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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
Side Photo for The Big Stupid Review

To See Right Again - Part 1

By David Quinn

Texas Green Tree Snake

With a raspy one, two three, four sets of hands unplugged me like a sucker from its surface in my hospital bed in the locked eighth floor psychiatric ward of the Veteran’s Administration hospital in Iowa City and slid me onto a green-sheeted gurney at its side. My eyes snapped open momentarily in the process before belts clicked together over my chest and feet and, not surprisingly, everything was still the same. My appointment with electroshock had finally arrived.

"Mike" and "George" were on either side of me at chest level and Dr. Iris and her ever-accompanying physician-in-training Cecile Beaufort-McKee at my feet. All of them dressed in casual clothing and would easily pass as anybody you’d pass on the street without paying even the slightest bit of attention to. Seemingly, nobody in the hospital except technicians wore olive-green scrubs and an identifying badge and the soft-spoken individual presently checking the bandaging in the Heparin lock in the back of my right hand was the lone exception.

Even with my eyes seemingly open, I knew I still wasn’t doing a very good job of physically seeing what was really what. A complete mess, too, to anybody and everybody looking at me from the outside or even monitoring me on the inside. But inside I know the story that keeps playing in my mind, and when that’s the case, who cares about everybody else?

The first time I got the DTs was in Atlanta back when Flo and I were still married. My computer didn’t have a modem that far back in the eighties, but mistakenly I just sat there listening in Spanish to a political speech being broadcast live from Buenos Aires. Later on that evening I was asleep in the pitch-black bedroom when suddenly my eyes snapped open and coming down the wall right next to me was a glowing orange spider bigger than my fist and right behind it a string of quarter-size babies. I catapulted right over Flo and curled into a ball by the window. Around the house a robed procession and in each person’s hand a lighted candle. "We are true Christians," they kept chanting, and with their monk-robes and all their orange tongues of fire… Jesus H. Christ! I don’t remember a thing about being carried off to the psych ward at Piedmont Hospital… Nothing about getting to the Rush rehab facility in Donner’s Grove, Illinois.

There are two 3 x 3 air ducts in the ceiling of my room, with the heat coming out of the left and then disappearing into the return on the right. Flowing along with the unseen air, right from the beginning, there’s been a steady procession of technicolor blurs. Mid-way across the ceiling the always-the-same-always-slightly-different splashing of color stops as though looking for something, pirouettes a couple of times and then, wrapped in an exiting swoosh, disappears into the cold air return.

"Mike" is physically the biggest of the four and whatever job he’d had before taking on his present one with the VA, it had left his hands calloused. Even through the blue pjs I’d been issued the first day, I can feel them as he’s smoothing out the strap snapped across my chest. "Ok here," he confirms. "Same here," Cecile seconds from the left down toward the bottom of my legs.

Invariably he was always the one who’d wake me up for breakfast, lunch or supper and would then slide me out of bed and into a wheelchair in which I’d be wheeled to a table in the Common Room down the hall. "Socialization," he’d always explain over my protests. "It’s part of the healing process." "Mike" and Dr. Iris, as a matter of fact, are close to being the only people here on the eighth floor I’ve ever said anything more than "Hi" or "Good-by" to.

"What part of Ireland you from?" he asked somewhere toward the beginning. I’ve got the red hair and the freckles, but I didn’t wanna answer because why?: He wasn’t gonna believe me, anyway. It isn’t stress and it isn’t anything else I can be sure about, but there’re times like when I’m out walking in the middle of the night and start talking aloud to myself and it’s like when I was a kid, five or six and some "aunt" or "uncle’d" be stretched out in a coffin along the wall in my grandmother’s living room. My Irish relatives’d come through the front door, get like somebody from Special Olympics on their way to the prayer pew and then their hands’d start doing some kind of reflexive dominos and biscuits. Male or female there in the padding with their hands folded across their chests with a rosary in their fingers and with their eyes forever frozen in eternal nothingness…none of that ever seemed to matter because you’d always hear the same thing: "Now lookit the box you’ve gotten yerself in a this time, Patty." With still another quick blessing of themselves, like a baseball player taking a shortcut from first to third, they’d stand up and head immediately where they belonged: for the booze in the basement.

"Never been," I finally answered in frustration and was hoping to just let it go with that. But Mike kept on: "Grew up myself in an Irish neighborhood in St. Louis," he insisted. "And just about all of us wound up catching the Irish disease, so I know where you’re comin’ from."

If I’d been feeling better, I more than likely would’ve said something about how Manayunk, the section of Philadelphia where I’d grown up, meant "Drinking Place" in the language of the Lenapi Indians Billy Penn stole the place from. And some things never change. True to the name almost every intersection there has four bar-social clubs on it: Irish, Polish, German and Italian. Back then when I was growing up, you didn’t have to be twenty-one, eighteen or even sixteen to get served. If you and your buddies could cough up about twice the going price for a six pack, rare was the time—mostly when the joint was crowded and a lot of strangers would turn around and look at you—Yeah! Rare was the time when you couldn’t just slap your money on the bar, grunt disgustedly once or twice like somebody getting ripped off or maybe even rip off a loud fart, and then walk out of the place with six frosty bottles of Ballentine’s, Schmidt’s or Schaefer’s.

