Kaboom by 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, like 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.

Luck of the Irish by Cindy Rosmus

It was Parade Day. Our local one, for St. Paddy’s, a week late.

Sunny and mild, it was. Like March had already gone out like a lamb. People drunk in the streets. Our mayor, Dino Rizzo, dressed as a leprechaun. A redheaded Sici. “God love the Irish!” he’d screamed, years back, when he drank with us. ‘Cos he looked the part.

It was me, and my pals: Eileen, her sister Kathy, and Kathy’s daughter, Carolyn, who’d grown up in bars. Sneaking drinks since she was ten.

Oh, and Kathy’s husband, Jimmy.

“Haven’t done it in like twenty years,” Kathy confessed, one night.Carolyn was twenty-one, so maybe Jimmy had that “Madonna complex,” like Elvis. When Jimmy was real bombed, he sang Elvis at karaoke. “He’s no good,” Kathy said, sullenly. But she didn’t mean just his sour notes.

Till Parade Day, I’d never drunk with Jimmy. I knew he never worked and gambled away every cent, even what Kathy “hid” in the coffee can under the sink. “I know he’ll steal that,” she told me, smiling.

A babysitter, she’d used him for, till Carolyn grew up. Even she had no respect for him. At the parade, she edged away from him, disgusted.

Maybe, I thought, he molested her. But I couldn’t ask.

 So far, we’d hit Noonan’s, and O’Boyle’s, who had the fattiest corned beef sandwiches, ever. Still, we scarfed them down.

Except Jimmy. “Nah,” he said. “I got too good a buzz.”

 “They’re free,” Kathy told him. He just shrugged.

Then we were outside, again. Confetti flying. Sidewalks mobbed with gym rats, junkies. Families with brats, in strollers. Wearing green beads and those goofy, oversized hats.

Like Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat, I thought.

People sloshed beer all over. Falling-down drunk. It was a disaster, waiting to happen.

Jimmy’s own hat was green-and-white striped, pulled over his bleary eyes. He pulled on Carolyn’s beads, then grinned over at Kathy. She pulled Carolyn tightly to her.

Yeah, I thought. He fucked with her.

Lips pursed grotesquely, he leaned in for a kiss.

You could hear Kathy’s slap miles away. People stopped, and stared.

“Here!” She flung some bills at him. “Drink yourself to death!” She and Carolyn crossed the street.

“Hey!” Eileen said. Someone laughed, as we hurried after them.

“Did we lose him?” Kathy asked.

At Cassidy’s, we did shots of Jameson. That’s when I felt sick. When Kathy toasted, “To being single,” they laughed. But I couldn’t. Beads twirling, Carolyn spun around on her stool.

“Guys,” I said, “I’m done.”

But they kept drinking. “Tomorrow,” Kathy said, “I’m filing for divorce.” The others hooted. Another sloppy toast.

Whiskey was spilling all over. Kathy’s money on the bar was soaked.

How much, I wondered, had she thrown away?

Outside, the festivities were dying down. As we left Cassidy’s, we heard sirens in the distance.

Kathy’s keys jingled. “Can you drive?” Eileen said. But she was just as drunk.

We started walking back. “Are we . . .” I said. “Are we . . .”

Were we, what?

Going back for Jimmy? Or leaving him behind?

The crowd had dwindled. Blocks back, ambulance lights flashed. Cops and EMTs. A few drunks hovered over someone laying in the gutter.

We got closer. The ground was sticky with beer, and what looked like blood. In the confetti-littered street was a hat . . . green-and-white . . . but mostly red.

“Kath!” I said. I jumped, when she pinched me.

They’d beaten him, bad. Bruises and wounds . . . from God knows what. With all that blood, this wasn’t just fists. It was work boots. Rocks. This was vengeance. Whatever he’d said, or done . . .

From the gutter, his one visible eye met Kathy’s. She smirked.

I felt really sick, now.

“Anybody know him?” one cop asked.

“He’s her . . .” But somebody—maybe Carolyn—pinched me, this time. A vicious squeeze that shut me up.

“No,” Eileen said. “Poor guy.” Around us, people nodded.

“Me, either,” some guy said. “Shame.” He adjusted his shamrock cap. “Just having a few, like everyone else.”

 “Just getting his jollies,” Kathy said.

 Carolyn just toyed with her beads.

Secret, Secret by Cindy Rosmus

“Please?” I said. “It can’t wait till you get here?”

