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Naked Lunch

William S. Burroughs

  ‘Let me hang you, Mark.… Let me hang you.… Please, Mark, let me hang you!’

  ‘Sure baby.’ He pulls her brutally to her feet and pins her hands behind her.

  ‘No, Mark!! No! No! No,’ she screams, shitting and pissing in terror as he drags her to the platform. He leaves her tied on the platform in a pile of old used condoms, while he adjusts the rope across the room … and comes back carrying the noose on a silver tray. He jerks her to her feet and tightens the noose. He sticks his cock up her and waltzes around the platform and off into space swinging in a great arc.…‘Wheeeeee!’ he screams, turning into Johnny. Her neck snaps. A great fluid wave undulates through her body. Johnny drops to the floor and stands poised and alert like a young animal.

  He leaps about the room. With a scream of longing that shatters the glass wall he leaps out into space. Masturbating end-over-end, three thousand feet down, his sperm floating beside him, he screams all the way against the shattering blue of the sky, the rising sun burning over his body like gasoline, down past great oaks and persimmons, swamp cypress and mahogany, to shatter in liquid relief in a ruined square paved with limestone. Weeds and vines grow between the stones, and rusty iron bolts three feet thick penetrate the white stone, stain it shit-brown of rust.

  Johnny dowses Mary with gasoline from an obscene Chimu jar of white jade.… He anoints his own body.… They embrace, fall to the floor and roll under a great magnifying glass set in the roof … burst into flame with a cry that shatters the glass wall, roll into space, fucking and screaming through the air, burst in blood and flames and soot on brown rocks under a desert sun. Johnny leaps about the room in agony. With a scream that shatters the glass wall he stands spreadeagle to the rising sun, blood spurting out his cock … a white marble god, he plummets through epileptic explosions into the old Medjoub writhe in shit and rubbish by a mud wall under a sun that scar and grab the flesh into goose-pimples.… He is a boy sleeping against the mosque wall, ejaculates wet dreaming into a thousand cunts pink and smooth as sea shells, feeling the delight of prickly pubic hairs slide up his cock.

  John and Mary in hotel room (music of East St. Louis Toodleoo). Warm spring wind blows faded pink curtains in through open window.… Frogs croak in vacant lots where corn grows and boys catch little green garter snakes under broken limestone stelae stained with shit and threaded with rusty barbed wire.…

  Neon – chlorophyll green, purple, orange – flashes on and off.

  Johnny extracts a candiru from Mary’s cunt with his calipers.… He drops it into a bottle of mescal where it turns into a Maguey worm.… He gives her a douche of jungle bone-softener, her vaginal teeth flow out mixed with blood and cysts.… Her cunt shines fresh and sweet as spring grass.… Johnny licks Mary’s cunt, slow at first, with rising excitement parts the lips and licks inside feeling the prickle of pubic hairs on his tumescent tongue.… Arms thrown back, breasts pointing straight up, Mary lies transfixed with neon nails.… Johnny moves up her body, his cock with a shining opal of lubricant at the open slit, slides through her pubic hairs and enters her cunt to the hilt, drawn in by a suction of hungry flesh.… His face swells with blood, green lights burst behind his eyes and he falls with a scenic railway through screaming girls.…

  Damp hairs on the back of his balls dry to grass in the warm spring wind. High jungle valley, vines creep in the window. Johnny’s cock swells, great rank buds burst out. A long tuber root creeps from Mary’s cunt, feels for the earth. The bodies disintegrate in green explosions. The hut falls in ruins of broken stone. The boy is a limestone statue, a plant sprouting from his cock, lips parted in the half-smile of a junky on the nod.

  The Beagle has stashed the heroin in a lottery ticket.

  One more shot – tomorrow the cure.

  The way is long. Hard-ons and bring downs are frequent.

  It was a long time over the stony reg to the oasis of date palms where Arab boys shit in the well and rock n’ roll across the sands of muscle beach eating hot-dogs and spitting out gold teeth in nuggets.

  Toothless and strictly from the long hunger, ribs you could wash your filthy overalls on, that corrugate, they quiver down from the outrigger in Easter Island and stalk ashore on legs stiff and brittle as stilts … they nod in club windows … fallen into the fat of lack-need to sell a slim body.

