The Unknown: The Red Line.
  Hell, it doesn’t matter, Dirk, Scott, and William, three guys these are guys. I’ve got a bottle of malt liquor in a brown paper bag and a pocketful of alfalfa sprouts and I say to Scott, buddy, what can we cook up with this? He says, cookbooks, cookbooks. He’s not talking real straight at this point, has been thinking he’s the Oracle at Delphi or else the Oracle at Oracle, I couldn’t tell which, because he’d say one word and repeat it as if it meant more repeated. Cookbooks, cookbooks, he says, and we go to cookbooks and I start looking in James Beard and Julia Child for alfalfa sprouts and Scott takes the same books and checks the index for beer. Alfalfa, Scott says, alfalfa, like it’s supposed to mean something. Then I get this badass idea because I’m feeling around in my back pocket and there’s a Hershey bar there. Chocolate, I say to Scott, chocolate. Think of a cauldron of chocolate and you’re drinking beer in it and you’re eating alfalfa sprouts. He vomits all over Julia Child.

This happened at Borders. We got all turned around earlier, because I told the taxi driver or whoever it was whose car we were in—I think it was a German tourist, on reflection—we needed City Lights and he said, uh?, and I said, bookstore, and he doesn’t get it, so we’re at Borders. But we need to be at City Lights, the next S. Burroughs was reading and I was giving the introduction, so I pick Scott up and carry him out of the store. People were looking but fuck them. Adios, Scott says, adios. Clap, Scott says, clap.

I carry him to City Lights. It’s a long ways and he vomits in my back pocket on the way, but so what, I’m drunk. We get to City Lights and the next S. Burroughs, that’s William, is standing up in front of a huge crowd of people. He’s just standing there. William, I whisper, after dropping Scott in the poetry room, what are you doing? He looks at me. It’s this mind-reading trick he learned in Dirk’s cult, I think. Dirk’s telepathic, I think. Who knows? Whatever, I realize William’s saying to me, I can’t talk until I’ve been introduced. Now, if you know William, you know he’s a man of few words even when he does talk. I ask somebody in the audience, how long has this been going on? And this person in the audience vomits. Now, this confused me. Because Scott just vomited. But then it occurs to me Dirk’s into peyote. He loves peyote. And it occurs to me further that William is on peyote, too. And it occurs to me further that me, I’m on it too, and I might vomit soon. But first I should introduce William as the next S. Burroughs, because that’s who—and I see this clearly at the time, as if I am the Oracle—he is. So I go up in front of everybody, work my jaw a bit but don’t say anything, and then say—I don’t say anything. I think it. And now, I think, William, the next S. Burroughs, is going to read from his novelette, his collection of poetry. He’s going to read from his experimental novel and his conventional one. He’s going to read from his thesis and he’s going to read from his students’papers.

At this point Scott meanders in. He’s not saying anything, but he’s thinking something. Ode, he thinks, ode. He sits in the single empty chair in the back next to the books on astrology and stops thinking, empties his mind, becomes Zen. Then Dirk comes in with about 100 disciples, I don’t know how many there were, but they’re all wearing this shirt that’s got a picture of a bald Dirk on the front of it and on the back the words, “Olean,” so I think immediately that Procter & Gamble is sponsoring this cult, and sure enough, under “Olean” it reads: “P&G: For the best in anal leakage.” Crowd, I think, here is the allegedly arisen one. Everyone nods their head.

Inexplicably, the lights go out. City Lights is dark like the Dead Sea after the apocalypse.

I pause, and then continue thinking: William’s going to read from his term papers, I think, he’s going to read from his class notes, he’s going to read from cereal boxes and from grocery store coupons. He’s going to read fortune cookie fortunes, underwear size labels, text from highway billboards, the Declaration of Independence, the script to Goodfellas, the warning label on the back of a container of antifreeze, and James Beard cookbooks. He’s going to read transcripts of conversations with Curtis White, Scott Rettberg, myself, and Dirk; he’s going to read auras; he’s going to read tea leaves and street addresses and calling card access codes and the Wall Street Journal Guide to Understanding Money and Investing and Funk & Wagnall’s Encyclopedia and the sports page of a Brazilian newspaper and God in a clump of Dirk’s hair. And you know what, I think. And he’s also going to read my mind. Everybody applauds him, as S. Burroughs begins to read.

Read 4/8/99
at Brown University

Read 9/5/98
at Mike’s House
630K RealAudio Clip

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The Unknown at Spineless Books.