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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 - 3

By Bryn Greenwood

anoles copulating on wisteria in public

I don't go to fourth hour. The halls are quiet, a good quiet where you can halfway think, but not too much. The hall monitor catches me ten minutes later, sitting in the hall eating Rolaids. He acts like I'm doing it personally to ruin his day, and I wish I could puke on him.

I remember that fantasy, the one that started in grade school when the gym teacher got tired of dealing with everybody's crap and made us run fifty laps. In the fantasy, I say, "I can't do it. I'm going to be sick."

The bastard laughs, and says, "Keep running." On the next lap around I double over and spew my lunch all over his shoes. But really I always kept running. I offer the hall monitor a Rolaid; they're cherry. He looks at me like I'm some big, dumb jock, and then he asks why I'm not in class. I shrug.

"You got a pass?" he says. I wish I could puke on him: there's my pass. Instead I show him my pass. "You better get to class unless you want me to write you up," he says, all puffed up with this power he's got. Like to punch him, but I don't.

I go to homeroom, and Kimberly Beckey pretends to ignore me. She's talking to one of her lesser friends, some girl on the flag squad instead of the cheerleading squad. So I just sit in the corner and eat more Rolaids. Kimberly and Flag Girl are looking at me, then they get up and come sit in the desks near mine.

"What took you so long, Dahl?" Flag Girl says. I put another Rolaid in my mouth, suck on it, trying to get rid of that awfulness in the back of my throat. When she and I first started dating, I once tried to tell Kimberly about it, that thing in my throat, where stuff I don't say sticks. She didn't get it. All she's managed to figure out is that I don't want to be looked at, so she and Flag Girl keep looking at me. I can feel blood coming up into my face, making it hot. Flag Girl isn't having fun. She doesn't want to look at me anymore. I can feel the moment that she looks away, glances at Kimberly.

That's when I look at Flag Girl. I lean across the desk toward her, stare into her face, close my hands over my heart. I'm close enough that I could probably kiss her before she jerked away. Slowly I open my hands, like the spooky pictures on the walls at Kimberly's house, the ones where the Virgin Mary opens her long hands like a flower to show her flaming heart.

"Please, leave me alone, Kimberly. Please," I say and stare into Flag Girl's eyes. They're blue. I keep looking at her until she's ready to cry. Kimberly shifts in her chair where I can't see her, but I know she isn't looking at me. She's watching Flag Girl, trying to figure out what's happening. "Okay?" I ask.

Flag Girl stands up quickly, and looks at Kimberly, the way dogs do when you rub their noses in a mess they've made. Kimberly doesn't move, but the bell rings, and just over it I hear her say, "Okay."

At lunch Terry cuts me in line and then doesn't speak to me. This is his way of saying something, but I don't know what. It's how he cuts me when we have a bad day on the field. Usually it's like the ball's on a wire running from me to him; I can feel it. Sometimes, though, we don't connect, and then in the locker room he's got a way of brushing by me, not touching me with anything but the air he moves when he walks. I don't know why he's doing it now. Maybe it has something to do with Oedipus and Mr. Gabriel and the fact that I went without a fight.

Lunch is meatloaf and potatoes that are orange and wet. The line to the salad bar is backed up around the first bank of tables, and somebody pinches my butt while I'm standing there. It's one of the tough chicks, sitting at their usual table. Another one winks at me.

"You look a little rugged today, football hero," she says, and it's a prompt for them to look me over, unshaved, dirty sweatshirt and jeans, no shower. These girls can smell fear. I wonder if I stink.

"Why don't you sit with us? Your friends didn't save you a seat anyway," another of them says.

It's true, the people I usually sit with are not my friends today, but I'm a little afraid of the tough chicks. They speculate, and I don't know what they're thinking. It's not a dead give-away like with the cheerleaders. I get the drop on them, though.

"Okay," I say. They aren't expecting me to say yes. For half a second they look at me like they don't already have their minds made up. Two of them open a space for me and I sit down.

The nice thing is there's red Jell-O salad, so I eat that first. The tough chicks don't say anything for a while, and then they start talking again, but not to me. I watch them badger other unsuspecting people who go past the table. Then Loomis comes over to put his lunch tray on the conveyor belt, and he says, "Hey, faggot." It pisses me off that he's ruining my Jell-O. I've got two bites left, and I can hardly put the spoon in my mouth. "I'm talking to you, faggot. You like getting fucked up the ass?"

"I think he's making a pass at you," the Queen of the tough chicks says, and the rest of them laugh.

"Go fuck yourself, and then you can tell me how it was. See if I want to try it," I say.

anoles copulating on wisteria in public

"Maybe I'll go fuck your aunt and tell you how it was," Loomis says, but he's not stupid. He's already backing away, headed toward the exit doors. The Jell-O is in one of those heavy old china bowls that don't even break when you drop them. It fits right in my palm, and even though it's nothing like a football, I can throw just about anything.

"Like I don't already know," I say, and throw the Jell-O, ready for him to come back at me crazy after the bowl hits him in the forehead. Instead he falls over on the floor. It's pretty unexciting—the bowl goes thwack, Loomis goes thud—but everybody starts laughing and yelling and throwing things.