Lew almost hung up on me. “I gotta do everything? You got a full bar?”

“Not open, yet.””

“So go in the room, get the decorations, and hang ‘em the fuck up.” When I groaned, he added, “Some shit’s up with my son, OK?”

“Which one?” But he’d hung up.

Wearily, I reached under the bar for the key. Halloween was my favorite holiday. Fun-sized chocolate bars, spooky movies. But I hated decorating. That was work.

Good thing I’d bought candy. Lew was too cheap.

Who gave you a job? I thought suddenly. When your unemployment ran out?

And yeah … I trudged across the room. Some shit with his son. Junior, no doubt. Anthony, the youngest, was brilliant, and a star athlete. Anthony, Lew always said, was too good to be true.

Some shit meant “Bluesy,” that slutty, blue-haired chick Junior’d been fucking. Him, and God knew who else. Nobody’d seen her, lately.

“The room” was Lew’s secret storage space. So much shit he kept in there:  booze, tools, even letters from nasty customers. Years back, one lady bitched that Lew didn’t put enough booze in his drinks. Told me to go back to bartending school, he’d said, smirking.

And decorations. More for Halloween than Christmas: orange and black garlands, fake cobwebs, and the trusty cardboard skeleton.

But … where?

I stood there, staring. A hoarder’s delight, it was, these days. Cases of beer topped by Lew’s and his sons’ old clothes. Lots of them. In one corner, neon beer signs were piled up. An ancient TV—probably black-and-white—was high on a shelf. Christmas lights were draped over broken bar stools. But no sign of Halloween stuff.

Oh, jeez, I thought. And almost walked out.

Junior, right? Lew had said. Good kid, but he thinks with his cock. Got no common sense.

Grudgingly, I started looking through shit.

Junior was Lew’s “mini-me,” with long, curly hair and the same smirk. But Lew had really lived, and loved, lots of wrong women. Done shit he’d paid for . . . some of the time. Illegal shit. There was no Desert Eagle .44 in this secret, secret room.…

That was under the bar.

It was like, hopeless. But behind the beer was more stuff. What looked like a bony paper leg taunted me.

Finally, I thought.

The skeleton was torn, in parts, thanks to some drunk bitch. Last Halloween, she’d pulled it down and danced with it.

Yeah, it was all here. And beneath the garlands was the plastic jack-o’-lantern Lew put the candy in. The jack-o’-lantern was glowing.

I jumped back, like it’d burned me.

And, it was … humming. Actually, vibrating. Something was inside it. And not mini-Milky Ways.

I stood there, blood thumping in my ears.

Inside was a cell phone. “Mom,” was the caller. Twenty missed calls. Next to the phone was a turquoise wallet.

My sugary lunch wasn’t sitting well.

I reached in the jack-o’-lantern. A strand of hair stuck to me, as I took out the wallet. I knew whose picture would be on the driver’s license.

“Bluesy” was blonde Sandra Kopec, back then.

Was this Junior’s “shit”?

Outside, the back door buzzed open. I dropped the wallet and ran out.

Anthony, Lew’s “good” son, was behind the bar. He’d opened the bag and was eating fun-sized candy. “Hey,” he said, but without smiling.

Should I tell him? I wondered. Or the cops? Or.…

Keep my mouth shut?

Lew always took care of me.

I forced a smile. “Your dad,” I said, in a too-high voice, “said to decorate for Halloween.”

But I’d forgot the skeleton and garlands. Hurriedly, I locked the door and turned back around.

He’d moved down to the register. Directly below it was the .44. But he wouldn’t know that.

Like, he wasn’t the type to hide a phone and wallet in a plastic pumpkin. Or make a slutty chick disappear. Even if he’d fucked her, himself.

He was the “good” son, wasn’t he?

I heard an unmistakable click.

Too good to be true.…

Welcome to Our Home by Cindy Rosmus

Figures: on your first day as supers, Bingo Joe finds someone dead. That crazy bitch in 1-E.

“A bad smell.” One tenant calls, at 6 A.M. “Can you check it out?”

“Yeah,” Bingo Joe mutters. And rolls over in bed.

“I’m not going,” you say.

The garbage, you think. Looney Tunes lives right by it. Raw chicken, diapers, cat litter. On your floor alone are eight cats.

But if it’s just garbage, you think, Looney Tunes would be the first to call.

“José,” she would whine, using Bingo Joe’s real name. “There’s this . . . smell. A real bad one. Like maybe a rat died in the wall.”

