- 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
- 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
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part I
By Thor Garcia
In which we meet our heroine, her family, and are instructed on how rats are best brained for profit.
Times were tough, oh they were hard. The people were poor, afflicted and drug-addicted. The soft piano played. William Blump and his wife, Magda, had five children and no money. And then, quite suddenly, the eldest daughters had turned into teenagers.
The blond was delightful, bouncy, of a relatively good disposition. Yet stubborn, defiant, with an unfortunate tendency to be outraged by the injustice and corruption which thrived everywhere. Milky smooth skin. Milky plump breasts, swollen with nature's natural nectar.
The redhead, a year older, was stockier and plumper and a trifle nasty. Her face oily and well pimpled, she was always seeking a handout or something to eat. Stubborn and defiant as well — yet more than willing to let the injustice slide, so long as she was eating or getting a leg up.
They had no money. The pottery kiln had cracked and no one could find the repair manual. Father Bill had lost the rest through drinking and a bad tulip investment. So there was no money. There was no food. What money they had they used to pay the ship captain, Ol' Nicklestone, to sail them the 60 nautical miles to town in his barge.
Before leaving, the old man Blump got drunk in the truck stop, dancing around and singing "Jolly Good To Meet You" as Ol' Nicklestone bought whiskey sours and slapped his thigh, giggling at poor Blump. Everyone in the truck stop — truckers, mainly, and prostitutes – had such a grand time laughing at Blump. It was the night's jolly good show. Blump had a fantastic time too, he was sad to leave. He could have stayed all night — it didn't get better than hanging about with drinking folk, and Blump so did love to dance. But leave Blump had to. They had a boat to catch. He and Ol' Nicklestone had a last round of three shots and bid the truck stop adieu.
The ship sailed through stormy seas. About an hour in, it was discovered that six-year-old Jeremy had smuggled aboard a puppy in his coat. He had found the little mutt snuffing around in some mildewed boxes in the alley, and thought it best to smuggle him aboard the barge. A sweet brown puppy! Jeremy was pleased. Mother Magda, however, became sad and angry because they hadn't brought any dog food. They would have to give the pup some of their people food during the long voyage, and they already didn't have enough. But it seemed nothing could be done.
As they were arguing about the dog, Father Bill discovered that the eldest daughter, the redhead Shamela, was missing. Where had she gone? They sent the blond daughter, Cleopatra, to find her.
Who would have thought? Cleopatra, wandering the barge decks, firm young breasts swelling, pulled open a dank hold — only to find old Captain Nicklestone's grizzled buttocks confronting her in the face. Drunk Ol' Nicklestone was delivering everything his hardy maleness could muster into the moist mouth of that redheaded nymph Shamela! Mmmm, and Ol' Nicklestone was lovin' it. His grizzled little dong eased in and out as nice as you could imagine, with a fine amount of squeezin'.
"You're an awful mean man!" screamed Cleo, tears streaming down her cheeks. "That's my sister!"
Ol' Nicklestone looked up, stunned but quite drunk and full of lovin'.
"Why, you're next," he growled. "Slutty blond wench! C'mere!"
Ol' Nicklestone's grizzled paw shot out to claw Cleo's face. But Cleo, flush with outrage over the injustice, was fast and brave. Before Ol' Nicklestone could grab her, she clouted him on the nose with a copy of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Ol' Nicklestone fell to the side, howling.
"No good whores!" he growled. "Hate y'all!"
The sea wind screamed. Cleo pulled Shamela to the deck, handed her a tissue and hustled her down the gangway.
"Witch, why'd you do that?" said Shamela, yanking up her frilly panties with regret. "Cap'n Nicklestone said he was gonna give me a box of Pop-Tarts. Don't you know I'm so hungry? All he wanted was to shoot off in my mouth so I could have some Pop-Tarts. I would have given you one, sis."
Cleopatra had no good answer.
"You stupid, Cleo, I hate you!" yelled Shamela.
The sea was red, the sky was grey – the wind screamed mercilessly. Cleo drew her tattered sweatshirt over her shoulders and shivered, looking out at the heaving black water. Grey storm clouds, choked with the bitterness and injustice of the eons, piled up on the far horizon.
Cleo had to admit: She was as hungry as Shamela. She felt herself go dizzy as she thought of warm blankets and coffee-crunch doughnuts, macadamia-nut sponge-cakes, caramel-filled baguettes and lemon meringue cupcakes, butterscotch pies and raspberry tarts, vanilla cream puffs and creamy chocolate-filled peanut waffles.
Three weeks later, the barge finally steamed into harbor. Ol' Nicklestone unwrapped a bottle of new Kentucky Molasses whisky and shared a few farewell slugs with Father Bill.