  The date palms have died of meet lack, the well filled with dried shit and mosaic of a thousand newspapers: ‘Russia denies … The Home Secretary views with pathic alarm … The trap was sprung at 12:02. At 12:30 the doctor went out to eat oysters, returned at 2:00 to clap the hanged man jovially on the back. “What! Aren’t you dead yet? Guess I’ll have to pull your leg. Haw Haw! Can’t let you choke at this rate – I’d get a warning from the President. And what a disgrace if the dead wagon cart you out alive. My balls would drop off with the shame of it and I apprenticed myself to an experienced ox. One two three pull.”’

  The sail plane falls silent as erection, silent as greased glass broken by the young thief with old-women hands and cancelled eyes of junk.… In a noiseless explosion he penetrates the broken house, stepping over the greased crystals, a clock ticks loud in the kitchen, hot air ruffles his hair, his head disintegrates in a heavy duck load.… The Old Man flips out a red shell and pirouettes around his shotgun. ‘Aw, shucks, fellers, tweren’t nothing.… Fish in the barrel.… Money in the bank … round-heeled boy, one greased shot brain goose and he flop in an obscene position.… Can you hear me from where you are, boy?

  ‘I was young myself once and heard the siren call of easy money and women and tight boy-ass and lands sake don’t get my blood up I am subject to tell a tale make your cock stand up and yipe for the pink pearly way of young cunt or the lovely brown mucous-covered palpitating tune of the young boy-ass play your cock like a recorder … and when you hit the prostate pearl sharp diamonds gather in the golden lad balls inexorable as a kidney stone.… Sorry I had to kill you.… The old grey mare ain’t what she used to be.… Can’t run down an audience … got to bring down that house on the wing, run or sit.… Like an old lion took bad with cavities he need that Amident toothpaste keep a feller biting fresh at all times.… Them old lions shit suet turn boyeater.… And who can blame them, boys being so sweet so cold so fair in St. James Infirmary Now, son, don’t you get rigor mortis on me. Show respect for the aging prick.… You may be a tedious old fuck yourself some day.… Oh, uh; I guess not.… You have, like Housman’s barefoot shameless catamite The Congealed Shropshire Ingenue set your fleet foot on the silo of change.… But you can’t kill those Shropshire boys … been hanged so often he resist it like a gonococcus half castrate with pencillin rallies to a hideous strength and multiples geometric.… So leave us cast a vote for decent acquittal and put an end to those beastly exhibitions for which the sheriff levy a pound of flesh.’

  Sheriff: ‘I’ll lower his pants for a pound, folks. Step right up. A serious and scientific exhibit concerning the locality of the Life Center. This character has nine inches, ladies and gentlemen, measure them yourself inside. Only one pound, one queer three dollar bill to see a young boy come three times at least – I never demean myself to process a eunuch – completely against his will. When his neck snaps sharp, this character will shit-sure come to rhythmic attention and spurt it out all over you.’

  The boy stands on the trap shifting his weight from one leg to the other: ‘Gawd! What a boy hasta put up with in this business. Sure as shit some horrible old character get physical.’

  Trap falls, rope sings like wind in wire, neck snaps loud and clear as a Chinese gong.

  The boy cuts himself down with a switch-blade, chases a screaming fag down the midway. The faggot dives through the glass of a penny arcade peep-show and rims a grinning Negro. Fadeout.

  (Mary, Johnny and Mark take a bow with the ropes around their necks. They are not as young as they appear in the Blue Movies.… They look tired and petulant.)

  Meeting of International Conference of Technological Psychiatry

nbsp; Doctor ‘Fingers’ Schafer, the Lobotomy Kid, rises and turns on the Conferents the cold blue blast of his gaze:

  ‘Gentlemen, the human nervous system can be reduced to a compact and abbreviated spinal column. The brain, front, middle and rear must follow the adenoid, the wisdom tooth, the appendix.… I give you my Master Work: The Complete All American De-anxietized Man.…’

  Blast of trumpets: The Man is carried in naked by two Negro Bearers who drop him on the platform with bestial, sneering brutality.… The Man wriggles.… His flesh turns to viscid, transparent jelly that drifts away in green mist, unveiling a monster black centipede. Waves of unknown stench fill the room, searing the lungs, grabbing the stomach.…

  Schafer wrings his hands sobbing: ‘Clarence!! How can you do this to me?? Ingrates!! Every one of them ingrates!!’

