OBLIVION. Not diffusion of the ego into a tinted bardo, as on acid; not greasy expansion of the superego into a slimy wet bladder, as with booze. It is the smothering of the self, the extinguishing of all that you have been, of everything that you are, of anything you could hope to be. Heroin, my heroine, the White Lady of Blackness, the ghost of electricity, no more problems with you, Sweet Marie, no more problems, no, no, no more, no.
The feeling of no--a constriction, a checking of one's motives to see if they can be crushed into finer powder--the acceptance of the final negative -- Transplant says that when you don't have any more excuses for yourself, you're dead, that's why even rich addicts lie and steal. No. No. Each and every argument for anything at all ends with the final no. Death. NO. No. Everything is no: no love, no hate, no energy, no sense, no time, no space, no place, no people, no you; even yes is no: yes to the needle, yes to the cookery, yes to every no that has ever not been or been or however. However you can twist it, man. Embracing the nothing, the heavy caress of indifferent death.
The Heavy Metal Kid and other famous folk heroes prefer a small shallow frying pan for boiling so you can scrape it clean. Of Course you need your bag, and a belt to tie your arm. Boil it down. Already the smell of no! is in the air, a low hot smell, the dull excitement and fever of being alone with something wrong man, you know this isn't right, but is that right? Like probing your asshole in the bathrub, or like wanting to vomit, wanting to taste it, or like hurting, an animal slowly. Degrade and debase all that you have been taught that is good for you because you can't do it anywhere else. Like a man who wants to scream when he is alone, but then there's no point in it, the scream crawls over and hardens your soul. Alone--there's no one around for miles, for years, you might very well be stark raving mad because there is no protesting against no for you, so embrace it, live it.
Is the needle clean? If you haven't been too nervous, if you haven't forgotten, if you aren't jumping from foot to foot, then the calmness of extreme pathology has come over you, the worm of murder in your mouth, then you remembered to bolt the door, to boil the stick; what a laugh you have, man! What a weird cat would like the way you laugh! Colors mean nothing to you; the flying Byrds, the opening Doors, the Rolling Stones, they are nothing at all for you--that's it! Here it is. Welcome.
To Desolation Row. The brown wood panelling, the dirty floor, the floor is wet--how'd it get wet?--the glowing red coils of the hotplate, the gray throb of he lightbulb. The world is a bus terminal. Who makes it out to Desolation Row? Well, for a starter . . .
There's Little Walter, sputtering on a slush dirt sidewalk, trying to find his way to a gig at Pepper's; there's Hank Williams, the bad cowboy, but he was sad, too, man. Stoic on the floor, the sad-bad hillbilly. Crazy Dylan flagging down huge trucks on Highway 61, the Automatic Kid, Energy Beam Rocker. He can't catch anything, just hold his collar to his neck and fall back when the wind hits him. Charly Parker smiling, no black revolt for him, it's all very foggy, bip-bop, if you would be so kind as to dig that. But Gerry Mulligan says hello to Monk on the other side of the fence, and Gerry has been electrocuted--his hair stands on end, and he stares as if he believed that there must be some mistake here. . . .
They're all part of your psychic company. You might very well be Charly Parker or Dylan, because you know you're a sensitive guy. Good company.
Fill the syringe, don't spill, hot glutin, like sperm thinned out, you're a better man, the ultimate power of the penis is yours, life-giving death, the shock of mortality, the paralytic realization of death. There are too many bruises on your arm, so probe a little, who cares anymore? It'll only hurt for a second. Push -- watchit goddamit your fingers are so wet it's slipping shit!--the bubbles are out. One last review before you die:
Goodbye your're getting what you deserve to every person who ever told me to be anything else than what I wanted to be--aahhh-hhhh! a millimeter, a goddamn millimeter at a time, you can't take your eyes off it, like I don't know what--goodbye to every motherfucker who is happy, to every bastard who is unhappy, to that girl who loves me. . . . oh God. To that cop who moved me on, to books, to streets, to oceans--goodbye and crying the whole time because the scream is getting out--Fuck you! Yes no yes yes no no no it's in, it's too late now, it's in, thank God it's too late, here I come let me in, let me in goddamn, no great . . . goddamn . . . shit . . . why am I dying who is it that wants me to die?
