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Naked Lunch

William S. Burroughs

  ‘(It is thought that the virus is a degeneration from a more complex life form. It may at one time have been capable of independent life. Now it has fallen to the borderline between living and dead matter. It can exhibit living qualities only in a host, but using the life of another – the renunciation of life itself, a falling towards inorganic, inflexible machine, towards dead matter.)

  ‘Bureaus die when the structure of the state collapses. They are as helpless and unfit for independent existences as a displaced tapeworm, or a virus that has killed the host.

  ‘In Timbuktu I once saw an Arab boy who could play a flute with his ass, and the fairies told me he was really an individual in bed. He could play a tune up and down the organ hitting the most erogenously sensitive spots, which are different on everyone, of course. Every lover had his special theme song which was perfect for him and rose to his climax. The boy was a great artist when it came to improvising new combines and special climaxes, some of them notes in the unknown, tie-ups of seeming discords that would suddenly break through each other and crash together with a stunning, hot sweet impact.’

  ‘Fats’ Terminal has organized a purple-assed baboon stick from motorcycles.

  The Huntsmen have gathered for the Hunt Breakfast in The Swarm Bar, a hang-out for elegant pansies. The Huntsmen strut about with imbecile narcissism in black leather jackets and studded belts, flexing their muscles for the fags to feel. They all wear enormous falsie baskets. Every now and then one of them throws a fag to the floor and pisses on him.

  They are drinking Victory Punch, compounded of paregoric, Spanish Fly, heavy black rum, Napoleon brandy and canned heat. The punch is served from a great, hollow, gold baboon, crouched in snarling terror, snapping at a spear in his side. You twist the baboon’s balls and punch runs out his cock. From time to time hot hors-d’oeuvres pop out the baboon’s ass with a loud farting noise. When this happens the Huntsmen roar with bestial laughter, and the fags shriek and twitch.

  Master of the Hunt is Captain Everhard, who was drummed out of the Queen’s 69th for palming a jock-strap in a game of strip poker. Motorcycles careening, jumping, overturning. Spitting, shrieking, shitting baboons fighting hand to hand with the Huntsmen. Riderless cycles scrabbling about in the dust like crippled insects, attacking baboon and Huntsman.…

  The Party Leader rides in triumph through yiping crowds. A dignified old man shits at sight of him and tries to sacrifice himself under the wheels of the car.

  PARTY LEADER: ‘Don’t sacrifice your dried up person under the wheels of my brand new Buick Roadmaster Convertible with white-walled tires, hydraulic windows and all the trimmings. It’s a chip Arab trick – look to thy accent, Ivan – save it for fertilizer.… We refer you to the conservation department to consummate your swell purpose.…’

  The washing boards are down, and the sheets are sent to the Laundromat to lose those guilty stains – Emmanuel prophesies a Second Coming.…

  There’s a boy across the river with an ass like a peach; alas I was no swimmer and lost my Clementine.

  The junky sits with needle poised to the message of blood, and the con man palpates the mark with fingers of rotten ectoplasm.…

  Dr. Berger’s Mental Hour.… Fadeout.

  TECHNICIAN: ‘Now listen, I’ll say it again, and I’ll say it slow. “Yes.”’ He nods. ‘And make with the smile.… The smile.’ He shows his false teeth in hideous parody of a toothpaste ad. ‘“We like apple pie, and we like each other. It’s just as simple as that,” – and make it sound simple, country simple.… Look bovine, whyncha? You want the switchboard again? Or the pail?’

  SUBJECT – Cured Criminal Psychopath – ‘No! … No! … What’s this bovine?’

  TECHNICIAN: ‘Look like a cow.’

  SUBJECT – with cow’s head – ‘Moooo Moooo.’

  TECHNICIAN (starting back): ‘Too much!! No! Just look square, you dig, like a nice popcorn John.…’

  SUBJECT: ‘A mark?’

  TECHNICIAN: ‘Well, not exactly a mark. Not enough larceny in this citizen. He is after light concussion.… You know the type. Telepathic sender and receiver excised. The Service Man Look … Action, camera.’

  SUBJECT: ‘Yes, we like apple pie.’ His stomach rumbles loud and long. Streamers of saliva hang off his chin.…

  Dr. Berger looks up from some notes. He look like Jewish owl with black glasses, the light hurt his eyes: ‘I think he is an unsuitable subject.… See he reports to Disposal.’