  The Conferents start back muttering in dismay:

  ‘I’m afraid Schafer had gone a bit too far.…’

  ‘I sounded a word of warning.…’

  ‘Brilliant chap Schafer … but.…’

  ‘Man will do anything for publicity.…’

  ‘Gentlemen, this unspeakable and in every sense illegitimate child of Doctor Schafer’s perverted brain must not see the light.… Our duty to the human race is clear.…’

  ‘Man he done seen the light,’ said one of the Negro Bearers.

  ‘We must stomp out the Un-American crittah,’ says a fat, frog-faced Southern doctor who has been drinking corn out of a mason jar. He advances drunkenly, then halts, appalled by the formidable size and menacing aspect of the centipede.…

  ‘Fetch gasoline!’ he bellows. ‘We gotta burn the son of a bitch like an uppity Nigra!’

  ‘I’m not sticking my neck out, me,’ says a cool hip young doctor high on LSD25.…‘Why a smart D.A. could …’

  Fadeout. ‘Order in The Court!’

  D.A.: ‘Gentlemen of the jury, these “learned gentlemen” claim that the innocent human creature they have so wantonly slain suddenly turned himself into a huge black centipede and it was “their duty to the human race” to destroy this monster before it could, by any means at its disposal, perpetrate its kind.…

  ‘Are we to gulp down this tissue of horse shit? Are we to take these glib lies like a greased and nameless asshole? Where is this wondrous centipede?

  ‘“We have destroyed it,” they say smugly.… And I would like to remind you, Gentlemen and Hermaphrodites of the Jury, that this Great Beast’ – he points to Doctor Schafer – ‘has, on several previous occasions, appeared in this court charged with the unspeakable crime of brain rape.… In plain English’ – he pounds the rail of the jury box, his voice rises to a scream – ‘in plain English, Gentlemen, forcible lobotomy.…’

  The jury gasps.… One dies of a heart attack.… Three fall to the floor writhing in orgasms of prurience.…

  The D.A. points dramatically: ‘He it is.… He and no other who has reduced whole provinces of our fair land to a state bordering on the far side of idiocy.… He it is who has filled great warehouses with row on row, tier on tier of helpless creatures who must have their every want attended.…“The Drones” he calls them with a cynical leer of pure educated evil.… Gentlemen, I say to you that the wanton murder of Clarence Cowie must not go unavenged: This foul crime shrieks like a wounded faggot for justice at least!’

  The centipede is rushing about in agitation.

  ‘Man, that mother fucker’s hungry,’ screams one of the Bearers.

  ‘I’m getting out of here, me.’

  A wave of electric horror sweeps through the Conferents.… They storm the exits screaming and clawing.…

  The Market

  Panorama of the City of Interzone. Opening bars of East St. Louis Toodleoo … at times loud and clear then faint and intermittent like music down a windy street.…

  The room seems to shake and vibrate with motion. The blood and substance of many races, Negro, Polynesian, Mountain Mongol, Desert Nomad, Polyglot Near East, Indian – races as yet unconceived and unborn, combinations not yet realized pass through your body. Migrations, incredible journeys through deserts and jungles and mountains (stasis and death in closed mountain valleys where plants grow out of genitals, vast crustaceans hatch inside and break the shell of body) across the Pacific in an outrigger canoe to Easter Island. The Composite City where all human potentials are spread out in a vast silent market.

  Minarets, palms, mountains, jungle … A sluggish river jumping with vicious fish, vast weed-grown parks where boys lie in the grass, play cryptic games. Not a locked door in the City. Anyone comes into your room at any time. The Chief of Police is a Chinese who picks his teeth and listens to denunciations presented by a lunatic. Every now and then the Chinese takes the toothpick out of his mouth and looks at the end of it. Hipsters with smooth copper-colored faces lounge in doorways twisting shrunken heads on gold chains, their faces blank with an insect’s unseeing calm.

  Behind them, through open doors, tables and booths and bars, and kitchens and baths, copulating couples on rows of brass beds, crisscross of a thousand hammocks, junkies typing up for a shot, opium smokers, hashish smokers, people eating talking bathing back into a haze of smoke and steam.

