I don’t know why people continue to live. Why they don’t just shoot themselves at the first opportunity. Gun control must be to keep people from just killing themselves at the first opportunity. Does anyone ever pick up a gun without at least having the fleeting thought of putting it to their head and pulling the trigger? I find the idea of such a person inconceivable. Why is that? This must be why gun control exists. To keep everyone from constantly killing themselves. All you’d hear, all day long, would be gunshots. No one would be surprised to see the ambulance at the house next door. The morbidly obese middle-aged cashier at the Safeway where we stop to buy a half-gallon of cheap vodka and a box of Ritz crackers for dinner is half-bald. You can see her patchy white scalp clearly through the black dyed fuzz still surviving on her head. Why is she still alive? What is she getting out of the experience? I want to ask her but I was taught that this is not the kind of question you can ask another person. It’s the most important question of all but you’re not supposed to ask it. This would be like asking them about how they masturbate. “What do you think about when you masturbate?” You want to know this but you can’t ever ask. Instead Johnny tells her to give us all the money in her register when she opens it to give him his change for the vodka and crackers. This is an appropriate question to ask instead. Johnny knows how to talk to people which is why he does most of the talking for the two of us. I stand there mutely most of the time. I listen closely. That’s why I’m a writer. The cashier smiles a dumb bitch smile dumb bitch doesn’t understand at first this is a robbery you wonder why it’s the last thing on her mind why she isn’t always expecting a robbery to happen it sure would be the first thing on my mind if I saw Johnny and me or if I saw anyone I guess it’s just the way I was raised I was raised the right way I guess I was raised to expect robberies and rapes and murders at any moment. Johnny has to say again to give him all the money it’s like talking to a dumb bitch in another dumb bitch language and meanwhile I’m looking up at the control booth or whatever that glassed in part of the supermarket is behind the registers where the manager or security or whoever is theoretically looking down at us at this very moment as if we were all in prison and they were the prison guards but all I see is me looking up into the reflective glass and I look pretty sexy which is the most important thing under any this or any other circumstances.

JOHNNY: Give it all to me you stupid cow what the fuck’s the matter with you are you hard of hearing retarded or what the fuck? Give me everything in the fucking drawer!


JOHNNY, no longer able to control himself and screaming at the top of his lungs: Fuck the I! Just fucking fuck the I!!! The I is just a construct that was proven to be a complete fiction not only in fiction but in life as well back in the 1960’s. There is no I meaning there is no you. Just give me the fucking money because that’s all there is to give me in this world that’s all that exists outside of myself. It’s all just money money is life.

CASHIER: I didn’t know!!!! I swear. I was taught differently. I thought there was more to life than money. Remember, I just work here.

JOHNNY: That’s no excuse. It’s your revolutionary duty to educate yourself. You’re not a child anymore. At some point, you have to take the reins of your own life. The revolution cannot proceed with obstacles like you in its way. You are the bourgeois deadwood that must be cleared.

CASHIER with sudden pride: I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m not deadwood. I work 35 hours a week. I’m a cashier!

SOMEONE PRETENDING TO BE ME: As Deleuze points out a typical schizo doesn’t believe he is literally the historical Napoleon so much as he identifies himself with the “Napoleon intensity” and thereby justifying the declaration “I am Napoleon.” Just so, the schizo-author can declare herself to be “Emily Brontë” or “Sylvia Plath.” Or, as in the present case, Kathy Acker.

CASHIER: Here, here take the money. It’s not mine anyway. I’m not dying over some cash drawer full of someone else’s money. It’s just not worth it. They can’t blame me for not wanting to get shot. They can fire me if they like. I hear they’re hiring over at Safeway.


JOHNNY, stuffing his pockets full of cash: What a question! I feel like I’m in a Monty Python comedy.

HARD-OF-HEARING-OLD MAN-IN-A-REFLECTIVE-SAFETY-VEST-WHO-STEPPED-UP-TO-BAG: Eh? Didn’t catch that. What’d you say? Paper or plastic?