* * * * *
BILLY put on a shinny leather jacket and stood shakily before me. He smiled, his voice was thick and fuzzy, his eyes blinked slowly at me. He began gasping--huhhhhnh-hhunnhuh-hun-huhnhuh!--but it stopped after a while. "Shit man," he croaked, "Another country altogether."
There were two chicks, how old?
"Fifteen." Sharp snap of gum. The spade chick looked uneasily at Billy.
"God, fifteen," he laughed, trying to pull her to him. He couldn't do it even though she didn't resist. He laughed.
The other chick said, "Do you have any records?" A blonde chicksie, too delectable for smack. Billy giggled.
"Wow. Yes . . . I think--I think that a recording might be arranged." He laughed very hard, then coughed. The gasping started again. He stood up, making horrible noises. I stared at him. The black chick gave him a hand and finally he stopped. She kept snorting, half-laughing. She was afraid.
"Jimmy?" I asked, waving an album. Billy smiled, super-contented, yes yes yes. A few blues, digging the downs. Jimmy Reed:
You told me baby, once upon a time.
Billy swayed on his feet. "So good, so few things," his voice said. He was gone. Exactly. He looked at me, sly smiling guy, smiling to make you cry. I knew what he wanted. "Some smoke?"
"I think so man. Like, I'm . . . unable, man. You know."
Yeah. I -- look, I've got some dope. Wow. Hang loose."
He nodded. He was going somewhere.
"Hey Billy." I got scared. "Billy. Look. Have a smoke."
"Wow, I don't know if -- wow."
"Okay, man." And then his legs buckled, he sat down slam! on the floor. He laughed.
"Are you going to smoke some grass?" asked the blonde.
That I'd be yours and baby, you'd be mine, but that's all right.
It makes him feel better, even though grass is supposed to be a depressant. He smokes to make himself less stoned. One ounce and a water-pipe. He climbed into a black leather easy-chair, the black chick sat down on his lap, and started to play with his hair. She took the pipe and wide-eyed as Sambo sucked on it. She coughed.
"Haven't you ever even smoked before?" said the scornful blonde. She had, that was obvious. She even laughed as she held in the smoke.
"Wow", said Billy. "Something else altogether."
I know you don't love me baby, but that's all right.
Billy felt better. He was relieved that the grass worked to bring him up. He looked around, pulled out the lamp-cord, and we sat down in darkness.
"I just saw a cat, man." Billy was moving his head back and forth.
"No, like a cat cat. A real cat."
"A pussycat," said Blondie. Everyone laughed.
Billy smiled. "Right there!" He pointed to the fireplace. There was no cat in there. What was he doing? Then he laughed. We all laughed. Lot of good laughs. Stoned good laughs.
Suddenly the black chick stood up. "What time is it?"
"Eleven-thirty," I said.
"Marty." Marty, the blonde, didn't answer.
"Don't you think we better go?"
The black chick couldn't think of any acceptable reason, so she sat down. Something about having to be home on time.
"How you doin'?" Billy asked.
"I don't know," she said.
"Why not?" he asked, touching her hair.
"I feel weird." We all laughed at that.
"Your're supposed to."
"Wow -- I don't know."
"Nobody does." He smiled at me. "Right?"
"Are you thirsty?" asked Blondie.
"Yeah, yeah!" said the black chick.
"I want something sweet," Billy said.
I laughed. "Classic, man."
Nothing was done. Billy started making it with the black chick. I watched him. Marty yawned and ran through the records.
Honey I was ridin on my way downtown
I had the feelin you were putting me down
Someone, he's gonna kill you and it's gonna be me.
Billy said, "Did you dig that? That's right. That's what always happens, man." His eyes were swollen and red. "Someone is gonna kill me, and it's gonna be me." The dead pulse of the blues rolled in and out of the room, but Billy boy was already coming back from six hours of nothing into the world where people fight, choose up sides, care, act inexplicably. When you love the world you hate, and must punish yourself for it, there's always the smack train, gets you there in no time, no space, nothing.