A SCANNER DARKLY -- CHAPTER 12
The zoomar lens of the scanner showed the page had a color photo of a man gnawing on a woman's right nipple, with both individuals nude. The woman was evidently having an orgasm; her eyes had half shut and her mouth hung open in a soundless moan. Maybe Arctor's using it to get off on, Fred thought as he watched. But Arctor paid no attention to the picture; instead, he creakingly recited something mystifying, partly in German obviously to puzzle anyone overhearing him. Maybe he imagined his roommates were somewhere in the house and wanted to bait them into appearing, Fred speculated.
No one appeared. Luckman, Fred knew from having been at the scanners a long while, had dropped a bunch of reds mixed with Substance D and passed out fully dressed in his bedroom, a couple of steps short of his bed. Harris had left entirely.
What is Arctor doing? Fred wondered, and noted the ident code for these sections. He's becoming more and more strange. I can see now what that informant who phoned in about him meant.
Or, he conjectured, those sentences Arctor spoke aloud could be a voice command to some electronic hardware he'd installed in the house. Turn on or turn off. Maybe even create an interference field against scanning ... such as this. But he doubted it. Doubted if it was in any way rational or purposeful or meaningful, except to Arctor.
The guy is nuts, he thought. He really is. From the day he found his cephscope sabotaged -- certainly the day he arrived home with his car all fucked up, fucked up in such a way as to almost kill him -- he's been dingey ever since. And to some extent before that, Fred thought. Anyhow, ever since the "dog-shit day," as he knew Arctor called it.
Actually, he could not blame him. That, Fred reflected as he watched Arctor peel off his coat wearily, would blow anyone's mind. But most people would phase back in. He hasn't. He's getting worse. Reading aloud to no one messages that don't exist and in foreign tongues.
Unless he's shucking me, Fred thought with uneasiness. In some fashion figured out he's being monitored and is ... covering up what he's actually doing? Or just playing head games with us? Time, he decided, will tell.
I say he's shucking us, Fred decided. Some people can tell when they're being watched. A sixth sense. Not paranoia, but a primitive instinct: what a mouse has, any hunted thing. Knows it's being stalked. Feels it. He's doing shit for our benefit, stringing us along. But -- you can't be sure. There are shucks on top of shucks. Layers and layers.
The sound of Arctor reading obscurely had awakened Luckman according to the scanner covering his bedroom. Luckman sat up groggily and listened. He then heard the noise of Arctor dropping a coat hanger while hanging up his coat. Luckman slid his long muscular legs under him and in one motion picked up a hand ax which he kept on the table by his bed; he stood erect and moved animal-smoothly toward the door of his bedroom.
In the living room, Arctor picked up the mail from the coffee table and started through it. He tossed a large junkmail piece toward the wastebasket. It missed.
In his bedroom Luckman heard that. He stiffened and raised his head as if to sniff the air.
Arctor, reading the mail, suddenly scowled and said, "I'll be dipped."
In his bedroom Luckman relaxed, set the ax down with a clank, smoothed his hair, opened the door, and stepped out. "Hi. What's happening?"
Arctor said, "I drove by the Maylar Microdot Corporation Building."
"You're shitting me."
"And," Arctor said, "they were taking an inventory. But one of the employees evidently had tracked the inventory outdoors on the heel of his shoe. So they were all outside there in the Maylar Microdot Corporation parking lot with a pair of tweezers and lots and lots of little magnifying glasses. And a little paper bag."
"Any reward?" Luckman said, yawning and beating with his palms on his flat, hard gut.
"They had a reward they were offering," Arctor said. "But they lost that, too. It was a little tiny penny."
Luckman said, "You see very many events of this nature as you're driving along?"
"Only in Orange County," Arctor said.
"How large is the Maylar Microdot Corporation building?"
"About an inch high," Arctor said.
"How much would you estimate it weighs?"
"Including the employees?"
Fred sent the tape spinning ahead at fast wind. When an hour had passed, according to the meter, he halted it momentarily.
"-- about ten pounds," Arctor was saying.
"Well, how can you tell, then, when you pass by it, if it's only an inch high and only weighs ten pounds?"
Arctor, now sitting on the couch with his feet up, said, "They have a big sign."
Jesus! Fred thought, and again sent the tape ahead. He halted it at only ten minutes elapsed real time, on a hunch.
