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Final Notice: Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
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Point Made: Flash Fiction by Martin Zeigler
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They All Hate My Hero: Poem by Bradford Middleton
In Search of Ghosts: Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Seven Hanging Trees: Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Persistent Daylight: Poem by Michael Keshigian
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Bundy: Poem by Peter Mladinic
Calais: Poem by Peter Mladinic
The Room: Poem by Peter Mladinic
People with Dysentery: Poem by Partha Sarkar
There Has Been No Cooperative System: Poem by Partha Sarkar
Goes Back Toward the Talisman-the Future: Poem by Partha Sarkar
The Broken Seashore and the Fishermen: Poem by Partha Sarkar
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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Cindy Rosmus: Final Notice

97_ym_finalnotice_hlyon.jpg
Art by Hillary Lyon 2023

“Final Notice”

 

by

 

Cindy Rosmus

 

 

          “How could ya?” Dad asked me. “All the jobs out there, ya take that one?”

          I shifted, in those uncomfortable pumps. My feet killed me, from walking up and down that building’s old marble stairs. The Eden Apartments.

“Maybe,” Mr. Smith had said, “we’ll put in an elevator.” His eyes shone, picturing how much more rent he could charge.

My new boss. If “Smith” was his real name. Al Pacino, from The Devil’s Advocate, I thought of. But younger.

“Greedy bastard.” Dad poured himself a shot. “Work hard yer whole damn life, justa pay more rent? So that fuck can get richer?”

My face burned. “It’s just a job,” I said. “I’ve got to start somewhere.”

Squeezing senior tenants till their hearts popped.

Dad sloshed his morning coffee into one mug, then into another. Back and forth, he was so mad. In the pan, bacon burned, but we both ignored it.

“Dominique Daria,” my laminated card read, “Property Manager.” Unreal, after last year’s layoff. My mom’s death from one heart attack . . .

My card . . .

“Commands respect,” Mr. Smith’s eyes blazed. “These people need to know who’s in charge.” Again, I thought of The Devil’s Advocate.

  Young Investors’ Group, they called themselves. YIG. But my card had just my name, cell number, email address. Like a lone gunman’s. Like all this hounding, this squeezing blood out of old stones, was my idea.

“If they had protection,” I told Dad, “Their rents would stay low.” I shifted back and forth, sore foot to sore foot.  “Some of them . . .”

Paid less than $600. Till YIG jacked up rents. Insane fees on top of everything! For using the laundry room they’d always used. For pets. . . .

“Which tenants have pets?” I asked Mr. Smith.

“Ask them,” he said. “They may try hiding them. But you’ll know by the smell.” He wrinkled his nose. “A dirty litter box, or wee-wee pad.”

Just cats and dogs, I figured.

“People need pets.” Dad dumped the burnt bacon. “Especially old fucks that live alone.”

“And they’ll pay, to keep them!” Mr. Smith smiled.

“But is that legal?” I asked, before I could stop myself. “I mean . . .”

“If they’re scared,” he said, “They won’t ask for proof.” He leaned back in his chair. “Once the lease is signed . . . too late!”

“It’s not fair!” Old Mrs. Cowell in 1-D had wailed from her doorway. In her arms, a giant red tabby stared me down. “I can hardly afford Rusty’s food.”

“Subtract one cat,” Mr. Smith would say, “subtract $75.”

The old lady’s face crumpled. “Does Mr. Brennan know?”

“I’m . . . not sure.”

“Thirty years I’ve lived here,” she said. “Please!”

“I’m very sorry.”

The door slammed behind me.

 

*   *   *

 

Weeks of doors slamming. Tenants swearing. One, Mr. Gonzalez in 2-B, had spat so close behind me, it’d splashed my calf.

“Dan Brennan,” Mr. Gonzalez said, “Won’t take this shit.”

That name again.

Who the hell, I thought, was Dan Brennan?

Squeaky-clean, the hallways were, now. Like a hospital, or prison. All the plants removed from the lobby. Less than ever, it looked like “Eden.”

Only one tenant had been nice. Ageless Ms. Dugan in 3-C. This strange jumpsuit, she had on: a snake print, like in a circus. And lots of makeup. Reading glasses topped her stiff black hair.