"George," like "Mike," is what’s euphemistically called a "recovering alcoholic." Additionally, without having to be told so, I knew he was a new man in a different way: like the other five individuals I’d see in the Common Room during meal time, he’d gone into electroshock and, like a born-again Christian, had come out all lit up inside. And to hell with his tongue that more than likely got short-circuited in the wiring.

Dr. Iris was the first to tell me what’s what with electroshock: "It’s nothing at all like what everybody thinks it is; nothing like what most of us have seen in One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest. Back in those days the patient would get one massive charge of electricity and, admittedly, more often than not it was too much. Things’re different today: six consecutive sessions in the same amount of days, and the success rate is between eighty and a hundred percent."

There’s no reason why I shouldn’t believe her except… There’s another guy here; somebody almost my age you always see supposedly explaining a chess move to a Black. Pawns and people in front of them all the time, but never once even a single move. Then, too, there’s "Doc." Took his wife apart with a chain saw and then buried the pieces in their garden in Galesburg. And what about "Towel Head"? Never once saw her face because it’s always covered with two or three bleeding towels that always seem to be begging for a bath. Reportedly, she did in a doctor who’d kept her husband on Nexium—treating the symptoms—until he died of cancer of the colon. As a matter of fact, there’s nobody here even close to being sane, so even the low end of what she’s talking about…the eighty percent… No way!

"Since the meds don’t seem to be helping you at all," she continued, "and since your profile…"

There are three things that make you eligible Mike had told me about the third or fourth day after arriving there on the eighth floor. "The risk of doing harm to yourself: suicide; the danger of hurting somebody else; homicide…" Mike stopped at this point because, messed up as I was, he had his orders and if anybody was to explain the third qualification, that was up to Dr. Iris.

Texas Green Tree Snake

Obssession’s the big word today with alcoholics. Most of us feel we know what it means, but in a medical environment, it’s like the boogeyman we all used to be afraid of: it can be hiding in a bedroom closet, under the bed or just waiting outside the window until you fall asleep. Your parents tell you no such thing exists; that they’ll be there watching out; that they won’t let anything bad happen to you. But you know better. Kids believe in God surrounded by all His angels, in Santa Clause, in the Easter Bunny and even in the Tooth Fairy while gown-ups just smile knowingly when they hear such things. The point is, though, that the more developed your imagination, as with kids…and dreamers… You can say what you want about "truth," but most of it doesn’t float: thinking makes things real. And that’s what we’re here for. Otherwise, somebody else’s rolling the rudder. Captain Nemo’s on the bottom of the ocean right now. Flash Gordon took "a small step" on the moon a couple of decades ago and then "retired" to teach somewhere in Ohio. And just ask anybody ever shot at about the Boogieman. He’s alive and well and getting worse all the time.

Our big thing during the five years I spent in Spain was getting rid of Franco who "ruled" the place for forty years before dying of old age; old age and the pollution of the bromides we’d stir in our minds and then send winging his way. That was our obsession, and don’t tell me all of my friends who were killed… And don’t tell the "lucky" ones who now sing alto in the choir because all that happened to them was they got their balls twisted off with pliers… So what do you expect: leave them there forever like the damn Christians: dead and delivered with your deeds forever done? No! No! Don’t tell me it’s just in my head because you don’t know what you’re talking about, hear me? We can’t just leave the world alone: we gotta keep at it, revising and revising until we finally get it straight, hear me?

"I don’t think you’re any threat to yourself or to anybody else," Dr. Iris assured me the day she told me I need more than the lithium, the lemon bag of nutrients and the saline solution most people get when they’re in an alcoholic ward to dry out. "But…"

Whenever I hear somebody say "but" and then peter out I know what’s coming.

"Remember getting here with an attaché case full of short stories you wrote?" she picked up but not leaving any space for an answer. "That’s what we call an obsession, and the one you’ve got is like…" (She shut her mouth so hard you could almost hear the crumbling into individual letters, like dry cookies, of the next words on the tip of her tongue.)

Uncle Jim taught me to never apologize; to face the band whether the music it’s playing is something you would’ve chosen or not. "You think you’re doing the right thing when you decide to do it, and that’s the best any of us can do." And I believe him.

Teacher and his Black friend were in the Common Room as Mike, George, Dr. Iris and Cecile wheeled me by. And they kept on looking until the me they’d seen for the last couple of mind-wrenching days…until the me I was saying good-by to…would forever disappear out of sight.

"You tell him about the DNA?" I heard Dr. Iris whisper from the trailing end of the gurney and if Cecile heard her or had an answer, I didn’t hear. The polished aluminum door of the elevator slid open and we all moved inside and started descending to the fifth floor.