Ol' Nicklestone laughed.
"Good luck to ye, Bill, ye gonna need it in the big city. Tell you what, though – you put those sweet-booty daughters of yours to work, ye shall make a pretty penny. Aye-aye, that I do maintain, Bill, that I maintaineth." Ol' Nicklestone winked, knocked back another whisky. "The big city do appreciate talents of the kind your gals be possessin'. You hear me what I'm sayin', Bill? I have so enjoyed their company, lo these weeks adrift. Especially that squat one — what you call her? I'd just as soon call her 'Tits,' if I don't mind sayin'."
"Aye-aye, Cap'n," said Father Bill, holding out his cup for another belt of moonshine. "They are marvelous daughters indeed, do a father proud. Methinks we'll do jus' fine."
The family dragged its few meager suitcases from the dock down to the poor area, as required by law. Eventually, Father Bill discovered an old basement that had apparently been abandoned. It was cold, very cold, down there, with only one half-working light bulb. But it was something. A smelly old toilet sat against the east wall — no doors or nothing. Spiders and rats and several varieties of greasy worms ran for cover as the family clunked in. But yes — well, it was something.
"Don't worry, me troops," assured Father Bill, who was wishing he had asked Ol' Nicklestone for another belt of smooth Kentucky Molasses. "We won't stay here long, I reckon. This is the big city, streets made of gold and Corinthian leather. Shouldn't be long before we're wiping our behinds with silk and taking our baths in Jim Beam."
"And as for this dog," said Bill, picking up little Jeremy's pup, "why he's a cute lil' feller, if I do say so. How's about let's put him in this little old drawer here by the ground? That way, he'll stay out of our way as we go about our business. Also, it'll be warm in there and the spiders and rats won't get him."
"O.K.," said little Jeremy.
During the night it rained. As the family slept, water poured in through the open window slats, flooding the basement. They awoke in the morning to find that Jeremy's little puppy, whom he had named Max, had drowned in the wooden drawer.
The little boy Jeremy held the limp, drenched pup, screaming in agony.
"Ha ha ha!" laughed Shamela. She seized the deceased dog and whirling it over her head. "Your puppy died, ha ha! That's life, chump."
"That's not nice!" said Cleo, whose sense of justice was once more aroused. Rushing forward, swollen breasts swinging, she slapped Shamela.
"Horrible witch!" screamed Shamela.
The eldest daughter tossed the dead pup aside and counterattacked, driving the luscious blond Cleo to the flooded floor. The sisters thrashed around viciously in the brackish water as Father Bill squeezed his head in hands, not sure what to do but accurately feeling that a glass of 150-proof Tennessee Molasses right then would be a sure gift of goodness.
It wasn't long before the Reverend Dirk Dinwoodie Mathers O'Tully of the Rich Men's Beneficent Society turned up at the door.
"Well, well, there," said the Reverend Dirk, setting upon the table a loaf of bread, three kopecks and two pennies.
Reverend Dirk's black, menacing eyes looked the family over. He jingled the change in his pocket as he used a thumb to inspect Father Bill's gums.
"Shave your beard, Bill," he told him. "I've got work for you in a men's prison."
"And you," he said, turning to Cleo with contempt. "You shall go to work beating and skinning rats."
"And you," he said, sizing up Shamela. "Yes you, my squat, delicious dearie. Me shall buy you the finest dresses, me lovely… As for the rest of these slime-nose ankle-biters, get them in the street begging and stealing! At once! And don't forget to worship the Lord, for it is He and He alone who hath given you your bounty of generosity. And no stealing or taking the Lord's name. Or fornication!" he instructed before walking out the door with Shamela under his arm.
A barefooted Cleo showed up as instructed the next morning at the rat-braining factory outside town. The boss man looked her over and was pleased. Cleo signed the required employment contract. It called for 15 hours per day, seven days a week, with only 20 minutes each day permitted for snacks and a toilet break.
It was a bad deal, but Cleo signed anyway. She was naive, after all, and the family needed money.
The other women in the rat-skinning complex were nasty and cruel and suffered from anxiety and self-doubt. They spent most of the day drunk. In their jealousy, they called Cleo a whore and made fun of her blond hair. Tears streamed down Cleo's face as she donned her cloth apron and entered the new world of rat beating and skinning.
Eighty rats had to be beaten and skinned per hour, or they were entitled to cut your pay, according to the contract. After a rat was beaten and skinned, the hairless body was tossed into a vat, where it was blended before being sold to dealers who would place it for bid on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The more valuable skin, meanwhile, had to be cleansed in a tub of acid for re-coloring before export to Singapore, where it would be blended with extract of tiger testicle and sold illegally in China, Russia and Newport Beach, whose citizens believed the mixture, if taken in the appropriate amounts, reduced knee blotches.
