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Dead Revival-Fiction by Vinnie Hansen
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Fool's Paradise-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
One-Armed and Dangerous-Fiction by Zakariah Johnson
Ray's Mistake-Fiction by Elena E.Smith
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This is Nothing. This is Nowhere. September, 2008-Poem by John Doyle
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Rose-Colored Clouds-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
Questioning-Poem by Scott Cumming
Running Until We Run Out-Poem by Scott Cumming
Lost Without Knowing It-Poem by Richard LeDue
Unwell-Poem by Richard LeDue
What Are You Waiting For?-Poem by Richard LeDue
All I Ask-Poem by John Grey
Gigolette-Poem by John Grey
The Grave-Robbers in the Distance-Poem by John Grey
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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

87_ym_foolsparadise_hlyon.jpg
Art by Hillary Lyon 2021

FOOL’S PARADISE

 

by

 

Cindy Rosmus

 

 

          My worst fear? Got two. First . . . a power outage.

The Big One: where it’s dark all over, like in Deep Space. And sweltering, ‘cos it’s summer. You’re scared the power will never come back on.

The other?

Finding a corpse.

Not walking in Grandma’s room after her heart stopped in her sleep. Finding a gruesome body. Maybe murdered. But no accident.

Now put them together.

That huge blackout, back in August 2003? The day it happened (at 4:10 PM), I’d called in sick. On Manny’s (my married guy) last day at work. How proud I’d been that I’d stood him up for lunch. But he never showed up, period.

“’Mail me my check,’” Kitsy, our coworker had mimicked, when I called. “’Good riddance to that psycho.’”

Meaning me. Thanks, Kitsy.

At 4 PM, I was trashed, bawling my heart out. Skynyrd in the background. Cold beers, but I would’ve drunk them piss-warm. Icy Jager shots. I was wailing along with “Free Byrd” as I opened the freezer once more.

That horrific “Beep!” as the A/C and music died. My “’Fly . . . high’” came out flat. No guitars, or twangy voices to save me.

“No!” I screamed. Instantly, it felt hot. Like I was floating in warm beer. I rushed to the window.

Outside, neighbors were bitching. The traffic lights were out. My whole block was fucked.

Mine, and who else’s?

No TV to hear the news, no phones. Back then, I had no cell. Not even a basic one.  

How long would this last?

I’d leave. Better hot, fresh air than this stuffiness. I’d head over to my friend Freddy’s. His landlady had a pool.

Outside, Raoul, my super, was with a cop. “It’s all over,” Raoul told me, “Radios say halfway across the country! To Ohio.” The cop looked grim.

 

This was Jersey. Neighbors in cars listened to their radios. Bad news everywhere: cancelled flights, halted trains, traffic jams. Over in the City: pandemonium! New York was not the place to be.

Thank God, I thought, I’d caIled in sick.

Psycho. Kitsy’s smug voice maddened me.

But Kitsy, I realized, was trapped at work.

I laughed all the way to Freddy’s.

Back in the 80s, he and I were neighbors, in Jersey City. Drunk every night, usually unemployed, but always there for each other.

“Don’t be surprised,” he said, now, “If Kitsy fucked Manny, too.” On a raft in the landlady’s pool, Freddy sounded relaxed, and wise.

I leaned against the pool’s rim. “Think so?”

He sat up and sipped from a tiki bar glass. “Yup.”

All his landlady’s shit, he used: tiki glasses, pool, propane grill. Maybe that deep freezer in her cellar, too.

But this yard was a fool’s paradise. Mrs. Ward was a real slob. Till her dog died, there’d been turds all over the grass, ‘cos she was too lazy to walk him in the park. The yard had smelled like shit.

Somehow, it still did.

“Maybe she left meat out to defrost,” Freddy said, about the smell. “Before she split.”

Mrs. Ward loved travelling. When she wasn’t off on a safari or road trip, she was holed up with her creepy professor lover, Chandler.

Once, I’d seen them from Freddy’s car: A chunky chick in a Crocodile Dundee hat and an ageless scarecrow with dagger eyes. The look he gave Freddy chilled me.

“It’s OK, Shelley,” Freddy said later. It was getting dark, and the power was still out. Mosquitoes attacked us, and that shit-smell was still there.  “I assume everybody fucks everybody.”

“’Cos you do,” I joked.

“Not everybody,” he said, smirking. “But guess who?”

I knew it. “Dagger Eyes?”

We howled with laughter.

“But he got the guilts,” Freddy said. “A closet case. So, we made like it never happened. Some guys,” he added, “Go nuts over it.”

I sipped my drink. “Some guys are nuts, period.”   

“You hungry? There’s steaks in her Deep Freeze.”

Steaks. If he wasn’t gay, I’d say he fucked Safari Queen, too.

“They’ll only go bad.” He got up and stretched. “Flashlight’s around, somewhere. Can you fire up the grill?”

I was too drunk to, especially in the dark.

And why did we still smell shit?

When he opened the cellar door, the smell got so bad, I actually sobered up.

“Oh, my God!” He gagged.

In the shadows, what looked like a severed head was the Crocodile Dundee hat. But the head couldn’t be far. So many bloody knives, all over.

The beam from the flashlight showed blood had dripped down the freezer, adding to the foul puddle beneath it.

Freddy’s hand shook so the beam danced around the cellar. When we saw what hung from the overhead hook, we grabbed each other.  

Some guys, Freddy had said, go nuts over it.

Pantyhose tied around the throat. Nail marks on swollen, purple cheeks. And, in the scarecrow’s eyes, the power had gone out.

For good.


Cindy is a Jersey girl who looks like a Mob Wife and talks like Anybodys from West Side Story. Her noir/horror/bizarro stories have been published in the coolest places, such as Shotgun Honey; Megazine; Dark Dossier; Horror, Sleaze, Trash; and Rock and a Hard Place. She is the editor/art director of Yellow Mama and the art director of Black Petals. Her seventh collection of short stories, Backwards: Growing Up Catholic, and Weird, in the 60s (Hekate Publishing), will be out, soon! Cindy is a Gemini, a Christian, and an animal rights advocate. 



Hillary Lyon is an illustrator for horror/sci-fi and pulp fiction websites and magazines. She is also founder and senior editor for the independent poetry publisher, Subsynchronous Press. An SFPA Rhysling Award nominated poet, her poems have appeared in journals such as Eternal Haunted Summer, Jellyfish Whispers, Scfifaikuest, Illya’s Honey, and Red River Review, as well as numerous anthologies. Her short stories have appeared recently in Night to Dawn, Yellow Mama, Black Petals, Sirens Call, and Tales from the Moonlit Path, among others, as well as in numerous horror anthologies such as Night in New Orleans: Bizarre Beats from the Big EasyThuggish Itch: Viva Las Vegas, and White Noise & Ouija Boards. She appeared, briefly, as the uncredited "all-American Mom with baby" in Purple Cactus Media’s 2007 Arizona indie-film, "Vote for Zombie." Having lived in France, Brazil, Canada, and several states in the US, she now resides in southern Arizona.  https://hillarylyon.wordpress.com/

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2021