So choose your color kid. Stand a little back from the game. Face to the west. Pretend an interest. Get it out of your head and into the machines.
Abruptly the city ends. Tentative half impressions that dissolve in light. Grey shadow on a distant wall. The putrid smell of rotten blood hangs over cities of the world like smog.
I don’t know how he got the address. The Empress Hotel is in a rundown shabby area on the edge of a rural slum with shops selling jellied eels and blood pudding.
In a room with metal walls magnetic mobiles under flickering blue light and smell of ozone. There was a jar of KY on a glass shelf. The waiter was singing through his disk mouth a bubbling cave song.
There are two drummers at the bar drinking beer. He looked around resentfully, as though what he saw was unfamiliar and distasteful. She puts on a record, metallic cocaine be-bop. In Minraud time. Screaming neon in the throat.
A portentously inconspicuous man, grey beard and grey face and shabby djebella, sings in slight unplaceable accent without opening his lips. “A violet by a mossy stone/Half hidden from the eye!” I handed him a brief case of bank notes and he faded into the shadows furtive and seedy as an old junky.
“You trying to short-time someone, Jack?”
I look up. Doolie looked at me and sucked on his cigarette. We were both emaciated now.
“You know the answer to that a lot better than I do.” The words came out so ugly I surprised and shocked myself.
I ordered two beers, and he went on telling me how he was accustomed to reciprocate. The waiter set down a flat limestone shell of squid bodies and crab claws.
“Have a cigarette,” he said.
I drew the black berry smoke deep into my lungs and symbol language of an ancient rotting kingdom bloomed in my brain like Chinese flowers. The effect was uncanny. A sweet metal taste burned through stomach intestines and genitals.
Our faces swelled under the eyes and our lips got thicker through some glandular action of the drug. On the smoldering metal I saw a giant crab claw snapping. I noticed that my mouth was bone dry.
“I’m going now. Don’t ever look back, kid.”
I pulled him back and he threatened me.
“Ain’t it a bit unhealthy to know as much as you know? Because all Agents defect and all Resistors sell out…”
Suddenly we are both awake.
“The very same thing occurred to me. When you stop growing, you start dying.”
“Don’t look so frightened young man. I’ve told you ten times. Just a professional joke.” He made a gesture of a plane flying upwards at a steep angle. “It’s more complicated than you think.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about now,” I said.
“The zone has been nationalized. I’m leaving town.”
When I told him of my plan to make an expedition to the interior of the island he said it would be impossible.
“The needle is stopped. We have no such powers my son.” He stands poised on his toes like a ballet dancer. “Return to base immediately.”
Clearly the interview is at an end. I kept on drinking. Empty, sad as the graves of dying peoples.
The cellar is full of light. Doolie sick was an unnerving sight. He crumpled there on the steps and now looking at me silent as all the red hair and smudged freckles and red flesh of the world flushed through him blurring his face out of focus the red swirls and blurs. And there was a blast of hate from the heavy heart of an old servant. “We regard it as a misfortune…”
I felt a sudden pity for the violated veins and tissue.
He starts to say, You’ll be all right, bursts into tears instead.
Then the dotted line.
“This man is never to be recalled or reclassified.”
This is no longer true. Few beat the house, but no one will talk about anything very long.
I stayed off the junk.
Shut the whole machine off.
1. Written/assembled on September 8th, 2019
2. This was made entirely using sentences from five different William Burroughs novels
3. Which were Junky, Naked Lunch, The Ticket That Exploded, The Soft Machine, and The Place Of Dead Roads
4. With no sentence used being from the same novel as the preceding or following sentence.
5. This is the first part of a trilogy called In The Terminals Of Minraud
6. The other two pieces being March My Captive Head and Last Of The Gallant Heroes
7. A fully annotated version of this can be read here: Fading My Name Through Dying Air (annotated pdf)
8. So you can see exactly where I was cheating my own rules