No rats in this building, bitch.

Figures: on your first day as supers, Bingo Joe finds someone dead. That crazy bitch in 1-E.

“A bad smell.” One tenant calls, at 6 A.M. “Can you check it out?”

“Yeah,” Bingo Joe mutters. And rolls over in bed.

“I’m not going,” you say.

The garbage, you think. Looney Tunes lives right by it. Raw chicken, diapers, cat litter. On your floor alone are eight cats.

But if it’s just garbage, you think, Looney Tunes would be the first to call.

“José,” she would whine, using Bingo Joe’s real name. “There’s this . . . smell. A real bad one. Like maybe a rat died in the wall.”

No rats in this building, bitch.

Always walking around half-naked, sticking loose tits in tenants’ faces.

Two of your cats stare down Bingo Joe. This super’s gig’s his only job: Cleaning hallways, hauling garbage twice a week, for half-rent. For both of you, a sweet deal. . . .

That could stink up, fast.

Bingo Joe gets up and trudges downstairs. “Back in a few.”

A half hour later, the shit’s kicked up. EMTs, cops, neighbors. The whole world’s here.

From the landing, the smell hits you. “Oh, my God!” someone says. Another gags.

Puke, you think. Gotta mop up puke, now.

In the doorway of 1E, Bingo Joe looks like a kicked puppy. Cops and EMTs bump into him, on their way out with Looney Tunes in a bag .

“Suicide!” says Mrs. Dietz from 1-D. Never sleeps, washes clothes all night. One load of whites right in the EMTs’ path. She was in the closet!” she says. “Hanging!”

“Oh, my God!” someone says.

“Yeah?” says Bobby G. from 2-B. “S’ not what I heard.” He jabs an unlit cigarette in his mouth.

Heard?, you think. Already?

“Who’s the landlord?” a butch cop demands.

“Him!” People point to Bingo Joe.

“The super,” he says, shuffling slippered feet. “My . . . first day.”

Mrs. Dietz edges toward Bobby G. “What’d you hear?” He just smirks.

“Landlord lives in Florida,” Bingo Joe tells the butch cop. “Miami, or Dallas.”

“That’s Texas,” the butch cop says.

Bingo Joe grabs his cell, calls the landlord. Paces, waiting for him to pick up.

“Heard she was in bed.” Bobby G. speaks through the cigarette. “Scarf tied around her neck. . . .”

Suddenly, it’s dead-quiet. Neighbors’ eyes are on Bobby G.

Heard?, you think, again. From who?

“Scarf, or some shit,” Bobby G. says.

Voice mail, Bingo Joe gets. Leaves a message: “Yeah, hey, Vince. Hope I didn’t wake you. . . .” The butch cop paces with him.

Bobby G. shrugs. “Some people like that.”

“Being . . . strangled?” Mrs. Dietz looks at the others.

Bobby G. takes out the cigarette, looks at it almost lovingly. “Sure.”

“That’s murder!” says the tenant who puked.

“Nah,” Bobby G. says. “Not if it’s done right.”

Like preschoolers, listening to a story, they hang on his every word.

Only you get what he’s getting at.

“It is murder,” you say, but they all ignore you.

Over by the mailboxes, Bingo Joe looks pained, listening to the butch cop.

Later, he’s got to clean the hallways on each floor, plus the cellar. Water the dying plants here on the ground floor. “Welcome,” says the floral cardboard sign, “To Our Home.”

In your mind, Looney Tunes wanders from plant to plant, late at night. Talking to them. Maybe singing to them. She’s that nuts. Made up names for them, you bet. “Hula” is the browning palm tree, “Alice,” an aloe vera plant, looking like a tiny Loch Ness monster.

Smirking, Bobby G. comes out with a beer.

You try to catch Bingo Joe’s eye, but now he’s on the phone.

Mrs. Dietz shakes her head. “Accidents can happen,” she tells the smirking Bobby G.

Who carries her whites inside.

Stupidiocy by Cindy Rosmus

June. An OK month. Not sweltering hot, but you know that’s coming.

And roses . . . For like a week, they spring up in neighbor’s bushes. Like that tight-assed bitch’s, who lives next to Scratch’s. Bitched to Lew ‘cos Snake picked one for Nina, the crack-whore.

“Can you believe that shit?” Lew switches on Scratch’s ceiling fans. “Over one fuckin’ rose?”

