Excerpt: 'Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo' by Oscar 'Zeta' Acosta


The green telephone rings. Fifteen different numbers, and it is mine that lights up! I am electrocuted. It rrrings again. “Probably Mrs. Willey,” I think. It rrrrrings again. Traumatized, I stare at it. And again! I detest it, that green machine! I dare it to continue. Rrrrrrrrrrring. “Keep on, you son of a bitch!” Seven times the lesbian calls to me and seven times I challenge it. When it is silenced, I am aware of my singular presence in the room with the purple rugs and the stained walnut walls. It is the first time in my entire life I’ve refused to pick up a ringing phone. I’ve even answered the phone when I’ve been on top of a woman. Anytime you knock on my door, I answer. Doesn’t matter what time it is. Write me a letter, give me a call, and you can be sure I’ll be there. I’ve always worried that some day I’ll get a call from some smart-assed disc jockey with a million dollars for me and I’ll be out. So this is the first time for me. I who am so punctual, never late; I who never missed a single day of school throughout my childhood education, who took every test, kept every appointment, I now remove the telephone from the hook and enjoy my self-indulgence.

My shrink sits on the soft chair in the corner, under the framed Bar license. “Don’t worry, they’ll live without you.”

“Ah, shit! You miss the point.”

I reach into my glass-topped desk and take out my reserve pills. I keep the little blue jobs, the Stelazine, in the bathroom of my apartment. In the bedroom, next to the bed by the bay window, I usually have another handful. In case I have an accident on the freeway, I naturally carry a vial full of Valium in the glove box. And of course I always have several in my pocket and a paper-clip box filled with both kinds in my desk. I see no need in taking unnecessary chances. Anxiety attacks come in strange places and at unusual times.

I swallow two, one of each. An upper and a downer to even things out. My shrink observes. “It’s the same problem. You just can’t be comfortable with the bigness.”

“Ah, fuck off!”


Excerpted from The Autobiography of a Brown Buffaloby Oscar ‘Zeta’ Acosta, published in 2018 (1972 reissue) by Tangerine Press. Excerpted with permission of the publisher.