January 29, 2012

"William Burroughs" by David Ohle

A different version of this 
piece appeared as
 “The Time of the Wart” in The Dirty Goat, Austin TX, 1990. 

After the Beat business became a media topic, everyone knew. I saw a headline in The News of the World around 1959--blame these men for the beatnik horror, listed Kerouac, Ginsberg and myself, with pictures. And I said, “Well, we have arrived.”
  Decades later people would exit the I-70 at Lawrence, drive 30 blocks to Leanard St. “There he is,” they’d say,” the fella wrote Tarzan, ain’t he?” “Beg your pardon,” I’d say. “That’s another Burroughs. I’m from the St. Louis Burroughs.”
After the crash of an alien spaceship, they recovered a body, took it to Los Alamos for autopsy. It had no stomach. These creatures are nourished by some kind of sophisticated photosynthesis. Chlorophyll people. What could be better than if you made some simple changes in people so that they could nourish themselves with photosynthesis? It would wipe out hunger problems in the third world. 
“Effin well right,” the generals said. “We’re gonna put out a shoot-to-kill order on those effin opportunists. Effin flying saucers are violating our air space. We will go beyond the Manhattan Project! We will destroy these creatures!” My God, the dumbness, to alienate the aliens.

There was a great possibility when the old world met the new. There could have been a tremendous possibility of exchanging knowledge and values. Instead of which it became a history of slavery and extermination. The white-skinned homo sap has always been an eff up. 
And there was Hiroshima. They just couldn’t wait to drop their new toy onto “personnel,” also known as people. It was completely unnecessary. Japan didn’t have a ship in the sea or a plane in the sky. They were even making peace offers through Sweden. “Oh, no, we’re going to try out our new toy.” 
My theory is that we’re just another alien species, an occupying alien species, a parasitic alien. 

I never doubted the existence of gods, nor the possibility of an afterlife. My grandfather was a Methodist Minister who died when I was six. My father was an atheist, and my mother a psychic. She asked once, “Does anyone know what happens when you die?” My father said, “I know. There was a little dog and his name was Rover, and when he was dead he was dead all over.”

There’d been an obituary on me for years, all written and ready to go except for the last paragraph. All they had to do was to tack on the end. Now I’ve got a good little niche in the Burroughs family plot here in St. Louis. It’s a damned good thing to lie in the ground and rot.
In my old age I developed a plantar wart. It got stronger and more vigorous by the day, big as a small turnip . . . . That’s the way it is, isn’t it. One day you’ve got a monkey on your back, and the next it’s a turnip on your sole.