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The Big Stupid Review


American Dream Serialization (Early Chapters)
Introduction to Jim Chaffee's Studies in Mathematical Pornography by Maurice Stoker
Introduction to Jim Chaffee's Studies in Mathematical Pornography by Tom Bradley
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: American Dream Title Page by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 1 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 2 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 3 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 4 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 5 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 6 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 7 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 8 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 9 by Jim Chaffee
Modern Tragedy, or Parodies of Ourselves by Robert Castle
Totally Enchanté, Dahling by Thor Garcia
Hastini by Rudy Ravindra
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 5 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
Unexpected Pastures by Kim Farleigh
Nonviolence by Jim Courter
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 4 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
The Poet Laureate of Greenville by Al Po
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part VI by Thor Garcia
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 3 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part V by Thor Garcia
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part IV by Thor Garcia
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 2 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part I by Thor Garcia
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part II by Thor Garcia
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part III by Thor Garcia
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 1 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
DADDY KNOWS WORST: Clown Cowers as Father Flounders! by Thor Garcia
RESURRECTON: Excerpt from Breakfast at Midnight by Louis Armand
Review of The Volcker Virus (Donald Strauss) by Kane X Faucher: Excerpt from the forthcoming Infinite Grey by Kane X Faucher
Little Red Light by Suvi Mahonen and Luke Waldrip
TEXECUTION: Klown Konfab as Killer Kroaked! by Thor Garcia
Miranda's Poop by Jimmy Grist
Paul Fabulan by Kane X Faucher: Excerpt from the forthcoming Infinite Grey by Kane X Faucher
Operation Scumbag by Thor Garcia
Take-Out Dick by Holly Day
Patience by Ward Webb
The Moon Hides Behind a Cloud by Barrie Darke
The Golden Limo of Slipback City by Ken Valenti
Chapter from The Infinite Atrocity by Kane X. Faucher
Support the Troops By Giving Them Posthumous Boners by Tom Bradley
When Good Pistols Do Bad Things by Kurt Mueller
Corporate Strategies by Bruce Douglas Reeves
The Dead Sea by Kim Farleigh
The Perfect Knot by Ernest Alanki
Girlish by Bob Bartholomew
The Little Ganges by Joshua Willey
The Invisible World: René Magritte by Nick Bertelson
Honk for Jesus by Mitchell Waldman
Red's Dead by Eli Richardson
The Memphis Showdown by Gabriel Ricard
Someday Man by John Grochalski
I Was a Teenage Rent-a-Frankenstein by Tom Bradley
Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Fred Bubbers
Believe in These Men by Adam Greenfield
The Magnus Effect by Robert Edward Sullivan
Performance Piece by Jim Chaffee
Injustice for All by D. E. Fredd
The Polysyllogistic Curse by Gary J. Shipley
How It's Done by Anjoli Roy
Ghost Dance by Connor Caddigan
Two in a Van by Pavlo Kravchenko
Uncreated Creatures by Connor Caddigan
Invisible by Anjoli Roy
One of Us by Sonia Ramos Rossi
Storyteller by Alan McCormick
Idolatry by Robert Smith
P H I L E M A T O P H I L I A by Traci Chee
They Do! by Al Po
Full TEX Archive
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A Splinter from the Devil's Mirror - 2

by Bryn Greenwood

anoles copulating on wisteria in public

Looking at her spread out reminds me of the cat we dissected for biology last year. It was a gray tabby and its fur was soft until we cut it open and made it nasty with the formaldehyde and dye. If I think about this enough, I can do it. She shifts, a little uneasy, but glad, filled up with my looking at her. All she feels is the heat, not why it's hot.

My shirt is soaked under the arms, so I take it off and go to her. She puts her mouth on me and I let her taste me with that pink cat tongue. Sliding her hand down my chest, down to my crotch, she finds what she is looking for there, what I couldn't find with Kimberly, and opens the first button on my jeans. She gives good head. As long as I'm looking at her.

"Kenneth," she says, my father's name. Not to me. She says it to herself, because it turns her on. I put my hands on her shoulders to push her away, but she says it again. It's a magic charm to hold me. Her breath on my stomach makes the muscles tremble. When she reaches the last button on my jeans, she says it again. She turns her head, looks at me from the corner of her eye, and smiles. The smile shimmers, gives out her beauty in waves, and makes me not able to look at her. Sometimes she likes this, too.

I look away and Cody is in the open doorway looking back. He stares at me for the longest time, and then he drops his eyes to Aunt Shelly. He looks at her for just a second and then back at me. Neither of us moves, but when I say his name, something happens. Looking scared, he backs away, and starts toward his room. When I stand up, Aunt Shelly falls away from me, doesn't see what's happened.

