go. He can hardly breathe, you’re holding him so tight.

“The bitch was pissed.” He reaches around for his shot of blackberry. “Thought I was with Sorehead.”

Sorehead. Who has AIDS, but no one knows, yet.

“He’s bad news,” Scudder says. “Can’t stay off the shit.”

“If you only knew,” you mumble.

One day Sorehead will hang himself in his garage.

 “Scudder,” Shannon says. “Buy me one.”

Her baby . . .

Scudder frowns. “I don’t know . . .”

Even he knows she’s had enough. She’s holding her beer sideways. Some of it spills onto her pants.

The shot he does buy her, she downs, like a guy. Wipes her mouth on her arm, grins at them. Back then she was only missing one tooth.

The bar phone rings. Phil runs for it.

Your heart sinks before he even yells, “Scudder!”

This was years before iPhone 40. The cord doesn’t reach, so Scudder hops up onto the bar to take his call.

It’s her. You remember. Their youngest kid has a fever, or some shit. Or maybe the bitch made it up. But when Scudder leaves Donny’s, you never see him again.

“I gotta run,” he tells Phil.

“No!” you scream, but nobody hears you. You can hardly hear yourself, as something is happening. Your vision blurs. Your whole body—your soul—is shimmering, changing.

 

In this dream-state, more blasts from the past torture you: drunken flings, countless dead-end jobs. A bout of cancer that weakens you, leaves you sterile, nearly hopeless.

Fresh as ever is one memory: Scudder’s leather-vested back as he rushed out of Donny’s, home to his wife and kids. . .  

But your freshest memory is the time-travel agent’s office. That turquoise stare that all androids have. Her pushy attitude. And that obnoxious Christmas tree, singing “Jingle Bell Rock” now.

In the waiting room, there was one guy ahead of you. You didn’t notice him, before, but you remember him, now: a chunky, balding guy, smelling of blackberry brandy.

         Half-smiling at his iPhone 40.

Time Share originally appeared in Black Petals Issue #56, Summer of 2011.


83_ym_timeshare_footer_mdavis.jpg
Art by Michael D. Davis © 2020

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.



If Charles Addams, Edgar Allan Poe, and Willy Wonka sired a bastard child it would be the fat asthmatic by the name of Michael D. Davis. He has been called warped by dear friends and a freak by passing strangers. Michael started drawing cartoons when he was ten, and his skill has improved with his humor, which isn’t saying much. He is for the most part self-taught, only ever crediting the help of one great high school art teacher. His art has been shown at his local library for multiple years only during October due to its macabre nature. If you want to see more of Michael’s strange, odd, weird, cartoons you can follow him on Instagram at mad_hatters_mania.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications © 2020