Книга A Scanner Darkly. Содержание - 16

The living, he thought, should never be used to serve the purposes of the dead. But the dead—he glanced at Bruce, the empty shape beside him—should, if possible, serve the purposes of the living.

That, he reasoned, is the law of life.

And the dead, if they could feel, might feel better doing so.

The dead, Mike thought, who can still see, even if they can’t understand: they are our camera.


Under the sink in the kitchen he found a small bone fragment, down with the boxes of soap and brushes and buckets. It looked human, and he wondered if it was Jerry Fabin.

This made him remember an event from a long way back in his life. Once he had lived with two other guys and sometimes they had kidded about owning a rat named Fred that lived under their sink. And when they got really broke one time, they told people, they had to eat poor old Fred.

Maybe this was one of his bone fragments, the rat who had lived under their sink, who they had made up to keep them company.


Hearing them talking in the lounge.

“This guy was more burned out than he showed. I felt so. He drove up to Ventura one day, cruising all over to find an old friend back inland toward Ojai. Recognized the house on sight without the number, stopped, and asked the people if he could see Leo. ‘Leo died. Sorry you didn’t know.’ So this guy said then, ‘Okay, I’ll come back again on Thursday.’ And he drove off, he drove back down the coast, and I guess he went back up on Thursday again looking for Leo. How about that?”

He listened to their talk, drinking his coffee.

“—works out, the phone book has only one number in it; you call that number for whoever you want. Listed on page after page … I’m talking about a totally burned-out society. And in your wallet you have that number, the number, scribbled down on different slips and cards, for different people. And if you forget the number, you couldn’t call anybody.”

“You could dial Information.”

“It’s the same number.”

He still listened; it was interesting, this place they were describing. When you called it, the phone number was out of order, or if it wasn’t they said, “Sorry, you have the wrong number.” So you called it again, the same number, and got the person you wanted.

When a person went to the doctor—there was only one, and he specialized in everything—there was only one medicine. After he had diagnosed you he prescribed the medicine. You took the slip to the pharmacy to have it filled, but the pharmacist never could read what the doctor had written, so he gave you the only pill he had, which was aspirin. And it cured whatever you had.

If you broke the law, there was only the one law, which everybody broke again and again. The cop laboriously wrote it all up, which law, which infraction each time, the same one. And there was always the same penalty for any breaking of the law, from jaywalking to treason: the penalty was the death penalty, and there was agitation to have the death penalty removed, but it could not be because then, for like jaywalking, there would be no penalty at all. So it stayed on the books and finally the community burned out entirely and died. No, not burned out—they had been that already. They faded out, one by one, as they broke the law, and sort of died.

He thought, I guess when people heard that the last one of them had died they said, I wonder what those people were like. Let’s see—well, we’ll come back on Thursday. Although he was not sure, he laughed, and when he said that aloud, so did everyone else in the lounge.

“Very good, Bruce,” they said.

That got to be a sort of tag line then; when somebody there at Samarkand House didn’t understand anything or couldn’t find what he was sent to get, like a roll of toilet paper, they said, “Well, I guess I’ll come back on Thursday.” Generally, it was credited to him. His saying. Like with comics on TV who said the same tag-line thing again and again each week. It caught on at Samarkand House and meant something to them all.

Later, at the Game one night, when they gave credit in turn to each person for what he had brought to New-Path, such as Concepts, they credited him with bringing humor there. He had brought with him an ability to see things as funny no matter how bad he felt. Everybody in the circle clapped, and, glancing up, startled, he saw the ring of smiles, everybody’s eyes warm with approval, and the noise of their applause remained with him for quite a period, inside his heart.


In late August of that year, two months after he entered New-Path, he was transferred to a farm facility in the Napa Valley, which is located inland in Northern California. It is the wine country, where many fine California vineyards exist.

Donald Abrahams, the Executive Director of New-Path Foundation, signed the transfer order. On the suggestion of Michael Westaway, a member of the staff who had become especially interested in seeing what could be done with Bruce. Particularly since the Game had failed to help him. It had, in fact, made him more deteriorated.

“Your name is Bruce,” the manager of the farm said, as Bruce stepped clumsily from the car, lugging his suitcase.

“My name is Bruce,” he said.

“We’re going to try you on farming for a period, Bruce.”


“I think you’ll like it better here, Bruce.”

“I think I’ll like it,” he said. “Better here.”

The farm manager scrutinized him. “They gave you a haircut recently.”

“Yes, they gave me a haircut.” Bruce reached up to touch his shaved head.

“What for?”

“They gave me a haircut because they found me in the women’s quarters.”

“That the first you’ve had?”

“That is the second one I’ve had.” After a pause Bruce said, “One time I got violent.” He stood, still holding the suitcase; the manager gestured for him to set it down on the ground. “I broke the violence rule.”

“What’d you do?”

“I threw a pillow.”

“Okay, Bruce,” the manager said. “Come with me and I’ll show you where you’ll be sleeping. We don’t have a central building residence here; each six persons have a little cabin. They sleep and fix their meals there and live there when they’re not working. There’s no Game sessions, here, just the work. No more Games for you, Bruce.”

Bruce seemed pleased; a smile appered on his face.

“You like mountains?” The farm manager indicated to their right. “Look up. Mountains. No snow, but mountains. Santa Rosa is to the left; they grow really great grapes on those mountain slopes. We don’t grow any grapes. Various other farm products, but no grapes.”

“I like mountains,” Bruce said.

“Look at them.” The manager again pointed. Bruce did not look. “We’ll round up a hat for you,” the manager said. “You can’t work out in the fields with your head shaved without a hat. Don’t go out to work until we get you a hat. Right?”

“I won’t go to work until I have a hat,” Bruce said.

“The air is good here,” the manager said.

“I like air,” Bruce said.

“Yeah,” the manager said, indicating for Bruce to pick up his suitcase and follow him. He felt awkward, glancing at Bruce: he didn’t know what to say. A common experience for him, when people like this arrived. “We all like air, Bruce. We really all do. We do have that in common.” He thought, We do still have that.

“Will I be seeing my friends?” Bruce asked.

“You mean from back where you were? At the Santa Ana facility?”

“Mike and Laura and George and Eddie and Donna and—”

“People from the residence facilities don’t come out to the farms,” the manager explained. “These are closed operations. But you’ll probably be going back once or twice a year. We have gatherings at Christmas and also at—”

Bruce had halted.

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