Cleo's fingers began to bleed. To beat a rat, one first crushed the head with a small hammer called a flintoff, then sliced downwards through the belly with a special blade known as a damocles. It can take months or even years of practice to perfect the maneuver, and Cleo's soft hands were not accustomed to the intensity of the work.
Tears streamed down her face. The other women laughed and called her a whore.
"There's blood on your skins, you get your pay docked!" jeered one toothless woman.
"Where's your shoes?" said another. "Huh? Ain't ya got no shoes? Ain't ya?"
"It's not, it's, it's," stammered an ashamed Cleo. "My-my-my daddy burned ‘em. But, but…it was for the good of the family!"
"Cock-mouth whore!" shrieked a woman with fourteen moles on her nose.
The boss man, Dengue Pieter "Mike" de la Gaulle, walked in and immediately whipped the row of women closest to the door. "No talking, ya drunk whores!" he yelled. He turned and lashed the other row. "Get back to work or I'll fire you all! There's thousands of girls who'll beat and skin rats for free, me tells ye!"
During the 10-minute break, the other women jeered Cleo, calling her a whore and demanding to know how many penises she had accepted into her mouth in order to win the highly coveted job in the recession economy.
"None, oh!" protested the innocent Cleo. "None, I tell you! Oh, I don't know what you're talking about!"
"Here, here," said one sympathetic woman, Yahnice, coming forward to comfort Cleo. "'Tis no crime to suckle the odd spare cock and testicle in the interests of the family economy, my sweet darling. ‘Tis the way of the world nowaday, for food, yes. Verily, it is done the world over, 'tis the way of the species…"
As Yahnice and Cleo shared a brief hug, one of the other women grabbed Cleo's bread and threw it into the rat acid.
"Oh, no! That's all I have to eat today!" Cleo wailed.
The proud, defiant blond attacked the bread-thrower, wrestling her around as the other women cackled. The offending woman was burly and blocky, but Cleo was tough and brave. She slammed the woman against the tub, grabbed hold of her head and pushed it into the frothing acid.
Everyone screamed. They pulled the lady out. Smoke rose from her face.
"I'm going blind!" she screamed. "I'm going blind!"
The boss came in and beat them all.
"Get this useless whore out of here!" he said of the one who had been blinded. Turning to Cleo, he said: "And you're fired! Get out of my sight!"
Cleo appealed to his sense of justice, which, however, was very small. "But she stole my bread," Cleo said. "I was only defending myself."
A twinkle flashed in Dengue de la Gaulle's eye.
"My then, well, you have got a little spirit, methinks," said Dengue de la Gaulle. "Capitalism could verily abuse such an asset. Come with me, me lovely, we'll see what we can do. Perhaps methinks we may find something in the back office. You never know — but yes, aye, perhaps. Perhaps ye wasn't cut out for rat-skinning. Perhaps, me dear, your true talent layeth elsewhere…"
Dengue de la Gaulle, who had not been laid by his wife, Pernicious, for several years, led Cleo to the back office.
"One of the things, me dear," he said, appearing quite jolly and pouring them each pear brandies, "is there's always one thing people do that weighs them down for the lot of their lives. They cannot maneuver in their own best interests because of the burden. They screwed their sister or they murdered their father, or they smoked too much pot and lost the plot. You like that, yes? – too much pot, lost the plot? Yes, me dear… And one thing always leads to another, but the thing to remember is: Ye must kill all ye friends before they kill ye. And yea, ye they will attempt to kill. Told me that a mockingbird with a heart of glass once of a midnight tinkling. Yes, do you know the song? Drink up, me little aardvark."
Cleo downed her pear brandy. She stared at Dengue de la Gaulle with a deep-burning revulsion.
"Now then," said Dengue. "Methinks I may be in a position to offerest a job wherein the candidate needeth to possesseth good strong legs. For pushing, me dear — but solely in an administrative capacity, I assure you. We must work with many boxes here in the back room, aye, to pay our taxes according to the letter of the law. Now let's see your healthy specimens, if we may, me wee lassie. It is, in fact, a legal requirement that I so inspect, for technical reasons, otherwise I cannot offereth — thus saith the law. Bendeth over, as you will, me lovely. And yes, I do admire the bare feet, ‘tis a welcome touch of naturalism, yes
She ran off, bare pink feet plodding painfully against the cobbles, back to the flooded basement, where the Blump family continued to survive wretchedly.
to be continued
This is an excerpt from the short story collection Only Fools Die of Heartbreak to be published by Equus Press later this year
© Thor Garcia 2013