Wednesday, March 31, 2010

NYUCK, NYUCK (part 3)

And now, the thrilling conclusion to "Nyuck, Nyuck". Thanks for reading, folks:

NYUCK, NYUCK (part three)

William S. Burroughs had thrice wandered into the town of Bethlehem; two of those times had been completely unintentional.

After wandering the wasteland desert for a spell, William decided he really wasn’t much of an Eagle Scout. There was no way a city dweller like himself could possibly survive the elements. Assuming that he’d succeed at nothing more then feeding a flock of buzzards, and believing that men were inherently good (which was a thought that he did not subscribe to – he’d seen the horror that lurked within a man’s chest) he hightailed it back to Bethlehem. How he’d manage to convince Burl to “take him back”, he was unsure. All he knew was that it was worth the effort.

Burl was placing the coffin, of the man with steer horns, on display outside the local tavern. Though William’s eyes were filled with grit and flecks of tumbleweed, he could see Burl’s face turn from amusement to anger as the undertaker caught sight of his sorry ass strolling back into town.

“Get on,” Burl had said, shooing the much hated beat out of town.

The second time William had stumbled into Bethlehem had been a complete surprise. He had wandered the desert for hours, though it felt like days. He would pass cacti and other desert flora. Delirium had made it so that each and every time he passed a cactus, he would do a sweeping bow and introduce himself. Fuck – the combination of heat, exhaustion, and withdrawal were sending him on something that was starting to rival most of his trips.

A couple of cacti William tried to cut open. While not an Eagle Scout, he seemed to remember Kerouac saying you could cut open a cactus and find water. What Kerouac had failed to explain – and what William failed to comprehend or even think about – was how one went about doing such a thing without tools. Burroughs had succeeded at nothing more than impaling fingers and palm with spikes and needles.

One line of cacti had purple blooms sprouting from the skin. Burroughs carefully picked several of those and shoved them in his maw. He did this not for nourishment or any liquid they might be carrying. No, he did this strictly out of curiosity. Someone discovered magic mushrooms and the Indians had discovered peyote. If he were going to be stuck in a desert, dammit, William S. Burroughs would discover what flora or fauna would get you high (he was not beyond eating a Gila monster lizard if he had an inkling of its potency).

A flock of seagulls followed him overhead. He hated seagulls. Buzzards and vultures had the decency to wait until the spirit left the body before chowing down. Seagulls just went in for whatever they wanted – and here he was, cooking like jerky.

As he was about to surrender to weakness, William caught sight of something that gave him hope. It was the silhouette of a town, rippling like a lake reflection, dead ahead.

A new found energy sparked and his legs sprang into action. As he ran his thoughts bounced back and forth between hope and despair:

Thank God! If I ever meet you big Fellow, I’m going to have to break out my best shit. Oh, we’ll smoke a bowl.


Fuck! It’s just a mirage. It’s got to be a mirage! There’s no town. There’s no seagulls. This is just hell, pure and simple.

He skidded to a stop just before he could smash into the walls of one of the town’s buildings. Cautiously he extended a hand and rapped his knuckles on the wall. Knock, knock, knock. Seemed he owed some good shit to God after all.

He stepped into the town and felt his feet sizzle. William tiptoed towards the shadows cast by the awnings of the local tavern. He never registered that there was no chortles of drunken cheering coming from the bar.

In one mighty leap, William sprang from the main strip of dusty road onto the wooden porch of the pub. He was greeted to relief; the planks of wood were definitely warm, but nothing like that scorched earth. Then he saw it and his heart stopped beating.

On the porch, in a box, was a dead man with steer horns coming out his head.

“Oh, stupid luck,” muttered William. “I went in a damned circle.”

“No, no, no, no,” Burl chattered. The undertaker was rushing across the street waving a horse leg at him. “I tol’ you. Now get.”

