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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
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The Waiting

By Brian Alan Ellis

"It's been like this for weeks." "He doesn't ever leave his room no more." Fred's two roommates discuss this during their weekly poker games. "He just smokes and waits." "Paces and smokes." "Waits and paces and smokes." "Can't be healthy." "No, it can't." "Deal?"

"Like hammering nails into a coffin." That's what Fred's father used to say of his son's cigarette infatuation. He's dead now, the father. Fred waits.

Sometimes, through the blinds of his second-story window, Fred will look out at the world. It never looks like much. He'll keep waiting.

Fred doesn't know why he waits, or what he waits for. It may as well be anything at this point.

A mugging.

A stabbing.

A new love… the old love coming back… any love.

A pizza delivered on time.

The police… coming to arrest him?

For what, being an ornery bastard?

Could be that.

Perhaps it's that fat check from the Publisher's Clearing House.

Maybe even The Pulitzer.

Death?

Death sounds about right. Though sleep is what Fred probably waits for most.

banana stand

At Awesome Adventure, in a room about as big as the one he's in now, Fred sold discounted vacation packages to strangers over the phone. "Hello, Mr. McCray (or Mr. Ramirez, or Miss Jackman, or whoever)," he'd say into the telephone, "this is Fred (or Trevor, or Hobbit, or whichever alias he'd chosen that particular moment) calling from Awesome Adventure, and, boy, have I got some great news for you!" He did this for years. Until that one day, his last day, when he stood on a chair and preached to his fellow co-workers:

"Life," he said, "is always having to sell something. Sell, sell, sell. But what if you didn't have anything to sell—like a religion; a health plan; a talent of some kind; even a body or a look? What then? Life is funny sometimes. Real stand-up comedy type stuff.

"Some say Life is salvaging the best from a predominately terrible situation; others feel it's an acceptance of things you wish you didn't have to accept at all.

"One day"—Fred paused to chuck a phone at the wall—"there won't be any phones; it'll just be you—with nobody to call, nothing to sell. Except for reasons to live. Maybe. But that's a tough sell. Most of you peons"—At this point, Fred's co-workers began booing him—"would have better luck with the vacations."

Finally, before crumbling into a fetal position, he proclaimed, "Life, if anything… is very, very tiring."

That's when Fred was wrapped inside a towel and escorted from the building. And since then it's been all room. Which, to be honest, isn't really much.

Books. Records. Beer and liquor bottles. Dishes littered with crumbs. Condom wrappers that time forgot. Monuments of soiled laundry. Scattered piles of manuscript. A cardboard box filled with pharmaceuticals.

Newspapers.

The classifieds, mostly.

Fred is looking for a new job.

One thing that's worse than having a job is looking for one. Though, to be honest, Fred hasn't really been looking; he's been using said classifieds to absorb spills.

Ejaculations. Mostly.

There is a mattress, too. The springs stab Fred's back as he sleeps—when he can sleep.

In the corner is a sink. (Fred's room is in what once was a boardinghouse.) There is a foul odor emanating from the sink.

Placed on top of a rickety milk-crate is a small television set, the sound muted. Fred likes it this way. He says it fights the loneliness, fills the room with energy. Like an artificial life form.

There's a knock on the front door downstairs.

Fred hates knocking. He ignores it, hoping one of the roommates will answer.

They don't.

Fred steps wearily out of his room. He goes down the stairs, unlatches the lock to the front door, opens it, and sees standing there a—hippy boy?

Fred wonders what he can possibly discuss with a hippy boy at this hour.

Any hour.

"Hey, buddy," says the supposed hippy boy. "Is this, uh, the blue house I been looking for?"

"No, this house is white."

"Oh. Well, uh, I see all these, uh, blue houses, and I don't know if it's the one I need to find."

"But this house is white."

"What?"

"White! This house is white!"

"Blue?"

"No, white!"

"What?"

"Christ, forget it man! Try one of the blue houses down the street."

"Oh, okay. Peace."

The hippy boy leaves.

Fred goes back to his room; back inside himself; back to doing the only thing he was ever any good at.

A no-good dreamer, that Fred; he knew from an early age that to get through life he would have to rely solely on his imagination. Everything else, he thought, was so damn disappointing.

lychee

A second knock occurs. This time on Fred's bedroom door—a familiar knock, but he hates it just the same.

"Let me in!" demands the voice from behind the door. "It's me. Ola. I know you're in there. I can hear you complaining all the way from out here."

Ola speaks in a raspy, Polish-by-way-of-Canadian-upbringing type accent. Fred often wonders how he could have ever befriended someone with such a voice.

"Hello?"

There it is again.

"Christ," Fred whispers under his breath. "Hold on!"

He unlocks the door.

Ola enters, looking her best: hair and make-up in disarray; frumpish black dress; heeled, pointy-toe boots; missing only a broomstick.

Fred notices a clove-cigarette jittering between two of Ola's thin, pasty fingers—fingers that wear rings shaped like spiders.

