“LINDSEY” - CINDY ROSMUS
“‘Lindsey.’” First appeared in NVF, January 2009 Issue
“Lind!” That voice, like a chainsaw. “Hey, Lind-sey!”
Susan cringed. That nut, Carrie, was on her bench. Her usual spot, outside the 7-11. On this crisp, beautiful day, the first ‘good’ hair day in a month.
To Carrie, demented and homeless, ‘good’ hair days were long-gone. Hers was matted, like she’d worn a hat since Clinton was president. Long-chinned, like the Witch of the West, with these beady, steady eyes, like she still knew her ass from Kansas.
“Hey!” Carrie wouldn’t let up till Susan waved back. “I’m talkin’ to you, Lindsey!” On the street, people stared.
Susan. From her Blazer, Susan waved, weakly, as she pulled into the lot. Not Lindsey...Susan. Sad, she usually thought, what drugs can do. AIDS...
Usually it bugged her Carrie couldn’t remember her name. Susan had always felt sorry for her. In the old club days, Carrie was hot. The hottest guys fucked her. But today...
Today Susan had no sympathy for Carrie. Today Susan was meeting somebody important... Somebody who would make everything better...
Who would make Nora go away...
“You sure about this?” In back of Barberi’s they sat, Susan and sweaty Cousin Frankie. “This guy’s all that?” he asked her.
Ramon... She shut her eyes tight. Curly black hair, deep dark eyes. That smile! Too many teeth, but how they gleamed. With a deviant mind of their own.
And his cock...
Sure, she liked bad boys, but Ramon was special. So... caring, so sensitive, sometimes! Like when he sat out on the stoop, feeding stray kittens. Even they loved Ramon!
“He’s all I want,” she said finally.
Up front, Uncle Guido flipped pizzas in the window. The smell of burned crust reached out back.
“But to ki-” Frankie leaned over. “Asunta, this is serious shit.”
Susan stiffened. Only ‘serious shit’ called for her real name. “I’ve got money put aside.” Bill-money. If her power and phones got shut off, fuck it.
“’S’not that!” Frankie said. “Shee-it, I’d pay if you got knocked up, or hadda move. But... murder?” Both looked around, anxiously. “Asunta, just forget this guy.”
That name again. How Old World. How-right-off-the-boat. “I love him,” Susan said, through clenched teeth. “And I want her gone.”
Up front, customers walked in. Uncle Guido stopped kneading dough to peer back at Frankie. “Hey!” Uncle Guido snarled. “Get back here!”
“See what I can do,” Frankie muttered, getting up.
“Oh, Mami...” Ramon’s voice was tortured. “Why didn’t you tell me? How you really felt?”
Out on the stoop they sat, Susan sobbing so loud, other tenants peered curiously out their windows. “Everything OK?” asked Noonan, the retired cop in A-4.
“She’s fine.” Ramon rubbed her shoulder, but Susan shrugged him off.
“I tried,” she said. “But that...bitch showed up!” Nora. Ramon’s other chick. “She beat me to it.”
He didn’t answer.
It was true. Nora had ruined everything. Last night, Susan was all set to say, “I love you,” but Nora had reached Ramon and said it first. Like she had radar. And Susan lived right upstairs!
Blonde and giddy, Nora was a live wire, but no fool. She knew what she wanted...
“She beats me,” Susan said through clenched teeth, “to everything!”
Susan checked her watch. 10:12 AM. Shit, she thought. Late already. What did that say about this guy? Frankie’s muscle. Her...“savior.”
A Rob Zombie t-shirt, he’ll have on.
Inside her purse was two thousand in cash. Down payment for the job.
Oh, Ramon, she thought. None of this even seemed real. This, or what had led up to it.
Her stomach growled. Should’ve got a coffee, at least.
Maybe she had time... She peered around the lot, again. Carrie’s bench was empty.
“Lindsey!” Susan jumped, as Carrie’s face appeared in the driver’s window. “Buy me breakfast?”
As Susan clutched her pounding heart, Carrie went on. “Got a heart condition? So do I! Got all kindsa shit wrong with me.”
No kidding, Susan thought. She reached for her purse, then stopped herself in time. What if Carrie robbed her?”
Carrie grinned. “Plus I’m crazy.” Susan looked away. “I’m sorry,” she said, “I’ve got nothing to spare.”
“Oh, yeah?” Carrie yelled, right in Susan’s ear. “Well, you suck.”
Susan was still shaking, as Carrie stalked off.
She couldn’t stop crying.
“Susan...” Ramon gripped her chin, forced her to meet his eyes. Knowing they’d never, ever sit this close again made her heart lurch. “I love her, too,” he said, “But I also love you.”
Her tears stopped. “Huh?”
“But I can’t be a dog...” His tone was sincere. “No more.” He shook his head, slowly. “No more.”
She looked down at the stoop.
“No more,” he whispered.
For a while, Susan sat, slumped over the wheel. You suck! Carrie’s words still rang in her ear.
Yeah, she sucked, all right. But so did life.
Why else would she be here, meeting... this guy? Not a date, not some consoling buddy, but... a hit man! How sick was this?
This guy, Frankie had said, he’s all that?
Was he? Susan asked herself, suddenly. I love you, too, Ramon had told her. But was that worth the risk? Solicitation to commit murder was a far cry from parking assways.
She sat up, peered around the lot again. From her bench, Carrie was yelling nonsense to some chubby guy, who gave her a strange look before trudging into the 7-11.
Nora, Ramon once said, she makes me laugh, man! How his eyes had sparkled when he talked about Nora. Susan cringed.
