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Книга A Scanner Darkly. Содержание - 13

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“I know,” Fred said. “I’ve got two kids.”

“Boys?”

“Girls,” he said. “Two little girls.”

“That’s allll riiight,” one of the scramble suits said. “I have one girl, a year old.”

“No names please,” the other scramble suit said, and they all laughed. A little.

Anyhow, there is an item, Fred said to himself, to extract from the total tape and pass along. That cryptic statement about “posing as a nark.” The other men in the house with Arctor—it surprised them, too. When I go in tomorrow at three, he thought, I’ll take a print of that—aud alone would do—and discuss it with Hank, along with what else I obtain between now and then.

But even if that’s all I’ve got to show Hank, he thought, it’s a beginning. Shows, he thought, that this around-theclock scanning of Arctor is not a waste.

It shows, he thought, that I was right.

That remark was a slip. Arctor blew it.

But what it meant he did not yet know.

But we will, he said to himself, find out. We will keep on Bob Arctor until he drops. Unpleasant as it is to have to watch and listen to him and his pals all the time. Those pals of his, he thought, are as bad as he is. How’d I ever sit around in that house with them all that time? What a way to live a life; what, as the other officer said just now, an endless nothing.

Down there, he thought, in the murk, the murk of the mind and the murk outside as well; murk everywhere. Thanks to what they are: that kind of individual.

Carrying his cigarette, he walked back to the bathroom, shut and locked the door, then, from inside the cigarette package, he got out ten tabs of death. Filling a Dixie cup with water, he dropped all ten tabs. He wished he had brought more tabs with him. Well, he thought, I can drop a few more when I get through work, when I get back home. Looking at his watch, he tried to compute how long that would be. His mind felt fuzzy; how the hell long will it be? he asked himself, wondering what had become of his time sense. Watching the holos has fucked it up, he realized. I can’t tell what time it is at all any more.

I feel like I’ve dropped acid and then gone through a car wash, he thought. Lots of titanic whirling soapy brushes coming at me; dragged along by a chain into tunnels of black foam. What a way to make a living, he thought, and unlocked the bathroom door to go back—reluctantly—to work.

When he turned on the tape-transport once more, Arctor was saying, “—as near as I can figure out, God is dead.”

Luckman answered, “I didn’t know He was sick.”

“Now that my Olds is laid up indefinitely,” Arctor said, “I’ve decided I should sell it and buy a Henway.”

“What’s a Henway?” Barris said.

To himself Fred said, About three pounds.

“About three pounds,” Arctor said.

***

The following afternoon at three o’clock two medical officers—not the same two—administered several tests to Fred, who was feeling even worse than he had the day before.

“In rapid succession you will see a number of objects with which you should be familiar pass in sequence before—first—your left eye and then your right. At the same time, on the illuminated panel directly before you, outline reproductions will appear simultaneously of several such familiar objects, and you are to match, by means of the punch pencil, what you consider to be the correct outline reproduction of the actual object visible at that instant. Now, these objects will move by you very rapidly, so do not hesitate too long. You will be time-scored as well as scored for accuracy. Okay?”

“Okay,” Fred said, punch pencil ready.

A whole flock of familiar objects jogged past him then, and he punched away at the illuminated photos below. This took place for his left eye, and then it all happened again for his right.

“Next, with your left eye covered, a picture of a familiar object will be flashed to your right eye. You are to reach with your left hand, repeat, left hand, into a group of objects and find the one whose picture you saw.”

“Okay,” Fred said. A picture of a single die was flashed; with his left hand he groped around among small objects placed before him until he found a die.

“In the next test, several letters which spell out a word will be available to your left hand, unseen. You will feel them and then, with your right hand, write out the word the letters spell.”

He did that. They spelled HOT.

“Now name the world spelled.”

So he said, “Hot.”

“Next, you will reach into this absolutely dark box and with both eyes covered, and with your left hand touch an object in order to identify it. Then tell us what the object is, without having seen it visually. After that you will be shown three objects somewhat resembling one another, and you will tell us which of the three that you see most resembles the object you manually touched.”

“Okay,” Fred said, and he did that then, and other tests, for almost an hour. Grope, tell, look at with one eye, select. Grope, tell, look at with the other eye, select. Write down, draw.

“In this following test you will, with your eyes again covered, reach out and feel an object with each hand. You are to tell us if the object presented to your left hand is identical to the object presented to your right.”

He did that.

“Here in rapid succession are pictures of triangles in various positions. You are to tell us if it is the same triangle or—”

After two hours they had him fit complicated blocks into complicated holes and timed him doing this. He felt as if he was in first grade again, and screwing up. Doing worse than he had then. Miss Frinkel, he thought; old Miss Frinkel. She used to stand there and watch me do this shit back then, flashing me “Die!” messages, like they say in transactional analysis. Die. Do not be. Witch messages. A whole bunch of them, until I did finally luck up. Probably Miss Frinkel was dead by now. Probably somebody had managed to flash her a “Die!” message back, and it had caught. He hoped so. Maybe it had been one of his. As with the psych testers now, he flashed such messages right back.

It didn’t seem to be doing much good now. The test continued.

“What is wrong with this picture? One object among the others does not belong. You are to mark—”

He did that. And then it was actual objects, one of which did not belong; he was supposed to reach out and manually remove the offending object, and then, when the test was over, pick up all the offending objects from a variety of “sets,” as they were called, and say what characteristic, if any, all the offending objects had in common: if they constituted a “set.”

He was still trying to do that when they called time and ended the battery of testing and told him to go have a cup of coffee and wait outside until called.

After an interval—which seemed damn long to him—a tester appeared and said, “One more thing, Fred—we want a sample of your blood.” He gave him a slip of paper: a lab requisition. “Go down the hall to the room marked ‘Pathology Lab’ and give them this and then after they have taken a blood sample come back here again and wait.”

“Sure,” he said glumly, and shuffled off with the requisition.

Traces in the blood, he realized. They’re testing for that.

When he had gotten back to Room 203 from the pathology lab he rounded up one of the testers and said, “Would it be all right if I went upstairs to confer with your superior while I’m waiting for your results? He’ll be taking off for the day soon.”

“Affirmative,” the psych tester said. “Since we decided to have a blood sample taken, it will be longer before we can make our evaluation; yes, go ahead. We’ll phone upstairs when we’re ready for you back here. Hank, is it?”

“Yes,” Fred said. “I’ll be upstairs with Hank.”

The psych tester said, “You certainly seem much more depressed today than you did when we first saw you.”

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