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Книга A Scanner Darkly. Содержание - 7

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When they rolled to a stop in the driveway, parked, and walked warily toward the front door, they found Barris’s note and the door unlocked, but when they cautiously opened the door everything appeared as it had been when they left.

Barris’s suspicions surfaced instantly. “Ah,” he murmured, entering. He swiftly reached to the top of the bookshelf by the door and brought down his .22 pistol, which he gripped as the other men moved about. The animals approached them as usual, clamoring to be fed.

“Well, Barris,” Luckman said, “I can see you’re right. There definitely was someone here, because you see—you see, too, don’t you, Bob?—the scrupulous covering-over of all the signs they would have otherwise left testifies to their—” He farted then, in disgust, and wandered into the kitchen to look in the refrigerator for a can of beer. “Barris,” he said, “you’re fucked.”

Still moving about alertly with his gun, Barris ignored him as he sought to discover telltale traces. Arctor, watching, thought, Maybe he will. They may have left some. And he thought, Strange how paranoia can link up with reality now and then, briefly. Under very specialized conditions, such as today. Next thing, Barris will be reasoning that I lured everyone out of the house deliberately to permit secret intruders to accomplish their thing here. And later on he will discern why and who and everything else, and in fact maybe he already has. Had a while ago, in fact; long-enough ago to initiate sabotage and destruct actions on the cephscope, car, and God knows what else. Maybe when I turn on the garage light the house will burn down. But the main thing is, did the bugging crew arrive and get all the monitors in and finish up? He would not know until he talked to Hank and Hank gave him a proof-positive layout of the monitors and where their storage drums could be serviced. And whatever additional information the bugging crew’s boss, plus other experts involved in this operation, wanted to dump on him. In their concerted play against Bob Arctor, the suspect.

“Look at this!” Barris said. He bent over an ashtray on the coffee table. “Come here!’ he called sharply to both of them, and both men responded.

Reaching down, Arctor felt heat rising from the ashtray.

“A still-hot cigarette butt,” Luckman said, marveling. “It sure is.”

Jesus, Arctor thought. They did screw up. One of the crew smoked and then reflexively put the butt here. So they must just have gone. The ashtray, as always, overflowed; the crewman probably assumed no one would notice the addition, and in another few moments it would have cooled.

“Wait a second,” Luckman said, examining the ashtray. He fished out, from among the tobacco butts, a roach. “This is what’s hot, this roach. They lit a joint while they were here. But what did they do? What the hell did they do?” He scowled and peered about, angry and baffled. “Bob, fuck it—Barris, was right. There was somebody here! This roach is still hot, and you can smell it if you hold it—” He held it under Arctor’s nose. “Yeah, it’s still burning a little down inside. Probably a seed. They didn’t manicure it too good before they rolled it.”

“That roach,” Barris said, equally grim, “may not have been left here by accident. This evidence may not be a slip-up.”

“What now?” Arctor said, wondering what kind of police bugging crew would have a member who smoked a joint in front of the others while on the job.

“Maybe they were here specifically to plant dope in this house,” Barris said. “Setting us up, then phone in a tip later … Maybe there’s dope hidden like this in the phone, for example, and the wall outlets. We’re going to have to go through the whole house and get it absolutely clean before they phone the tip in. And we’ve probably got only hours.”

“You check the wall sockets,” Luckman said. “I’ll take the phone apart.”

“Wait,” Barris said, holding up his hand. “If they see us scrambling around just before the raid—”

“What raid?” Arctor said.

“If we’re running frantically around flushing dope,” Barris said, “then we can’t allege, even though it’s true, that we didn’t know the dope was there. They’ll catch us actually holding it. And maybe that, too, is part of their plan.”

“Aw shit,” Luckman said in disgust. He threw himself down on the couch. “Shit shit shit. We can’t do anything. There’s probably dope hidden in a thousand places we’ll never find. We’ve had it.” He glared up at Arctor in baffled fury. “We’ve had it!

Arctor said to Barris, “What about your electronic cassette thing rigged to the front door?” He had forgotten about it. So had Barris, evidently. Luckman, too.

“Yes, this should be extremely informational at this point,” Barris said. He knelt down by the couch, reached underneath, grunted, then hauled forth a small plastic cassette tape recorder. “This should tell us a great deal,” he began, and then his face sank. “Well, it probably wouldn’t ultimately have proven that important.” He pulled out the power plug from the back and set the cassette down on the coffee table. “We know the main fact—that they did enter during our absence. That was its main task.”

Silence.

“I’ll bet I can guess,” Arctor said.

Barris said, “The first thing they did when they entered was switch it to the off position. I left it set to on, but look—now it’s turned to off. So although I—”

“It didn’t record?” Luckman said, disappointed.

“They made their move swiftly,” Barris said. “Before so much as an inch of tape passed through the recording head. This, by the way, is a neat little job, a Sony. It has a separate head for playback, erase and record and the Dolby noisereduction system. I got it cheap. At a swap meet. And it’s never given me any trouble.”

Arctor said, “Mandatory soul time.”

“Absolutely,” Barris agreed as he seated himself in a chair and leaned back, removing his shades. “At this point we have no other recourse in view of their evasive tactics. You know, Bob, there is one thing you could do, although it would take time.”

“Sell the house and move out,” Arctor said.

Barris nodded.

“But hell,” Luckman protested. “This is our home.”

“What are houses like this in this area worth now?” Barris asked, hands behind his head. “On the market? I wonder, too, what interest rates are up to. Maybe you could make a considerable profit, Bob. On the other hand, you might have to take a loss on a quick sale. But, Bob, my God, you’re up against professionals.”

“Do you know a good realtor?” Luckman asked both of them.

Arctor said, “What reason should we give for selling? They always ask.”

“Yeah, we can’t tell the realtor the truth,” Luckman agreed. “We could say …” He pondered as he moodily drank his beer. “I can’t think of a reason. Barris, what’s a reason, a shuck we could give?”

Arctor said, “We’ll just say flat-out there’s narcotics planted all over the house and since we don’t know where it is we decided to move out and let the new owner get busted instead of us.”

“No,” Barris disagreed, “I don’t think we can afford to be up front like that. I’d suggest you say, Bob, you say that you got a job transfer.”

“Where to?” Luckman said.

“Cleveland,” Barris said.

“I think we should tell them the truth,” Arctor said. “In fact, we could put an ad in the L.A. Times: ‘Modern threebedroom tract house with two bathrooms for easy and fast flushing, high-grade dope stashed throughout all rooms; dope included in sale price.’

“But they’d be calling asking what kind of dope,” Luckman said. “And we don’t know; it could be anything.”

“And how much there is,” Barris murmured. “Prospective buyers might inquire about the quantity.”

“Like,” Luckman said, “it could be an ounce of roachweed, just shit like that, or it could be pounds of heroin.”

“What I suggest,” Barris said, “is that we phone county drug abuse and inform them of the situation and ask them to come in and remove the dope. Search the house, find it, dispose of it. Because, to be realistic, there really isn’t time to sell the house. I researched the legal situation once for this type of bind, and most lawbooks agree—”

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