removed his appendix with a rusty can opener and a
pair of tin snips (he considered the germ theory “a
nonsense.”) Flushed with success he then began snipping and cutting out everything in sight: “The human body is filled up vit unnecessitated parts. You can get
by vit one kidney. Vy have two? Yes dot is a kidney. . . .
The inside parts should not be so close in together crowded. They need lebensraum like the Vaterland.” The Expeditor had not yet been paid, and Marvie was faced by the prospect of stalling him for eleven months until the check cleared. The Expeditor was said to have been bom on the Ferry between the Zone and the Island. His profession was to expedite the delivery of merchandise. No one knew for sure whether his services were of any use or not, and to mention his name always precipitated an argument. Cases were cited to
prove his miraculous efficiency and utter worthlessness.
The Island was a British Military and Naval station directly opposite the Zone. England holds the Island on yearly rent-free lease, and every year the lease and
permit of residence is formally renewed.
The entire population turns out, attendance is compulsory, and gathers at the municipal dump. The President of the Island is required by custom to crawl across the garbage
on his stomach and deliver the Permit of Residence and Renewal of the Lease, signed by every citizen of the Island, to The Resident Governor who stands resplendent in dress uniform. The Governor takes the permit and shoves it into his coat pocket:
“Well,” he says with a tight smile, “so you’ve decided to let us stay another year have you? Very good of you.
in a crew-cut, college boy way, but his face had sagged
and formed lumps under the chin like melting paraffin.
He was getting heavy around the hips.
Leif The Unlucky was a tall, thin Norwegian, with a patch over one eye, his face congealed in a permanent, ingratiating smirk. Behind him lay an epic saga of unsuccessful enterprises. He had failed at raising frogs, chinchilla, Siamese fighting fish, rami and culture pearls.
He had attempted, variously and without success, to promote a Love Bird Two-in-a-Coffin Cemetery, to comer the condom market during the rubber shortage,
to run a mail order whore house, to issue penicillin as a patent medicine. He had followed disastrous betting systems in the casinos of Europe and the race tracks
of the U.S. His reverses in business were matched by the incredible mischances of his personal life. His front teeth had been stomped out by bestial American sailors
in Brooklyn. Vultures had eaten out an eve when he drank a pint of paregoric and passed out in a Panama City park. He had been trapped between floors in an
elevator for five days with an oil-burning junk habit and sustained an attack of D.T.s while stowing away in a foot locker. Then there was the time he collapsed with
strangulated intestines, perforated ulcers and peritonitis in Cairo and the hospital was so crowded they bedded him in the latrine, and the Greek surgeon goofed and
sewed up a five monkey in him, and he was gangfucked by the Arab attendants, and one of the orderlies stole the penicillin substituting Saniflush; and the time he got clap in his ass and a self-righteous English doctor cured him with an enema of hot, sulphuric acid, and
the German practitioner of Technological Medicine who
“Bawstard! Tou’ll never see the bill of lading until my cut is deposited in escrow.”
“Well, might as well kiss and make up. There’s nothing mean or petty about me.”
They shake hands without without enthusiasm and peack each other on the cheek. The deal drags on for months.They engage the services of an Expeditor. Finally Marvie emerges with a check for 42 Turkestan kurds drawn on an anonymous bank in South America, to clear through Amsterdam, a procedure that will take eleven months more or less.
Now he can relax in the cafès of The Plaza. He shows a photostatic copy of the check. He would never show the original of course, lest some envios citizen spit ink eradicator on the signature or otherwise mutilate the check.
Everyone asks him to buy drinks and celebrate, but
he laughs jovially and says, “Fact is I can’t afford to buy
myself a drink. I already spent every kurd of it buying
Penstrep for Ali’s clap. He’s down with it fore and aft
again. I came near kicking the little bastard right
through the wall into the next bed. But you all know
what a sentimental old thing I am.”
Marvie does buy himself a shot glass of beer, squeezing a blackened coin out of his fly onto the table. “Keep the change.” The waiter sweeps the coin into a dust pan, he spits on the table and walks away.
“Sore head! He’s envious of my check.”
Marvie had been in Interzone since “the year before one” as he put it. He had been retired from some unspecified position in the State Dept, “for the good of the service.” Obviously he had once been very good looking
“Well American style .”
“What’s the commission? . . . The commission. . . . The Commission.”
“Yes, nugget, a shipload of K.Y. made of genuine whale dreck in the South Atlantic at present quarantined by the Board of Health in Tierra del Fuego. The commission, my dear! If we can pull this off we’ll be in clover.” (Whale dreck is reject material that accumulates in the process of cutting up a whale and cooking it down. A horrible, fishy mess you can smell for miles. No one has found any use for it.)