I yank my jeans up, chase him out onto the landing, actually run after him, slide down the last few stairs, and catch his arm, just for a moment. He jerks his arm, pulls it so hard I can feel his muscles and tendons go taut just before his wrist slips out of my fingers, and then he's gone. At the bottom of the stairs I come up against his door. I rattle it on the hinges, but he's locked me out. I pound my fist against it until I hear the wood fibers loosening. If I don't stop I'm going to break it. My stomach feels like a fist, kneading itself, clutching itself together.

When I put my hand down, all I hear are our two breaths on either side of the door, mine rhythmic, like when I run wind sprints. Louder going in than out. Cody breathes in fast nervous gulps. I can hear him so well, he must be sitting with his back to the door. I lean my head against the door and let my breathing talk to him, put it back under my control. After a while his breath is slower, steadier, and I match mine to his. When I can't hear my blood in my ears anymore, I say his name. He stops breathing. For a long time, he's quiet, and then he breathes out and back in. I slide my fingers under the edge of the door. He touches them, but he won't open the door.

I didn't mean to scare him, but I see now how Cody is all alone in the world. I button my jeans and in the coat closet I find a sweatshirt to put on. The keys are on the table where I left them. There is something awful trying to get out of my belly, like in that Alien movie. I drive and pretend the cold is the other world at football practice, let the things in my head run hot, then cold.

When I go home, all the upstairs lights are on and Aunt Shelly is gone, to work probably. I lie down in my clothes on her bed and wait for my stomach to lie still. After a while I feel the warm grey fuzz, when my heart speeds up and my brain slows down.

In the morning Cody gets himself off to school. The front door slamming wakes me up and I go downstairs to see his cereal bowl in the kitchen sink. I pour it full of Cap'n Crunch and milk, and sit at the kitchen counter. The first spoonful I dribble milk down my chin. My teeth keep meshing on the stuff, but it doesn't break down. My throat tries to back it up, give it another chance, but then it goes down, barely chewed, into my guts. I pour the rest of it down the garbage disposal and rinse the bowl out again.

The keys are in my pocket, so I leave, and I'm still late to class. I walk into Civics, without my backpack or my coat, fifteen minutes late. Even though it's zero hour and almost nobody is around, Graves sends me back to the office for a pass. Doesn't look at the pass when I come back. Being on the back row means I can sleep and I don't have to think about Kimberly Beckey for an hour.

anoles copulating on wisteria in public

I see her in Senior Language Arts, but she's three rows back from me. I ride the front row here, because I am a trouble-maker. A hooligan. A miscreant. A ne'er-do-well. A maker of snide commentary. Mr. Soffet thinks I'm challenging his authority. He puts our vocabulary words on the board. Abrade, reprehensible, hegemony, then legerdemain. I borrow a pen from the girl next to me and write them on my arm for later reference.

In Intro. to Psychology, Mr. Gabriel tries to start on the day's assignment, but he looks nervous, sweats like he's running a marathon. Then he sends me on errands. They're pretty important, and I'm the only man for the job, that's the look he gives me. Or maybe his eyes are saying, I don't want to be part of your Jerry Springer episode. I take his Xeroxes and his notes and I can feel the whole class watching me leave. Terry catches my eye with a small movement of his hand. He looks pissed off and mouths something to me that I don't understand.

I peddle Gabriel's notes up and down the halls, then down the catwalk to the middle school. Mrs. Gabriel teaches Seventh Grade English, lectures it just like it's printed in her teacher's manual. Pretty exciting. She takes old Gabriel's note, pries it open and peeks at it. So this is the student, she's thinking. Then she sends me on more errands.

It's a pile of second grade workbooks left over from summer school, when all the classes meet in the Junior High. She thanks me, writes me out a pass to Room 314 in the elementary school, all without looking at me. I take the workbooks in one trip, both arms full, juggle them down the hall, out into the new snow, and swoosh, through the automatic doors of the grade school. It smells like it did when I was a kid, when I loved school and we made things with scissors and crayons and glue. I walk past my old kindergarten classroom and see it's the same as when I was there. Big windows and bright colors, with the inflatable alphabet people along one wall. Miss S. is too sexy; I mean, the way she looks could give you a thing for blow-up dolls. Nobody else is there, because it's snack time. I go past the library, where the same old dyke is still in charge. When we found out what it meant we started calling her the lesbrarian.