  Gaming tables where the games are played for incredible stakes. From time to time a player leaps up with a despairing cry, having lost his youth to an old man or become Latah to his opponent. But there are higher stakes than youth or Latah, games where only two players in the world know what the stakes are.

  All houses in the City are joined. Houses of sod – high mountain Mongols blink in smokey doorways – houses of bamboo and teak, houses of adobe, stone and red brick, South Pacific and Maori houses, houses in trees and river boats, wood houses one hundred feet long sheltering entire tribes, houses of boxes and corrugated iron where old men sit in rotten rags cooking down canned heat, great rusty iron racks rising two hundred feet in the air from swamps and rubbish with perilous partitions built on multi-levelled platforms, and hammocks swinging over the void.

  Expeditions leave for unknown places with unknown purposes. Strangers arrive on rafts of old packing crates tied together with rotten rope, they stagger in out of the jungle their eyes swollen shut from insect bites, they come down the mountain trails on cracked bleeding feet through the dusty windy outskirts of the city, where people defecate in rows along adobe walls and vultures fight over fish heads. They drop down into parks in patched parachutes.… They are escorted by a drunken cop to register in a vast public lavatory. The data taken down is put on pegs to be used as toilet paper.

  Cooking smells of all countries hang over the City, a haze of opium, hashish, the resinous red smoke of Yage, smell of the jungle and salt water and the rotting river and dried excrement and sweat and genitals.

  High mountain flutes, jazz and bebop, one-stringed Mongol instruments, gypsy xylophones, African drums, Arab bagpipes.…

  The City is visited by epidemics of violence, and the untended dead are eaten by vultures in the streets. Albinos blink in the sun. Boys sit in trees, languidly masturbate. People eaten by unknown diseases watch the passerby with evil, knowing eyes.

  In the City Market is the Meet Café. Followers of obsolete, unthinkable trades doodling in Etruscan, addicts of drugs not yet synthesized, pushers of souped-up Harmaline, junk reduced to pure habit offering precarious vegetable serenity, liquids to induce Latah, Tithonian longevity serums, black marketeers of World War III, excisors of telepathic sensitivity, osteopaths of the spirit, investigators of infractions denounced by bland paranoid chess players, servers of fragmentary warrants taken down in hebephrenic shorthand charging unspeakable mutilations of the spirit, bureaucrats of spectral departments, officials of unconstituted police states, a Lesbian dwarf who has perfected operation Bangutot, the lung erection that strangles a sleeping enemy, sellers of orgone tanks and relaxing machines, brokers of exquisite dreams and memories tested on the sensitized cells of junk sickness and bartered for raw materials of the will, doctors skilled in
the treatment of diseases dormant in the black dust of ruined cities, gathering virulence in the white blood of eyeless worms feeling slowly to the surface and the human host, maladies of the ocean floor and the stratosphere, maladies of the laboratory and atomic war.… A place where the unknown past and the emergent future meet in a vibrating soundless hum … Larval entities waiting for a Live One …

  (Section describing The City and the Meet Café written in state of Yage intoxication … Yage, Ayuahuasca, Pilde, Nateema are Indian names for Bannisteria Caapi, a fast growing vine indigenous to the Amazon region. See discussion of Yage in Appendix.)

  Notes from Yage state: Images fall slow and silent like snow.… Serenity … All defenses fall … everything is free to enter or to go out.… Fear is simply impossible.… A beautiful blue substance flows into me.… I see an archaic grinning face like South Pacific mask.… The face is blue purple splotched with gold …

  The room takes on aspect of Near East whorehouse with blue walls and red tasseled lamps.… I feel myself turning into a Negress, the black color silently invading my flesh.… Convulsions of lust … My legs take on a well rounded Polynesian substance.… Everything stirs with a writhing furtive life.… The room is Near East, Negro, South Pacific, in some familiar place I cannot locate.… Yage is space-time travel.… The room seems to shake and vibrate with motion.… The blood and substance of many races, Negro, Polynesian, Mountain Mongol, Desert Nomad, Polyglot Near East, Indian, races as yet unconceived and unborn, passes through the body.… Migrations, incredible journeys through deserts and jungles and mountains (stasis and death in closed mountain valley where plants grow out of genitals, vast crustaceans hatch inside and break the shell of body) across the Pacific in an outrigger canoe to Easter Island.…