Книга A Scanner Darkly. Содержание - 6

“What do you smell?” Luckman asked. “A clue, man? Some engine smell that—”

“Dog shit,” Arctor said. He could smell it, from within the engine area. Bending, he sniffed, smelled it distinctly and more strongly. Weird, he thought. Freaky and fucking weird. “Do you smell dog shit?” he asked Barris and Luckman.

“No,” Luckman said, eyeing him. To Barris he said, “Were there any psychedelics in that dope?”

Barris, smiling, shook his head.

As he bent over the hot engine, smelling dog shit, Arctor knew to himself that it was an illusion; there was no dogshit smell. But still he smelled it. And now he saw, smeared across the motorblock, especially down low by the plugs, dark-brown stains, an ugly substance. Oil, he thought. Spilled oil, thrown oil: I may have a leaky head gasket. But he needed to reach down and touch to be sure, to fortify his rational conviction. His fingers met the sticky brown smears, and his fingers leaped back. He had run his fingers into dog shit. There was a coating of dog shit all over the block, on the wires. Then he realized it was on the fire wall as well. Looking up, he saw it on the soundproofing underneath the hood. The stink overpowered him, and he shut his eyes, shuddering.

“Hey, man,” Luckman said acutely, taking hold of Arctor by the shoulder. “You’re getting a flashback, aren’t you?”

“Free theater tickets,” Barris agreed, and chuckled.

“You better sit down,” Luckman said; he guided Arctor back to the driver’s seat and got him seated there. “Man, you’re really freaked. Just sit there. Take it easy. Nobody got killed, and now we’re warned.” He shut the car door beside Arctor. “We’re okay now, dig?”

Barris appeared at the window and said, “Want a lump of dog shit, Bob? To chew on?”

Opening his eyes, chilled, Arctor stared at him. Barris’s green-glass eyes gave nothing back, no clue. Did he really say that? Arctor wondered. Or did my head make that up? “What, Jim?” he said.

Barris began to laugh. And laugh and laugh.

“Leave him alone, man,” Luckman said, punching Barris on the back. “Fuck off, Barris!”

Arctor said to Luckman, “What did he say just now? What the hell exactly did he say to me?”

“I don’t know,” Luckman said. “I can’t figure out half the things Barris lays on people.”

Barris still smiled, but had become silent.

“You goddamn Barris,” Arctor said to him. “I know you did it, screwed over the cephscope and now the car. You fucking did it, you kinky freak mother bastard.” His voice was hardly audible to him, but as he yelled that out at smiling Barris, the dreadful stench of dog shit grew. He gave up trying to speak and sat there at the useless wheel of his car trying not to throw up. Thank God Luckman came along, he thought. Or it’d be all over for me this day. It’d all fucking be over, at the hands of this burned-out fucking creep, this mother living right in the same house with me.

“Take it easy, Bob,” Luckman’s voice filtered to him through the waves of nausea.

“I know it’s him,” Arctor said.

“Hell, why?” Luckman seemed to be saying, or trying to say. “He’d of snuffed himself too this way. Why, man? Why?”

The smell of Barris still smiling overpowered Bob Arctor, and he heaved onto the dashboard of his own car. A thousand little voices tinkled up, shining at him, and the smell receded finally. A thousand little voices crying out their strangeness; he did not understand them, but at least he could see, and the smell was going away. He trembled, and reached for his handkerchief from his pocket.

“What was in those tabs you gave us?” Luckman demanded at smiling Barris.

“Hell, I dropped some too,” Barris said, “and so did you. And it didn’t give us a bad trip. So it wasn’t the dope. And it was too soon. How could it have been the dope? The stomach can’t absorb—”

“You poisoned me,” Arctor said savagely, his vision almost clear, his mind clearing, except for the fear. Now fear had begun, a rational response instead of insanity. Fear about what had almost happened, what it signified, fear fear terrible fear of smiling Barris and his fucking snuffbox and his explanations and his creepy sayings and ways and habits and customs and comings and goings. And his anonymous phoned-in tip to the police about Robert Arctor, his mickeymouse grid to conceal his real voice that had pretty well worked. Except that it had to have been Barris.

Bob Arctor thought, The fucker is on to me.

“I never saw anybody space out as fast,” Barris was saying, “but then—”

“You okay now, Bob?” Luckman said. “We’ll clean up the barf, no trouble. Better get in the back seat.” Both he and Barris opened the car door; Arctor slid dizzily out. To Barris, Luckman said, “You sure you didn’t slip him anything?”

Barris waved his hands up high, protesting.


Item. What an undercover narcotics agent fears most is not that he will be shot or beaten up but that he will be slipped a great hit of some psychedelic that will roll an endless horror feature film in his head for the remainder of his life, or that he will be shot up with a mex hit, half heroin and half Substance D, on both of the above plus a poison such as strychnine, which will nearly kill him but not completely, so that the above can occur: lifelong addiction, lifelong horror film. He will sink into a needle-and-a-spoon existence, or bounce off the walls in a psychiatric hospital or, worst of all, a federal clinic. He will try to shake the aphids off him day and night or puzzle forever over why he cannot any longer wax a floor. And all this will occur deliberately. Someone figured out what he was doing and then got him. And they got him this way. The worst way of all: with the stuff they sell that he was after them for selling.

Which, Bob Arctor considered as he cautiously drove home, meant that both the dealers and the narks knew what the street drugs did to people. On that they agreed.

A Union station mechanic near where they had parked had driven out and gone over the car and finally fixed it up at a cost of thirty dollars. Nothing else seemed wrong, except that the mechanic had examined the left front suspension for quite a while.

“Anything wrong there?” Arctor had asked.

“Seems like you should be experiencing trouble when you corner sharply,” the mechanic had said. “Does it yaw at all?”

The car didn’t yaw, not that Arctor had noticed. But the mechanic refused to say more; he just kept poking at the coil spring and ball joint and oil-filled shock. Arctor paid him, and the tow truck drove off. He then got back into his own car, along with Luckman and Barris—both of whom now rode in back—and started north toward Orange County.

As he drove, Arctor ruminated about other ironic agreements in the minds of narcotics agents and dealers. Several narcotics agents that he had known had posed as dealers in their undercover work and wound up selling like hash and then, sometimes, even smack. This was a good cover, but it also brought the nark a gradually increasing profit over and above his official salary plus what he made when he helped bust and seize a good-sized shipment. Also, the agents got deeper and deeper into using their own stuff, the whole way of life, as a matter of course; they became rich dealer addicts as well as narks, and after a time some of them began to phase out their law-enforcement activities in favor of fulltime dealing. But then, too, certain dealers, to burn their enemies or when expecting imminent busts, began narking and went that route, winding up as sort of unofficial undercover narks. It all got murky. The drug world was a murky world for everyone anyhow. For Bob Arctor, for example, it had become murky now: during this afternoon along the San Diego Freeway, while he and his two buddies had been within foot-seconds of being wiped out, the authorities, on his behalf, had been—he hoped—properly bugging their house, and if this had been done, then possibly he would be safe from now on from the kind of thing that had happened today. It was a piece of luck that ultimately might mean the difference between him winding up poisoned or shot or addicted or dead compared to nailing his enemy, nailing whoever was after him and who today had in fact almost gotten him. Once the holo-scanners were mounted in place, he ruminated, there would be very little sabotage or attacks against him. Or anyhow successful sabotage or successful attacks.

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