Beating a dead horse

An excerpt from And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks
By JACK KEROUAC AND WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS  |  October 22, 2008

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Back beat: At last, Kerouac and Burroughs's co-authored noir novel, And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks, resurfaces. By George Kimball.

1) Will Dennison
THE BARS CLOSE AT THREE AM ON SATURDAY nights so I got home about 3:45 after eating breakfast at Riker’s on the corner of Christopher Street and Seventh Avenue. I dropped the News and Mirror on the couch and peeled off my seersucker coat and dropped it on top of them. I was going straight to bed.

At this point, the buzzer rang. It’s a loud buzzer that goes through you so I ran over quick to push the button and release the outside door. Then I took my coat off the couch and hung it over a chair so no one would sit on it, and I put the papers in a drawer. I wanted to be sure they would be there when I woke up in the morning. Then I went over and opened the door. I timed it just right so that they didn’t get a chance to knock.

Four people came into the room. Now I’ll tell you in a general way who these people were and what they looked like since the story is mostly about two of them.

Phillip Tourian is seventeen years old, half Turkish and half American. He has a choice of several names but prefers Tourian. His father goes under the name of Rogers. Curly black hair falls over his forehead, his skin is very pale, and he has green eyes. He was sitting down in the most comfortable chair with his leg over the arm before the others were all in the room.

This Phillip is the kind of boy literary fags write sonnets to, which start out, “O raven-haired Grecian lad . . .” He was wearing a pair of very dirty slacks and a khaki shirt with the sleeves rolled up showing hard muscular forearms.

Ramsay Allen is an impressive-looking gray-haired man of forty or so, tall and a little flabby. He looks like a down-at-the-heels actor, or someone who used to be somebody. Also he is a southerner and claims to be of a good family, like all southerners. He is a very intelligent guy but you wouldn’t know it to see him now. He is so stuck on Phillip he is hovering over him like a shy vulture, with a foolish sloppy grin on his face.

Al is one of the best guys I know, and you couldn’t find better company. And Phillip is all right too. But when they get together something happens, and they form a combination which gets on everybody’s nerves.

Agnes O’Rourke has an ugly Irish face and closecropped black hair, and she always wears pants. She is straightforward, manly, and reliable. Mike Ryko is a nineteen-year-old, red-haired Finn, a sort of merchant seaman dressed in dirty khaki.

Well, that’s all there were, the four of them, and Agnes held up a bottle.

“Ah, Canadian Club,” I said. “Come right in and sit down,” which they all had anyway by this time, and I got out some cocktail glasses and everyone poured himself a straight shot. Agnes asked me for some water which I got for her.

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  Topics: Books , Johannes Brahms, William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac,  More more >
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