Книга A Scanner Darkly. Содержание - 3

He had, naturally, several other leads at present besides Donna. Other dealers he pressured progressively for larger quantities. But because she was his chick—or anyhow he had hopes in that direction—she was for him the easiest. Visiting her, talking to her on the phone, taking her out or having her over—that was a personal pleasure as well. It was, in a sense, the line of least resistance. If you had to spy on and report about someone, it might as well be people you’d see anyhow; that was less suspicious and less of a drag. And if you did not see them frequently before you began surveillance, you would have to eventually anyhow; it worked out the same in the end.

Entering the phone booth, he did a phone thing.


“Hello,” Donna said.

Every pay phone in the world was tapped. Or if it wasn’t, some crew somewhere just hadn’t gotten around to it. The taps fed electronically onto storage reels at a central point, and about once every second day a printout was obtained by an officer who listened to many phones without having to leave his office. He merely rang up the storage drums and, on signal, they played back, skipping all dead tape. Most calls were harmless. The officer could identify ones that weren’t fairly readily. That was his skill. That was what he got paid for. Some officers were better at it than others.

As he and Donna talked, therefore, no one was listening. The playback would come maybe the next day at the earliest. If they discussed anything strikingly illegal, and the monitoring officer caught it, then voiceprints would be made. But all he and she had to do was keep it mild. The dialogue could still be recognizable as a dope deal. A certain governmental economy came into play here—it wasn’t worth going through the hassle of voiceprints and track-down for routine illegal transactions. There were too many each day of the week, over too many phones. Both Donna and he knew this.

“How you doin’?” he asked.

“Okay.” Pause in her warm, husky voice.

“How’s your head today?”

“Sort of in a bad space. Sort of down.” Pause. “I was bumtripped this A.M. by my boss at the shop.” Donna worked behind the counter of a little perfume shop in Gateside Mall in Costa Mesa, to which she drove every morning in her MG. “You know what he said? He said this customer, this old guy, gray hair, who bilked us out of ten bucks—he said it was my fault and I’ve got to make it good. It’s coming out of my paycheck. So I’m out ten bucks through no fucking—excuse me—fault of my own.”

Arctor said, “Hey, can I get anything from you?”

She sounded sullen now. As if she didn’t want to. Which was a shuck. “How—much do you want? I don’t know.”

“Ten of them,” he said. The way they had it set up, one was a hundred; this was a request for a thousand, then.

Among fronts, if transactions had to take place over public communications, a fairly good try consisted of masking a large one by an apparently small one. They could deal and deal forever, in fact, in these quantities, without the authorities taking any interest; otherwise, the narcotics teams would be raiding apartments and houses up and down each street each hour of the day, and achieving little.

“ ‘Ten,’ ” Donna muttered, irritably.

“I’m really hurting,” he said, like a user. Rather than a dealer. “I’ll pay you back later, when I’ve scored.”

“No,” she said woodenly. “I’ll lay them on you gratis. Ten.” Now, undoubtedly, she was speculating whether he was dealing. Probably he was. “Ten. Why not? Say, three days from now?”

“No sooner?”

“These are—”

“Okay,” he said.

“I’ll drop over.”

“What time?”

She calculated. “Say around eight in the P.M. Hey, I want to show you a book I got, somebody left it at the shop. It’s cool. It has to do with wolves. You know what wolves do? The male wolf? When he defeats his foe, he doesn’t snuff him—he pees on him. Really! He stands there and pees on his defeated foe and then he splits. That’s it. Territory is what they mostly fight over. And the right to screw. You know.”

Arctor said, “I peed on some people a little while ago.”

“No kidding? How come?”

“Metaphorically,” he said.

“Not the usual way?”

“I mean,” he said, “I told them—” He broke off. Talking too much; a fuckup. Jesus, he thought. “These dudes,” he said, “like biker types, you dig? Around the Foster’s Freeze? I was cruising by and they said something raunchy. So I turned around and said something like—” He couldn’t think of anything for a moment.

“You can tell me,” Donna said, “even if it’s super gross. You gotta be super gross with biker types or they won’t understand.”

Arctor said, “I told them I’d rather ride a pig than a hog. Any time.”

“I don’t get it.”

“Well, a pig is a chick that—”

“Oh yeah. Okay, well I get it. Barf.”

“I’ll see you at my place like you said,” he said. “Goodby.” He started to hang up.

“Can I bring the wolf book and show you? It’s by Konrad Lorenz. The back cover, where they tell, says he was the foremost authority on wolves on earth. Oh yeah, one more thing. Your roommates both came into the shop today, Ernie what’s-his-name and that Barris. Looking for you, if you might have—”

“What about?” Arctor said.

“Your cephalochromoscope that cost you nine hundred dollars, that you always turn on and play when you get home—Ernie and Barris were babbling away about it. They tried to use it today and it wouldn’t work. No colors and no ceph patterns, neither one. So they got Barris’s tool kit and unscrewed the bottom plate.”

“The hell you say!” he said, indignant.

“And they say it’s been fucked over. Sabotaged. Cut wires, and like sort of weird stuff—you know, freaky things. Shorts and broken parts. Barris said he’d try to—”

“I’m going right home,” Arctor said, and hung up. My primo possession, he thought bitterly. And that fool Barris tinkering with it. But I can’t go home right now, he realized. I’ve got to go over to New-Path to check on what they’re up to.

It was his assignment: mandatory.


Charles Freck, too, had been thinking about visiting New-Path. The freakout of Jerry Fabin had gotten to him that much.

Seated with Jim Barris in the Fiddler’s Three coffee shop in Santa Ana, he fooled around with his sugar-glazed doughnut morosely. “It’s a heavy decision,” he said. “That’s cold turkey they do. They just keep with you night and day so you don’t snuff yourself or bite off your arm, but they never give you anything. Like, a doctor will prescribe. Valium, for instance.”

Chuckling, Barris inspected his patty melt, which was melted imitation cheese and fake ground beef on special organic bread. “What kind of bread is this?” he asked.

“Look on the menu,” Charles Freck said. “It explains.”

“If you go in,” Barris said, “you’ll experience symptoms that emanate up from the basic fluids of the body, specifically those located in the brain. By that I refer to the catecholamines, such as noradrenalin and serotonin. You see, it functions this way: Substance D, in fact all addictive dope, but Substance D most of all, interacts with the catecholamines in such a fashion that involvement is locked in place at a subcellular level. Biological counter-adaptation has occurred, and in a sense forever.” He ate a huge bite of the right half of his patty melt. “They used to believe this occurred only with the alkaloid narcotics, such as heroin.”

“I never shot smack. It’s a downer.”

The waitress, foxy and nice in her yellow uniform, with pert boobs and blond hair, came over to their table. “Hi,” she said. “Is everything all right?”

Charles Freck gazed up in fear.

“Is your name Patty?” Barris asked her, signaling to Charles Freck that it was cool.

“No.” She pointed to the name badge on her right boob. “It’s Beth.”

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