Home Page Photo

The Big Stupid Review

Archives

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
01-01-2015
Modern Tragedy, or Parodies of Ourselves by Robert Castle
01-11-2014
Totally Enchanté, Dahling by Thor Garcia
01-04-2014
Hastini by Rudy Ravindra
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 5 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
01-01-2014
Unexpected Pastures by Kim Farleigh
10-01-2013
Nonviolence by Jim Courter
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 4 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
07-01-2013
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
04-01-2013
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
01-01-2013
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
10-01-2012
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
01-07-2012
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
01-04-2012
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
01-01-2012
Chapter from The Infinite Atrocity by Kane X. Faucher
Support the Troops By Giving Them Posthumous Boners by Tom Bradley
01-10-2011
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
01-07-2011
The Little Ganges by Joshua Willey
The Invisible World: René Magritte by Nick Bertelson
Honk for Jesus by Mitchell Waldman
01-04-2011
Red's Dead by Eli Richardson
The Memphis Showdown by Gabriel Ricard
Someday Man by John Grochalski
01-01-2011
I Was a Teenage Rent-a-Frankenstein by Tom Bradley
Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Fred Bubbers
10-01-2010
Believe in These Men by Adam Greenfield
The Magnus Effect by Robert Edward Sullivan
Performance Piece by Jim Chaffee
07-01-2010
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
04-01-2010
Uncreated Creatures by Connor Caddigan
Invisible by Anjoli Roy
One of Us by Sonia Ramos Rossi
Storyteller by Alan McCormick
01-01-2010
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
Side Photo for The Big Stupid Review

The Magnus Effect

By Robert Edward Sullivan

When my older brother Geoff was born he was as healthy as any other baby, except for the extra eye that was growing on his right shoulder. Benign malocular abnormal pterygium mutation disorder is what the Swedish doctor had told my mom and dad. It wasn't like he could see out of it or anything. He freaked me out all the time with it.

"I see you," he'd say from around the corner, or from the bunk above, his shoulder eye exposed, his hand opening the lid, scaring me.

Our mom, after our dad died, would rarely yell at Geoff. And that's when she was home. Which she hardly was. The doctor, then doctors, said they could remove it. Also said they wanted to study it. Geoff said that Mom and Dad used to argue about it, they could barely pay for the house and junk as it was, but the docs said they would pay to study it, so they left it.

It barely looked like an eye, except when he'd hold it open. He made me touch it sometimes. He'd pin me down, yelling in that hysterical laughing voice of his. I don't think he thought it was funny. I sure as hell didn't. We scrapped a lot.

The only thing we didn't scrap about was baseball. Geoff and I would spend most of time after school playing down the street with other kids from around the neighborhood. Our mother worked third shift at the green bean factory at the edge of town and was usually asleep most of the day, so we were left to entertain ourselves. I was the catcher, he was the pitcher. Sometimes right before we'd go to the park to play with the others, we'd get behind our mint green trailer house while he tried a curve ball or a knuckle ball. He'd look at the stitches, study the ball in his glove, then wind up and throw. "Did that curve at all?" he asked one time.

"A little." I wasn't expecting it to, which is why I didn't catch it.

And then he tried again, and again, each time looking at the ball, staring at it intently, trying to get the rotation just right.

"How did you do that?" I asked.

"It's all physics, man. Topspin and shit. Dad showed me."

"Really?"

If I knew he was throwing it, I could catch it most of the time.

He dazzled and frustrated every batter. Even Carl, who was the best hitter out of all of us.

One time, after we finally walked home, after we ate the mac and cheese Mom had left for us, and after we played some video games, flipped through the channels, after we eventually crawled in our bunks, we talked.

"George," he whispered so quietly that I wasn't sure he actually said anything.

"Yeah?" I said.

"I hate it. I wish it gone."

I fell asleep waiting for him to say something more. He didn't.

When he was in sixth grade, and I was in fourth, he completely stopped torturing me with his the eye. And every time he came back from the docs, he'd be silent for the entire day. And when he did talk, it was distant and angry.

Then, he quit playing baseball.

"George," he said, during another quiet bunk bed conversation.

"Yeah?"

"Do you remember Dad?"

I didn't. Nothing solid, at least. He died when I wasn't even three years old yet. There is something, though. An idea, something faint and distant, and wrapped in Brut cologne.

"Yeah," I said.

"Do you miss him?"

"I do." Somehow this was true.

"You were just a little shit, but there was one time, after he said he got a promotion at the factory, he came home with Taco Bell."

"The one someone got shot at?"

He paused for a long time. "Yeah. But this was before that. He came home with a bag of tacos. But Mom had made that pasta dish and she was pissed. They argued a bunch. Like, really loud. We ate the Taco Bell and had the pasta the next night. It was a month before he died."

He cleared his throat and didn't say anything else for a long while. I was almost asleep when I heard him again.

"It won't close," he said. "It's dark now."

There was a long silence. He shifted again "They're going to remove it. Tomorrow."

I kept wishing I had something more to say.

"Do you think…" he said. "Do you think I'll still be able to play little league?"

I had never heard such apprehension in my brother's voice. Even though he stopped playing at the park, the thought never occurred to me that he wouldn't play little league. It was summer. It was what you did.

"Of course," I said, sitting up on my elbows.

"There's going to be all sorts of doctors and scientists there. Watching."

"Really? Scientists too?"

"My doc is all famous now, I guess. Because of me. I was in some journal and shit. Why I took all those tests all the time."

"That's cool, I guess."

"Mom and Dad used to fight about it, you know?"

I didn't say anything. The crisp sound of the sheets rustling was loud against the silence.

"Dad wanted it gone. Because… he knew that's what I wanted. Mom kept talking about how much it would cost."

He leaned over the bed, and even in the darkness I could see his outline.

"Well, now you're getting it removed. It'll be okay," I said.

He whispered, "It's my fault he's dead, you know?"

"Geoff, c'mon. That's—"

"He didn't get a promotion. He got a second job."

"What?"

I could feel his eyes on me. "You don't know how Dad died… do you?"

I thought I did until I heard that tone. Mom said a truck swerved across the median and struck his Oldsmobile.

As if reading my thoughts, "It wasn't a car accident. Mom just says that… I don't know why."

"How did he die?"

"He was fucking shot, George."

I sat up. "What?"

"He was working at that Taco Bell. Only place open at night. Stupid fuckers tried to rob it. Who the fuck robs a Taco Bell? Dad didn't let them. They shot him." He started crying. "He was trying to make extra money. For the eye."

He buried his head in the pillow and didn't say anything else.

"It will be okay, Geoff," I said, the words sounding flat.

The pale blue-gray light of morning started to creep into the room when I finally went to sleep, unsure if Geoff was awake or not.

It's been six days since he's been in the hospital. Tryouts are tomorrow. The first surgery didn't go according to plan, I guess, Mom told me on the phone. I've been staying at Carl's house. He's nowhere near as good of a pitcher as my brother. I keep watching the driveway, hoping to see our beat up mini-van. Mom can't miss any more work and was sleeping at the hospital waiting for him to wake up.

They keep saying everything will be okay, and that it's just a matter of time before he comes around. I don't know if this is the truth or not. Or if it's just something doctors say because they don't know what else to say. I can't think about it—that he might not wake up. So every time the thought sneaks in, I close my eyes and imagine what the next pitch is going to look like. If I focus hard enough I can see the stitches on the ball as it turns and glides through the air. I can tell what kind of spin it has, and what pitch it will be. If I close my eyes hard enough, and think about when all that physics make it glide and curve through the air, I can imagine the sound it will make when it hits my glove.

© Robert Edward Sullivan 2010