  TECHNICIAN: ‘Well, we could cut that rumble out of the sound track, stick a drain in his mouth and …’

  DR. BERGER: ‘No … He’s unsuitable.’ He looks at the subject with distaste as if he commit some terrible faux-pas like look for crabs in Mrs. Worldly’s drawing room.

  TECHNICIAN (resigned and exasperated): ‘Bring in the cured swish.’

  The cured homosexual is brought in.… He walks through invisible contours of hot metal. He sits in front of the camera and starts arranging his body in a countrified sprawl. Muscles move into place like autonomous parts of a severed insect. Blank stupidity blurs and softens his face: ‘Yes,’ he nods and smiles, ‘we like apple pie and we like each other. It’s just as simple as that.’ He nods and smiles and nods and smiles and –

  ‘Cut! …’ screams the Technician. The cured homosexual is led out nodding and smiling.

  ‘Play it back.’

  The Artistic Adviser shakes his head: ‘It lacks something. To be specific, it lacks health.’

  BERGER (leaps to his feet): ‘Preposterous! It’s health incarnate! …’

  ARTISTIC ADVISER (primly): ‘Well if you have anything to enlighten me on this subject I’ll be very glad to hear it, Doctor Berger.… If you with your brilliant mind can carry the project alone, I don’t know why you need an Art Adviser at all.’ He exits with hand on hip singing softly: ‘I’ll be around when you’re gone.’

  TECHNICIAN: ‘Send in the cured writer.… He’s got what? Buddhism? … Oh, he can’t talk. Say so at first, whyncha?’ He turns to Berger: ‘The writer can’t talk.… Overliberated, you might say. Of course we can dub him.…’

  BERGER (sharply): ‘No, that wouldn’t do at all.… Send in someone else.’

  TECHNICIAN: ‘Those two was my white-haired boys. I put in a hundred hours overtime on those kids for which I am not yet compensate.…’

  BERGER: ‘Apply triplicate.… Form 6090.’

  TECHNICIAN: ‘You telling me how to apply already? Now look, Doc, you say something once. “To speak of a healthy homosexual it’s like how can a citizen be perfectly healthy with terminal cirrhosis.” Remember?’

  BERGER: ‘Oh yes. Very well put, of course,’ he snarls viciously. ‘I don’t pretend to be a writer.’ He spits the word out with such ugly hate that the Technician reels back appalled.…

  TECHNICIAN (aside): ‘I can’t bear the smell of him. Like old rotten replica cultures.… Like the farts of a maneating plant.… Like Schafer’s hurumph’ (parodies academic manner) ‘Strange Serpent … What I’m getting at, Doc, is how can you expect a body to be healthy with its brains washed out? … Or put it another way. Can a subject be healthy in abstentia by proxy already?’

  BERGER (leaps up): ‘I got the health! … All the health! Enough health for the whole world, the whole fucking world!! I cure everybody!’

  The Technician looks at him sourly. He mixes a bicarbonate of soda and drinks it and belches into his hand. ‘Twenty years I’ve been a martyr to dyspepsia.’

  Lovable Lu your brainwashed poppa say: ‘I’m strictly for fish, and I luuuuuve it.… Confidentially, girls, I use Steely Dan’s Yokohama, wouldn’t you? Danny Boy never lets you down. Besides it’s more hygienic that way and avoids all kinda awful contacts leave a man paralyzed from the waist down. Women have poison juices.…’

  ‘So I told him, I said “Doctor Berger, don’t think you can pass your tired old brainwashed belles on me. I’m the oldest faggot in the Upper Baboon’s Asshole.…”’

  Switch envelopes in cl
ip clap joint where fradulent girls put the B on you in favor of the House 666 and there is no health in them clap broads rotten to the apple corer of my unconsummate cock. Who shot Cock Robin? … The sparrow falls to my trustful Webley, and a drop of blood gathers at his beak.…

  Lord Jim has turned bright yellow in the woe withered moon of morning like white smoke against the blue stuff, and shirts whip in a cold spring wind on limestone cliffs across the river, Mary, and the dawn is broken in two pieces like Dillinger on the lamster way to the Biograph. Smell of neon and atrophied gangsters, and the criminal manqué nerves himself to crack a pay toilet sniffing ammonia in a bucket.…‘A caper,’ he says. ‘I’ll pull this capon I mean caper.’

