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Книга A Scanner Darkly. Содержание - 14

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After a time Bob Arctor said, “What was on the other side?”

Donna said, “He said there was another world on the other side. He could see it.”

“He … never went through it?”

“That’s why he kicked the shit out of everything in his apartment; he never thought of going through it, he just admired the doorway and then later he couldn’t see it at all and it was too late. It opened for him a few days and then it was closed and gone forever. Again and again he took a whole lot of LSD and those water-soluble vitamins, but he never saw it again; he never found the combination.”

Bob Arctor said, “What was on the other side?”

“He said it was always nighttime.”


“There was moonlight and water, always the same. Nothing moved or changed. Black water, like ink, and a shordane, a beach of an island. He was sure it was Greece, ancient Greece. He figured out the doorway was a weak place in time, and he was seeing back into the past. And then later on, when he couldn’t see it any more, he’d be on the freeway driving along, with all the trucks, and he’d get madder than hell. He said he couldn’t stand all the motion and noise, everything going this way and that, all the clanking and banging. Anyhow, he never could figure out why they showed him what they showed him. He really believed it was God, and it was the doorway to the next world, but in the final analysis all it did was mess up his head. He couldn’t hold on to it so he couldn’t cope with it. Every time he met anybody, after a while he’d tell them he’d lost everything.”

Bob Arctor said, “That’s how I am.”

“There was a woman on the island. Not exactly—more a statue. He said it was of the Cyrenaican Aphrodite. Standing there in moonlight, pale and cold and made out of marble.”

“He should have gone through the doorway when he had the chance.”

Donna said, “He didn’t have the chance. It was a promise. Something to come. Something better a long time in the future. Maybe after he—” She paused. “When he died.”

“He missed out,” Bob Arctor said. “You get one chance and that’s it.” He shut his eyes against the pain and the sweat streaking his face. “Anyhow what’s a burned-out acid head know? What do any of us know? I can’t talk. Forget it.” He turned away from her, into the darkness, convulsing and shuddering.

“They show us trailers now,” Donna said. She put her arms around him and held on to him as tightly as she could, rocking him back and forth. “So we’ll hold out.”

“That’s what you’re trying to do. With me now.”

“You’re a good man. You’ve been dealt a bad deal. But life isn’t over for you. I care for you a lot. I wish …” She continued to hold him, silently, in the dankness that was swallowing him up from inside. Taking over even as she held on to him. “You are a good and kind person,” she said. “And this is unfair but it has to be this way. Try to wait for the end. Sometime, a long time from now, you’ll see the way you saw before. It’ll come back to you.” Restored, she thought. On the day when everything taken away unjustly from people will be restored to them. It may take a thousand years, or longer than that, but that day will come, and all the balances will be set right. Maybe, like Tony Amsterdam, you have seen a vision of God that is gone only temporarily; withdrawn, she thought, rather than ended. Maybe inside the terribly burned and burning circuits of your head that char more and more, even as I hold you, a spark of color and light in some disguised form manifested itself, unrecognized, to lead you, by its memory, through the years to come, the dreadful years ahead. A word not fully understood, some small thing seen but not understood, some fragment of a star mixed with the trash of this world, to guide you by reflex until the day … but it was so remote. She could not herself truly imagine it. Mingled with the commonplace, something from another world perhaps had appeared to Bob Arctor before it was over. All she could do now was hold him and hope.

But when he found it once again, if they were lucky, pattern-recognition would take place. Correct comparison in the right hemisphere. Even at the subcortical level available to him. And the journey, so awful for him, so costly, so evidently without point, would be finished.

A light shone in her eyes. Standing in front of her, a cop with nightstick and flashlight. “Would you please stand up?” the officer said. “And show me your identification? You first, miss.”

She let go of Bob Arctor, who slid sideways until he lay against the ground; he was unaware of the cop, who had approached them up the hill, stealthily, from a service road below. Getting her wallet out of her purse, Donna motioned the officer away, where Bob Arctor could not hear. For several minutes the officer studied her identification by the muted light of his flashlight, and then said,

“You’re undercover for the federal people.”

“Keep your voice down,” Donna said.

“I’m sorry.” The officer handed the wallet back to her.

“Just fucking take off,” Donna said.

The officer shone his light in her face briefly, and then turned away; he departed as he had approached, noiselessly.

When she returned to Bob Arctor, it was obvious that he had never been aware of the cop. He was aware of almost nothing, now. Scarcely of her, let alone anyone or anything else.

Far off, echoing, Donna could hear the police can moving down the nutted, invisible service road. A few bugs, perhaps a lizard, made their way through the dry weeds around them. In the distance the 91 Freeway glowed in a pattern of lights, but no sound reached them; it was too remote.

“Bob,” she said softly. “Can you hear me?”

No answer.

All the circuits are welded shut, she thought. Melted and fused. And no one is going to get them open, no matter how hard they try. And they are going to try.

“Come on,” she said, tugging at him, attempting to get him to his feet. “We’ve got to get started.”

Bob Arctor said, “I can’t make love. My thing’s disappeared.”

“They’re expecting us,” Donna said firmly. “I have to sign you in.”

“But what’ll I do if my thing’s disappeared? Will they still take me in?”

Donna said, “They’ll take you.”

It requires the greatest kind of wisdom, she thought, to know when to apply injustice. How can justice fall victim, even, to what is right? How can this happen? She thought, Because there is a curse on this world, and all this proves it; this is the proof right here. Somewhere, at the deepest level possible, the mechanism, the construction of things, fell apart, and up from what remained swam the need to do all the various sort of unclean wrongs the wisest choice has made us act out. It must have started thousands of years ago. By now it’s infiltrated into the nature of everything. And, she thought, into every one of us. We can’t turn around or open our mouth and speak, decide at all, without doing it. I don’t even care how it got started, when or why. She thought, I just hope it’ll end some time. Like with Tony Amsterdam; I just hope one day the shower of brightly colored sparks will return, and this time we’ll all see it. The narrow doorway where there’s peace on the far side. A statue, the sea, and what looks like moonlight. And nothing stirring, nothing to break the calm.

A long, long time ago, she thought. Before the curse, and everything and everyone became this way. The Golden Age, she thought, when wisdom and justice were the same. Before it all shattered into cutting fragments. Into broken bits that don’t fit, that can’t be put back together, hard as we try.

Below her, in the dankness and distribution of urban lights a police siren sounded. A police car in hot pursuit. It sounded like a deranged animal, greedy to kill. And knowing that it soon would. She shivered; the night air had become cold. It was time to go.

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