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Cindy Rosmus: Kaboom

Art by Bernice Holtzman 2022





Cindy Rosmus



          Yeah, it was me. And so what? He deserved it. Three Christmases, RJ ran off with our gifts. Missy’s doll house, Patty’s Legos. This time, it was the baby’s stuff. Year-old Lulu. His own kid. With the same cold, almost black eyes. Like bullet holes on those shows where the bad guys always win.

I knew he would do it. That one present, that’s the one I rigged. The prettiest package, wrapped in silver and red foil, with the little stuffed kitten sticking out of the bow.

          That’s the only thing I hated, about doing it. The kitten got blown up, too.

          Never mind why I did it. Why’d he keep stealing our presents? Sold them, to get high. And Mom always let him. With that hopeless look she got, when my brother Markie took another dump in his pants. And he was no baby. We were all fucked up, all five of us.

          Me, I was supposed to be dumb. But at the same time, smarter than some grown-ups. How else could I build a bomb? A special kid in a special school instead of a real sixth grade class. Nobody was allowed to say why I was weird. But toy companies made special dolls for kids like me. Just for girls, I guess. The one girl in my class kept spinning around, but could recite all the presidents, backwards.

          An old mousetrap, I found, in the basement. The storage area. Our building is super-old, with lots of fun shit, all over. Wouldn’t have been fun for the poor mouse, though. Glad I found the trap, first. And more fun shit, on the other end.

That weird guy upstairs, I think they were his. The shotgun shells.

All those shows, on like the true crime channels. You learn a lot. They’re so stupid to give directions. Not everybody who watches wants to blow something up. But there’s always one kid . . .

Who’s sick of the shit . . . Like his mom’s eyes all swollen, more often than not . . . Who busts out crying, when she’s nuking mac n’cheese, or wiping ass.

When the pretty foil comes off, and box opens, the bar on the trap hits the primer . . . 00 buckshot. Nine per shell . . .

A nice, big mess. . . .

You’d think Mom would be glad. But when the cops came—

the lady cop looking like that weird redhead comic—Mom screamed, and screamed. Chunks of RJ mixed with chunks of the dealer, the cops said, so you couldn’t tell who’d worn the Giants cap. You couldn’t tell who was black, and who was white.

The kitchen stunk. Markie had shit his pants again. For once, the cops came with good news. But nobody but me was happy. Not even Lulu. And it was mostly for her, I did it. She looked at me all mean.

With Mom wailing in the background, and the other kids holding each other, that lady cop kept her eye on me.

The only one smiling.

I hooked my pinky around Lulu’s fingers. In her baby face, RJ’s eyes told the cops that yes, I was special:

More grown-up than kid.






“Kaboom” originally appeared in Shotgun Honey on April 5, 2019.

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), is out, now! Cindy is a Gemini, a Christian, and an animal rights advocate. 

Bernice Holtzman’s paintings and collages have appeared in shows at various venues in Manhattan, including the Back Fence in Greenwich Village, the Producer’s Club, the Black Door Gallery on W. 26th St., and one other place she can’t remember, but it was in a basement, and she was well received.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2022