  PARTY LEADER (mixing another scotch): ‘The next riot goes off like a football play. We have imported a thousand bone fed, blue ribbon Latahs from Indochina.… All we need is one riot leader for the whole unit.’ His eyes sweep the table.

  LIEUTENANT: ‘But, chief, can’t we get them started and they imitate each other like a chained reaction?’

  The Diseuse undulate through the Market: ‘What’s a Latah do when he’s alone?’

  P.L.: ‘That a technical point. We’ll have to consult Benway. Personally, I think someone should follow through on the whole operation.’

  ‘I do not know,’ he said for lack of the requisite points and ratings to secure the appointment.

  ‘They have no feelings,’ said Doctor Benway, slashing his patient to shreds. ‘Just reflexes … I urge distraction.’

  ‘The age of consent is when they learn to talk.’

  ‘May all your troubles be little ones as one child molester say to the other.’

  ‘It’s really ominous, my dear, when they start trying on your clothes and give you those doppelganger kicks.…’

  Frantic queen trying to claw sport jacket off departing boy.

  ‘My two hundred dollar cashmere jacket,’ she screeches.…

  ‘So he has an affair with this Latah, he wants to dominate someone complete, the silly old thing.… The Latah imitates all his expression and mannerisms and simply sucks all the persona right out of him like a sinister ventriloquist’s dummy.…“You’ve taught me everything you are.… I need a new amigo.” And poor Bubu can’t answer for himself, having no self left.’

  JUNKY: ‘So there we are in this no-horse town strictly from cough syrup.’

  PROFESSOR: ‘Coprophilia … gentlemen … might be termed the hurumph … redundant vice.…’

  ‘Twenty years an artist in the blue movies and I never sink so low as fake an orgasm.’

  ‘No good junky cunt hang up her unborn child.… Women are no good, kid.’

  ‘I mean this dead level conscious sex … Might as well take your old clothes to the Laundromat.…’

  ‘And right in the heat of passion he says, “Do you have an extra shoe tree?”’

  ‘She tell me how forty Arabs drag her into a mosque and rape her presumably in sequence.… Though they’re bad to push – all right, end of the line, Ali. Really, my pets, most distasteful routine I ever listen to. I was after being raped myself by a pride of rampant bores.’

  A group of sour Nationalists sits in front of the Sargasso sneering at the queens and jabbering in Arabic.… Clem and Jody sweep in dressed like The Capitalist in a communist mural.

  CLEM: ‘We have come to feed on your backwardness.’

  JODY: ‘In the words of the Immortal Bard, to batten on these Moors.’

  NATIONALIST: ‘Swine! Filth! Son of dogs! Don’t you realize my people are hungry?’

  CLEM: ‘That’s the way I like to see them.’

  The Nationalist drops dead, poisoned by hate.… Dr. Benway rushes up: ‘Stand back everybody, give me air.’ He takes a blood sample. ‘Well, that’s all I can do. When you gotta go you gotta go.’

  The travelling queer Christmas tree burns bright on the rubbish heaps of home where boys jack off in the school toilet – how many young spasms on that old oaken seat worn smooth as gold.…

  Sleep long in the valley of the Red River where cobwebs hang black windows and boy bones.…

  Two Negro fags shriek at each other.

  FAG 1: ‘Shut up, you cheap granuloma gash.… You known as Loathsome Lu in the trade.’

  DISEUSE: ‘The girl with the innaresting groin.’

  FAG 2: ‘Meow. Meow.’ He slips on leopard skin and iron claws.…

  FAG 1: ‘Oh oh. A Society Woman.’ He flees screaming through the Market, pursued by the grunting, growling transvestite.…

  Clem trips a spastic cripple and takes his crutches.… He does a hideous parody twitching and drooling.…

  Riot noises in the distance – a thousand hysterical Pomeranians.

  Shop shutters slam like guillotines. Drinks and trays hang in the air as the patrons are whisked inside by the suction of panic.

  CHORUS OF FAGS: ‘We’ll all be raped. I know it, I know it.’ They rush into a drugstore and buy a case of KY.

  PARTY LEADER (holding up his hand dramatically): ‘The voice of the People.’

