THE MAN WHO TAUGHT HIS ASSHOLE TO TALK
EXCERPT FROM NAKED LUNCH
By William S. Burroughs
Did I ever tell you about the man who taught his ass to talk? His whole
abdomen would move up and down you dig farting out the words. It was
unlike anything I had ever heard.
This ass talk had sort of a gut frequency. It hit you right down there
like you gotta go. You know when the old colon gives you the elbow and it
feels sorta cold inside, and you know all you have to do is turn loose?
Well this talking hit you right down there, a bubbly, thick stagnant
sound, a sound you could smell.
This man worked for a carnival you dig, and to start with it was like a
novelty ventriliquist act. Real funny, too, at first. He had a number he
called "The Better 'Ole' that was a scream, I tell you. I forget most of
it but it was clever. Like, "Oh I say, are you still down there, old
"Nah! I had to go relieve myself."
After a while the ass start talking on its own. He would go in without
anything prepared and his ass would ad-lib and toss the gags back at him
Then it developed sort of teeth-like little raspy in- curving hooks and
start eating. He thought this was cute at first and built and act around
it, but the asshole would eat its way through his pants and start talking
on the street, shouting out it wanted equal rights. It would get drunk,
too, and have crying jags nobody loved it and it wanted to be kissed same
as any other mouth.
Finally it talked all the time day and night, you
could hear him for blocks screaming at it to shut up, and beating it with
his fist, and sticking candles up it, but nothing did any good and the
asshole said to him: "It's you who will shut up in the end. Not me.
Because we don't need you around here any more. I can talk and eat and
After that he began waking up in the morning with a transparent jelly
like a tadpole's tail all over his mouth. This jelly was what the
scientists call un-D.T., Undifferentiated Tissue, which can grow into any
kind of flesh on the human body. He would tear it off his mouth and the
pieces would stick to his hands like burning gasoline jelly and grow
there, grow anywhere on him a glob of it fell. So finally his mouth
sealed over, and the whole head would have have amputated spontaneous-
except for the eyes you dig.
That's one thing the asshole couldn't do was
see. It needed the eyes. But nerve connections were blocked and
infiltrated and atrophied so the brain couldn't give orders any more. It
was trapped in the skull, sealed off. For a while you could see the
silent, helpless suffering of the brain behind the eyes, then finally the
brain must have died, because the eyes went out, and there was no more
feeling in them than a crab's eyes on the end of a stalk.
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