He bums one.

Ola, unlike Fred, became Awesome Adventure's employee-of-the-month—not once, not twice, but six times consecutively. Fred calls it a fluke, claiming that Ola's crystal methamphetamine habit had given her the ability to zip through leads like they were going out of style, which they were, by out dialing and out "closing" even the most assiduous of workers.

Don't tell her that, though.

"What is that smell?"

"Look behind you. In the sink."

Ola turns and looks in the sink. "Gross! What is all that?"

"Last night's vomit. The drain is all clogged. None of it would go down. I've been meaning to take care of it, but I've been in bed all day. Crippled."

"Crippled?"

"Yeah. Crippled. With depression."

Ola gives Fred a dirty Polish-by-way-of-Canadian-upbringing look.

Fred imagines Ola engulfed in flames.

"I woke up this afternoon," says Ola, "and realized how wet between the legs I am." She elbows Fred in the belly. "Know what I mean, jellybean?"

"How long's it been this time?"

"Who knows? Too long, that's for sure. All the men round here are idiots, eh?"

Fred humors her. "Must be."

"Tonight has to be the night," Ola says. "Maybe find somebody who isn't a complete fool.

Search and destroy."

"Sure, you'll go out, have one-too-many of those Bloody Mary things you like—as you always do—and—Woops! what's this, last-call? Time to find a real live one, to take you home, bend you over the hood of your car or his, without a 'Would you like to come in for coffee and talk awhile, get to know each other?' or a 'Oh, sure! After you!' Just another nameless, faceless fuck."

Ola shrugs.

"Think about it," says Fred. "Some nameless, faceless dude's cum dripping down your legs. You're a shameless bitch, you know that?"

"Stop it, you turn me on."

"I'm serious! You like being someone's cum-rag for the night? And for free, mind you! Whores are less whorey than you."

"Whatever." Ola lights a new cigarette with what's left of her old one. "What's dignity when you need a little dick, eh? Can't function without it. You know how I get during long periods without cock."

"I hope you get AIDS."

"Hmm, I wonder if people with AIDS get a Government pension." Ola seriously contemplates this.

papaya serry

"So, what's Mr. Crippled doing tonight?"

Ola goes to lean against the sink. She stops once she remembers what's in it.

Fred says, "Sleep."

"Sleep? It's only, like, eight o'clock."

"Yeah? And? So?"

"So? It's not healthy to want to sleep this early. Come party with me instead, sugar. I have some people I want you to meet."

"People are shit."

"You'd really rather sleep in this smelly cave than come hang out with me and my friends?"

Fred thinks about it. "I'd rather sleep," he says.

"Dick!" Ola whacks Fred's shoulder with the over-stuffed purse she keeps slung across her chest. "Come on, get dressed, we're going out!"

"No!"

"Why do you want to sleep, anyway? You can do that when you are dead."

"I know that. I know I can sleep when I'm dead. That's the problem. I'm too much of a coward to die. So I'll just have to sleep off life until then."

"Don't give me that shit. You know who you are talking to, right?"

"Yeah, Ola, I know who I'm talking to, but—Jesus, for someone who dresses in all black, you sure are a cheery bitch."

"Black is very slimming," says Ola, matter-of-factly.

"Of course, of course." Fred goes to lie down. "Listen, I can't go out. I've already taken sleeping pills.

Enough to probably KO me until morning."

"Sleeping pills? Don't tell me you're back on them things?"

"Hell yes I'm back on them." Fred tightens a pillow over his face. "Now go away."

"How many did you take?"

"Enough."

"Darling, surely you aren't going to kill yourself, are you?"

"No, Ola, not tonight."

"I do not believe you."

Fred pokes his head out from beneath the pillow. "Then don't. Who cares?"

"I care! Get your things." Ola stamps her cigarette out on the floor. "We are going to the hospital."

"Ah Christ! I'm not gonna kill myself."

Ola points a shaky, spider-ringed finger at a pile of Fred's manuscript. "If you are not going to kill yourself," she says, "then what is with all those suicidal notes?"

"Those aren't suicide notes, you crazy cunt. Those are my memoirs."

"Really? Let me read!" Ola snatches a page from the pile. "Am I in any of it?"

"First, I will need a reading chair." Ola snaps her fingers. "Obey."

"Do we really have to?"

"Yes. I insist. Now become a chair." Fred gets down on all fours. "That's it…" Ola sits on his back.

"Good chair. A little bony, but…."

Fred sighs. "I hate this game."

"Hush! Chairs do not talk back. Now…." Ola clears her throat and begins reading aloud.

August 11

Life is never getting what you really want out of it. And if you do happen to get what you really want out of it, rest assured that whatever it is you have of it won't ever last. One day Circumstance comes by and takes it from you; says, "Sorry, bud, you no longer deserve this."

cut mango

Ola crumples the page into her fist. She says, "Darling, this is terrible!"

Fred makes a mental note to burn whatever it is he's written that Ola has just read aloud.