  Pearson the Money Changeling comes acropping the short grass seized by the extortionate commandant of Karma, hiding in a vacant lot with the garter snakes, to be sniffed out by the scrutable dog.…

  The Market is empty except for an old drunkard of indeterminate nationality passed out with his head in a pissoir. The rioters erupt into the Market yiping and screaming ‘Death to the French’ and tear the drunkard to pieces.

  SALVADOR HASSAN (squirming at a keyhole): ‘Just look at those expressions, the whole beautiful protoplasmic being all exactly alike.’ He dances the Liquefactionist Jig.

  Whimpering queen falls to the floor in an orgasm. ‘Oh God it’s too exciting. Like a million hot throbbing cocks.’

  BENWAY: ‘Like to run a blood test on those boys.’

  A portentously inconspicuous man, grey beard and grey face and shabby brown djellaba, sings in slight unplaceable accent without opening his lips:

  ‘Oh you dolls, you great big beautiful dolls.’

  Squads of police with thin lips, big noses and cold grey eyes move into the Market from every entrance street. They club and kick the rioters with cold, methodical brutality.

  The rioters have been carted away in trucks. The shutters go up and the citizens of Interzone step out into the square littered with teeth and sandals and slippery with blood.

  The sea chest of the dead man is in the Embassy, and the vice consul breaks the news to mother.

  There is no … Morning … Daybreak … n’existe plus.… If I knew I’d be glad to tell you. Either way is a bad move to the East Wing … He is gone through an invisible door.… Not here … You can look any place.… No good … No bueno … Hustling myself.… C’lom Fliday.

  (Note: Old time, veteran Schmeckers, faces beaten by grey junk weather, will remember.… In 1920s a lot of Chinese pushers around found The West so unreliable, dishonest and wrong, they all packed in, so when an Occidental junky came to score, they say:

  ‘No glot.… C’lom Fliday.…’)

  Islam Incorporated and the Parties of Interzone

  I was working for an outfit known as Islam Inc., financed by A. J., the notorious Merchant of Sex, who scandalized international society when he appeared at the Duke de Ventre’s ball as a walking penis covered by a huge condom emblazoned with the A.J. motto ‘They Shall Not Pass.’

  ‘Rather bad taste, old boy,’ said the Duke.

  To which A. J. replied: ‘Up yours with Interzone K.Y.’ The reference is to the K.Y. scandal which was still in a larval state at that time. A.J.’s repartee often refers to future events. He is a master of the delayed squelch.

  Salvador Hassan O’Leary, the After Birth Tycoon, is also involved. That is, one of his subsidiary companies has made unspecified contributions, and one of his subsidiary personalities is attached to the organization in an advisory capacity without in any way committing himself to, or associating himself with, the policies, actions or objectives of Islam
Inc. Mention should also be made of Clem and Jody, the Ergot Brothers, who decimated the Republic of Hassan with poison wheat, Autopsy Ahmed, and Hepatitis Hal, the fruit and vegetable broker.

  A rout of Mullahs and Muftis and Husseins and Caids and Glaouis and Sheiks and Sultans and Holy Men and representatives of every conceivable Arab party make up the rank and file and attend the actual meetings from which the higher ups prudently abstain. Though the delegates are carefully searched at the door, these gatherings invariably culminate in riots. Speakers are often doused with gasoline and burned to death, or some uncouth desert Sheik opens up on his opponents with a machine gun he had concealed in the belly of a pet sheep. Nationalist martyrs with grenades up the ass mingle with the assembled conferents and suddenly explode, occasioning heavy casualties.… And there was the occasion when President Ra threw the British Prime Minister to the ground and forcibly sodomized him, the spectacle being televised to the entire Arab World. Wild yipes of joy were heard in Stockholm. Interzone has an ordinance forbidding a meeting of Islam Inc. within five miles of the city limits.

  A. J., – he is actually of obscure Near East extraction – had at one time come on like an English gentleman. His English accent waned with the British Empire, and after World War II he became an American by Act of Congress. A. J. is an agent like me, but for whom or for what no one has ever been able to discover. It is rumored that he represents a trust of giant insects from another galaxy.… I believe he is on the Factualist side (which I also represent); of course he could be a Liquefaction Agent (the Liquefaction program involves the eventual merging of everyone into One Man by a process of protoplasmic absorption). You can never be sure of anyone in the industry.