And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks by William S. Burroughs & Jack Kerouac

EXTRACT: And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks

From the novel by Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs

I waited on the sidewalk. There was a long orange
slant in the street and Central Park was all fragrant and
cool and green-dark. I began to feel good because it was
getting dusk, and because we would be getting a ship in
a few days.
After five minutes they came down and we all hustled
around the corner to a cocktail bar. Barbara and Cathcart
sat side by side and ordered beer, and Phillip and I sat
next to them, side by side, and ordered martinis.
We finished the martinis and ordered two more. It
was a fashionable place on Seventh Avenue, and the
bartender didn’t seem to like the way Phillip and I were
Phillip started telling me about Gerald Heard’s The
Third Morality, about biological mutation, and finally
about how the more forward-looking dinosaurs mutated
into mammals while the bourgeois dinosaurs became
He had a third martini. He looked at me intently
and took hold of my arm. “Look,” he said. “You’re a
fish in a pond. It’s drying up. You have to mutate into
an amphibian, but someone keeps hanging on to you
and telling you to stay in the pond, everything’s going
to be all right.”
I asked him why he didn’t take yoga in that case,
and he said the sea was more to the point.
The bartender had the radio going. A news broadcaster
was telling about a circus fire, and I heard him
say, “And the hippos were boiled to death in their
tanks.” He gave these details with the unctuous relish
characteristic of radio announcers.
Phillip turned to Barbara and said, “Could you go
for some boiled hippo, Babsy?”
Barbara said, “I don’t think that’s funny.”
Phillip said, “Well, let’s eat anyway.”
We left the bar and went over to the Automat on
57th Street and each had a little pot of baked beans
with a strip of bacon on top. While we were eating,
Phillip paid no attention to Barbara, and Cathcart had
to keep her company.
Then we boarded the subway and went back downtown
to Washington Square. Phillip was leaning
against the door watching the darkness reel by.
Cathcart and Barbara were sitting down, and I
could see her getting impatient with Phillip’s attitude.
Cathcart himself looked as though he didn’t think it
was good taste on Phillip’s part.
We went back to Apartment 32 and picked up Janie.
She wasn’t sore at me anymore. So we all went down
to the Minetta Tavern and ordered a round of Pernods.
All during this time Phillip kept making cracks at
Barbara until finally Cathcart said, “What’s the matter
with you tonight?”
It was the first time I had seen Phillip act that way
toward Barbara, and I figured that now he had Ramsay
Allen out of the way, he no longer had to rely on her.
By three o’clock we were all loaded on Pernod.

And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks is published by Penguin and is available from



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