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Literature / The Affix

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The Affix is a comedic paranormal thriller novel by Lee Gaiteri, the first in the Paranormal Curio series.

A gem that bends probability like a pretzel and glows in the dark latches onto a man who just wants to get on with his hard-earned weekend. Matt Kellogg, its reluctant "keeper", tries to protect his friends (and his stalker ex-girlfiend) as hordes of dangerous people come out of the woodwork to claim the jewel. Every attempt to get rid of it fails and just makes things worse, forcing Matt to dodge constantly from one danger into another.

The longer Matt spends in the gem's company, the faster everything around him falls apart. Chaos ensues. Even worse, order ensues.

The series continues with The Well of Moments.

The Affix contains examples of:

  • Affably Evil: "Professor" J. P. Wallace. He's completely unfettered and casually sinister—but he's so darn polite and charming about it.
  • Anvil on Head: Invoked. Mike suggests that trying to kill the gem's keeper could bring weird cartoon consequences down on Kilraen. Matt is so pissed off by the attempt that later he promises to make that happen, as soon as he figures out how. Ultimately subverted: It's a Piano Drop instead.
  • Asshole Victim: Todd Henderson, a Jerkass Matt knew from college who once literally kicked a puppy. Matt uses his name as an alias, even knowing there's a chance Henderson will get dragged into the mess, because he figures it may as well happen to someone who deserves it. Todd does get dragged in briefly, and of course it's the result of a bizarre coincidence.
  • Ax-Crazy: "Bloody" Carlos Sanchez solves problems with hand grenades. Also there's Jeremiah, a killer who literally has an ax for no apparent reason.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: At least four different villains compete to be the Big Bad.
  • Boyfriend Bluff: Played for Laughs when Matt decides to order a coffee during his own kidnapping, mostly just to keep pushing Jasmine's buttons, and pretends they're a happy couple—as obnoxiously as he possibly can. She plays along while giving him a one-eyed Death Glare.
  • Brick Joke: Two of them come together in one punchline. When Liz asks how Matt knows Lexi, Matt cheekily says he's her pimp. Later while kidnapping Matt, Jasmine poses as a high-priced hooker for the benefit of any security cameras. A while after that, Liz catches up with them and demands to know who Jasmine is; Matt tells her Jasmine's the "new girl" in his employ and repeats the same price Jasmine quoted him earlier.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Matt does this to the Professor to piss him off, although he exaggerates it so much it sounds like Foghorn Leghorn.
  • Celebrity Resemblance: The "Professor" J. P. Wallace reminds everyone of Colonel Sanders, more from his demeanor than his actual looks. Matt also mentally compares Jeremiah to a psychotic twist on Paul Bunyan.
  • Chance Meeting Between Antagonists: This happens a lot, because the Affix is intertwining everyone's fates.
  • Clever Crows: Crows frequently deliver the Affix where it wants to go, including multiple times to Matt. They expect to be paid in food for their service and keep negotiating higher prices, even though Matt doesn't want the Affix in the first place. The Affix isn't their only weird delivery, either.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Liz has been stalking Matt since the breakup. Her jealousy problem was just one of the reasons Matt dumped her. It's also primarily why he owns a gun.
  • Clingy MacGuffin: The Affix always returns to its keeper: first Mike, then Matt.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Matt is prone to these when things go incredibly sideways. So it happens a lot.
  • Damsel in Distress: Angie. Also Jasmine, who later inverts it to save Matt.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Matt's reaction to the increasing insanity around him. It starts early on with his mockery of Lexi's world of crackpots, and never really lets up. Whenever things get weirder, Matt turns the snark up higher.
  • Destructive Romance: Once Matt realized he was in one, he bailed. He's so bitter at his mistreatment by Liz, and so desperate to make her leave him alone, that he delights in verbally abusing her.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Carlos Sanchez works with two of his much younger brothers. When they're killed by Wallace and Bartlett, respectively, he makes a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Henry Bartlett is nicer to Matt than anyone else is and keeps a respectful distance, but when the mask comes off it's terrifying.
  • Glowing Gem: The Affix does this when the sun is down, gradually changing color over the course of the story. On day three Matt and his friends catch it in the act of suddenly lighting up, and it stops their laughter cold.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Matt threatens the Professor in a way that plays out much differently than he expects, thanks to the Affix getting creative.