Interzone Imports Unlimited, which consists of Marvie and Leif The Unlucky, had latched onto the K.Y. deal. In fact they specialize in pharmaceuticals and run a 24-hour Pro station, six ways coverage fore and aft, as a side line. ( Six separate venereal diseases have
been identified to dale.) They plunge into the deal. They form unmentionable
services for a spastic Greek shipping agent, and one entire shift of Customs inspectors. The two partners fall out and finally denounce each other in the Embassy
where they are referred to the We Don’t Want To Hear About It Department, and eased out a back door into a shit-strewn vacant lot, where vultures fight over fish heads. They flail at each other hysterically.
“You’re trying to fuck me out of my commission!”
“Your commission! Who smelled out this good thing in the first place?”
“But I have the bill of lading.”
“Monster! But the check will be made out in my name.”
one can say for sure he didn’t make a pass at Aracknid’s unappetizing person.
Aracknid is a worthless chauffer, barely able to drive. On one occasion he ran down a pregnant woman in from the mountains with a load of charcoal on her back, and she miscarriaged a bloody,dead baby in the street , and Keif got out and sat on the curb stirring the blood with a stick while the police questioned Aracknid and finally arrested the woan for a violation of the Sanitary code.
Aracknid is a gimly unattractive young man with a long face of a strange, slate-blue color. He has a big nose and great yellow teeth like a horse. Anybody can find an attractive chauffeur, ut only Andrew Keif could have found Arcknid; Keif is brilliant, decadent young novelist who lives in a remodeled pissoir in the red light district of the Native Quarter.
The Zone is a single, vast building. The rooms are made of a plastic cement that bulges to accomodate people, but when too many crowd into one room there is a soft plop and someone squeezes through the wall right into the next house, the next bed that is, since the rooms are mostly bed where the business of the Zone is transacted . A hum of sex and commerce shakes the Zone like a vast hive:
“Two thirds of one percents. I won’t budge from that figure, not even for my bumpkins.”
But where are the bills of lading,lover?”
“Not where you’re looking pet.That’s too obvious.”
“A bale of levies with built-in falsie baskets.Made in Hollywood.”
you all will excuse me I got business in the Privy Council. He he he!”
Lee listened in horror. The County Clerk often spent weeks in the privy living on scorpions and Montogomery Ward catalogues. On several occasions his assistants had forced the door and carried him out in an advanced state f malnutrition.Lee decided to play his last card.
“Mr. Anker,”He said,” I’m appealing to you as one Razor Black to another,” and he pulled out his Razor Back card, a memo of his lush-rolling youth.
The Clerk looked at the card suspiciously:” You don’t look like a bone feed mast-fed Razor Back to me . . .What do you think about the jeeeeeeews. . . ?”
“Well Mr. Anker, you know yourself all a Jew wants to do is doodle a Christian girl. . . One of these days we’ll cut the rest of it off.”
“Well, you talk right sensible for a city feller. . .Find out what he wants and take care of him. . .He’s a good ol’boy.”
The only native in Interzone who is neither queer nor available is Andrew Keif’s chauffeur, which is not affectation or perversity on Keif’s part, but a useful pretext to break off relations with anyone he doesn’t want to see:”You made a pass at Aracknid list night. I can’t have you to the house again.”People are always blacking out in the Zone,wheither they drink or not, and no
” ‘ Do it slow,Honey Face. Do it slow. He’s give me a sick headache.’
“So they burned the nigger and that ol’boy took his wife and went back up to Texarkana without paying for the gasoline and old Whispering Lou runs the service station couldn’t talk about nothing else all Fall: ‘These city fellers come down here and burn a nigger and don’t even settle up for the gasoline.’
“Well, Chester Hoot tore that nigger shack down and rebuilt it just back of his house up in Bled Valley.
Covered up all the windows with black cloth, and what goes on in there ain’t fittin’ to speak of. . . Now Chester he’s got some right strange ways. . .Well it was just where the nigger shack used to be, right across from the Old Brooks place floods out every Spring, only it wasn’t the Brooks place then. . .belonged to a feller name of Scranton. Now that piece of land was surveyed back in 1919. . .I reckon you know the man did the job too. . .Feller name of Hump Clarence used to witch out wells on the side. . . Good ol’boy too, not a finer man in this Zone than Hump come on Ted Spigot ascrewin a mud puppy.”
Lee cleared his throat.The Clerk looked up over his glasses.”Now if you’ll take care, young feller, till I finish what I’m asaying,I’ll tend to your business.”
And he plunged into an anecdote about a nigra got the hydrophobia from a cow.
