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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 - 4

By Bryn Greenwood

dead anole on front porch

"Hey, you do what you gotta do, lady. I gotta go play football," I say, and pull my arm away. It's a lie. There's no more football. There's no more anything. She can't hold me, even with that thing in her open, trying to transfix me.

"If you change your mind," she says, and she pushes a piece of paper into my hand. To get away, I don't try to refuse it. In the hallway, Coach is coming toward me, and I keep walking. When he starts yelling at me, I run toward the parking lot. The paper she gave me clings to me, sticks to my hand, so I wad it up and throw it in the floorboard of the car.

When I get home, I pull down the box from the top shelf in the back of my closet. I dump out the box on my bed, but where the gun is supposed to be, there are only pictures. Aunt Shelly was even there between my parents on their wedding day. There's a picture of the three of them. My father with a sister on either side, my mother in white and Aunt Shelly in yellow. That's the only difference between them; my mother is the bride, so she's wearing white.

On Aunt Shelly's throat, just where the collarbones come together is a little birthmark, like someone stuck his thumb in grape jelly and smeared it on her. It's the only difference. I hate that picture, because my father looks so young, and he and Aunt Shelly look together, grouped, outside my mother, and they did that to her.

The picture blurs the things I know. I know it's my mother and father, but it could just as easily be my father and Aunt Shelly, even though they got married in Las Vegas, later, after. After my mother signed the divorce papers and took a whole bottle of Seconal. Aunt Shelly married him a month later, and we lived happily ever after. Until something in him started growing, eating him up.

Now, I look at the picture, and it could be Aunt Shelly in the bride's dress, although she's older than my mother now. But me, I look just like my father, am only three years away from being as old as he is in that picture. It could be me in that tuxedo. This is why she holds onto me so hard. She lost him once. Now she makes him again. Makes me him.

Someday, Cody will look just like our father, too.

The pictures are the only things in the box, because the gun is gone. Cody's done something with the gun. I go through his drawers and the closet, look under the mattress, the bed. My heart going crazy and my hands shaking, I dump out boxes of comic books, yank the drawers out of his desk and empty them on the floor. I tear his whole room apart, but the gun's not there. When I'm done, I can't catch my breath, and the floor is almost knee deep in Cody's clothes and comics.

I wade out of the mess and up to the front hall, where I hear a small noise from the coat closet. A cricket noise. I press my ear to the door, but he hears me, too, and shuts up. I think about him in the closet, still alive because he's been living inside. He's managed to avoid the cold. I don't want to open the door, because if he were in there, I'd have to step on him; that's what happens to bugs in the house. A little crack and a noise like a splash of mud. Broken black bug parts and shiny white insides.

dead anole on front porch

Cody comes home first; I don't know which of us is more scared.

"You need to go stay with Mrs. Hernandez," I say. They'll take him in, no matter what happens. He goes down to his room and gets his sleeping bag. I don't ask him about the gun, and he doesn't say anything about what I've done to his room. Standing there with his sleeping bag hugged in both arms, he looks at the wedding picture lying on the entryway table. I offer it to him, if he wants it, but he backs away and goes to the door. He jiggles the latch, open, close, open, close, and I want to call him back, hug him for the last time, but then he opens the door all the way and goes out.

Aunt Shelly is a long time coming, and my foot falls asleep from the way I'm sitting on the living room floor.

A car pulls up in front of the house, a door opens and closes. The car pulls away and it's enough warning. I am almost standing when she opens the front door. I can stand all the way, by the time she gets the lamp on. She sees me and jumps a little, then tries to smile. My smile sticks somewhere in my throat and feels like when you swallow a whole ice cube. I corner her at the end of the sofa, and hand her the wedding picture.

I put my hands on her shoulders, like the first time I ever danced with a girl in sixth grade, and rest my thumbs at the bottom of her throat. I try hard to look at her face, but I can't stop staring at that purple smudge framed between my thumbs. She's shaking, scared; she should be when I put my hands around her neck. I want to look at her and be glad she's scared, but if I look at her face, I will never be strong enough. She puts her hands on my wrists and she starts crying, very quietly, like she's afraid someone might hear her.

The tendons in her neck go tight under my palms and my stomach reaches up into me with a long thin hand that tickles the back of my throat. It feels like it's going to reach out of me, but when I look at Aunt Shelly, I know the worst. I can't do it. She starts fighting, scrapes at my arms, all up them, trying to get a good hold on me. I let my hands slide back, and I see it again: the grape jelly spot. It looks like you could lick her clean like a cat. I've thought of that some nights, lying in bed after she's fallen asleep, how it would be easy to lean over and lick the stain off her, but it always stayed. I pull open her coat to see the mark better, and it's darker than I remember, more full of blood.

"Honey, what's the matter? What's wrong?" she's saying, and then all of a sudden she remembers my name: "Dahl? Dahl?"

She takes a step back, but I grab her right elbow, and twist it, feel muscles and tendons tearing. Her knees hit the floor and all her weight hangs on that arm. I lift my right hand over her, and swing it down onto that spot, that tiny hollow in her throat. Something cracks, runs from my fingers up to my shoulder. She stops whimpering and starts screaming, and I bring my fist down on her neck, her throat, her collarbones, her shoulders. To make her stop. I want to kill her, and I know I can't. I let my fist go slack and hit her in the face with my open hand, hard enough to make her quiet, to bloody her nose. Enough times to make me tired. When I let go of her arm, she lies on the floor and curls into herself, as small as Cody. I'm not even mad at her anymore. Before I go, I take the cordless phone off the cradle and lay it next to her, in case she wants to call 911. I hope she'll call the police and tell them what I've done to her, even if she won't tell them what she did to me.

My right hand is already so swollen that it takes a long time to get the car up to fifth gear, because I have to reach across with my left hand to shift. On the overpass out to the reservoir, I'm not careful, the down curve comes too fast, and there is a squealing noise of the bumper on the guardrail. I try to pull away, but the tires hit gravel and slush. The car skids and I let it; I take my hand away from the wheel and let it skid.

When it comes, it's like prying on something that finally gives when you've stopped expecting it. The car finds the end of the guardrail, jerks hard against nothing and slides down the slope. It's nothing; I'm still alive when the steering wheel stops in front of me. Doesn't even hurt, when everything rises up in front of me. My stomach turns over slowly, like somebody on the bed next to me. I push against the steering wheel, get a foot up into the seat, and launch myself toward wherever seems down.

The passenger door is buckled back, and the ground rises up to meet me. I land on my face, scrape my thigh against the doorframe, and the vomit is already clogging up into the back of my throat. Everything I ever ate: little jars of baby food, and hamburgers, and milk and Jell-O and a moth I ate once on a dare. I vomit until there's nothing left, I think, then gag and feel it all the way down to my belly. I gag harder and something comes loose inside of me, like a splinter slipping out.

Miss Holter's note is stuck to the floor mat. I smooth it out and see what she wrote: her name and her phone number. The "i" in Liddy is dotted with a hopeful smiley face.

There are headlights on the road above and somebody running on the gravel.

"Hey, man, hang on. I'm gonna get help," he yells down at me, like it's the simplest thing in the world.

anole catching rays

© Bryn Greenwood 2008