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Perfect: Fiction by Elizabeth Zelvin
Duck, Duck, Goosed: Fiction by E. E. Williams
Call Back: Fiction by Brian Peter Fagan
Hanging Out: Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Jelly Boy: Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Billy's First Road Trip: Fiction by Shari Held
Craps: Fiction by Steve Carr
Blackout Blonde: Fiction by M. J. Holt
Can Lid: Fiction by Frank S. Karl
Hacked Off: Fiction by Pamela Ebel
The Poser: Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Trunk Space: Fiction by Jen Myers
Catching Up: Fiction by Edward Ahern
Butcher Knives Don't Float: Fiction by Chris Milam
The Grimsby Reaper: Flash Fiction by Jon Park
Bat Boy: Flash Fiction by Zvi A. Sesling
For Love: Flash Fiction by K. A. Williams
Getting Personal: Flash Fiction by Diana Dominguez
Owen and Jessica: Flash Fiction by Joseph Carrabis
Until I Wrestled It Back: Flash Fiction by Louella Lester
Lying in Wait: Flash Fiction by Robb White
Fox Fox Fanny Cuts: Poem by Otto Burnwell
Beer and Love Songs on a Wednesday Night: Poem by Richard Le Due
Her Wicked Devices: Poem by Lee Clarke Zumpe
Looking at the Sea: Poem by Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal
Twilight Zone Kind of Days: Poem by Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal
The Canvas: Poem by Meg Baird
me and the boys: Poem by Meg Baird
ode to sleep: Poem by Meg Baird
Plate Tectonics:Poem by Christopher Hivner
Seeking:Poem by Christopher Hivner
Bloodbound: Poem by Harris Coverley
Paradise: Poem by Harris Coverley
The Now Outside: Poem by Harris Coverley
Dallas County Phone Calls: Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Two Old Ladies Arrested for Feeding Feral Cats: Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Her Name Isn't Margo, but it Should Be: Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Yorick: Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
After First Sex: Poem by Rp Verlaine
The New Same Goodbye: Poem by Rp Verlaine
Fishermen: Poem by Rp Verlaine
Three Years Ago: Poem by Rp Verlaine
the smallest feline is a masterpiece--da vinci: poem by Rob Plath
no typewriter or ABCs necessary: Poem by Rob Plath
my cat sleeps: Poem by Rob Plath
it's enough: Poem by Rob Plath
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Strange Gardens
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Cindy Rosmus: Jelly Boy

Art by Darren Blanch © 2023





Cindy Rosmus

For Danny M.



Hard as he tried, he couldn’t stay clean, like her.

Clean or not, cancer ate her up, inside out. Billy watched as bulging pink leggings shrunk to loose pantyhose on skeleton thighs.

“Gotta . . . meeting,” Vee said hoarsely, trying to get up.

“You won’t make it,” Billy said.

Wish you could, he thought.

A.A., N.A., she would hit both. That’s how serious she was. Years back, she was as bad as Billy. That’s how they’d met, in his friend Butch’s cellar. The night Butch ODed.

Damn, Billy thought, she’s cute. While the shit cooked, he checked her out. Long hair, dimpled cheeks. Tiny titties he wouldn’t mind sucking on. Maybe later, he thought.

After they smoked . . .

But they all smoked too much.

“Shit!” he said, when Butch’s heart stopped. Vee tried CPR, but they were too fucked up to save Butch. Hand in hand, they ran upstairs.

Outside, hearts racing, they stopped a few blocks away. Above, the moon looked like a round coke rock. At least, to Billy.

“Poor Butch.” Vee grabbed Billy’s sweaty hand. “That could’ve been . . .  us!”

They made out like they were scared to stop.

They’d been together since.

When she got clean, they drifted apart.

While she was out at meetings, Billy puffed on the stem, right in the window. When he didn’t have stuff, he was a damp, shivering mess.

So he watched from the window.

Over the Chinese deli, their place was sleazy, roach-infested. Sometimes the fuckers crawled on the stem while he smoked, and he flicked them off. Their window faced Broadway. Some assholes ran into the deli for smokes, or Trojans, leaving their motors running.

That was his chance.

Like lightning, he shot downstairs and into the car. Took off, faster each time, hooking left toward the Turnpike. Then changed direction.

The chop shop was in Newark. For parts, Tiny Tim (who was six feet-six) paid in blow.

Fine with Billy.

Even with Vee not working anymore. Behind in rent, power shut off every other month, Billy still took crack over cash.

Sad, Vee’s Recovery pals must’ve told her. Just one drug away . . .

. . . from never being clean. Never, ever.

No food, either. Just three cans of SpaghettiOs in the roachy cabinet. Before the cancer ate up Vee’s guts, the fridge was stocked. On top of it was every junk cake going: Ding Dongs, Snowballs. And, occasionally, Vee’s favorite: fresh jelly donuts from the deli downstairs.

“Mmmmm . . .” Vee devoured the donuts. Face ghost-white with powdered sugar, jelly oozing like her mouth bled. Since kicking drugs, she craved sugar bad.

Their Chinese deli, Renko’s Bakery, every place that stocked donuts, Vee went, to feed this new addiction.

“Keeps me,” she told Billy, “from picking up. And . . .”

“Yeah, I know. From smoking.” Damn, he was itchy. Soon as she left, he’d cook the last of Tiny Tim’s stuff.

