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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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RESURRECTON: Excerpt from Breakfast at Midnight

By Louis Armand

It's just before seven when Blake wheels up on an old Enfield he swindled off a Sikh from Bombay. He's wearing a pair of WWII flying goggles and a greatcoat with a fox fur collar, like he's in some sort of movie — silver hair fanning up from the top of his head — unshaven — eyes a mess of broken capillaries. He gestures for me to get on behind him and I do. Like straddling a packhorse. Blake says something over his shoulder, but I can't hear it.

I was back below deck when he called, communing with lost spirits. Candles set out on a tin tray with crows' feet, bones of rat. A shrine to unholy powers. The galley's walls are covered with pictures cut from old magazines. Any sort of magazine you can imagine, scavenged from the dump sites on Libeňský Island. The cut-outs are all faces. Part of a puzzle, trying to pick up a trail, a scent, clues channeled by whatever means are at hand. The voodoo of discarded images, secret metamorphoses of the animal brain in its grief and mourning. If I look deep enough, perhaps all those faces can be made to reveal the one that isn't there, like an approximation of something that can't be grasped.

A face lost in the rain.

The first thing Blake said when I picked up the phone was that someone was dead. I was staring at the wall, trying to see through it backwards in time and place, to make all the images connect, when the words hit me. Who's dead? He said to meet him outside St Pauli's and hung up. I held onto the phone, waiting, but there was only static. Who's dead? I was sitting there in a second-hand undertaker's suit, the one I'd slept in. Outside it'd stopped drizzling but it was the kind of grey that evokes funerals and cemeteries. I thought: You'll look the part, at least.

"YOU LOOK LIKE HELL." Blake, shouting this time so I can hear him over the engine. A two cylinder 500cc. I catch my reflection in the rearview. He's right. I look even worse than he does.




It doesn't seem right. Waking the dead.

Blake shrugs, easing out the clutch. We pull into the early morning traffic and head for the bridge. Even without the rain there's slush and mud everywhere. The river's still curtained in mist. We ride across to the island and follow an exit ramp that winds down under the bridge, past junkyards and used car lots. From here the island stretches out into marsh and landfill — a place of illicit deals and contract killings. This is the Prague nobody wants to think about, saturated with dereliction, like an unconscious — sordid, grotesque. It would be easy to believe there's nothing here anyone would ever be nostalgic for. Piles of rubble loom out of the fog — the half-demolished silhouettes of warehouses, smashed walls, archeologies of broken door frames, bottle glass, enameled runes.

The fog casts back the echo of engine-sounds eerily as the Enfield slaloms along the rutted track, spraying mud. Debris flutters from the branches of skeleton trees. The greyblack swathe of landfill stretches towards the city. On the far side, an old industrial district that went under in the flood. Buildings toppled on rotten foundations, the whole place built on sand, river sediment. We cut up past Rohan Island to a mile-long pedestrian tunnel under Žižka's horse, high on its hill, where the tomb of Stalin's puppet lies vacant and waiting. The Enfield's reverb in the tunnel deafens. Yellow lights flicker overhead. And then we're in Žižka, heading north again through fogged back streets, grey worker's tenements walling them in. Tyres on cobblestones echo claustrophobic. Orange street lamps gloom like mortuary candles.

We pull up in front of an ugly old white building that hunches up on itself — a 1920s cubist horror, wedged between office blocks, across the tramline from the cemetery. Blake unstraps a camera-bag from the back of the bike. It's part of what he does — photographing corpses. I listen to the ticking of the Enfield's engine as it cools. Across the road, people in black are milling around the cemetery entrance. A couple of children are chasing one another between parked cars. As if on cue, an ice cream van drives by with a megaphone on its roof and a tinny polka drifting out of it. I settle down against a railing to watch the spectacle.

Blake comes over with his camera-bag slung across one shoulder, smoking a cigarette.

"Strange how families really only make a point of existing at weddings and funerals."

"It's why the commies tried to ban them most of the time," Blake yawns.


"Funerals. In public, death evokes primitive, tribal instincts. It always risks being political."

"And weddings?"

"Mindless optimism. Good for the masses."

"Is that why you brought me up here, to philosophise?"

Blake looks at me unsmilingly and shakes his head.

"There's something I want you to see."

He tosses his butt on the wet ground. Hiss. A dying insect on its back.