JOHNNY: Jesus Christ, he said it again.

JOHNNY shoots the old man in the chest. The old man seems not to realize it. He walks off a little ways, sits down quietly on the floor against the foot of the Courtesy Desk, and dies.

SOMEONE PRETENDING TO BE ME: I’ve begun to wonder if it isn’t so much a matter of the author being dead, as Barthes claimed, but the author never having existed in the first place (the dead don’t exist). In which case, it would be perfectly appropriate for me to assume and write books under the identity of Roland Barthes or whoever else I wanted. Because if it is appropriate for me to appropriate the interpretation of a work as the deconstructionists argue, then it is perfectly appropriate for me to appropriate the entire dead (non-existent) author’s identity and to take up their work under the authorial name already established. For example, I am now writing Kathy Acker’s new novel, her first in over 20 years. I am talking about the novel that you are now reading.

CASHIER, praying: Please don’t kill me, oh God, please don’t kill me. I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die.

SOMEONE PRETENDING TO BE ME: I don’t understand why the cashier doesn’t want to die. I don’t understand why anyone doesn’t want to die. Especially when the opportunity presents itself so handily as it does now. Everyone has to die and this would seem like a good moment to get it over with once and for all. This has got to be better than a death by cancer of the esophagus, for instance, or any other number of similar deaths. I don’t understand why people aren’t equipped with an automatic self-destruct button that they can use to shut themselves down when things get too horrible like they’re getting right now. I hate it when people say how marvelous Nature is. Nature was stupid. It does everything in the most inefficient way imaginable. If God was responsible, it’s even worse. God would have to have been a moron. Or worse, a sadist. Everything is so stupid and painful.

CASHIER: Don’t kill me mister. Tell him not to kill me please (She turns to me, as if I had any power, as if I could intercede even if I wanted to intercede, as if I were the VIRGIN MARY instead of a dumb writer, instead of someone who instead can’t stop watching, taking mental notes, still fascinated, somehow, at the thinness of her hair). Please tell him not to kill me. I want to go home tonight. I want to feed my cats. My kitties depend on me.”

I suddenly feel sick to my stomach. The whole human race makes me physically ill. Life, everything about it. I feel sad about the cats who won’t get fed tonight. I want to ask her where she lives so that we can go around tonight and feed them when she doesn’t come home. I am not heartless.

I turn away just as Johnny shoots the cashier I don’t know where, somewhere into her body, which is so inextricably entwined with it’s I that neither can separate from each other and so both bleed out on the floor of the cashier island.

JOHNNY: Come on, wake up, stop dreaming. Let’s get the fuck out of here!

THE VIRGIN MARY: Kathy Acker created schizoid machines disguised as novels, using the narrative “I” to appropriate the “I-s” of others and thereby escaping the otherwise inescapable death trap of autobiography even while writing it. She created some of the first deliberately Deleuzian novels. I wonder if Gilles Deleuze ever read her?

We hit the parking lot running. Johnny fires off a couple of shots at the supermarket as if it were something that were chasing us, something that could be killed, but it’s neither. The supermarket is just a building that has a lot of food in it, that’s all. The supermarket is a warehouse for hunger and appetite. The supermarket is the leading cause of obesity in America. No, that’s capitalism. Capitalism is the leading cause of obesity in America and a supermarket is how it distributes that obesity one can and cardboard box at a time the sound of those police sirens when you’re starving and can’t afford your appetite anymore is the voice of Capitalism already racing to arrest you and throw your ass in a prison inside prison there is no freedom.

JOHNNY: Will you get in the fucking truck, Kathy!!! Jesus Christ!!

KATHY: This feels like life. Speeding down the dark highways of America. Your pockets full of stolen cash. The cops looking for you. The inside of the cab splashed with red strobing lights. God is at the wheel now, God with a handgun still warm from murder. Okay, let’s go!

GOD: Open up that vodka and pass it over here, will you?

SOMEONE PRETENDING TO BE ME: Okay Lord. This would be as good a night to die as any.