She doesn’t know, she could’ve read it wrong, but she swears (while sitting at the breakfast table gulping down her coffee) that the whole lot of them, Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs, only got published because someone died, someone was murdered.
“Huh?” he says.
“Kammerer, Lucien Carr stabbed him and threw his body into the Hudson River.”
“It was a big story. They wrote little stories and then they were involved in a big story. Carr got two years, Kerouac did some time, Burroughs went on to shoot his wife in the head.”
There’s a brief pause.
“And Valerie Solanis,” she says.
“Solanas,” he corrects.
“Was the Scum Manifesto published before or after she shot Warhol?”
She looks it up. She can’t tell. She thinks perhaps she should learn the first line by heart: ‘Life in this society being, at best, an utter bore and no aspect of society being at all relevant to women, there remains to civic-minded, responsible, thrill-seeking females only to overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and destroy the male sex.’ What does that mean? Does it matter what it means? The most important thing, the defining thing, is that Solanas shot Warhol. This is what she’s remembered for. If she hadn’t shot Warhol, chances are the ‘Society for Cutting Up Men’ would’ve have remained, by and large, in total obscurity.
Obscure is good. Obscurity maybe not so good.
“So I have to kill someone, or at least try and kill someone,” she says.
He glances at her, the imprint of last night’s pillow still visible on his face.
“It has to be someone famous.”
He gets up and heads off towards the shower.
Or someone infamous, she thinks, or someone completely irrelevant. A cause célèbre. Perversity works. I could crucify someone, leave them on a hill outside of town, wait for the full horror of the situation to sink into the public consciousness. They like horror. They like things they can’t understand. They like to think it’s a complete aberration. Not children, though, no blonde haired, blue eyed little girls.
And then, when it comes to court, I’ll represent myself. They’ll ask me questions and I’ll give them answers, wild answers. I’ll ask even wilder questions. Oh yes. And they’ll want to believe me mad, seriously, because they need to have a big gap between what’s normal and what’s abnormal. They’ll love it, me in my box, the ultimate freak show, a zoological justice. Afterwards, once the judge has done the whole guilty bit and sentenced by ass off, it’ll take some time for the fascination to fade. They’ll have their own questions. Words such as ‘monstrous’ and ‘brutal’ will get bandied about. And they’ll want to KNOW, because people always want to know, it makes them feel safe if they think they know, so they’ll read my stuff, they’ll try to digest it, voluntarily choking on some aspects. They’ll have to choke. Things’ll have to stick in their throats. Insanity has to be swallowed like whiskey. And they’ll come across this, stupid little this, and they’ll wonder how a woman, sitting at her breakfast table, gulping down coffee, could ever come up with this.
‘The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.’