 Smiling, she led me into a combination kitchen/living room. The sink was filled with greasy dishes. Empty wine bottles protruded from the recyclables bin.

“Have a seat,” she said.

The table was sticky. As she read the lease, I peered around the room. “I have to ask,” I said. “Do you have pets?”

“Dan Brennan,” she said, still reading. “In 4-C.”

“Huh?”

“You haven’t met with him, yet.” Over her glasses, she smirked. “Or I would know.”

“Brennan!” Mr. Smith snapped. “The holdout.”

Brennan, the nutcase. Who his neighbors loved, but feared. Their hero, who hated change. Who refused to accept that YIG bought the Eden Apartments. Who ignored polite requests to meet about the new lease, and . . . rules.

“HI!” The flyers said, “WE’RE YOUR NEW LANDLORDS!” With an oversized smiley face, like YIG wanted to be your pal, wipe your ass. Taped to each tenant’s door, till they met with me.

Only Dan Brennan’s was still there. “FINAL NOTICE,” it said now.

“Good for him!” Dad said later, smugly.

“I’ll wait to sign this.” Smiling, Ms. Dugan folded her lease.

 

*   *   *

 

          Finally, Dan Brennan agreed to meet with me.

“If he doesn’t sign,” Mr. Smith said, “He’s got to go. It’s like that.”

          “Evict him?” I said. “Doesn’t he have rights?”

          “He has the right,” he said, glaring. “To kiss . . .”

          A bad feeling, I had, about meeting with Brennan. Worse than Gonzalez, who’d spat on me. My insides felt all knotted.

That morning, Dad looked worried. Like he’d never seen me not eat, before. There was something about that look . . . something both familiar, and scary. In my plate, the broken egg yolk had crept over onto the white.

“Hey, watch yourself today,” Dad said. “OK?”

I nodded.

Maybe Brennan will cancel, I thought, scraping the yolk off the white. I lay down the fork.

Or not answer the door.

As I drove to the Eden building, I felt it would be for the last time. And that I’d never drive back.

Watch yourself.

I took my time getting out of the car, not caring if I was late.

Inside, the hallways had never seemed so quiet. Like all the tenants had moved out, overnight.

“That,” Mr. Smith would’ve said, “Would be awesome!”

Soulless fuck. Tearing decent people from their homes. And pets. Lower than anything that slithered across the ground.

Once again, my feet killed me. The stairs seemed steeper than ever. On the third floor landing, I imagined a maniacal laugh coming from 3-C. Like Ms. Dugan knew where I was headed.

As I reached the fourth floor, I thought maybe I’d quit this job. Right after handing Dan Brennan the lease that he would never sign.

I’d turn and run back downstairs, as fast as I could.

So why go through with this?

Something red and slimy-looking, was smeared on Brennan’s flyer. Covering “NOTICE” but leaving “FINAL.” Like someone had finger painted a message to me.

A coppery smell emanated from it.

Before I could turn away, the door opened.

He looked harmless. Short, husky, with shoulder-length gray hair. Behind glasses, he looked bug-eyed. But not from fear of me, or YIG. It was like he knew he had nothing to fear, from anyone.

“Mr. Brennan?”

He just nodded.

“I’m Dominique Daria, from . . .”

When he waved me inside, I hesitated. My heart pounded so hard, I heard it. Then I followed him.

Watch yourself.

Suddenly, I saw Dad’s face. His look at breakfast.

Right before Mom died, I’d seen that same look.

I sat down. Rooms-wise, Brennan had the same setup as Ms. Dugan. Where her place smelled like grease and spilled wine, Brennan’s was fouler, like meat had been left out. Or something had died in the wall.

In this “room,” no walls were visible.

          From floor to ceiling were cages. Empty, except in the one closest to me were the remains of some creature’s once-live dinner. Shivering, I looked away.

          Behind me, I sensed something slither across the floor.

          In a choked voice, I said, “I have to ask you . . .”  

          He watched whatever it was get closer.

          “Do you have any . . . pets?”

“Ms. Dugan,” he said, snickering. “In 3-C.”

“She” coiled herself around my ankles.

 

 

THE END

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 Bleachers, 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. 



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 2023