NAKED LUNCH (1959) is a novel by William S. Burroughs about the life of a junkie.
12/07/09 | Novel

Naked Lunch

by Savannah-Louise

You are five feet tall and looking in the bathroom mirror, I think you are a girl but I can’t tell. Yes, you are a girl. You are plucking your black eyebrows.

I go to the marble sinks and punch the soap dispenser. A short milky stream of soap squirts past my outstretched hand and onto your bag. You stop plucking your eyebrows and stand there, staring at me. You stand really thinly, you stand like the letter S.

“I am sorry,” I mouth, feeling that if I actually said I was sorry out loud, the sound of my voice would go through all of your bones and shatter them, simultaneously. I briefly imagine you in a pile on the floor in the girl’s bathroom, in this institution, in this small congested town, on the floor in a puddle with just your tiny face looking up at me, your small mouth opening and closing like a carp. I imagine me staring at myself in the mirror where your face had been. I take out a tweezers from my bag and start to pluck my eyebrows too.

You are pretty. You are like a Goth version of myself. I like you but I can’t say anything. I mean, you know, because of your bones.

“Nice day today,” I tell you from inside my mind.

You don’t answer.

I follow you home, and when we get inside your room I can see that you are much better than me. I can see polaroids on your wall, tiny scenes of all the people who know you and who love you and I want to take them off of the wall and stuff them into my mouth and chew and chew and chew until they are not yours anymore but until they are mine. Instead, you take off all of your clothes and stand in front of a full-length mirror. I take off all my clothes too, but you don’t notice. You have bad posture, you look like someone stuck a needle under your skin and siphoned out all of your fat. You are real pretty, did I say that already? I look at myself. I secretly wish someone would siphon all my fat. I actually feel hopeful seeing you like this, because now I feel like it’s possible. I look in the mirror and stiffen my arms, trying to point my hands toward the ground. My body gets in the way. That’s how much body I have.

I decide I’m hungry and so are you so I rummage around in my bag for the stuff I’ve packed for us in case we were in this situation.

“You fat cunt,” you say, “What the hell is that?”

I hold up a plate of fresh Fettuccine alfredo. I also have some organic beer and an assortment of imported chocolates. Your eyes flicker, black and shiny as boots.

“Those are my favorite ones.” You suddenly become tender. Then it passes.

“No,” you say. You stomp over to the mirror and throw a temper tantrum and you start to scrape your right arm with a safety pin until it bleeds.

“Hey, “I say, out loud. “Hey, you’re a real pretty thing.”

I take you in my arms and we lay on your bed and I rock you back and forth, and listen to you sob. And your sobbing and both of our stomachs grumbling serenade us to sleep.