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Bill Burroughs, Shooting His Wife In The Head


John Potts

The sun arose two hours ago. My roommate is the dinosaur hunter, and on the curved glass television screen he is barefoot and armed to the teeth so to speak. In the next room, I am dreaming that I sat in a porch chair while Bill Burroughs fired a .357 at the wineglass on his wife Joan‘s head.

"She is facing us, laughing, sideways to my friend and his raised pistol. Every time I look over at the gun, I remind myself that it had not been a .357 at all. It had not been a cowboy’s pistol of any sort, but was it Russian or German? Around me now, the others seem disinterested, looking away, politely preoccupied. They do not expect any trigger to be pulled. The pistol was for sale because it fired low. Back to conversation several of them have turned (Who would want to buy a pistol that fired low?), for if this were real, it would not be funny; it would not suit well an afternoon in the sun.

"I am waiting, laughing and drinking a glass of white wine. The sun is as bright as bleach, and the wine is so cold, I don’t remember tasting it. I am watching the thin arm of a girl in a yellow sundress cross the table; she is barehandedly sweeping the water ring from her glass onto the ground. The shot is an explosion no one was prepared for. Drinks are spilled, to put it one way. Everyone believes for a moment that it is they who have been shot.

"There is a dinosaur, the height of a man with curved claws, making bloody streaks on my roommate’s body. He is barely standing.

"I can see Joan, standing with arms slack against her sides and head hanging as if she were being held up by a slipknot around her neck. The glass from which she had been drinking scotch slipped off her head and seemed to somehow inspire her body which followed its falling arc to the ground. She falls forward in a way defined by the expression her eyes aren’t making as they seem to anticipate the ground toward which she is racing.

"As the murdered dinosaur sways toward the ground (falls the way a string would fall if you held it by one end and then let it go) with its head whipping left and right, one can see that the long-bladed knife my roommate is holding is blue and gray, cartoon colored. He is running now, seeking out creatures whose throats he can cut. Their bodies will disintegrate on the ground, disappearing into the video air as he runs on.

"Bill’s long slacks are glowing in the sunlight. Joan has fallen to the ground and perhaps no one has accepted what they have seen. She dies very quickly, lying in the grass. The lawn is green and perfectly trimmed, perfect in the way that suggests unreality and professional golf tournaments.

"My roommate is climbing a rock face with his bare hands and feet, perhaps ten stories from the ground below. There is a scream. It is above my roommate’s head, or behind his back. He fires two arrows at a dinosaur bird that swoops down from above as he climbs. My roommate is hanging from the side of a cliff, is breathing heavily, is struggling they way we struggle when our lives are coming to an untimely end.

"In my dream, everyone is huddled around Joan’s quivering body. Some people are on their knees, staring into her wide--open eyes. Her eyes seem to be as wide open as possible and her lips are quivering as if she were freezing to death or trying to say something so fast that her mouth couldn’t slow down to form the words. Several of us are standing, bent over with our hands on our thighs. Blood rolls from the hole in her temple, so that we can visibly see the moments when her heart is beating. We are all watching the blood rush out with each heartbeat. As she lost blood, maybe she felt as if she were freezing to death, on the Texas lawn, in the sun.

"My roommate shouts. He has fallen off the cliff, and for several seconds he plummets toward the water below him. The water is shimmering, blue and white.

"It could have been in Texas or in Mexico that she died in my dream. I roll over in bed, waking up, and feel the silk trim of the blanket on my cheek. I reach up and rub the silk trim against my lips. There are a few things we can know with certainty in the world. But there are still many other things.

"In the living room, my roommate is swimming toward the thin green shoreline of a tropical island.


Jon Alan Potts is a mystery to us.

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