“So my pappy says to me:’Finish up your chores,son, and let’s go see the mad nigger. . .’ They had that nigger chained to the bed, and he was bawling like a cow. . .I soon got enough of that nigger.Well,if
“ I’ll do that, Doc, I sure will. It’ll be just like old times.’
“So I went on back to my place and heated up some water and mixed up some paregoric and cloves and cinnamon and sassyfrass and give it to Liz, and it eased
her some I reckon. Leastwise she let up aggravatin’ me. . . . Well, later on I went down to Doc Parker’s again to get me a rubber . . . and just as I was leaving I run into
Roy Bane, a good ol’ boy too. There’s not a finer man in this Zone than Roy Bane. . . . So he said to me he says,‘Arch, you see that ol’ nigger over there in that vacant lot? Well, sure as shit and taxes, he comes there every night just as regular you can set your watch by him. See him behind them nettles? Every night round about eight thirty he goes over into that lot yonder and pulls himself off with steel wool. . . . Preachin’ Nigger, they
“So that’s how I come to know the hour more or less on Friday the 13th and it couldn’t have been more than twenty minutes half an hour after that, I’d took some Spanish Fly in Doc’s store and it was jest beginning to work on me down by Grennel Bog on my way to Nigger
town. . . . Well the bog makes a bend, used to be nigger shack there. . . . They burned that ol’ nigger over in Cunt Lick. Nigger had the aftosa and it left him stone blind. . . . So this white girl down from Texarkana screeches out:
“ ‘Roy, that ol’ nigger is looking at me so nasty. Land’s sake I feel just dirty all over.’
“ ‘Now, Sweet Thing, don’t you fret yourself. Me and the boys will bum him.’
didn’t rightly understand me. . . . I was referring to your wife as the Old Gray Mare. . . . I mean she ain’t what she used to be what with all them carbuncles and cataracts and chilblains and haemorrhoids and aftosa.’
‘“ Yas, Doc, Liz is right sickly. Never was the same after her eleventh miscarriaging. . . . There was something right strange about that. Doc Ferris he told me straight, he said: “Arch, ‘tain’t fitting you should see that critter.” And he gives me a long look made my flesh i
crawl. . . . Well, you sure said it right, Doc. She ain’t what she used to be. And your medicines don’t seem to ease her none. In fact, she ain’t been able to tell
night from day since using them eye drops you sold her last month. . . . But, Doc, you oughtta know I wouldn’t be humping Liz, the old cow, meaning no disrespect to
the mother of my dead monsters. Not when I got that sweet little ol’ fifteen year old thing. . . .You know that yaller girl used to work in Marylou’s Hair Straightening
and Skin Bleach Parlor over in Nigga town.’
“ ‘Getting that dark chicken meat, Arch? Gettin’ that coon pone?
” ‘Gettin’ it steady, Doc. Gettin’ it steady. Well, feller say duty is goosing me. Gotta get back to the old crank case.’
“ ‘I’ll bet she needs a grease job worst way.’
“ ‘Doc, she sure is a dry hole. . . . Well, thanks for the paregoric.’
“ ‘And thanks for the trade, Arch. . . . He he he . . . Say, Archy boy, some night when you get caught short with a rusty load drop around and have a drink of Yohimbiny with me.’
told him straight out: “Mister,I suspect you to be a dope fiend.” ‘
” ‘ ” I got the ingrowing toe nails,Pop. I’m in agony.” ‘he says.
” ‘ ” Well,” I says, ” I gotta be careful. But so long as you got a legitimate condition and an RX from a certified bona feedy M.D., I’m honored to serve you.” ‘
” ‘ ” That croaker’s really certified,”he say. . . Well,I guess one hand didn’t know what the other was doing when I give him a jar of Saniflush by error. . . So I reckon he’s had his too.’
” ‘ Just the thing to clean a man’s blood’.
” ‘You know, that very thing occurred to me. Should be a sight better than sulphur and molasses. . .Now, Arch don’t think i’m nosey;but a man don’t have no secrets from God and his druggist I always say. . . Is you still humping the Old Gray Mare?’
“‘Why, Doc Parker. . .I’ll have you know I’m a family man and an Elder in the First Denominational Non-sextarian Church and I ain’t had a piecea hoss ass since we was kids together.’
“’Them was the days, Arch. Remember the time I got the goose grease mixed up with the mustard? Always was a one to grab the wrong jar, feller say. They could have heard you squealing over in Cunt Lick County, just a squealing like a stoat with his stones cut off.’
“ ‘You’re in the wrong hole, Doc. It was you took the mustard and me as had to wait till you cooled off.’
“ ‘Wistful thinking, Arch. I read about it one time inna magazin settin’ in that green outhouse behind the station. . . . Now what I meant awhile back, Arch, you