And what a dancer, Ramon had added. Lives for good times. Just like me.
No doubt he’d told Nora stuff about her. He loved playing them against each other. My two womens, he said proudly.
Susan tapped the steering wheel. Long nails, Nora had. The one time Susan had met her, they were freshly-manicured, with some tropical design on the tips. Palm trees. So Ramon felt he was back in PR...
Those long nails raking his back...
Susan clutched the steering wheel. That fuck, she thought. He should die!
She gasped. What was wrong with her?
Heart racing, she checked her watch again: 10:28. Where was this guy? She grabbed her cell, but stopped before punching in Frankie’s number. Be cool, he’d warned.
Coming out of the 7-11...
She looked closer. It can’t be! she thought.
The chubby guy was headed towards the Blazer. Carrying a whipped cream-topped drink, he glanced at each truck till he reached Susan’s.
The Rob Zombie t-shirt.
She just stared, as he leaned against the passenger door, slurped his drink. “You Frankie’s cuz?”
The Pillsbury Doughboy, he looked like. Round eyes in a baby face, round all over. Grown-out buzz cut. Under the Zombie tee, his big belly protruded.
This, Susan thought, is a killer?
“I...” She shut up. No names, Frankie had said. But, how else would Doughboy know who she was? “Maybe,” she said childishly.
“Maybe? You could be his clone.”
When he leaned closer, she saw whipped cream on his nose and cheeks. “Get in,” she said, reluctantly.
As he struggled into the Blazer, some of his drink spilled. “Sorry,” he said, but Susan doubted it. She tried not to stare at his belly. “Got a picture?” he asked.
“Hey!” They both jumped, as Carrie appeared, on Doughboy’s side. “Where’s my shake?” She smiled suggestively.
“It’s not a shake. It’s...”
“Don’t talk to her!” Susan said. “She’s nuts.”
Carrie checked out Doughboy. “This your boyfriend?”
Susan began to feel queasy. “Please go away,” she begged.
“Sure,” Carrie said. “If he buys me a shake.”
“Why should I?” Doughboy said. “Get lost!” he told Carrie, who turned away.
“Lindsey’s got a boyfriend!” she sang, on her way back to the bench.
Doughboy frowned at Susan. “‘Lindsey’? But you’re a Ginzaloon.”
“That’s not my name.” She was sweating. “Told you, she’s crazy.” She unlocked the glove compartment.
Inside Ramon’s drawer were mucho photos of both his ‘womens.’ He’d been in the shower, singing ‘En mi Viejo San Juan,’ when Susan snatched Nora’s photo.
Smirking, she handed it to Doughboy.
While he studied it, Susan’s heart raced. “She’s hot,” Doughboy said, finally.
“Hot!” Susan yelled. “She’s a dog!”
She grabbed for the photo, but he held it out the window. “What does he look like?”
She couldn’t believe this. “Who cares?” she said. “She’s the one who dies!”
“I mean, is he worth it?” Doughboy was dead serious.
“What do you care?”
“Sounds like he’s been jerking you around. Who needs that?” Just like Frankie, Doughboy sounded.
Then it hit Susan. “You’re no killer,” she said. “Frankie sent you to talk me out of it.”
“Y’ask me,” Doughboy said, smirking. “The boyfriend’s the one should be dead.”
“And yours,” Carrie said, from Susan’s side, “should buy me a shake.”
“Fuck off!” Susan screamed. Carrie slunk off.
Doughboy beckoned Susan closer. “Think I’m kidding?” he said. “’Bout Loverboy?”
Her heart raced.
“Been watching him all week. Babes, all over town. Blondes, redheads, even dark meat, he likes. This dope,” he waved Nora’s photo, “is bad off as you.”
Susan just stared.
Doughboy made a face. “And you wanna kill her?”
Susan kept staring. But not at Doughboy, in his Rob Zombie tee. A lean Latino with gleaming teeth, she saw now. I can’t be a dog, he’d said, without looking at her.
How he loved to laugh! What a hearty laugh he had, bordering on maniacal. So loud, sometimes his upstairs neighbor banged on the floor.
How he loved life!
“Trust me,” Doughboy said. “He’s a real piece of shit.”
In her mind, Susan watched herself waving bye-bye to Ramon. She swallowed hard. “You’re right.”
She grabbed her purse. Eyes burning with tears, she pulled out the thick envelope.
Doughboy was still counting when Carrie appeared beside him.
“Aw, lookit that!” she sneered. “Blood money! Think I don’t know what’s going on?”
Susan and Doughboy shared a look.
“Billionaires, but nobody’ll buy me a shake. Well...” Carrie shuffled over to Susan’s window. “I’ll just tell all that I know! People believe me.”
Doughboy’s lip curled.
“I’ll tell everybody...” Carrie said. “That Lindsey is the killer.”
As Doughboy caught Susan’s eye, they both smiled.
“‘Lindsey’?” he said.
“Go ahead,” Susan told her.
BIO: Cindy is a New York textbook editor by day, a hardboiled Jersey female by night. Her fiction has appeared in Black Petals, The Beat, The Cynic, Red Fez, Zygote in My Coffee, Hardboiled, NVF, MediaVirus, Mysterical-E, The Monsters Next Door, Out of the Gutter, Devil Blossoms, 13th Warrior Review, and Beat to a Pulp. She has four collections of stories out: Angel of Manslaughter, Gutter Balls, Calpurnia’s Window, and No Place Like Home. She is the editor of the e-zine, Yellow Mama. She is also a thrill seeker, a Gemini, and a Christian.
ON THE FRINGES OF THE FRINGE
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