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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

By Bryn Greenwood

anoles copulating on wisteria in public

Standing on the front porch, trying to decide whether to go inside, I remember what I hate about October: the crickets. There's one on the front porch; I'll have to walk past him to go inside. I nudge him, to see if he's dead or what, and he tries to move. He's alive but one of his back legs falls off. It doesn't matter how much you eat, Halloween candy doesn't make up for that.

I wish I could go back to school, but it's harder to unskip than to skip; I'm more likely to get caught sneaking in than sneaking out. I step over the cricket and open the front door as quietly as I can, but Aunt Shelly hears me, and says, "Is that you, honey?" She's sitting in the living room, smoking a joint and drinking a White Russian. I don't say anything, just head to the kitchen to make a sandwich. The living room is like a cave with all the curtains closed, and the whole house smells like smoke and something else, something nasty. The kitchen is still painted buttercup yellow. It's bright in here, friendly. The whole house used to be like that.

After a while, Aunt Shelly comes in, squinting against the sunlight. Her hair's piled on her head and her skin looks pale without make-up. She's wearing tight pants and a slutty, see-through top; I can see her nipples through the fabric. She poses for a little while, letting me get a good look at her. Aunt Shelly knows she has a good body, but then every drunk cowboy and trucker in a hundred mile radius knows it. She says she's not a stripper, she's a dancer, but she takes her clothes off. Standing there, letting me get a good look at her tits, she waits for me to say something. I don't want it anymore, but I force down the sandwich.

"I need a check for my letter jacket," I say. She frowns.

"Gimme a kiss," she says and the one she gives me is sloppy and too hard on my mouth, so I can feel her teeth on my closed lips.

When I was a kid I was too wide for my height, then when I was fourteen, I was too tall for my width; now I'm just the right size for everything. After I finish the sandwich, I run from her. I walk away like normal, but inside I am running. In the bathroom I think about sticking my toothbrush down my throat, but I can't bring myself to do it. When I open the bathroom door she's waiting there, looking wounded, but I slip sideways past her to my room. She's had too much to drink, reacts too slowly. I get the door shut against her, lie down on the bed where I don't sleep anymore, and put a pillow over my face. She says my name a few times, but I ignore her, so she opens the door. I feel her watching me, and then she sits on the edge of the bed, puts her head on my chest, and starts crying. I don't even know what she's crying about, but I almost feel sorry for her.

Except her face grinding into my chest makes me mad, makes me want to smack her or puke. Or run away. I can't do any of them. So I take the pillow off my face, roll her onto the bed next to me, and put my arm around her. Once she has what she wants, she gets quiet and curls up to me, sliding her hand up under my sweater. It's cold and dry, prickles the short hair on my belly. At least she's drunk. The worst is when she comes home from work, stands at the kitchen sink, half-naked, still sober and trying not to be. Under her make-up her skin is ashy and green, and she'll toss down three or four drinks, but when she gives me that look, she's still sober.

My watch beeps to tell me it's almost four o'clock. Aunt Shelly grunts when I move, but doesn't wake up.

I wonder when Cody will be home, if he will have eaten at some friend's house. I put a can of ravioli and a jar of applesauce out for him, just in case. He knows the routine.

Practice starts in twenty minutes. I should be there already, suiting up. It's one thing to skip my last two classes, but I can't miss practice. Aunt Shelly's purse is on the entryway table. Under a bunch of make-up I find a wad of bills and her car keys.

Football practice is another world. Nothing matters here, not the cold, not the wind, not school, not girls, not Aunt Shelly, nothing. All I think about is the ball and running and throwing and the ball. It's like someone with a video game controller is playing me. When we leave the field, our faces are numb, and then we step into the steam from the whirlpool, go back to the real world.

anoles copulating on wisteria in public

Going in, we pass the cheerleading squad at the water fountain. Kimberly Beckey tries to stop me, but I put my hands up in front of her face. They look like claws: red and raw. She frowns at me and the other girls laugh. I'm supposed to fuck her. If I were doing my duty as quarterback I would be. That's how she looks at me: Slacker, why aren't you fucking me?

I fumble with the laces on my pads, stagger to the showers to thaw out my hands. Put them under the hot water until they start jerking back to life. I take as long in the shower as I can, because the shower is neat white, orderly squares. Outside the world is full of ugly blue lockers and people talking. Kimberly Beckey is waiting for me outside the locker room. I wait out the other guys in the shower, put my face in the spray until they're gone. I wiggle my fingers and they feel better, so I drip my way back to the lockers.

"He's a faggot, a fucking fudge-packing faggot," Loomis says. Loomis is a big, buck-toothed fullback.

"Nice alliteration, dumbass," Terry tells him quietly, because Terry is a smart jock.

"I'm glad I'm not the one who's got his hands in my crotch all the time," one of the fullbacks says to Buchanan, my center.

"See, my question is this—anybody here who wouldn't do Kimmie?" Loomis asks, and apparently there isn't, because they make a lot of remarks about exactly how they would do her. "Well, Terry, your boy wouldn't. Won't. Didn't. You see?"

"I don't see and he's not my boy," Terry says, but not mad. They're all worked up over the party last weekend at Coach's house after the game. Kimberly wanted to go up to one of the bedrooms and I said no. I didn't just say no once; I said it a couple of times, and not very nicely, because the drunker she got the more she asked me.

"Maybe he's gettin' enough action at home," Drake says, and a couple of guys make gagging noises.

"I can't believe they can teach us that in school," Loomis says, so I know someone who does read his homework has said something about it to Loomis, who does not read his homework. "That's sick."

