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Книга A Scanner Darkly. Содержание - 10

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“I need to now,” Donna said. “Take a hit before I go to work. And at noon and as soon as I get home. That’s why I deal, to buy my hash. Hash is mellow. Hash is where it’s at.”

“Opium,” he repeated. “What’s hash sell for now?”

“About ten thousand dollars a pound,” Donna said. “The good kind.”

“Christ! As much as smack.”

“I would never use a needle. I never have and I never will. You last about six months when you start shooting, whatever you shoot. Even tap water. You get a habit—”

“You have a habit.”

Donna said, “We all do. You take Substance D. So what? What’s the difference now? I’m happy; aren’t you happy? I get to come home and smoke high-grade hash every night … it’s my trip. Don’t try to change me. Don’t ever try to change me. Me or my morals. I am what I am. And I get off on hash. It’s my life.”

“You ever seen pictures of an old opium smoker? Like in China in the old days? Or a hash smoker in India now, what they look like later on in life?”

Donna said, “I don’t expect to live long. So what? I don’t want to be around long. Do you? Why? What’s in this world? And have you even seen—Shit, what about Jerry Fabin; look at someone too far into Substance D. What’s there really in this world, Bob? It’s a stopping place to the next where they punish us here because we were born evil—”

“You are a Catholic.”

“We’re being punished here, so if we can get off on a trip now and then, fuck it, do it. The other day I almost cashed in driving my MG to work. I had the eight-track stereo on and I was smoking my hash pipe and I didn’t see this old dude in an ‘eighty-four Ford Imperator—”

“You are dumb,” he said. “Super dumb.”

“I am, you know, going to die early. Anyhow. Whatever I do. Probably on the freeway. I got hardly any brakes on my MG, you realize that? And I’ve picked up four speeding tickets this year already. Now I got to go to traffic school. It’s a bummer. For six whole months.”

“So someday,” he said, “I will all of a sudden never lay eyes on you again. Right? Never again.”

“Because of traffic school? No, after the six months—”

“In the marble orchard,” he explained. “Wiped out before you’re allowed under California law, fucking goddamn California law, to purchase a can of beer or a bottle of booze.”

“Yeah!” Donna exclaimed, alerted. “The Southern Comfort! Right on! Are we going to do a fifth of Southern Comfort and take in the Ape flicks? Are we? There’s still like eight left, including the one—”

“Listen to me,” Bob Arctor said, taking hold of her by the shoulder; she instinctively pulled away.

“No,” she said.

He said, “You know what they ought to let you do one time? Maybe just one time? Let you go in legally, just once, and buy a can of beer.”

“Why?” she said wonderingly.

“A present to you because you are good,” he said.

“They served me once!” Donna exclaimed in delight. “At a bar! The cocktail waitress—I was dressed up and like with some people—asked me what I wanted and I said, ‘I’ll have a vodka collins,’ and she served me. It was at the La Paz, too, which is a really neat place. Wow, can you believe it? I memorized that, the vodka collins, from an ad. So if I even got asked at a bar, like that, I’d sound cool. Right?” She suddenly put her arm through his, and hugged him as they walked, something she almost never did. “It was the most all-time super trip of my life.”

“Then I guess,” he said, “you have your present. Your one present.”

“I can dig it,” Donna said. “I can dig it! Of course they told me later—these people I was with—I should have ordered a Mexican drink like a tequila sunrise, because, see, it’s a Mexican kind of bar, there with the La Paz Restaurant. Next time I’ll know that; I’ve got that taped in my memory banks, if I go there again. You know what I’m going to do someday, Bob? I’m going to move north to Oregon and live in the snow. I’m going to shovel snow off the front walk every morning. And have a little house and garden with vegetables.”

He said, “You have to save up for that. Save all your money. It costs.”

Glancing at him, suddenly shy, Donna said, “He’ll get me that. What’s-his-name.”

“Who?”

“You know.” Her voice was soft, sharing her secret. Imparting to him because he, Bob Arctor, was her friend and she could trust him. “Mister Right. I know what he’ll be like—he’ll drive an Aston-Martin and he’ll take me north in it. And that’s where the little old-fashioned house will be in the snow, north from here.” After a pause she said, “Snow is supposed to be nice, isn’t it?”

He said, “Don’t you know?”

“I never have been in the snow except once in San Berdoo up in those mountains and then it was half sleet and muddy and I fucking fell. I don’t mean snow like that; I mean real snow.”

Bob Arctor, his heart heavy in a certain way, said, “You feel positive about all this? It’ll really happen?”

“It’ll happen!” She nodded. “It’s in the cards for me.”

They walked on then, in silence. Back to her place, to get her MG. Donna, wrapped up in her own dreams and plans; and he—he recalled Barris and he recalled Luckman and Hank and the safe apartment, and he recalled Fred.

“Hey, man,” he said, “can I go with you to Oregon? When you do take off finally?”

She smiled at him, gently and with acute tenderness, with the answer no.

And he understood, from knowing her, that she meant it. And it would not change. He shivered.

“Are you cold?” she asked.

“Yeah,” he said. “Very cold.”

“I got that good MG heater in my car,” she said, “for when we’re at the drive-in … you’ll warm up there.” She took his hand, squeezed it, held it, and then, all at once, she let it drop.

But the actual touch of her lingered, inside his heart. That remained. In all the years of his life ahead, the long years without her, with never seeing her or hearing from her or knowing anything about her, if she was alive or happy or dead or what, that touch stayed locked within him, sealed in himself, and never went away. That one touch of her hand.

***

He brought a cute little needle-freak named Connie home with him that night, to ball her in exchange for him giving her a bag of ten mex hits.

Skinny and lank-haired, the girl sat on the edge of his bed, combing her odd hair; this was the first time she had ever come along with him—he had met her at a head party—and he knew very little about her, although he’d carried her phone number for weeks. Being a needle-freak, she was naturally frigid, but this wasn’t a downer; it made her indifferent to sex in terms of her own enjoyment, but on the other hand, she didn’t mind what sort of sex it was.

This was obvious just watching her. Connie sat half-dressed, her shoes off, a bobby pin in her mouth, gazing off listlessly, evidently doing a private trip in her head. Her face, elongated and bony, had a strength to it; probably, he decided, because the bones, especially the jaw lines, were pronounced. On her right cheek was a zit. Undoubtedly she neither cared about nor noticed that, either; like sex, zits meant little to her.

Maybe she couldn’t tell the difference. Maybe, to her, a longtime needle-freak, sex and zits had similar or even identical qualities. What a thought, he thought, this glimpse into a hype’s head for a moment.

“Do you have a toothbrush I can use?” Connie said; she had begun to nod a little, and to mumble, as hypes tended to do this time of night. “Aw screw it—teeth are teeth. I’ll brush them …” Her voice had sunk so low he couldn’t hear her, although he knew from the movement of her lips that she was droning on.

“Do you know where the bathroom is?” he asked her.

“What bathroom?”

“In this house.”

Rousing herself, she resumed reflexively combing. “Who are those guys out there this late? Rolling joints and rattling on and on? They live here with you, I guess. Sure they do. Guys like that must.”

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