Behind the bar, you slice limes. “Getting territorial.” You’re the queen of two-dollar words.

“Four o’clock, on a Sunday. Should be layin’ in the sun, enjoyin’ retirement. But no, she’s worried about. . . .”

“’Scuse me?”

June. An OK month. Not sweltering hot, but you know that’s coming.

And roses . . . For like a week, they spring up in neighbor’s bushes. Like that tight-assed bitch’s, who lives next to Scratch’s. Bitched to Lew ‘cos Snake picked one for Nina, the crack-whore.

“Can you believe that shit?” Lew switches on Scratch’s ceiling fans. “Over one fuckin’ rose?”

Behind the bar, you slice limes. “Getting territorial.” You’re the queen of two-dollar words.

“Four o’clock, on a Sunday. Should be layin’ in the sun, enjoyin’ retirement. But no, she’s worried about. . . .”

“’Scuse me?”

You both turn around.

A customer. All cutesy, with her finger in her mouth.

A foreign load, you bet Lew’s thinking. Nothing pisses him off more than somebody who walks in, trashed already.

“What would you like?” you say.

“I’m looking for . . .” She giggles. “I don’t know who, but a friend said I can find him here.”

Lew checks her out: blonde, forties. With that 50’s starlet look: more Monroe than Mansfield. Pastel halter and long skirt with a slit. Thick legs, but Lew can’t get past those loose tits.

“You wanna drink?” he demands.

“I guess,” she says. “Uh . . . chocolate martini?”

Lew and you share a look.

“Kahlua and milk?” you say. Bitch won’t know the difference.

She nods, and struggles onto a bar stool. Tosses a sequined purse on the bar.

“So . . .” You grab the Kahlua. “Who’d you say you were looking for?”

“She don’t know,” Lew says, sarcastically. “A friend said he’ll be here.” He puts his arm around her. “This guy . . . what’s so great about him?”

Smirking, you look away.

“What can he do,” Lew says, “that I can’t?”

“I need him,” the chick says. “To kill my husband.”

You almost drop the milk.

Two years, you’ve worked here. Seen all kinds of stupid. But this bitch . . . You bite your lip. Can’t even look at Lew.

 

“That brute,” she says. “That sonuvabitch!” She starts to cry. “Look what he does to me!” She raises the skirt.

Both legs are bruised. But yours would be, too, if you got that trashed before 4 P.M. P.and slammed into shit.

“I brought the money.” Out of the sequined purse comes a fat roll of bills.

“Lemme ask you,” Lew says. When you look over, he’s counting the money. “You come in a strange place, looking for somebody—don’t even know the bastard’s name—, carrying thousands of fucking . . . how much is in here, doll?”

She sips her drink. “He says the guy wants five thousand.”

“Five large.” Lew keeps counting, just in case. “To knock off your old man.” He slaps the bills down. “You don’t know who you’re looking for, who says he’s the right guy?”

The chick wrinkles her nose. “There’s a secret word. Only this guy knows it.”

“What is it?” you ask.

“ ‘Stu-,’” she said. “‘Stupe’-something.”

“ ‘Stupendous’?” Lew says. “‘Stupefaction’?” Now he’s behind the bar. Maybe looking for a dictionary.

She crosses her bruised legs. “‘Stupe-’ and something else.”

“ ‘Stupidiocy,’ ” Lew says.

“That’s it!” she says.

“That’s not a word.” You, of all people, should know.

“Yes, it is,” Lew says. “But you came to the wrong place, doll.”

There’s dead silence. Outside, you hear kids yelling up the block. A dog barks.

“Oh.” The chick slides off the stool. “Maybe I did.” She doesn’t seem drunk, anymore.

Lew doesn’t answer. Just leans across the bar, staring at her.

Something about his demeanor chills you, suddenly. After two years of thinking he’s just a big, lovable dope.

The chick leaves fast.

Like she knows that right where Lew’s standing’s where the gun’s hid. His Desert Eagle .44. Big enough to blow away her brute of a husband.

Lew pours milk into a glass. “‘Stu-pid-iocy,’” he says, smirking. He swirls the milk around before downing it.

But you . . .

Fuck, you need a shot.

The Great Watch by Cindy Rosmus

At 3 P.M., Cherie walked the streets, wild-eyed.  Like she used to, most nights, when Danny was drinking.

Tol’ja, he’d said, I gave that shit up . . .

For Lent.

It was Good Friday. In three days, Lent would be over. But she bet he’d already slipped.

