Here is another section from the new novel on William Burroughs and Joan Volmer I am currently working on. I have just completed the chapter on Burroughs and Marker's trip to Central America (no longer titled Queer, I have came up with a new chapter title and am quite pleased. I told you I would) Again, this is an unedited first draft. So, please excuse any discrepancies.
excerpt from BLEW THE SHOT
Before William made his departure for South America with Marker, and in lieu of the numerous complaints from their fed up neighbors for raucous behavior, the family relocated to apartment 8 at 210 Calle Orizaba; on a residential lane in the Roma district.
Uninhabited marshlands by the end of the nineteenth century, the area was renovated with French-style mansions during the Porfirio Díaz regime. Nonetheless, the openly elite disposition of the Roma district began to dwindle by the 1920s. The area further degenerated in the thirties and forties with the rapid construction of lower-middle-class apartment complexes and a multitude of small businesses, removing any chic or progressive charm that remained.
Not only middle-class Mexicans moved in, but Jews, Arabs, and German émigrés resided in the district during the 1940s. Various celebrities also lived in the neighborhood during the first half of the twentieth century, most of whom William had never even heard of and much less cared. The Café de Nadie, a den of the Stridentist movement which stood on Avenida Álvaro Obregón in the 1920s, hosted the Mexican version of Dadaism, where Manuel Maples Arce, Arqueles Vela, and Germán List Arzubide, among others, denounced against the good behavior and hygiene of Mexican culture. William remained unaware of all that, also.
By the time he and the family relocated to Zona Roma, it was a lower middleclass neighborhood swiftly succumbing to commercial development and nowhere near exclusive or baring any artistic merits; a tranquil, gray zone of simple architecture and mediocre aesthetics—which didn’t seem to matter much to Bill and Joan.
In the crumbling patio which led to the white-washed apartments, little Billy sat nursing a sore foot encased in over-sized and used shoes. With tiny, dirty fingers, he scooped beans from a can and shoved them into his mouth. Across from him, in poncho and sunlight was his little Mexican friend, Micco, who sat quietly playing with his pet rabbit named Chili. Earlier that day, Chili had bit Billy Jr. on one of his brown toes and the child screamed so long and loud that Joan had comforted him with not only his first set of footwear, but with a fresh can of beans.
“How the fuck do you expect me to feed these kids? I can’t believe you are simply leaving us to lay a boy?!”
Billy tilted his head upward toward the open third floor window. He listened without understanding why his mother was yelling at his father.
In the kitchen, Joan stood at the open window above the dirty sink, fuming. She propped her bent frame in one hand with her cane as with the other she sloppily filled a grimy eight ball glass with tequila, sloshing much of the contents onto the littered counter. She threw back the tequila in one gulp as she heard William from the bedroom.
“I explained this to you before, Joanie. I am simply surveying new prospects for the benefit of this family. I will locate land, we can settle in and farm and not have to worry about any altercation from the government.”
William hurriedly dashed from one side of the room to another, grabbing clothes from the closet and tossing them into a leather suitcase opened on the sagging, unkempt bed. He continued, “I will only be gone for a month or so. I will wire funds for rent and food. No need to worry, I will take care of you.”
Joan filled another glass, threw that back and sighed. She stared out into the sunny vista of brick and adobe terraces. Clothe lines and television antennae as far as the eye could see. A maudlin Mexican ballad wailed from the distance. She slurred over her shoulder, “We wouldn’t be in this predicament if you took a fraction of interest in our well-being as you did this Marker.”
“Now, Joanie, he is simply along for the ride.” Was the muffled response.
The warmth of the tequila fought with the dire need to vomit as she evaluated with an intoxicated mind the thought of their lust filled expedition. “Ride is right. How much of our funds did you fork over just to get down his pants?”
William retrieved his drug paraphernalia stashed behind the end table. The syringe and burnt spoon was wrapped in a soiled handkerchief. He buried the works deep into the suitcase. He stated, “No need to be vulgar, Joanie.”
“Vulgar?” The anger mounted, her voice rose to a frustrated howl, “I’m not the faggot here. How can you do this? How can you be so unthoughtfully callous?”
William exited the bedroom. He stood in the archway between the kitchen and living room looking grim and holding the packed suitcase. He stated without anger, “Joanie, I will send for you and the brats once I locate a hospitable country.”
“Stop referring to them as that!” She spat. “They are children. Our children.”
He tipped his fedora clad head mockingly, “I will send for you and the children.”
Joan filled another glass, throwing it back. She grasped the rim of the sink and with dramatic effect, said calmly as she glared at the pile of dirty dishes, “Allen and Jack wrote. They said they will be down here next month. They are coming to see us. They are coming to see you!”
William placed the suitcase onto the soiled carpet and glided up behind her. He put his hands on her shoulders, “I will be back by then. With my land money I will take us all out. We’ll have a ball. I promise.”
Joan did not turn to look at him. She said dreamily, “Why am I here, Bill? Give me one good reason why I should be here when you come back?”
“Because you find me irresistible. As I do you.”
She turned, smirking, “Irresistible as a scorpion.”
William gently massaged her shoulders, looking down into her moist eyes, he said, “Who knows not where a scorpion does wear his sting? In his tail.”
Joan sighed. Her hatred and anger dissolving. She grinned and looked away. “In his tongue.”
William took her free hand and held it to his chest, “Whose tongue?”
“Yours,” She looked up at him, smiling. “If you talk of tales, and so farewell.”
“What, with my tongue in your tail?” He said with a raised eyebrow.
She began laughing and pushed him away. “Okay, you big goof, go on your expedition. I’ll be here. Waiting.”
William walked over to the suitcase and picked it up. As he made his way to the front door, he turned and said, “Joanie, you have my word. Upon my return I will fulfill your innermost desires. I promise.”
Closing the door behind him, Joan stood listening as William clomped down the spiral staircase to the street. She turned to her bottle, filling a glass. Gulping its contents, she stared back out into the bright sunny vista, whispering, “That man that hath a tongue, I say is no man, if with his tongue he cannot win a woman.”