Книга A Scanner Darkly. Содержание - 4

“You can see what he is,” the other said. “Some scum from the fucking garbage pail. Look.” He pointed at Arctor’s hair. “Lice. That’s why you itch, Jack.”

The girl, calm and above it, but not in any way friendly, said, “Why did you come in here, mister?”

To himself Arctor thought, Because you have a bigtime runner in here somewhere. And I’m the Man. And you’re stupid, all of you. But instead he muttered cringingly, which was evidently what was expected, “Did you say—”

“Yes, mister, you can have some coffee.” The girl jerked her head, and one of the guys obediently strode off to the kitchen.

A pause. Then the girl bent down and touched his knee. “You feel pretty bad, don’t you?” she said softly.

He could only nod.

“Shame and a sense of disgust at the thing you are,” she said.

“Yeah,” he agreed.

“At the pollution you’ve made of yourself. A cesspool. Sticking that spike up your ass day after day, injecting your body with—”

“I couldn’t go on any more,” Arctor said. “This place is the only hope I could think of. I had a friend come in here, I think, he said he was going to. A black dude, in his thirties, educated, very polite and—”

“You’ll meet the family later,” the girl said. “If you qualify. You have to pass our requirements, you realize. And the first one is sincere need.”

“I have that,” Arctor said. “Sincere need.”

“You’ve got to be bad off to be let in here.”

“I am,” he said.

“How strung out are you? What’s your habit up to?”

“Ounce a day,” Arctor said.


“Yeah.” He nodded. “I keep a sugar bowl of it on the table.”

“It’s going to be super rough. You’ll gnaw your pillow into feathers all night; there’ll be feathers everywhere when you wake up. And you’ll have seizures and foam at the mouth. And dirty yourself the way sick animals do. Are you ready for that? You realize we don’t give you anything here.”

“There isn’t anything,” he said. This was a drag, and he felt restless and irritable. “My buddy,” he said, “the black guy. Did he make it here? I sure hope he didn’t get picked up by the pigs on the way—he was so out of it, man, he could hardly navigate. He thought—”

“There are no one-to-one relationships at New-Path,” the girl said. “You’ll learn that.”

“Yeah, but did he make it here?” Arctor said. He could see he was wasting his time. Jesus, he thought: this is worse than we do downtown, this hassling. And she won’t tell me jack shit. Policy, he realized. Like an iron wall. Once you go into one of these places you’re dead to the world. Spade Weeks could be sitting beyond the partition, listening and laughing his ass off, or not be here at all, or anything in between. Even with a warrant—that never worked. The rehab outfits knew how to drag their feet, stall around until anyone living there sought by the police had zipped out a side door or bolted himself inside the furnace. After all, the staff here were all ex-addicts themselves. And no lawenforcement agency liked the idea of rousting a rehab place: the yells from the public never ceased.

Time to give up on Spade Weeks, he decided, and extricate myself. No wonder they never sent me around here before; these guys are not nice. And then he thought, So as far as I’m concerned, I’ve indefinitely lost my main assignment; Spade Weeks no longer exists.

I’ll report back to Mr. F., he said to himself, and await reassignment. The hell with it. He rose to his feet stiffly and said, “I’m splitting.” The two guys had now returned, one of them with a mug of coffee, the other with literature, apparently of an instructional kind.

“You’re chickening out?” the girl said, haughtily, with contempt. “You don’t have it at gut level to stick with a decision? To get off the filth? You’re going to crawl back out of here on your belly?” All three of them glared at him with anger.

“Later,” Arctor said, and moved toward the front door, the way out.

“Fucking doper,” the girl said from behind him. “No guts, brain fried, nothing. Creep out, creep; it’s your decision.”

“I’ll be back,” Arctor said, nettled. The mood here oppressed him, and it had intensified now that he was leaving.

“We may not want you back, gutless,” one of the guys said.

“You’ll have to plead,” the other said. “You may have to do a lot of heavy pleading. And even then we may not want you.”

“In fact, we don’t want you now,” the girl said.

At the door Arctor paused and turned to face his accusers. He wanted to say something, but for the life of him he couldn’t think of anything. They had blanked out his mind.

His brain would not function. No thoughts, no response, no answer to them, even a lousy and feeble one, came to him at all.

Strange, he thought, and was perplexed.

And passed on out of the building to his parked car.

As far as I’m concerned, he thought, Spade Weeks has disappeared forever. I ain’t going back inside one of those places.

Time, he decided queasily, to ask to be reassigned. To go after somebody else.

They’re tougher than we are.


From within his scramble suit the nebulous blur who signed in as Fred faced another nebulous blur representing himself as Hank.

“So much for Donna, for Charley Freck, and—let’s see …” Hank’s metallic monotone clicked off for a second. “All right, you’ve covered Jim Barris.” Hank made an annotation on the pad before him. “Doug Weeks, you think, is probably dead or out of this area.”

“Or hiding and inactive,” Fred said.

“Have you heard anyone mention this name: Earl or Art De Winter?”


“How about a woman named Molly? Large woman.”


“How about a pair of spades, brothers, about twenty, named something like Hatfield? Possibly dealing in pound bags of heroin.”

“Pounds? Pound bags of heroin?”

“That’s right.”

“No,” Fred said. “I’d remember that.”

“A Swedish person, tall, Swedish name. Male. Served time, wry sense of humor. Big man but thin, carrying a great deal of cash, probably from the split of a shipment earlier this month.”

“I’ll watch for him,” Fred said. “Pounds.” He shook his head, or rather the nebulous blur wobbled.

Hank sorted among his holographic notes. “Well, this one is in jail.” He held up a picture briefly, then read the reverse. “No, this one’s dead; they’ve got the body downstairs.” He sorted on. Time passed. “Do you think the Jora girl is turning tricks?”

“I doubt it.” Jora Kajas was only fifteen. Strung out on injectable Substance D already, she lived in a slum room in Brea, upstairs, the only heat radiating from a water heater, her source of income a State of California tuition scholarship she had won. She had not attended classes, so far as he knew, in six months.

“When she does, let me know. Then we can go after the parents.”

“Okay.” Fred nodded.

“Boy, the bubblegummers go downhill fast. We had one in here the other day—she looked fifty. Wispy gray hair, missing teeth, eyes sunk in, arms like pipe cleaners … We asked her what her age was and she said ‘Nineteen.’ We double-checked. ‘You know how old you look?’ this one matron said to her. ‘Look in the mirror.’ So she looked in the mirror. She started to cry. I asked her how long she’d been shooting up.”

“A year,” Fred said.

“Four months.”

“The street stuff is bad right now,” Fred said, not trying to imagine the girl, nineteen, with her hair falling out. “Cut with worse garbage than usual.”

“You know how she got strung out? Her brothers, both of them, who were dealing, went in her bedroom one night, held her down and shot her up, then balled her. Both of them. To break her in to her new life, I guess. She’d been on the corner several months when we hauled her in here.”

“Where are they now?” He thought he might run into them.

“Serving a six-month sentence for possession. The girl’s also got the clap, now, and didn’t realize it. So it’s gone up deep inside her, the way it does. Her brothers thought that was funny.”

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