So once more, William had headed back into the wastelands. And once more, he found himself strolling back into the streets of Bethlehem. He realized he lacked survival skills, which included navigational sensibilities, but he was fairly sure this was beyond coincidence. There was no way he’d traveled in a circle. None. Each time he’d wandered the desert, he’d seen different cacti with different blooms. He’d eaten blue ones and purple ones and one pink one. No way was this coincidental.

Something was drawing him in. Like a tractor beam. Perhaps he was indeed trapped in a Sisyphean Hell, from which there was no escape.

“Look mister,” said Burl, rushing from out his barn. “You can’t be here.”

“I’ve no desire to be here, Mr. Ives. But just when I think I’m out, it draws me back in.”

“Please,” said Burl, tears welling up in his eyes. Each tear drop evaporated before it could roll down his cheek. “You gotta leave. You got no idea what them boys are capable of.”

As if on cue, the rumbling started.

Burroughs and Ives both flicked their attention to the desert beyond Bethlehem. A great cloud of fog and sin headed towards them. Within that thunderous rumble of giant horse hoofs on cracked earth, they could make out the high falsetto laughter, random gunshots, and someone crying “nyuck, nyuck, nyuck.”

“They find you here,” Burl started, “they’ll go ahead and string me up, too. You gotta…”

The undertaker’s words trailed off. A bullet to the dome will have that affect. One minute he was frantically trying to push the beat out of town and the next William’s face was showered with brain matter. His face looked like the start of a Pollock.

The bullet had entered the back of Burl’s oversized head and stirred around a bit. Then it exploded out one of his eyeballs, creating a geyser of vitreous fluid and brain particles. The large man swayed a few times then tumbled to the ground. William was sad to see him go, but he was grateful to have a Mister In-Between when the bullets were flying.

The writer panicked and froze as the cloud drew nigh. The rumbling rattled his eardrums and the high-pitched cackles sent shivers down his spine. Then it was all over.

Burroughs didn’t hear the men, which instinctively made him thing he’d gone deaf from the thunderous rattling. He wasn’t even aware it had all come to an end until one of those massive horses snorted and sent a cloud of phlegmy nasal mist into his hair. He slapped at the grossness that had caked his head and slowly turned his gaze upward. The star blotted out most everything. He could make out shadows, silhouettes against that blinding, piercing light. There were three figures – one he knew was Jew-fro (Larry, he remembered), one was Bowl-cut (Moe), and one seemingly had a bald head and no neck. He could also feel the heavy huffs of horse sinuses.

“So, this is the wise guy, eh?” shrilled a voice. It must have belonged to the new member of the gang, the bald one.

“Yeah, this is him,” said Moe.

A massive hand came down and grabbed Burroughs by the hair, jerking him upward.

“He don’t look like too much to me,” said the newer voice.

William felt the man drag him across the street, much the same as a caveman would have done to a mate. He couldn’t see with the light in his eyes, but he could sense that the other two – Moe and Larry – were following behind them. In a festive manner at that. They were singing an odd song as if it were a blood chant.

“B-A, bay. B-E, be. B-I, bicky-bye, B-O, bo. Bicky-bye-bo. B-U, boo. Bicky-bye-bo-boo! C-A, cay…”

The childishness of the song in contrast with the macabre violence that was about befall forced William to release his bowels.

“Smells like he shit hisself,” cackled Larry.

William’s head felt like it exploded as the large man cabertossed him into a building. Darkness fell around him, but it was not from fading consciousness, rather the absence of that godforsaken star above. He was inside something. He fluttered his eyes like a butterfly on speed, hoping to catch the slightest glimpse of his attacker. Blurred vision surrendered their forms. He spotted the silhouettes of Larry and Moe, but he knew they were there. The other was a hulk of a man – easily three hundred pounds – with a shaved head. Curly, Burroughs thought, that’s cute.

Curly approached Burroughs, a sausage-sized finger pointed at him like a javelin.

“So, the boys tell me you’re a wise guy.”

“I’m sorry they said such a thing. I wouldn’t consider myself any wiser than anyone else.”