But that was when she could leave.

He couldn’t remember the last time she left, even for treatments.

In huge letters on her charity care report, “TERMINAL” was written. Her “free” chemo was cut off, like it was a luxury: a juicy steak instead of Ramen noodles. Or SpaghettiOs, Billy thought, bitterly. The roaches would outlive them both.

“S’okay,” Vee said hoarsely. “Treatments make me sick.”

Her cheeks used to be full, dimpled. Her broken nose had never healed from her scumbag ex, but her gap-toothed smile was beautiful. That night Butch Oded, years back, Billy remembered thinking that.

Now she was all big eyes that couldn’t focus. Cancer had torn through brain, throat, lungs, and more. For Billy’s sake, she wore the wig: feathery blonde waves like a country star from the 70s. Dolly Parton without the titties.

“Can’t eat,” Vee said. “I’ll . . . puke.”

Billy shook out painkillers for her. Maybe too many. If so . . . so what?

If he met her eyes, he’d bawl.

How, he wondered, could I live without her?

Even as a junkie. Deep down, his love was so strong, it terrified him. Made no sense. A shit boyfriend, who lived for crack, but there was nothing he wouldn’t give her, nothing he wouldn’t do, to save her.

Or, he thought, to prove his love.

Big deal, so he was hooked on crack!

If she could quit, he could, too. At least try.

The last car he stole, he nearly got caught. In the rear-view mirror was a cop who’d stopped for coffee.

“Maybe you should change jobs,” Tiny Tim said, later.

Mr. Ng, the deli owner, was acting suspicious. Outside, looking up at the sky, like the car thief might jump from a plane.

Last night, Billy sat up till dawn, still trying not to cry. Watching as Vee mumbled in her sleep.

“But Mom,” Vee said, when he got back from peeing. “Bill is clean . . . in his heart.”  

He sat down, heavily.

Vee’s Mom was long dead. Was she joining her, soon?

“Know what I’m dying for?” she said, then. Billy looked around, wildly.

“A jelly donut!”

Fuck it!, he thought.

More than ever, he had to get high. Right now.

He raced into the kitchen, tore through cabinets, drawers. He laughed. Any stuff he’d had was gone by now.

He would take it, from somebody.

In the dish drain was a knife.  

Outside, the sky was pale pink. All had been quiet till now, but the rumble of a vehicle pulling up was music to his ears.

From the window he saw the driver leave his white truck for the deli.

Downstairs, Billy jumped into the truck before realizing the motor was off. No keys were in the ignition.

Something sweet, he smelled. Behind him were rows of cardboard boxes. Pastries, cookies. Donuts.

A bakery truck.

“I’m dying,” Vee had said, “for a jelly donut.”

Was she dreaming? Billy thought. Or . . . rallying? Right before, weren’t dying people suddenly their old selves? Wanting sex? Pizza?

Jelly donuts?

Get out! he told himself. Before he got caught. Without keys, he couldn’t drive off.

This time he was fucked.

Still, he crawled into the back of the truck, grabbing box after box of donuts. One of these, he thought, has to be jelly.

“Hey!” the driver yelled from the passenger side.

“Busted!” Billy said.

He jerked open the back door, fell into the street.

He was killed instantly. The car that struck him was doing eighty. Ran red lights till it hit a bus.

Clumps of Billy struck parked cars, even blocks away. Bits of brain and entrails mixed with crushed cake, so his blood seemed thick as jelly. Only the M.E. could tell the difference.

All over town, lights flashed. Cop cars, ambulances. The ghouls were everywhere. By rush hour, some had gone back to sleep.

Upstairs somewhere, a girl woke up starving.



“Jelly Boy” originally appeared in the 2021 Summer/Fall Issue of The Raw Art Review.

Cindy originally hails from the Ironbound section of Newark, NJ, once voted the “unfriendliest city on the planet.” She talks like Anybodys from West Side Story and everybody from Saturday Night Fever. Her noir/horror/bizarro stories have been published in the coolest places, such as Shotgun HoneyMegazineDark DossierThe Rye Whiskey Review, Under the Boardwalk, and Rock and a Hard Place. She is the editor/art director of Yellow Mama and the art director of Black Petals. She’s published seven collections of short stories. Cindy is a Gemini, a Christian, and an animal rights advocate. 

Darren Blanch, Aussie creator of visions which tell you a tale long after first glimpses have teased your peepers. With early influence from America's Norman Rockwell to show life as life, Blanch has branched out mere art form to impact multi-dimensions of color and connotation. People as people, emotions speaking their greater glory. Visual illusions expanding the ways and means of any story.

Digital arts mastery provides what Darren wishes a reader or viewer to take away in how their own minds are moved. His evocative stylistics are an ongoing process which sync intrinsically to the expression of the nearby written or implied word he has been called upon to render.

View the vivid energy of IVSMA (Darren Blanch) works at: www.facebook.com/ivsma3Dart, YELLOW MAMA, Sympatico Studio - www.facebook.com/SympaticoStudio, DeviantArt - www.deviantart.com/ivsma and launching in 2019, as Art Director for suspense author / intrigue promoter Kate Pilarcik's line of books and publishing promotion - SeaHaven Intrigue Publishing-Promotion.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications © 2023