Once again, he’d stood her up. But not at her house, or her dad’s pizzeria. This date was at church.

From 12:30 to 2:30 P.M., both were scheduled for “The Great Watch.”

“ During ‘The Great Watch,’ ” Father Shaver had explained, “a church member sits and guards the Blessed Sacrament so no one comes in and desecrates it.”

Desecrate . . . Who would be that sick?

Moira . . .

Danny’s ex. That redhead biker bitch who feared nothing. Believed in nothing. Cherie feared he was back with her.

In church, Cherie sat alone with the veiled crucifix and statues. Blindly, she stared at the altar, where the Sacrament sat. Where is he? she wondered, about Danny. Is he dead? She fought back tears.

The old Danny might be drunk, somewhere. With . . .

Cherie couldn’t even think that name.

But the sober, gentle Danny she’d met here at St. Mark’s . . .

Might be dead.

She started to get up.

 “You need to be serious about this,” Father Shaver had said, “You can’t leave, no matter what.”

But if Danny’s sick . . . or . . .

Cherie imagined Father’s smile. He was a realist, a Vietnam vet. A real badass, he’d been, back then.

He’ll still be dead when your “Watch” is over.

An hour crept by. Please, God, Cherie prayed, send Danny. Sweat dripped down her back. During “The Great Watch,” Father had said church members were welcome to come in and pray, or meditate.

Please, Cherie prayed, send . . . somebody.

When the heavy door opened, she felt a chill. Jangling jewelry and the clip-CLOP of high-heeled boots told her who had come in.

As she passed Cherie, Moira smiled smugly, then strolled to the front of the church.

A blade, she’s got, Danny had warned Cherie. She’d kill you, to get back at me!

And he wasn’t here to protect her.

In the first pew, Moira turned slowly to face Cherie.

Like a demon from hell, Moira looked, with that ghoulish makeup. Hair spiked in all directions. So many earrings and bangles, she might’ve robbed a gypsy’s grave.

How did she know, Cherie wondered, I was here?

I loved her once, Danny had told Cherie.

When Moira smiled, Cherie’s chest tightened.

Did he set me up?

For what felt like hours, Cherie stared back. By the time Moira got up and strolled out past her, Cherie was a sweaty mess. God, she thought, wildly, have you forsaken me? She’d lost track of time. Forgot why she was even here.

Had Moira hypnotized her?

“Cherie?” someone finally whispered. Old Lynn Baker, the vestry’s junior warden. Her hand on Cherie’s arm felt clawlike.

If he’s back with her, Cherie thought, suddenly, I’ll kill him.

She smiled.

“Are you all right?” Lynn asked her, as she rushed out of the church.

As Cherie searched for Danny, that chill she’d felt in Moira’s presence crept up into her brain.

I’ll kill them both.

 

An oppressive gloom followed her, like lightning would strike, in March. On Danny’s block were patches of blackened snow.

For a few moments Cherie stood on his porch, listening, waiting.

The jingling was muted, might’ve been silverware, or bells. But to Cherie, it was clanging gypsy bangles.

She burst into the house.

Bang, Bang by Cindy Rosmus

“Lew?” You tie your sweaty hair in a ponytail. “Can’t we put on the a/c?”

“No!” he says. “Wait for the crowd.”

Crowd, my ass, you think.

The ceiling fans do shit. With both doors open, Scratch’s has scared its drunks away. You picture Snake cracking cold ones in his kids’ pool, skanky Nina sucking cocks in air-conditioned cars. Spit and Short Mike . . . You’ve got no clue where they are. Where do bikers go in the heat?

Anything beats this. Hours with no customers. You’re working for nothing.

Lew could’ve stayed home, but “That bitch burns my ass up,” he said. He hates his wife, and both his kids.

“Whatta life,” he mutters. “No jobs, live at home, and get fucked up every day.”

Sounds good to me, you think. If he only knew you fucked both his sons.

In Scratch’s driveway, an ancient grill is set up. “Should I put the dogs on?” he asks.

You smirk. “Wait for the crowd.”

Lew’s own hair is in a mini ponytail, his T-shirt stuck to his chest and gut. He drags himself onto a stool across from you.

Female voices out front say there’s hope. But nobody comes in.

“C’mon,” Lew says, under his breath. “Make up your fuckin’ mind.”

The voices get louder, like chicks are arguing. You get a bad feeling.

“Never mind,” Lew says. “Keep it outside.”

