Книга A Scanner Darkly. Содержание - 5
His friends phoned the police, and the police broke down the front door and dragged Jerry off to the N.A. Clinic. The last thing Jerry said to them all was “Bring my things later on—bring my new jacket with the beads on the back.” He had just bought it. He liked it a lot. It was about all he liked any more; he considered everything else he owned contaminated.
No, Bob Arctor thought, it doesn’t seem funny now, and he wondered why it ever had. Maybe it had stemmed from fear, the dreadful fear they had all felt during the last weeks being around Jerry. Sometimes in the night, Jerry had told them, he prowled his house with a shotgun, sensing the presence of an enemy. Preparing to shoot first, before being shot. That is, both of them.
And now, Bob Arctor thought, I’ve got an enemy. Or anyhow I’ve come onto his trail: signs of him. Another slushed creep in his final stages, like Jerry. And when the final stages of that shit hits, he thought, it really does hit. Better than any special Ford or GM ever sponsored on primetime TV.
A knock at his bedroom door.
Touching the gun beneath his pillow, he said, “Yeah?”
Mubble-mubble. Barris’s voice.
“Come in,” Arctor said. He reached to snap on a bedside lamp.
Barris entered, eyes twinkling. “Still awake?”
“A dream woke me,” Arctor said. “A religious dream. In it there was this huge clap of thunder, and all of a sudden the heavens rolled aside and God appeared and His voice rumbled at me—what the hell did He say?—oh yeah. ‘I am vexed with you, my son,’ He said. He was scowling. I was shaking, in the dream, and looking up, and I said, ‘What’d I do now, Lord?’ And He said, ‘You left the cap off the toothpaste tube again.’ And then I realized it was my exwife.”
Seating himself, Barris placed a hand on each of his leather-covered knees, smoothed himself, shook his head, and confronted Arctor. He seemed in an extremely good mood. “Well,” he said briskly, “I’ve got an initial theoretical view as to who might have systematically damaged with malice your cephscope and may do it again.”
“If you’re going to say it was Luckman—”
“Listen,” Barris said, rocking back and forth in agitation. “W-w-what if I told you I’ve anticipated for weeks a serious malfunction in one of the household appliances, especially an expensive one difficult to repair? My theory called for this to happen! This is a confirmation of my over-all theory!”
Arctor eyed him.
Slowly sinking back down, Barris resumed his calm and bright smiling. “You,” he said, pointing.
“You think I did it,” Arctor said. “Screwed up my own cephscope, with no insurance.” Disgust and rage swelled through him. And it was late at night; he needed his sleep.
“No, no,” Barris said rapidly, looking distressed. “You are looking at the person who did it. Buggered your cephscope. That was my complete intended statement, which I was not allowed to utter.”
“You did it?” Mystified, he stared at Barris, whose eyes were murky with a sort of dim triumph. “Why?”
“I mean, it’s my theory that I did it,” Barris said. “Under posthypnotic suggestion, evidently. With an amnesia block so I wouldn’t remember.” He began to laugh.
“Later,” Arctor said, and snapped off his bedside lamp. “Much later.”
Barris rose, dithering. “Hey, but don’t you see—I’ve got the advanced specialized electronic technical skills, and I have access to it—I live here. What I can’t figure out, though, is my motive.”
“You did it because you’re nuts,” Arctor said.
“Maybe I was hired by secret forces,” Barris muttered in perplexity. “But what would their motives be? Possibly to start suspicion and trouble among us, to cause dissension to break out, causing us to be pitted against one another, all of us, uncertain of whom we can trust, who is our enemy and like that.”
“Then they’ve succeeded,” Arctor said.
“But why would they want to do that?” Barris was saying as he moved toward the door; his hands flapped urgently. “So much trouble—removing that plate on the bottom, getting a passkey to the front door—”
I’ll be glad, Bob Arctor thought, when we get in the holoscanners and have them set up all over this house. He touched his gun, felt reassured, then wondered if he should make certain it was still full of shells. But then, he realized, I’ll wonder if the firing pin is gone or if the powder has been removed from the shells and so forth, on and on, obsessively, like a little boy counting cracks in the sidewalk to reduce his fear. Little Bobby Arctor, coming home from the first grade with his little schoolbooks, frightened at the unknown lying ahead.
Reaching down, he fumbled at the bed frame, along and along until his fingers touched Scotch tape. Pulling it loose, he tore from it, with Barris still in the room and watching, two tabs of Substance D mixed with quaak. Lifting them to his mouth, he tossed them down his throat, without water, and then lay back, sighing.
“Get lost,” he said to Barris.
It was necessary for Bob Arctor to be out of his house for a period of time in order that it be properly (which meant unerringly) bugged, phone included, even though the phone line was tapped elsewhere. Usually the practice consisted of observing the house involved until everyone was seen to leave it in such a fashion as to suggest they were not going to return soon. The authorities sometimes had to wait for days or even several weeks. Finally, if nothing else worked, a pretext was arranged: the residents were informed that a fumigator or some such shuck personality was going to be coming in for a whole afternoon and everybody had to get lost until, say, six P.M.
But in this case the suspect Robert Arctor obligingly left his house, taking his two roommates with him, to go check out a cephalochromoscope they could use on loan until Barris had his working again. The three of them were seen to drive off in Arctor’s car, looking serious and determined. Then later on, at a convenient point, which was a pay phone at a gas station, using the audio grid of his scramble suit, Fred called in to report that definitely nobody would be home the rest of that day. He’d overheard the three men deciding to cruise down all the way to San Diego in search of a cheap, ripped-off cephscope that some dude had for sale for around fifty bucks. A smack-freak price. At that price it was worth the long drive and all the time.
Also, this gave the authorities the opportunity to do a little illegal searching above and beyond what their undercover people did when no one was looking. They got to pull out bureau drawers to see what was taped to the backs. They got to pull apart pole lamps to see if hundreds of tabs sprang out. They got to look down inside toilet bowls to see what sort of little packets in toilet paper were lodged out of sight where the running water would automatically flush them. They got to look in the freezer compartment of the refrigerator to see if any of the packages of frozen peas and beans actually contained frozen dope, slyly mismanked. Meanwhile, the complicated holo-scanners were mounted, with officers seating themselves in various places to test the scanners out. The same with the audio ones. But the video part was more important and took more time. And of course the scanners should never be visible. It took skill to so mount them. A number of locations had to be tried. The technicians who did this got paid well, because if they screwed up and a holo-scanner got detected later on by an occupant of the premises, then the occupants, all of them, would know they had been penetrated and were under scrutiny, and cool their activities. And in addition they would sometimes tear off the whole scanning system and sell it.
It had proven difficult in the courts, Bob Arctor reflected as he drove along the San Diego Freeway south, to get convictions on theft and sale of electronic detection devices illegally installed in someone’s residence. The police could only tack the bust on somewhere else, under another statute violation. However, the pushers, in an analogous situation, reacted directly. He recalled a case in which a heroin dealer, out to burn a chick, had planted two packets of heroin in the handle of her iron, then phoned in an anonymous tip on her to WE TIP. Before the tip could be acted on, the chick found the heroin, but instead of flushing it she had sold it. The police came, found nothing, then made a voiceprint on the phone tip, and arrested the pusher for giving false information to the authorities. While out on bail, the pusher visited the chick late one night and beat her almost to death. When caught and asked why he’d put out one of her eyes and broken both her arms and several ribs, he explained that the chick had come across two packets of high-grade heroin belonging to him, sold them for a good profit, and not cut him in. Such, Arctor reflected, went the pusher mentality.