"It's not like Oedipus knew," Terry says and catches a look at me out of the corner of his eye. The others don't see me there.

"That psychology shit is a real load! I don't want to kill my father and hump my mother," Stanton says.

"Yeah, no wonder, Stanton, I seen your mother. She looks like a beached whale."

"My brother says she's pretty hot—big tits, long legs, like that. He goes out to that club sometimes. Besides, she's his aunt."

"Aw, man. His auntie. That ain't no better. You go to Hell for that," Buchanan says, sounding upset.

"Better than being a fag," Loomis says.

"You care so much, why don't you just ask him?" Terry feigns boredom, leans around the corner of the lockers and asks, "Johannsen, you a queer or you screwing your auntie?"

When I step around the corner, they all look uncomfortable. "Do I have to choose?" I say. Terry is the only one not looking at his feet. He grins, dares me to give it back to him.

Hastings, who hasn't said anything, smacks me on the back and says, "Don't mean a thing. Could be a baby-raping, puppy-killer as long as you keep throwing the ball like that."

"Or a puppy-raping, baby-killer," Terry says. I laugh, not because I want to, but because it makes all the other assholes feel uneasy. I give them my Big Bad Wolf dining on Little Miss Red Riding Hood grin, and it feels weird on my face, like those wax lips you get for Halloween.

For the other guys it's a joke or some rumor they heard, but Terry and Hastings know. Terry's eyes don't hide it. He shows it to me, gives me power. Hastings is like Kryptonite. He wears me out with his embarrassment, with what he wishes he hadn't seen, sleeping over at my house that night. I finish getting dressed and go back to Coach's office. He's been listening to the conversation in the locker room, and his smile is shaky. When I count out cash on his desk, he doesn't object, even though we were supposed to bring checks for our letter jackets.

"No problem," he says. Poor guy really hopes that with all his heart. He swallows—gulp, gulp—and I mimic him, lean in closer. He wants to say something, and maybe I can shut him up by proximity. If I suck in all his oxygen, he won't be able to speak. "You know how rumors just go crazy, Johannsen. Don't be afraid to tell those shitheads off. No reason to put up with that," he says, somehow getting some air.

"Yeah, rumors," I tell him, put the wolf grin back on my face, where it fits a little easier now. I wear it until I come face to face with Kimberly Beckey in the hallway outside. I look around for the trashcan, because for a second I think I could really puke, but she kills it with her hard fuck-me look.

"What's the deal with you, Dahl?" she says. I shrug, try to think of stuff to say. Sorry. I don't feel well. I've been sick. Can I talk to you about accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior? But I know what will solve this. More than excuses. I grab her right there, like I can't wait to get her anywhere else. I press her against the wall, close up the back of my throat, and kiss her hard. Fumbling at her, I get my hand into her sweater, into her bra, around her tit, and grind my crotch into her. Hope she doesn't notice that my dick is not paying any attention to this. I force my hand between her legs, dig my fingers into her damp panties under her short skirt. Focus on distant stuff. On Calculus. On Tela Hernandez, whose mother used to baby-sit my little brother. Thinking about Tela's small, sharp breasts in a white t-shirt gets me hard, and then Kimberly hits my face, and shoves at my hands.

"What's wrong with you?" she says. I try to kiss her again and get another slap. I step away, pretend I am angry, and then make a break for the stairs to the exit. I take them three at a time, body slam the double doors open, run toward the car. She follows me as far as the parking lot, calling after me.

I peel out of the parking lot, with Kimberly in my rearview mirror, her hands on her hips, looking after me. The way the wind catches her hair and short little skirt, the sodium lights making her thighs glow white, she is practically pretty. She gives me the finger.

I take the road out around town—the packing plant, the vo-tech, the reservoir—killing time. Coming back I drive as fast as I can, blow the doors off a cop napping by the Wal-Mart. At Avenue D, I pop it into neutral, coast all the way home. By the time I pull into the drive, I barely need the brakes. The house is dark, just the porch light and in the front hall, Cody's Donald Duck night light.

The kid is already in bed. He's twisted himself all into the covers, feet poking out, face scrunched up. I put my forehead against his. He's cooler than I am. Grubby warm, not hot. I find the weird whiskers of his eyebrow with my mouth. He shifts a little, uncovers his cheek. I kiss that, too. He almost wakes up, puts his hand on my arm. I wish I could hold on to him as hard as I want to, but I just take his hand. It kills me how his hand feels in mine, small, but strong. I miss him; it seems like we never get to be alone together. He gives me shy looks on Saturdays, wants me to take him to the ball diamond or the video arcade, but she's always between us.

I would like to crawl into bed with him, sleep tangled up with him in his flannel sheets. Wake up some other way than to the sound of Aunt Shelly brushing her teeth. Wake up to his steady breathing, instead of her fidgeting, waiting for me to look at her, waiting to exist. Once during a fight, she said that to my father: I feel like I don't exist except when you're looking at me. Sometimes I sit around the house reading to punish her. Maybe that's why my father left us, to punish her.

She's waiting for me to come upstairs, pulling at me from there, not leaving me in peace. I pry loose some of the sheet from Cody and pull it over his feet. They look small and white.

Upstairs it smells like weed and incense. She's sprawled on her bed, white skin against black sheets. A couple of candles on the night stand light her up, show her eyes bright, freshly red. She's waiting for me to look at her. My eyes are tired, so I look at her hard, glare at her. It's enough; she doesn't care how I look, as long as I look. Aunt Shelly opens herself to me, waiting for me to go to her, to go into her. I can smell the dankness inside her, coming out. It makes the acid burn up the back of my throat.

anoles copulating on wisteria in public