Instead, both come in not speaking.

“What the f —” Lew says.

You just stare. It’s the most mismatched couple, ever. And they are a couple, these chicks: one as short as a little girl, the other bigger and fatter than Lew.

Matching bathing suits, they have on, black with tropical flowers. The tiny chick’s might be a kid’s size, but the beast’s would fit a Sumo wrestler. And with a matching visor, yet. Beneath it is stiff platinum hair you bet she hates to get wet.

The beast glares as the tiny chick climbs onto the stool next to Lew’s.

“Gonna suck his cock next?” she hisses.

The tiny chick ignores her. Out of a pink, Barbie-type purse, she pulls a five and tosses it on the bar. “Sex-on-the-Beach.”

Figures, you think. You made like one in your life. Scratch’s is a beer-and-shot place. Unless skanky Nina has a big “date.”

“What about me?” the beast whines. “Don’t I get one?”

“I can’t afford you,” the tiny chick says. “Bitch.”

Lew snickers. As you reach for the schnapps, you think of those dolls in movies that kill people. That’s the voice: pitchy, and mean. The big one looks scary, but the little one really is.

“What’sa matter?” Lew asks you, when you check the bartending guide. “Forget how to make it? Huh? Forget something?”

“Just the vodka,” the tiny chick says.

“I love you,” the beast says, starting to cry. “But you don’t care about me.”

“Shut up,” the tiny chick says. “A little more,” she tells you, about the vodka.

“That’s a double,” Lew says. He’s not laughing now. “It’s a ten buck-drink.”

You can taste trouble, now.

The beast pouts. “Won’t even buy me one. Anything I got, I give her. Out of sheer love. Left my fucking husband for her.”

Somebody married her? you bet Lew’s thinking.

“Will you shut up?” the tiny chick says.

When you serve her the double Sex-on-the-Beach, she says, “You wanna drink?” The beast nods.

She throws it in her face.

“Wahhh!” the beast sobs. She takes sissy punches at the tiny chick, who blocks them.

Groaning, Lew gets up, no doubt to find the mop. “You still gotta pay for that!” he says.

“Yeah?” the tiny chick says, groping in her purse. “How ‘bout with this?”

A gun. So tiny, you bet it’s a toy. Still, your guts feel like jello.

“It’s OK,” you say, smiling. “It’s so hot in here.” You’re sweating from more than that, now. “I’ll make you a fresh drink. On the house.”

Eyes bulging, Lew edges behind the bar. You glance down, knowing what’s back there.

“Bang, bang,” the beast says, childishly. “Bang, bang.” She wipes her face with a cocktail napkin.

“Open the register,” the tiny chick says. “Gimme all the money.”

“What?” Lew says, inching along the bar. “It’s empty. You’re the first customer I got!”

“Don’t gimme that.” Step by step, she follows him, from her side of the bar.

“All that money,” the beast says, pouting. “And you know how much I’ll get? Jack shit!”

“There is no money,” you lie, getting out of Lew’s way.

The beast’s eyes narrow. “Won’t even buy me a drink.”

The tiny chick is right under the whirring ceiling fan. The beast realizes this the same time you do.

“Hey!” The gun goes flying as the beast swoops her up in the air.

It clunks to the floor. Now Lew’s got his: a Desert Eagle .44.

With the other kicking and fighting her, the beast scrambles onto the nearest stool, then onto the bar itself. She’s determined to reach the fan above.

Lew aims, but you’re not sure for who. “Drop her,” he says, like a TV cop.

She doesn’t. You almost puke as she throws the chick up into the fan.

You wait to be sprayed with blood. Instead, the blade smacks her in the head. She falls onto the beast, as the .44 tears up the ceiling.

“Aw, fuck!” You covered your head, but the shit’s all over the place.

By the time cops come, those two bitches have made up. Still sobbing, the beast holds her girlfriend close, rubbing her sore head. “I’m . . . sorry,” the beast says. Absently, the tiny chick picks debris off herself.

Lew and his fucking gun. With this mess, Scratch’s will be closed for weeks.

“It was real, all right.” Looking impressed, one cop shows us the tiny gun.

The other cop, female but looking like Sly Stallone, enjoys cuffing the bitches.

“ ‘Barbie Junior’ and ‘Barbie Senior,’” she says. “Yer ‘Dreamhouse’ is waiting.”

You glare at Lew. I’ll bet, you think.

With a/c blasting.