"-- what's the sign look like?" Luckman was saying. He sat on the floor, cleaning a boxful of grass. "Neon and like that? Colors? I wonder if I've seen it. Is it conspicuous?"
"Here, I'll show it to you," Arctor said, reaching into his shirt pocket. "I brought it home with me."
Again Fred sent the tape at fast forward.
"-- you know how you could smuggle microdots into a country without them knowing?" Luckman was saying.
"Just about any way you wanted," Arctor said, leaning back, smoking a joint. The air was cloudy.
"No, I mean a way they'd never flash on," Luckman said. "It was Barris who suggested this to me one day, confidentially; I wasn't supposed to tell anyone, because he's putting it in his book."
"What book? Common Household Dope and --"
"No. Simple Ways to Smuggle Objects into the U.S. and Out, Depending on Which Way You're Going. You smuggle it in with a shipment of dope. Like with heroin. The micro dots are down inside the packets. Nobody'd notice, they're so small. They won't --"
"But then some junkie'd shoot up a hit of half smack and half microdots."
"Well, then, he'd be the fuckingest educated junkie you ever did see."
"Depending on what was on the microdots."
"Barris had his other way to smuggle dope across the border. You know how the customs guys, they ask you to declare what you have? And you can't say dope because --"
"Well, see, you take a huge block of hash and carve it in the shape of a man. Then you hollow out a section and put a wind-up motor like a clockworks in it, and a little cassette tape, and you stand in line with it, and then just before it goes through customs you wind up the key and it walks up to the customs man, who says to it, 'Do you have anything to declare?' and the block of hash says, 'No, I don't,' and keeps on walking. Until it runs down on the other side of the border."
"You could put a solar-type battery in it instead of a spring and it could keep walking for years. Forever."
"What's the use of that? It'd finally reach either the Pacific or the Atlantic. In fact, it'd walk off the edge of the Earth, like --"
"Imagine an Eskimo village, and a six-foot-high block of hash worth about -- how much would that be worth?"
"About a billion dollars."
"More. Two billion."
"These Eskimos are chewing hides and carving bone spears, and this block of hash worth two billion dollars comes walking through the snow saying over and over, 'No, I don't.'"
"They'd wonder what it meant by that."
"They'd be puzzled forever. There'd be legends."
"Can you imagine telling your grandkids, 'I saw with my own eyes the six-foot-high block of hash appear out of the blinding fog and walk past, that way, worth two billion dollars, saying, "No, I don't." His grandchildren would have him committed."
"No, see, legends build. After a few centuries they'd be saying, 'In my forefathers' time one day a ninety-foot-high block of extremely good quality Afghanistan hash worth eight trillion dollars came at us dripping fire and screaming, "Die, Eskimo dogs!" and we fought and fought with it, using our spears, and finally killed it.'"
"The kids wouldn't believe that either."
"Kids never believe anything anymore."
"It's a downer to tell anything to a kid. I once had a kid ask me, 'What was it like to see the first automobile?' Shit, man, I was born in 1962."
"Christ," Arctor said, "I once had a guy I knew burned out on acid ask me that. He was twenty- seven years old. I was only three years older than him. He didn't know anything anymore. Later on he dropped some more hits of acid -- or what he was sold as acid -- and after that he peed on the floor and crapped on the floor, and when you said something to him, like 'How are you, Don?', he just repeated it after you, like a bird. 'How are you, Don?"
Silence, then. Between the two joint-smoking men in the cloudy living room. A long, somber silence.
"Bob, you know something ..." Luckman said at last. "I used to be the same age as everyone else."
"I think so was I," Arctor said.
"I don't know what did it."
"Sure, Luckman," Arctor said, "you know what did it to all of us."
"Well, let's not talk about it." He continued inhaling noisily, his long face sallow in the dim midday light.
He shut off the holos and took the phone.
"Remember when you were downtown last week?" a voice said. "Being administered the BG test?"
After an interval of silence Fred said, "Yes."
"You were supposed to come back." A pause at that end, too. "We've processed more recent material on you ... I have taken it upon myself to schedule you for the full standard battery of percept tests plus other testing. Your time for this is tomorrow, three o'clock in the afternoon, the same room. It will take about four hours in all. Do you remember the room number?"
"No," Fred said.
"How are you feeling?"
"Okay," Fred said stoically.
"Any problems? In your work or outside your work?"
