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Книга A Scanner Darkly. Содержание - 9

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“It’s Sunday afternoon. I’m going to bring some of that oily dark hash and get really loaded. They won’t know the difference; there’ll be thousands of heads there.” She glanced at him, critically. “But you’ve got to wear something neat, not those funky clothes you sometimes put on. I mean—” Her voice softened. “I want you to look foxy because you are foxy.”

“Okay,” he said, charmed.

“I’m taking us to my place,” Donna said as she shot along through the night in her little car, “and you do have the money and you will give it to me, and then we’ll drop a few of the tabs and kick back and get really mellow, and maybe you’d like to buy us a fifth of Southern Comfort and we can get bombed as well.”

“Oh wow,” he said, with sincerity.

“What I really genuinely want to do tonight,” Donna said as she shifted down and swiveled the car onto her own street and into her driveway, “is go to a drive-in movie. I bought a paper and read what’s on, but I couldn’t find anything good except at the Torrance Drive-in, but it’s already started. It started at five-thirty. Bummer.”

He examined his watch. “Then we’ve missed—”

“No, we could still see most of it.” She shot him a warm smile as she stopped the car and shut off the engine. “It’s all the Planet of the Apes pictures, all eleven of them; they run from 7:30 P.M. all the way through to 8 A.M. tomorrow morning. I’ll go to work directly from the drive-in, so I’ll have to change now. We’ll sit there at the movie loaded and drinking Southern Comfort all night. Wow, can you dig it?” She peered at him hopefully.

“All right,” he echoed.

“Yeah yeah yeah.” Donna hopped out and came around to help him open his little door. “When did you last see all the Planet of the Apes pictures? I saw most of them earlier this year, but then I got sick toward the last ones and had to split. It was a ham sandwich they vended me there at the drive-in. That really made me mad; I missed the last picture, where they reveal that all the famous people in history like Lincoln and Nero were secretly apes and running all human history from the start. That’s why I want to go back now so bad.” She lowered her voice as they walked toward her front door. “They burned me by vending that ham sandwich, so what I did—don’t rat on me—the next time we went to the drive-in, the one in La Habra, I stuck a bent coin in the slot and a couple more in other vending machines for good measure. Me and Larry Talling—you remember Larry, I was going with him?—bent a whole bunch of quarters and fifty-cent pieces using his vise and a big wrench. I made sure all the vending machines were owned by the same firm, of course, and then we fucked up a bunch of them, practically all of them, if the truth were known.” She unlocked her front door with her key, slowly and gravely, in the dim light.

“It is not good policy to burn you, Donna,” he said as they entered her small neat place.

“Don’t step on the shag carpet,” Donna said.

“Where’ll I step, then?”

“Stand still, or on the newspapers.”


“Now don’t give me a lot of heavy shit about having to walk on the newspapers. Do you know how much it cost me to get my carpet shampooed?” She stood unbuttoning her jacket.

“Thrift,” he said, taking off his own coat. “French peasant thrift. Do you ever throw anything away? Do you keep pieces of string too short for any—”

“Someday,” Donna said, shaking her long black hair back as she slid out of her leather jacket, “I’m going to get married and I’ll need all that, that I’ve put away. When you get married you need everything there is. Like, we saw this big mirror in the yard next door; it took three of us over an hour to get it over the fence. Someday—”

“How much of what you’ve got put away did you buy,” he asked, “and how much did you steal?”

Buy?” She studied his face uncertainly. “What do you mean by buy?

“Like when you buy dope,” he said. “A dope deal. Like now.” He got out his wallet. “I give you money, right?”

Donna nodded, watching him obediently (actually, more out of politeness) but with dignity. With a certain reserve.

“And then you hand me a bunch of dope for it,” he said, holding out the bills. “What I mean by buy is an extension into the greater world of human business transactions of what we have present now, with us, as dope deals.”

“I think I see,” she said, her large dark eyes placid but alert. She was willing to learn.

“How many—like when you ripped off that Coca-Cola truck you were tailgating that day—how many bottles of Coke did you rip off? How many crates?”

“A month’s worth,” Donna said. “For me and my friends.”

He glared at her reprovingly.

“It’s a form of barter,” she said.

“What do—” He started to laugh. “What do you give back?”

“I give of myself.”

Now he laughed out loud. “To who? To the driver of the truck, who probably had to make good—”

“The Coca-Cola Company is a capitalist monopoly. No one else can make Coke but them, like the phone company does when you want to phone someone. They’re all capitalist monopolies. Do you know”—her dark eyes flashed—”that the formula for Coca-Cola is a carefully guarded secret handed down through the ages, known only to a few persons all in the same family, and when the last of them dies that’s memorized the formula, there will be no more Coke? So there’s a backup written formula in a safe somewhere,” she added meditatively. “I wonder where,” she ruminated to herself, her eyes flickering.

“You and your rip-off friends will never find the Coca-Cola formula, not in a million years.”

“WHO THE FUCK WANTS TO MANUFACTURE COKE ANYHOW WHEN YOU CAN RIP IT OFF THEIR TRUCKS? They’ve got a lot of trucks. You see them driving constantly, real slow. I tailgate them every chance I get; it makes them mad.” She smiled a secret, cunning, lovely little impish smile at him, as if trying to beguile him into her strange reality, where she tailgated and tailgated a slow truck and got madder and madder and more impatient and then, when it pulled off, instead of shooting on by like other drivers would, she pulled off too, and stole everything the truck had on it. Not so much because she was a thief on even for revenge but because by the time it finally pulled off she had looked at the crates of Coke so long that she had figured out what she could do with all of them. Her impatience had returned to ingenuity. She had loaded her car—not the MG but the larger Camaro she had been driving then, before she had totaled it—with crates and crates of Coke, and then for a month she and all her jerk friends had drunk all the free Coke they wanted to, and then after that—

She had turned the empties back in at different stores for the deposits.

“What’d you do with the bottle caps?” he once asked her. “Wrap them in muslin and store them away in your cedar chest?”

“I threw them away,” Donna said glumly. “There’s nothing you can do with Coke bottle caps. There’s no contests or anything any more.” Now she disappeared into the other room, returned presently with several polyethylene bags. “You wanta count these?” she inquired. “There’s a thousand for sure. I weighed them on my gram scale before I paid for them.”

“It’s okay,” he said. He accepted the bags and she accepted the money and he thought, Donna, once more I could send you up, but I probably never will no matter what you do even if you do it to me, because there is something wonderful and full of life about you and sweet and I would never destroy it. I don’t understand it, but there it is.

“Could I have ten?” she asked.

“Ten? Ten tabs back? Sure.” He opened one of the bags—it was hard to untie, but he had the skill—and counted her out precisely ten. And then ten for himself. And retied the bag. And then carried all the bags to his coat in the closet.

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