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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

Opening Night of a Faun - Part 1

By Senya Jo Bruskin

poster from faun

Paris, Le Châtelet, Wednesday, May 29, 1912

He looked down and inhaled, closing his eyes tightly to hold his thoughts firmly in place, to close out the constant knocking and the memory of the silence last night. "Vaslav, Vaslav," Grigoriev's voice pierced his concentration, "Five minutes." He didn't need anyone to call him; he had told his dresser and valet to leave because it was five minutes. He knew the conductor was pacing below, wanting to pull open the thin door to the orchestra pit. He knew the women were standing off stage right; frayed woolen shawls pulled around their frail, translucent shoulders as they rubbed and stretched their legs, pacing back and forth in frustration, unaccustomed to bare feet, toes painted a primitive red, vulnerable without the hardened shoes they rubbed in the rosin box before each ballet.

He took another deep breath. He was tired, so tired. Only weeks before he had been ill; now he was again dancing at least two ballets each night, even on this night -- his first prémière. He opened his eyes and leaned forward, close to the mirror, and pulled thick white cream with his blunt forefinger across his eyebrow, making it stand up and out, roughly. "Yes, that's it," he thought, and repeated the action on the other side. He turned to the mirror and studied the animal reflected in the glass. It was just as he'd envisioned: pinto markings, a stub of a tail, pointed ears, tight nostrils, a clump of leaves to cover his groin. He'd protested this foolish coyness, but in vain.

Unconsciously, he rose up slowly in his thin sandals, pulling his muscles until he was standing on the tips of his bare toes as he did every day to strengthen his legs and feet. His toes gripped the golden leather soles, his calves taut, straining against the straps.

The banging, again: "Vaslav!" and he opened the door so suddenly that Grigoriev, standing behind it, was startled and flew back. Vaslav moved past him as quietly as still water, past Sergei, who looked at him, knowing enough not to say anything. He slipped past six of the girls in their costumes, and without pausing, touched the outstretched finger of the seventh, Bronia, his sister, who stood apart.

Bronia held his gaze, trying to hide her terror at this performance. She had never been this nervous before an entrance; but then, she had never done anything so opposite everything she had ever learned. She had been torn since they began working together in secret, and later when she helped him rehearse the other women. Especially when they protested so! "How can he expect us to walk around without pointe shoes?" said Nelidova, even though she had been chosen for the leading role. "And what is this parading side-ways, and barefoot? Who gives him the right to tell us to walk this way?" Bronia had thought, "This girl is foolish. Not only can't she see what he is doing with the steps, she knows why Vaslav can do whatever he pleases. Diaghilev wants Vaslav to be a success in his work; then he can tell the world he created a choreographer from nothing."

Even then, when they were rehearsing, it was seldom that they could spend time alone together; now, even less. Bronia had watched her brother and knew from his occasional sharp retorts that he was becoming more comfortable in France. He could speak a little French now, though less than the other dancers, who had probably paid more attention in class when they were in the Imperial Ballet School. Most days Vaslav was surrounded by people, Sergei proudly shepherding him from this café to that restaurant, as he talked with the rich ladies, the right people who hovered around him like a cloud of mosquitoes. It pained her to see how Diaghilev used Vaslav; sometimes it was almost vulgar, the way he showed him as if he was a bauble on his hand. But although Vaslav was often only permitted to glitter in Diaghilev's reflected light, she saw that from time to time Diaghilev himself would stand back to bask in the glow emanating from Vaslav.

Bronia knew that to everyone else he was completely unrecognizable off stage; none of the energy that animated him there was evident anywhere else. His face was as blank as an empty canvas. His clothes managed to be stylish but unremarkable, even though they had to be specially tailored to camouflage the unusual shape of his legs. Vaslav would sit next to the great impresario, nodding politely when spoken to, but otherwise gazing off into space. He was merely present as Sergei and his clique talked about the newest painting, the newest fashions, and the newest piece that Sergei had commissioned from Stravinsky. Only the newest mattered to them, a few moments later it was ready for the trash, laughable.

She remembered that afternoon a year ago, after a rehearsal of "Carnaval" in Monte Carlo, at the end of the last season. They had walked along the strand together, before he called for the car to take him to the Palais de Soleil, high in the hills above the tiny city, before she went off to a simpler place, where the rest of the Company stayed, on the back streets that twisted and struggled up the base of the mountain. The two of them had been dancing "Carnaval" since its first days as a charity performance in St. Petersburg. Vaslav was already a star, and she was just barely out of the Imperial School, and Folkine, frantically rushing as always, had glossed over her role, the butterfly, "Papillion." Later, at home, Vaslav was filled with ideas about how she could show its flight, its wings, its delicate movements. His thoughts had flowed into her body effortlessly and after a night of practice before her streaked mirror, she perfected the role. By the time Diaghilev brought it to Monte Carlo, it was one of the audience's favorite moments in the ballet.