"I had a fight with my girl."
"Any confusion? Are you experiencing any difficulty identifying persons or objects? Does anything you see appear inverted or reversed? And while I'm asking, any space-time or language disorientation?"
"No," he said glumly. "No to all the above."
"We'll see you tomorrow at Room 203," the psychologist deputy said.
"What material of mine did you find to be --"
"We'll take that up tomorrow. Be there. All right? And, Fred, don't get discouraged." Click.
Well, click to you too, he thought, and hung up.
With irritation, sensing that they were leaning on him, making him do something he resented doing, he snapped the holos into print-out once more; the cubes lit up with color and the three-dimensional scenes within animated. From the aud tap more purposeless, frustrating -- to Fred -- babble emerged:
"This chick," Luckman droned on, "had gotten knocked up, and she applied for an abortion because she'd missed like four periods and she was conspicuously swelling up. She did nothing but gripe about the cost of the abortion; she couldn't get on public assistance for some reason. One day I was over at her place, and this girlfriend of hers was there telling her she only had a hysterical pregnancy. 'You just want to believe you're pregnant,' the chick was nattering at her. 'It's a guilt trip. And the abortion, and the heavy bread it's going to cost you, that's a penance trip.' So the chick -- I really dug her -- she looked up calmly and she said, 'Okay, then if it's a hysterical pregnancy I'll get a hysterical abortion and pay for it with hysterical money.'"
Arctor said, "I wonder whose face is on the hysterical five dollar bill."
"Well, who was our most hysterical President?"
"Bill Falkes. He only thought he was President."
"When did he think he served?"
"He imagined he served two terms back around 1882. Later on after a lot of therapy he came to imagine he served only one term --"
With great fury Fred slammed the holos ahead two and a half hours. How long does this garbage go on? he asked himself. All day? Forever?
"-- so you take your child to the doctor, to the psychologist, and you tell him how your child screams all the time and has tantrums." Luckman had two lids of grass before him on the coffee table plus a can of beer; he was inspecting the grass. "And lies; the kid lies. Makes up exaggerated stories. And the psychologist examines the kid and his diagnosis is 'Madam, your child is hysterical. You have a hysterical child. But I don't know why.' And then you, the mother, there's your chance and you lay it on him, '1 know why, doctor. It's because I had a hysterical pregnancy.'" Both Luckman and Arctor laughed, and so did Jim Barris; he had returned sometime during the two hours and was with them, working on his funky hash pipe, winding white string.
Again Fred spun the tape forward a full hour.
"-- this guy," Luckman was saying, manicuring a box full of grass, hunched over it as Arctor sat across from him, more or less watching, "appeared on TV claiming to be a world-famous impostor. He had posed at one time or another, he told the interviewer, as a great surgeon at Johns Hopkins Medical College, a theoretical submolecular high-velocity particle-research physicist on a federal grant at Harvard, as a Finnish novelist who'd won the Nobel Prize in literature, as a deposed president of Argentina married to --"
"And he got away with all that?" Arctor asked. "He never got caught?"
"The guy never posed as any of those. He never posed as anything but a world-famous impostor. That came out later in the L.A. Times -- they checked up. The guy pushed a broom at Disneyland, or had until he read this autobiography about this world-famous impostor -- there really was one -- and he said, 'Hell, I can pose as all those exotic dudes and get away with it like he did,' and then he decided, 'Hell, why do that; I'll just pose as another impostor.' He made a lot of bread that way, the Times said. Almost as much as the real world-famous impostor. And he said it was a lot easier."
Barris, off to himself in a corner winding string, said, "We see impostors now and then. In our lives. But not posing as subatomic physicists."
"Narks, you mean," Luckman said. "Yeah, narks. I wonder how many narks we know. What's a nark look like?"
"It's like asking, what's an impostor look like?" Arctor said. "I talked one time to a big hash dealer who'd been busted with ten pounds of hash in his possession. I asked him what the nark who busted him looked like. You know, the -- what do they call them? -- buying agent that came out and posed as a friend of a friend and got him to sell him some hash."
"Looked," Barris said, winding string, "just like us."
"More so," Arctor said. "The hash-dealer dude -- he'd already been sentenced and was going in the following day -- he told me, 'They have longer hair than we do.' So I guess the moral of that is, Stay away from guys looking the same as us."
"There are female narks," Barris said.