  • Grail in the Garbage: Mike found the Affix in a storage locker auction, where it was left "asleep" by the previous keeper until she passed away.
  • Gratuitous Ninja: Toshiro. He gets out literally one syllable of his name before getting shooed off.note 
  • Heroic Neutral: Matt only wants to be left alone. He doesn't much care who ends up with the Affix, as long as it isn't him. He gets pickier out of spite the more he and his friends are threatened over it.
  • MacGuffin Delivery Service: Inverted by the Gable Twins, who are in the right place at the right time to acquire the Affix after Matt loses it. The subsequent misadventures it causes are left unsaid, but implied to involve a swamp, fire, and possibly an angry animal.
  • MacGuffin Melee: About a dozen different parties want to lay claim on the gem, and frequently get in each other's way.
  • MacGuffin Title
  • Meaningful Name: Lexi's favorite drink is a caramel latte, and her full name is Alexandra Dulce. It may be an alias, making the connection intentional.
    • The Affix itself was so named by Oliver Pembroke, a former keeper in the 19th century, because he couldn't get rid of it.
  • Million to One Chance: Almost everything that happens in the entire story.
    Matt: Huh. Mark has four black squirrels in his yard.
    Angie: Huh. What are the odds?
  • Mineral MacGuffin: The Affix is a gem, although its mineral composition is unknown and it's allegedly harder than diamond. It has 11-sided symmetry, which also shouldn't be possible with a smooth cut.
  • Mistaken Nationality: Matt keeps forgetting Bartlett is from New Zealand, thinking of him as an Aussie instead and referring to him as "Crikey". It's a callback to a joke he'd made earlier that day, so it sticks in his head.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: Done a couple of times in Matt's narration, specifically excluding Liz from the group whenever she's with them.
  • One-Steve Limit: Played with. The narrator and his best friends are Matt, Mike, and Mark.
  • Pity the Kidnapper: Jasmine tries to kidnap Matt from the casino, to keep him out of play until she can figure out how to sell the Affix. But he's tired, pissed off, and has started to warm up to the gem (or vice-versa). He goes along, but aggravates her mercilessly and relentlessly, with a little help from the Affix. Her night gets considerably worse from there.
  • The Precious, Precious Car: J. P. Wallace's car is a classic and kept in beautiful condition. Carlos Sanchez blows it up with a hand grenade. Wallace does not take it well.
  • Protectorate: Matt is less concerned for his own safety, which the Affix may or may not guarantee, than that of his friends. He even feels obligated to protect Liz after she gets dragged into it.
  • Running Gag:
    • Lexi takes a great deal of abuse, mostly from Matt and Mike, over her "day" job as a ghost hunter. Much of that abuse comes in the form of Ghostbusters (1984) jokes, which they (especially Mike) keep going occasionally throughout the story.
    • Once Lexi mentions the Tuscan amulets as if they're common knowledge, she never hears the end of it. To Matt they represent the absurdity of the situation, but others in Lexi's circle see nothing odd about discussing them.
  • Sanity Slippage: Matt's dealings with the gem and the people surrounding it take a rapid toll on his state of mind. After about 24 hours he begins actively taunting most of the villains who piss him off, and pretty much stops caring what anyone thinks of his behavior.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Richter, a freelancer like Jasmine, is shot by Kilraen and left for dead. He was smart enough to wear a vest, so after feigning death long enough he decides to get out of town.
  • Sliding Scale of Free Will vs. Fate: The villains have different opinions. The book lands firmly in the middle of the scale, on the side of compatibilism.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: Matt eventually decides to deal with Bartlett by throwing Sanchez in his path.
  • There Are No Coincidences: Averted it breaks the scale. There are coincidences, lots of them, and they pile on furiously with no apparent plan or logic behind them.
  • Villains Out Shopping: Carlos Sanchez and his brothers are found eating or shopping several times. Bartlett is shopping for groceries when Matt first meets him in person.
  • Weather Dissonance: The story takes place around the second week of November, when the weather for its setting would normally be chilly and often rainy, with a chance of snow. Instead it's mostly sunny and in the mid-80s Fahrenheit. Matt makes special note of this dissonance because some radio stations are already playing Christmas music.
  • Weirdness Magnet: The Affix itself, turned up to eleven, and by extension its keeper.