12 October, 2009

Naked Lunch by William Burroughs

‘I think you dropped something fella.’
White coats are thronged around a long table and a man with enormous glasses is stood at one end periodically observing some movement unseen to my eyes, before writing something on a clipboard. In the corner are soiled rags, they are a used grey; the smell is a sharp rusted something I can’t quite place. A woman has been tossed aside and now lays whispering obscenities just out of earshot. She is grinning. Her bloodied genitals are a point of interest for a passing spider; it begins to make his home between her lips… Outside the door, a tiny pair of eyes lurk as much description takes place on the ‘birth of the new age.’ I creep between two doctors and peer at the filthy table; I have seen this child before, dropped out of a plane, sailing between mountains towards an ancient city. You are the destroyer of worlds, say the doctors, tickling its chin (if it had one)…

Here we are downtown, in the Manhattan Project, and in front of me, in the immaculately manicured garden outside Walt Disney’s white picketed home, I can see Snow White silently watching a rocket lacerating the sky… in the gutter, a junky I saw once buying ice cream for some kid, rubbing up on that kid, getting his stink all over the kid’s face and hands, picks at the pockets of a man who has pushed a beautiful woman against a brick wall and is making violent thrusting motions at her ass… He turns to the junky for a moment and hands him his wallet, stuffed with green; I can see a hammer and sickle burnt into his fleshy hand. ‘Kennedy’s the name,’ I overhear him say, ‘and if you need any more of that, I’m the man to see. I just need a favour from you… Let me finish up here and we can talk.’ The man named Kennedy turns back to the ecstatic woman and resumes thrusting.

A country with a model number. A brain like a car engine. The country is a factory, and I don’t have a member’s card. Those eyes are back.

I turn to my left; some rotten smell seeps through a white wooden door and thin tendrils of wet grey fog ooze through and around the cracks; the scene is an American kitchen, and a guy with slimy black hair and a huge bulbous nose stands here, my God is he ugly, so ugly he could only be a dick or a junky, or a junky operating as a dick, or vice versa (interested readers should note the use of dick here to connote police; and furthermore be aware the level of junkie police is reaching frankly absurd proportions; I confidently predict we’ll be buying from the police in five years) and the guy stands here talking about furniture with another man who treats Ugly Dick and his guided kitchen tour with the kind of good manners that best reveal sneering contempt for that person. Both of them ignore the incinerated child stood in the centre of the black and white panelled tile floor (and now the eyes have a face, but not much of one), and Ugly Dick seems to be checking the other guy’s sidesteps to and from black to white. Dick never moves from white, I note with interest. A large camera tries to worm its way up my ass and I kick the operator full in the face; MCCARTHY says the man’s ticket…did I ever fucking drop something…

Ugly Dick points to something called a dishwasher and gurns at the other guy (note: Dick is speaking slowly and clearly, and the other guy does a lot of nodding and not much else, and now Dick addresses him as Mr Khrushchev) and who’s this guy in the corner, wearing a thick grey suit with his face all red. SAFIRE says the ticket, I don’t know what’s he got to do with all this. Maybe he sells home appliances.

I back out of the kitchen as Dick points at a gigantic refrigerator. The two of them open the door together, and a lot of cameras go off at the point two frozen corpses dressed in army fatigues land on Dick’s shoulder; he stumbles back and Mr Khrushchev masks a laugh with a cough into his red handkerchief. Dick handles the situation with aplomb; ‘Gentlemen,’ he says turning to the press, ‘this is Charles and Dale. They’ve just dropped by to pay their respects.’ A roar goes up amongst the clicking crowd. Back over to the subway and that spoon is still there, years old now, and a squad of coppers has surrounded the spoon; the spoon is under duress and is begging for a break. I vault the turnstile and skimbleskamble down stairs that become darker with each tearing breath I take. My brain has clocked out and it’s not even dawn; but who’s this, a square chunk of flesh made to order; this is the new factory, this is what we build now. He’s got the door and the sports; THE YANKEES WIN AGAIN. I wheel through ninety degrees and that was too much; something like vomit leaves my stomach and launches into orbit. I don’t stick around for a safe landing, but by the caterwauling around my ears I can tell that it’s Mission Accomplished. I make one small step to the left, one giant leap over the tracks and catch a train downtown just as the lab coat and his squad of live corpses arrive hollering and yowling. The subway is moving.

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