There isn’t much about William S. Burroughs’ writing that I find as interesting as the man himself. I had the opportunity to meet William on several ocassions while I was living in Lawrence, Kansas. I’ll never forget this one particular time I was sitting in a recording studio with him. He was recording voice-over work for a CD-ROM game called The Dark Eye, based on Edgar Allan Poe’s stories. I was sitting in the control room reading Wired magazine. William was taking his vodka and Coke break. He walked out and inquired as to what it was that I was reading.
“A computer magazine,” I replied simply.
“Computers…bah!” he exclaimed, and with such disdain.
The conversation shifted to a story about Jackie Mason. I don’t recall what that story was about. All you ever wanted to do was listen to him. He had amazing stories and would be more than happy to share. What a presence he was.
As I said, I am more interested in his life, rather than his writing, for the most part. He’s quite a fascinating character. One of the stories that I do like is “Junky’s Christmas,” which can be found on the recording, Spare Ass Annie & Other Tales and a slightly different interpretation on The “Priest” They Called Him, which was a collaboration with Kurt Cobain. There is also a claymation adaptation of it somewhere. Anyway, here is an excerpt. Merry Christmas (to those who celebrate).
Junky’s Christmas by William S. Burroughs (courtesy of artdamage.com)
It was Christmas Day and Danny the Car Wiper hit the street junksick and broke after seventy-two hours in the precinct jail. It was a clear bright day, but there was warmth in the sun. Danny shivered with an inner cold. He turned up the collar of his worn, greasy black overcoat.
This beat benny wouldn’t pawn for a deuce, he thought.
He was in the West Nineties. A long block of brownstone rooming houses. Here and there a holy wreath in a clean black window. DannyÌs senses registered everything sharp and clear, with the painful intensity of junk sickness. The light hurt his dilated eyes.
He walked past a car, darting his pale blue eyes sideways in quick appraisal. There was a package on the seat and one of the ventilator windows was unlocked. Danny walked on ten feet. No one in sight. He snapped his fingers and went through a pantomime of remembering something, and wheeled around. No one.