I keep hoping I'll see Cody, but Room 314 is in the Elementary Annex, where all the special education classrooms are. I start thinking that I'm lost and maybe I am lost, but then I hear a voice that reels me in.

"Once upon a time, in the long ago and the far away, the Devil had a new toy. It was bright and shimmering, but this mirror didn't reflect the World like the ones you have seen. The mirror turned the World backwards. All the good and lovely things in the World it made small and pale and weak, and all the evil and ugly things it made seem beautiful and enchanting. Beautiful maidens were wrinkled hags, gold was dull as clay, and the wicked laughter of the Devil rang as clear as a church bell." The teacher's voice rises up and up and seems like it will keep going, and then it slides back down, slips into the neck of my shirt, warms me up all over, in places that grade school teachers should not warm you up.

"There was a great feast in the Halls of Hell, and as the night wore on there was great fighting. During this fighting one of the minor demons fell against the mirror, breaking it. It has never been told what the fate of this careless demon was, but the mirror shattered into a million pieces, which flew out into the World.

"Now we must leave that part of the story, and go to another time, in the long ago and the far away. In a quiet place of snow, there lived a little boy and a little girl and their little grandma and their little grandpa. Long ago we were all little, because the World was so large. The little boy was called Kay and the little girl Gerda."

I know this story. Either I read it to Cody or someone read it to me.

The workbooks shift while I'm distracted. They slip away from my body and ooze onto the floor, making enough noise to spook the little kids, who turn around and look at me. The teacher looks at me, too, but she's calm. Just closes the storybook around one finger, and says, "Is there something I can do for you?" Her voice slides back into my clothes and I do a rubber neck at her name plate next to the door, and go goose bumps all over.

"314 Miss L. Holter," it says, white on blue.

"The workbooks. Mrs. Gabriel sent me."

"Mrs. Gabriel said she would send some of her students over with them, but I didn't think she had any students of your size in her classes," she says, and gives me a tiny smile, or maybe she has a cramp in her lip. It's hard to tell.

"I have a free hour over at the high school." Then my throat freezes up. It feels like she's looking into me. She points to where she wants the workbooks and asks a couple little guys to help me move them.

"My, there are quite a lot," she says. I can't move. She's looking at me like she's waiting for me to say something, not like she's afraid I'm going to say something. Turning away, she looks at her circle of students. She's a tiny, black bird of a woman. Her hair is all twisted into a mass of braids, and she has a coin profile face, a little pointy and weak in the chin, but very nice.

"Maybe you'd like to stay for the rest of the story," she says in a whisper, but not breathy. "If you have a free period." She does the thing with her lip, which could be a smile or not. She walks to the front of the room and after she starts the story again, I sneak up to the edge of the circle. The little kids don't notice me; they're already leaning forward, breathing her in. Or letting her breathe them in.

"...the snow became thicker, Kay and Gerda became separated. While poor Gerda called for Kay, he was following the gleaming sled tracks in the new fallen snow. He heard Gerda, but that splinter of the Devil's mirror had worked its way into his eye. Already his heart was growing cold."

I let go, let Miss Holter draw me into her quiet circle. Let her voice slip into those places that aren't for other people to go.

"The Snow Queen wrapped him in her cloak of ice and took him in her arms. She kissed poor little Kay upon his forehead and his heart froze solid. She kissed him again and he no longer remembered his Gerda. 'I would kiss you again,' she said, 'but a third kiss would surely kill you.' And the white reindeer pulled the sleigh on through the snowy night to the Snow Queen's castle."

The story goes too quickly. I wish it would keep going.

"…and poor little Gerda wept to see Kay like ice. Her tears poured out and their warmth slowly melted the ice of his heart. He began to weep, too, and the terrible splinter was washed from his eye with weeping."

When it's over, the kids go back to their desks, but I've missed the end of third hour and the beginning of fourth hour, so I ask Miss Holter for a pass. They don't use them much in the grade school and she has to dig through her desk drawers to find one. She looks at me for a while, and I realize she's waiting for me to tell her my name. She doesn't know who I am. I spell my name for her, and she fills out the pass and signs it, frowning a little.

"Are you Cody Johannsen's brother?" she asks. When I nod, she scowls at me until I feel like a second grader again. "I have Cody in my afternoon reading class. If you would, I'd like you to come see me after school." She's serious now and her voice doesn't stroke me.

The only way I escape is by promising to come see her. Of course, she's new here, that's why she wants to talk to me. By the time I reach the front doors of the grade school, my stomach has almost stopped wrestling itself. I look at the pass. My name is in sharp block letters, all the same size. Her name is in long, looping script. It is scary, scary, scary.

anoles copulating on wisteria in public