"You really are going to snuff it, aren't you?"

"If you don't believe me, then have a look in there." Fred points to the cardboard box of pharmaceuticals. "All the bottles are full. It takes more than three or four lousy sleeping pills to do a man in, Christ!"

Ola empties the box of pharmaceuticals. She shakes every bottle she can find. They are all pretty full.

"Okay, sugar, I'll just have to take your word… I guess. But if I find out tomorrow that you actually did kill yourself I will come over here and kick your dead damn ass!"

"Deal," says Fred, and as he goes to stand, Ola shoves him back down with the pointy tip of her boot. "What the hell?" he says.

"Lick"

"No! I'm not in the mood. Crippled, remember?"

"Do it. Or you will be punished, eh?"

Fred laps quickly at Ola's boot. "There," he says.

"Good. Now bark for me."

Fred barks.

"Good doggy. Now roll over and let me rub your belly."

Fred rolls over. Ola kneels and begins tickling Fred's belly. Fred giggles and pants.

"Okay, enough," says Ola. "Stand."

Fred stands.

"That was fun, was it not?"

"I hate you."

"Say, when are you coming back to work? We all miss you. It was fun watching you throw telephones across the room."

"I'm not coming back. Fuck that place. Besides, I'm horrible at it. I couldn't sell a turd to a fly."

"That is not true. You just were having a sour streak. It will get—"

"Fuck those people, Ola! Fuck their crummy leads, their office birthday parties—Fuck all of it! I'm through."

"Then, darling, what is it you plan on doing with yourself?"

"I'm gonna wait. And smoke. And I'm gonna sulk some more. Then I'm gonna die."

Ola rolls her eyes. Fred yanks her by the hair. Ola cries out for help. Fred lets go and says, "Next time I'll gouge them out." Fred pauses. "I might like you more without eyes."

"God! You are such a crazy asshole, you know that?" Ola grins. "I kind of liked it."

Voices. From outside the door.

"Jesus, are those your roommates?" Ola lights a cigarette. "They never shut up, do they?"

"I hear them talking all day long. They're either chatting it up over the phone with their girlfriends, or they're shooting the bullshit with the each other." Fred lights a cigarette of his own. "I'm smart. I hide out in my room. They don't even know I'm here half the time." Fred puts his ear to the door and listens. "After a while, though, you can't even understand what they're saying. Their voices just turn into this monotonous hum… this kind of listless drawl."

Now whistling. From outside the door. Bad, tuneless whistling.

"Oh, how nice," says Fred. "They've taken up whistling."

Ola scowls. "Bastards!"

"Okay." Fred goes to the door and opens it. "Have fun making your rounds. Good luck with the Nameless."

"Yeah," says Ola, in a tone that reveals she has finally given up on Fred's companionship for the night. "You owe me one, though. Tomorrow night. You and me have a drink, all right?"

Fred consoles Ola with a non-committal "We'll see."

"Fucker." Ola goes to leave but stops suddenly. She turns back around, tosses the butt of her cigarette into the puke-sink, and says, "Hey, you seem like you need some cheering up, eh? This 'crippled with depression' business, as you call it, is not so good for a boy your age. How about a hand-job before I split?"

Fred winces. "Christ, Ola, no! You think I could actually get it up in the condition I'm in? Christ, no!"

"Come on! For old-time's sake, eh?" Ola goes to undo the buttons on Fred's pants.

"Don't do this, Ola."

"Don't do what, sugar? Offer you my kind services? My expert hand?"

"Yes. Don't. Save it for the Nameless. They'll appreciate it more, I'm sure."

"Suit yourself." Ola smiles and says, almost endearingly, "Stupid, stupid asshole."

Fred closes the door and locks it. Then he listens to the cruel stabbing of Ola's heels as she descends the stairs. Then he hears the front door slam shut. The sound jumbles Fred's nerves.

According to him, doors should never be slammed or knocked on; they should just be locked and left alone.

Fred again has his ear to the door. He can't decipher whether the voices are monotonously humming, listlessly drawling, or tunelessly whistling.

Fred will eventually think about the hippy boy, about his house that may or may not have turned blue; the landlord might have painted it, or it could've just changed colors on its own.

But can houses really do that, he'll wonder. It's possible. Stranger things have happened. Life, after all, is real stand-up comedy type stuff.

Fred's cigarette goes out. Fred grieves about it. "Sad," he says to himself. "Very sad when something unwittingly flickers out. Very sad, indeed."

Of course, after relighting his cigarette, Fred will go to the second-story window to wait.

September 24

It's the waiting that'll kill a man.

"And, boy, have I got some great news for you!"

Twice every half hour Fred will, for whatever reason, shout this to himself.

Then a car-alarm will go off. Fred will peek through the blinds of his second-story window. He will see nothing. He will stand there. He will wait. He will stand there, waiting.

He will stand there, cigarette burning, and maybe wait some more.

street butthole

© Brian Alan Ellis 2008