The girls' Phys. Ed. teacher, who's on cafeteria duty, comes running over, blowing her whistle. She shoves me back into my chair and screams, "You just sit down, mister!"

The nurse comes, checks Loomis over, tells us he isn't dead. When he comes to, she helps him to her office. The principal comes, and says, "What happened here, Johannsen?"

"He was supposed to catch it," I say, but I don't even try to make it sound true. Then Coach shows up and they all argue for a while, so I tune them out. I guess Coach wins, because I end up doing in-school suspension with him for the rest of the week.

Doing detention or suspension in Coach's office is a total joke. He's got his desk in there, plus two student desks, and big metal cabinets full of equipment. Coach does whatever he needs to do, and I sit there for the rest of the afternoon, pretending to read a magazine. Every once in a while Coach looks up at me like he's going to say something, but he doesn't.

At three-thirty, the last bell rings, and Coach says, "How's it working out with Terry?"

"It's solid. I can see Terry with my eyes closed." Coach hates that. He calls it jigaboo-voodoo-quarterbacking.

"I'm gonna bench Loomis for the game this week."

"That's cool," I say. Then somebody knocks on the door, and I just about fall out of my chair when I turn around to see who it is. Miss L. Holter looks in through the chicken wire glass at me.

"Coach Marsh?" she says. "I'm Liddy Holter, reading specialist at the grade school."

"What can I do for you?" Coach says, and stands up to shake her hand, holds it way too long. He's got this creepy, old white guy hard-on for black chicks.

"I was looking for Dahl, here. They told me at the office that he was in detention with you." I let her voice wash over me without listening to what she says; I just like the sound of it. Coach is nodding, nodding, he smiles, and before I can say anything, he leaves the office, and Liddy Holter closes the door behind him. She sits down in the desk next to mine, and straightens her skirt and her little feet.

"What?" I say. She scowls at me, and then her face softens. Even when I look away, I feel that softness working at me. I try to imagine her as a receiver, imagine the ball traveling to her, imagine me controlling the electrical connection between us.

"Well, he's about this tall," I start to say, but she slices me open with one look.

"I'm worried about him, and I need you to be serious," she says, her voice nothing like it was when she was reading the book. It's sharp and cuts me worse than her look does.

All of a sudden it occurs to me that if he's in her reading class, he's in a remedial reading class. I say, "Is he falling behind or something?"

"Yes, he's falling behind, because he's never here. He's here, bodily, in school every day, but he's not here, with us, and I think you know what I mean, because I don't think you are either." I start to laugh, but she leans forward and says, "Dahl, I don't know what to do if you won't help me. I've tried calling your mother, but she won't return my calls&mclass;."

"Have you tried a Ouija board?" I ask. She frowns. "She's not returning your phone calls 'cause she's dead." I start to stand up, but the way she looks at me makes my legs shaky.

"According to Cody's school records, Shelly Johannsen is still living," she says and looks at me firmly, with a little push, her eyebrows moving up a notch.

"She's our aunt and our step-mother and our legal guardian, but she's not our mother." I expect Miss Holter to lower her eyes, but she doesn't. She just pushes a little harder, this time down with her eyebrows. She waits for me to say something. Go fish. "I'm sorry. I didn't know, but I wanted to talk to someone in your family about Cody, and I thought, because you're his big brother that you might…help. He ignores everyone, or he spends the day in the principal's office, like today, because he acts up or gets in fights. Like you. I heard about your fight today."

"Yeah? What did you hear?"

"Tell me what's the matter, Dahl. Tell me what it's like at home. I don't have anywhere else to go for answers," she says, her voice going back to the purr that makes me sleepy and horny. She puts her hand on my desk, maybe offering it to me. Miss L. Holter thinks that I'm going to tell her something. She thinks that somehow I'm going to reach out and put myself in her hand. Instead, when she turns it over, soft pink palm up, I think about taking her hand and putting it in my crotch. I guess that would end this conversation pretty quickly.

Before I can do anything, she starts speaking like a song, with little rises and falls. It's like that saying about music soothing the savage beast, because while she talks my stomach relaxes, stops being twisted up like a snake. I think she's hypnotizing me. She says, "Your little brother is so sad and angry. And scared, I think. Scared of something. Sometimes terrible things happen, things that are hard to talk about. But it's important to deal with those things. If we have to avoid them, avoid thinking about them, talking about them, we're avoiding ourselves. That can actually starve a person of what makes them who they are. Please tell me, so I can help him, so I can help you, too," she whispers, and her eyes are very shiny like she's going to cry. Maybe she thinks I'm doing this to him. Maybe I am. Maybe it is my fault. I pull back, almost fall off the chair. She jumps, spooked out of her trance.

"If he had bruises, or told me someone was hurting him, or looked like he wasn't being taken care of, I would have called the Department of Children and Families long ago. I would hate to call them, and cause a lot of turmoil in your family, but just because he's not being physically abused or neglected doesn't mean there's not something happening to him. I don't take this lightly. I don't call Child Services every time someone comes to school looking sad, but Cody seems like he's dying inside," she says, breathing hard.

Then something opens and closes in her, like a camera shutter, and she's calm again. I don't know what the thing is that recovers her smoothness, but I know I have to get away. She puts her hand on my arm, gently. I stand up, but she won't let go of me.

dead anole on front porch