“You talk like a wise guy,” said Curly, jabbing his thick finger into William’s chest. “You like to use them pretty words. You know what we do with wise guys around here?”

“I haven’t a clue,” said William, his voice quavering with fear.

“You’re a wise guy, I’m sure you can figure it out.”

“Please!” William spit the word out in a whirlwind of spittle and tears. He sniffled hard.

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” said Curly, his voice oddly soothing. “I didn’t mean to make you cry. I was just spookin’ you a bit.”

The big man gently held William’s head in his hands maternally. William stared at the brute through tear-stained eyes. He snuffled hard.

“Sounds like you got a runny nose,” cooed Curly. “I can help you with that, if’n you want.”

“If you feel charitable enough,” William said weakly.

“Absolutely.” Curly’s cooing had been replaced with the mischievousness that had been there before.

The man pinched William’s nose with his first two fingers. He squeezed hard and William felt something crack within. In a massive display, Curly brought his other hand down hard on the fingers pinching the nose like he was swinging a mallet. POW!

“You got his nose!” squealed Larry.

“You got it good!” voiced Moe.

For that instant, William was convinced that Curly had indeed gotten his nose. He remembered that retarded game crazy uncles used to play with nieces and nephews. That “I’ve got your nose” game. William was certain that Curly had just given him the reality edition of that game. He’d knocked his nose clean off.

He was happy to find that he was wrong…sort of.

The author/wise guy brought his hands up to his face. He wheezed snotty blood all over his fingers, an indicator that this was bad. Slowly he felt where his nose should be. There was a cavernous hole in his head that was spitting blood like Ol’ Faithful. Fuck! His nose was really gone. Nope, there it was. His fingers fumbled with a dangling piece of flesh. It felt like a big skin tag. As he fingered it, though, he knew it was his nose. He could feel the chunks of cartilage.

“Boys, it looks like I didn’t quite get it all!”

Curly reached down, snatched that dangling nose of William’s, and ripped the thing right from his forehead. William opened his mouth to scream but nothing came out. Larry and Moe cackled in the background.

“Nyuck, nycuk, nyuck,” said Curly. “I got his nose.”

William began crawling across the wooden floor, intent on crawling out the front door. As futile as the idea was, he was operating on instinct, not logic.

“Feed it to him, Curly! Make him eat it,” said Moe.

“That’s disgusting,” said Larry.

“It is disgusting. Like eatin’ a booger samich,” said Curly. “I like it.”

Burroughs continued his escape, looking like a geriatric inchworm. He heard the conversation that was surrounding him, heard them threaten to feed him his own nose, but couldn’t quite comprehend it.

Larry and Moe seized the struggling beat by the shoulders. They flipped him over and held him tight. His vision was still blurred, but he saw Curly’s ginormous hand gripping his bloody proboscis.

“Please!” tried William once again.

“Why soitnly,” Curly said. Burroughs knew he was saying “certainly”.

Curly shoved the thing into William’s mouth. The two stooges that were holding him gripped his jaw line and forced him to chew. William felt bile rush up his throat with every crunch. He swallowed hard and felt bits of cartilage and flesh flow down his esophagus.

The human body is a funny thing. It’s no surprise that a person can drink themselves silly until two in the morning and wake up still drunk. Things have a way of staying in the body longer than we’d expect them to. Sometimes it’s temporary; other times, not so much. It definitely depends on what it is you’re imbibing and how often you find yourself doing it.

William S. Burroughs was a living, breathing Petri dish of drug research. He’d snorted, smoked, toked, eaten, dropped, and inhaled anything and everything. Despite that he was not elderly or geriatric, decades of the lifestyle had led to a certain tolerance to drugs as a whole. Meanwhile the residue that had been left over – from every spliff, every line snorted, every drop of LSD – had terraformed his body into their own personal village.

