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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Cindy Rosmus: Thirst

104_ym_thirst_dblanch.jpg
Art by Darren Blanch 2024

THIRST

 

by

 

Cindy Rosmus

 

 

            At 2 A.M., I got up to pee. Itchy, the kitten, watched me, closely. “What?” I said.

          When I turned on the faucet, nothing came out. Shit, I thought.

   No water, but for how long? When Bingo Joe and I’d crashed, hours ago, it was on. How long would it be off?

 The questions kept coming. Was it city-wide? I wondered, wildly turning both faucets, like that would help. Or cross-country? My heart raced. Was this . . . 

 . . . The end of the world?                             

Weed. Made you paranoid as fuck.

Late as it was, any second Bingo Joe's phone would ring. All the tenants would be freaking out.

His xylophone ringtone sounded.

“Hello,” he grumbled. “Miz Dietz?”

That pest from 1-D. Who washed clothes all night long.

He put her on speaker. “What’s going on?” she yelled. “I put quarters in, but no water came out! There’s liquid Tide all over my . . .”

“Hold on,” Bingo Joe said. Another call.

“Jose?” said a sweet, confused voice. I cringed. Kissy-Face, in 2-D. Fucking whore. “I felt like a vanilla bath, but something seems. . .”

A bath? I thought, at 2 A.M.? Drunk bitch. Last time she “felt like a vanilla bath,” she’d passed out and flooded Mrs. Dietz downstairs.

“Lemme check . . .” Bingo Joe said. “Hold on. . . . Hello?”

Now, who? Why were these fuckers up so late? And were they braindead? Why hadn’t they . . .

Why hadn’t I checked our local news app? My phone was in bed, next to Bingo Joe.

“I don’t know, Miz Roberts,” he was saying, “Give Sunshine bottled water till it comes back on.”

Our eyes met. “Oh,” he said, “You don’t have no . . .”

In our foyer, we kept a case of water. As I grabbed some for old Mrs. Roberts, I felt this overwhelming thirst. . . .

It’s all in your mind, I thought.

I’d forgot to check the news.

“A water main break.” Creepy Bobby G., from 2-B. “A huge one.” In the lobby, he was, ready to fill in the other drunks, crawling in after Last Call. “Said it’s just our town, but . . . who knows?”

“Thanks,” I said, sarcastically. “Maybe a zombie apocalypse.”

He didn’t laugh. “If it is,” he said, eyeing the water, “I wouldn’t be giving that away.”

I shifted the bottle under my arm. “Who says it’s a gift?”

“It’s not opened.” He smiled. “Your lipstick’s not on it.”

I backed up. Ever since Looney Tunes died, in 1-E., from strangulation, this guy creeped me out. He’d been right there, when they found her. Known way too much, too soon.

Could just be a nosy fuck, Bingo Joe had said. 

But still . . .

All we needed in that building was . . . a serial killer.

“Got like five cases of that shit,” Bobby said. “Gonna sell it.”

“Ex-cuse me.” I squeezed past him and knocked on Miss Roberts’s door.

“Not for nothing,” he said, in a conspiratorial tone, “But it’s survival of the fittest. Get it? Old folks might not make it.”

“It’s for Sunshine,” I said. “Her cat.” I knocked again, louder.

“Soon,” he said, “we’ll be eating the strangest things. Bugs . . . pets . . .”

C’mon, Old Lady, I thought, open the door.

I knew what was coming.

“Each other.” As the door opened, he touched my shoulder.

I screamed. Miss Roberts screamed, too. Whoever was still sleeping woke up, fast. All over the building, you heard doors opening. People muttering.

“You sick fuck,” I said.

Even before Bingo Joe, the first one there was Kissy-Face. Half-naked. Old makeup coming off, in tears. “I’m scared!” she told Bobby G., pawing his chest. “Is this the end? Like on those shows?”

“It’s a water main break!” Bingo Joe said. “Let the city workers do their fucking jobs.” In his Cookie Monster pjs, his eyes swollen from pot, he was like our savior. “Damn it, it’s summer! Be glad it’s not a power outage. The water,” he said, “always comes back on.”

I couldn’t believe this shit. Around us, tenants were nodding, and smiling. In her doorway, Old Miss Roberts cradled Sunshine. That cat weighed like 30 lbs. I realized I never gave her the water.

A vision of our cats with dry water bowls came to me. Itchy mewing, pitifully. No matter what Bingo Joe said, he wasn’t sure.

What if the water never came back on? And the bottled water ran out?

I hid mine behind my back.

“Go back to bed,” Bingo Joe told everybody.

I watched, as tenants crept back to their own apartments. Kissy-Face and Bobby G. lingered behind, whispering, even giggling, a little.

“You coming?” Bingo Joe asked me.

As I passed them, I caught the word “vanilla.” “Hmmm,” Bobby G. said, from behind me.

Five cases of water might just fill that tub.

 

 

 

“Thirst” by Cindy Rosmus. Copyright 2018 by Cindy Rosmus. “Thirst” originally appeared in the 2018 Summer Issue of Megazine.

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. 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 2024