(Close Calls) Burroughs

Some not insignificant portion of my life is an anthology of almosts, near misses, and close calls. Great things that could have happened but didn’t because I was five minutes late or early, I stood a little too far to the left or the right, or I dreamed of events or accomplishments I was too lazy to get out of bed and realize. But the truth is that talking about how close I got to the Holy Grail in some ways was perhaps even more interesting and exciting than if I actually had it in my hands. I missed sitting down to breakfast with Che Guevara by probably 15 minutes. Perhaps if I missed him by one minute that could’ve been a more exciting story but I don’t even know exactly how long I missed him by because I heard about it later when they said to me, “Where were you?”

Am I just making up excuses? Of course.

David Saxe and I drove to New York for the weekend. His parents were gone so we got the car, disconnected the odometer, and were off.

Can you believe this: in New York City you could find a parking spot and leave your car for two or three days, come back and it would be there as perfect as before? The neighbourhood kids might even washed the thing.

The idea was to split up and meet back at the car and get it back home before the parents showed up. I don’t know what David got up to but I spent the weekend looking up poets. All the talk was about Bill Burroughs, back in New York after all those bug and drug infested years in Tangier, Paris, etc., writing Naked Lunch and other masterpieces.

Go see Burroughs!

Oh right. Now I remember. David Cull and I were going to publish a magazine, Two Thieves. I was digging up contributors. Everyone said to go see Burroughs. Finally, on the Sunday I hooked back up with Saxe we had about three hours before we had to get back on the road.

I gotta make a call.

I ducked into a payphone and dialed the Chelsea Hotel.

William Burroughs’ room, please.

Believe it or not, Burroughs gets on the phone. I mention some names he knows, people who said I had to see him. I’m only here for a few hours and can I come up and visit?

He’s got what to me sounds almost like a professorial manner of speech. Perfect, with impeccable manners. I’m very sorry but I’m engaged this afternoon. Why don’t you come by about six? We’ll have dinner.

Oh, sorry. It’s impossible. I’m leaving town in a couple of hours.

That’s unfortunate. Well, please be sure to call me next time you’re in New York.

I hang up and tell David I was just talking to William Burroughs. David reaches for the phone, picks up the receiver, and stares at it in awe for a few seconds. Then we’re off to find the car.

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One Response to “(Close Calls) Burroughs”

  1. mort golub

    I have read most of this latest batch and will reread the rest over time. interesting stuff all

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