I follow him up a ramp to a loading-bay at the rear of the building. A couple of ambulances are parked off to one side. Blake speaks into a grill beside the bay doors and somebody buzzes us through. Inside it's mostly dark — a wide corridor with low-watt fluorescent tubes leads past rows of cubicle offices, pale hospital-green. A male nurse meets us at the far end of the corridor, he's wearing steel-rimmed glasses that stick out on either side of his head. One revolving fish-like eye. He looks like he might've been resurrected. Dawn of the Dead.

Blake mutters something to the stiff which gets lost in the general miasma. A wad of cash changes hands. The stiff gives me a fish-eyed stare and I stare back at him. Blake says something else and the stiff turns and jerks his head towards a set of double doors. We follow him through. Two orderlies in bleached overalls pass in the opposite direction. We approach another set of doors. No-one seems to speak. The silence is getting on my nerves. I want Blake to tell me what I'm doing here.

Next thing we're standing in the meat locker. Lights come on overhead. A row of sinks along a wall of scummed tiles that once were white. The stiff hands Blake a plain envelope then goes out. Without looking at it, Blake stuffs the envelope inside his coat. He's a pretty picture, with his fox fur, his silver hair flaring out, stubble and red eyes and flying goggles around his neck — like some Luftwaffe pilot blitzed on pervitin.

In the middle of the room a gurney has been left out, draped with a green sheet. Blake takes out his camera and walks over to it. He waits until I'm next to him before he pulls the sheet away. It takes a few seconds to register what I'm seeing and then something inside me locks up. Bruised flesh leers pornographic — laughter, like a swarm of bees, swarming closer. I can hear the shutter of Blake's camera clicking off one shot after another until the film runs out. Somehow that sound neutralises everything.

Behind my eyes images seethe and turn grey — my throat tightens around a scream that won't come out — my head goes numb. Regen's lying there, watching me. Red hair and jade eyes like an oriental fetish. A blur of stage-light on porcelain. Too naked. And then she's gone again. Where she lay, there's a corpse. Like a Janus figure. They might've been twins, but not quite. Two images reflecting one another through a gap in time.

Something happened once, ten years ago, in a place I want to forget. A memory, an image, a sickness. Old paranoias. I tell myself she's dead, but it sounds fake, as fake as when I tell myself she's alive, that she'll come back, that everything can still be the way it used to be. I close my eyes and open them again slowly, forcing myself to see only what's there. A slab of ruined meat. I can feel Blake watching me.

"It's not her," my voice flat.

I stare at the corpse's mouth while I repeat it — a black hole cropped out with teeth. "It's not her." Matted red hair. Eyes wide open, staring straight up — grey green, the corneas filmed over. Skin pale blue. But it isn't Regen.

There are bruises across the dead girl's breasts, her thighs. Crudely stitched autopsy incisions divide her abdomen. Crotch stubble. Abrasions on knees, shins, forearms. Supplicant. All of her fingernails are broken. Old rope burns wind around her wrists and neck like myrtle.

"How did you know?"

Without saying anything he pulls the sheet back over her. The gesture has an unnerving finality to it. I'm suddenly exhausted. The room seems much larger than it did before. There's a vaguely disgusting smell in the air. I feel Blake's hand on my arm and look up at him.

"Let's go," he says.

I look back at the crumpled green sheet — my hands, dead weights at the end of my arms. I picture myself standing there like that. Inert. A thing.

Blake's walking away, towards the double doors.

I stuff my hands inside my coat pockets and follow him out into the corridor. The stiff in the lab coat's asleep on a chair. Somehow we retrace our steps through the labyrinth. Outside in the loading-bay the air burns my lungs. I'm sweating and cold at the same time, everything turning white, fog closing-in. I feel myself go down. The ground heaves, jerks upwards. Blake's voice is far away. I can't make out what he's saying. Dark whispers. Suddenly he's right in front of me, holding me by the lapels, backed against the wall. Something's wrong with my face. I reach my hands up. They come away wet. I don't know where we are. Then everything jolts back in time-delay.

"You hit me?"

"You passed out."

"I feel like hell."

"You look it."

"You said that before."

A grin pulls back from large yellowed teeth. He lights a cigarette, spits out a shred of tobacco. I wipe my face with a handkerchief. A clot of blood. Blake shakes his head and turns away.

"Do you think you can stay on your own two feet?"

"It was the air."

"You'll get used to it."

This is an excerpt from the novel Breakfast at Midnight published by Equus Press

© Louis Armand 2012