The withdrawal had been a bitch. Now, as he chewed that nose, he felt left over cocaine re-entering his bloodstream. He tasted the sweetness of marijuana residue. He sucked the blood from the nose and instantly felt the oncoming rush of a high. His mind worked up imagery: William S. Burroughs was Popeye the Sailor Man and that nose was his motherfucking can of Spinach. He watched the scene playing in his head as his biceps ballooned into bowling balls and his calves inflated. He’d gotten a fix and he was unstoppable.

The movements were fluid and they occurred without William being fully aware of it. It was as if his subconscious and his body were having a private conversation. His hands turned to fists and the arms jerked upwards violently. Each fist made contact with a nose – Larry’s and Moe’s.
“Packed with peanuts,” William said, though not sure why.

With the two stooges hunched over in pain, William opened his left fist and slapped Curly across the face. It was fast and vicious and William could feel his hand still vibrating. Curly buckled in pain.

Curly regained his balance and glowered at the beat. William saw he’d drawn blood from the big man’s face. He liked that.

“Why I oughta…” Curly said, and began rushing towards him.

“Come get some,” replied William. He sidestepped just before the big man could barrel into him like a freight train. Immediately behind William was a wooden post that existed to help keep the top floor on top. Curly didn’t have time to stop. He hit head first, the wood splintering under the attack. A chunk of wood split through the big man’s dome sending blood and brain matter across the floor below.

Larry and Moe were awestruck. They were too far away to recruit Curly Joe (a doppelganger who sometimes stood in for Curly). They watched William to see what he would do next. The writer wasted no time.

William S. Burroughs bitch slapped Moe across the cheek. It wasn’t as hard as he’d slapped Curly, but it did send the stooge to the floor.

“Why I oughta…” started Larry.

“Like talking to a broken record. You all just keep saying the same thing.”

William brought his hand up like a cobra, his index and forefingers ready to strike. His arm waggled in front of Larry’s face, going up, then down, then up again. Larry was transfixed. Then the cobra struck.

Two fingers poked into Jew-fro’s eye sockets. “Look who’s blind now!” shouted William. He jabbed further and felt warm vitreous fluid wash over his fingers. He wiggled his fingers while they were still in the sockets and felt his fingernails scratch the brain. Larry slumped to the floor.

For the first time since stumbling into Bethlehem, Burroughs had a smile on his face.


The noise reverberated within his dome. He’d forgotten all about Moe, who had seen fit to take advantage of the situation by slamming something into William’s head.
Burroughs spun around to defend another blow. There was Moe, frying pan in hand, ready to strike out again.

“We hate wise guys ‘round here,” said Moe.

The beat needed to defend himself. He glanced around the room. Nada. He felt in his pocket. No dice. Then he saw something that might aid him. It was a canister of some sort jutting from Larry’s pocket. He ducked and grabbed the item.

“A seltzer bottle?” Moe guffawed. “What? You gonna squirt me, wise guy?”

And that was what William did. He made the bottle spit its contents right into Moe’s face.

“Wah, wah, wah,” William laughed.

Moe screamed in bloody agony.

“It’s just soda water! There’s no need to be a big baby.”

The stooge screamed again.

His vision was already fading – partially because of the blood and grit, partly because William himself was fading. He strained as hard as he could and glimpsed the grotesque vision. Moe’s face was sizzling. Steam rose from his head, and puss jutted from popping boils. The seltzer water was eating him alive. Or maybe it wasn’t soda after all. Perhaps it had been acid.
The screams grew softer and before long, Moe was a headless corpse on the floor.

William laughed, completely unsure why he was doing so. He fell to the floor and felt his head begin to split. It was literally splitting in two, a crack spreading from where his nose used to be. So this is what they mean by splitting headache!

He chuckled at his own joke – after all, nobody else would or could. The darkness came swift. First his eyes flickered out, then he couldn’t feel his arms or legs. He felt his heart rhythmically slow, each beat sending him further into hypnosis. He wondered if Jack and Allen ever made it to Mexico. That was his last thought, before death swooped over him and he was nothing more than a memory.

He died with a smile on his face and his hand raised offering a middle finger to the world. It was satisfying to have one final trip.

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