"I'd like to meet a nark," Arctor said. "I mean knowingly. Where I could be positive."
"Well," Barris said, "you could be positive when he claps the cuffs on you, when that day comes."
Arctor said, "I mean, do narks have friends? What sort of social life do they have? Do their wives know?"
"Narks don't have wives," Luckman said. "They live in caves and peep out from under parked cars as you pass. Like trolls."
"What do they eat?" Arctor said.
"People," Barris said.
"How could a guy do that?" Arctor said. "Pose as a nark?"
"What?" both Barris and Luckman said together.
"Shit, I'm spaced," Arctor said, grinning. "'Pose as a nark' -- wow." He shook his head, grimacing now.
Staring at him, Luckman said, "POSE AS A NARK? POSE AS A NARK?"
"My brains are scrambled today," Arctor said. "1 better go crash."
At the holos, Fred cut the tape's forward motion; all the cubes froze, and the sound ceased.
"Taking a break, Fred?" one of the other scramble suits called over to him.
"Yeah," Fred said. "I'm tired. This crap gets to you after a while." He rose and got out his cigarettes. "1 can't figure out half what they're saying, I'm so tired. Tired," he added, "of listening to them."
"When you're actually down there with them," a scramble suit said, "it's not so bad; you know? Like I guess you were on the scene itself up until now, with a cover. Right?"
"I would never hang around with creeps like that," Fred said. "Saying the same things over and over, like old cons. Why do they do what they do, sitting there shooting the bull?"
"Why do we do what we do? This is pretty damn monotonous, when you get down to it."
"But we have to; this is our job. We have no choice."
"Like the cons," a scramble suit pointed out. "We have no choice."
Posing as a nark, Fred thought. What does that mean? Nobody knows ...
Posing, he reflected, as an impostor. One who lives under parked cars and eats dirt. Not a world- famous surgeon or novelist or politician: nothing that anyone would care to hear about on TV. No life that anyone in their right mind ...
I resemble that worm which crawls through dust,
Yes, that expresses it, he thought. That poetry. Luckman must have read it to me, or maybe I read it in school. Funny what the mind pops up. Remembers.
Arctor's freaky words still stuck in his mind, even though he had shut off the tape. I wish I could forget it, he thought. I wish I could, for a while, forget him.
"1 get the feeling," Fred said, "that sometimes I know what they're going to say before they say it. Their exact words."
"It's called deja vu," one of the scramble suits agreed. "Let me give you a few pointers. Run the tape ahead over longer break-intervals, not an hour but, say, six hours. Then run it back if there's nothing until you hit something. Back, you see, rather than forward. That way you don't get into the rhythm of their flow. Six or even eight ahead, then big jumps back ... You'll get the hang of it. Pretty soon, you'll get so you can sense when you've got miles and miles of nothing or when somewhere you've got something useful."
"And you won't really listen at all," the other scramble suit said, "until you do actually hit something. Like a mother when she's asleep -- nothing wakes her, even a truck going by, until she hears her baby cry. That wakes her -- that alerts her. No matter how faint that cry is. The unconscious is selective, when it learns what to listen for."
"I know," Fred said. "I've got two kids."
"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 -- and 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-the-clock 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 word 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 fuck 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."
"Pardon?" Fred said.
"The first time you were in. Last week. You were kidding and laughing. Although very tense."
Gazing at him, Fred realized this was one of the two medical deputies he had originally encountered. But he said nothing; he merely grunted and then left their office, made his way to the elevator. What a downer, he thought. This whole thing. I wonder which of the two medical deputies it is, he wondered. The one with the handle-bar mustache or the other ... I guess the other. This one has no mustache.
"You will manually feel this object with your left hand," he said to himself, "and at the same time you will look at it with your right. And then in your own words you will tell us --" He could not think out any more nonsense. Not without their help.
When he entered Hank's office he found another man, not in a scramble suit, seated in the far corner, facing Hank.
Hank said, "This is the informant who phoned in about Bob Arctor using the grid -- I mentioned him."
"Yes," Fred said, standing there unmoving.
"This man again phoned in, with more information about Bob Arctor; we told him he'd have to step forth and identify himself. We challenged him to appear down here and he did. Do you know him ?"
"Sure I do," Fred said, staring at Jim Barris, who sat grinning and fiddling with a pair of scissors. Barris appeared ill at ease and ugly. Super ugly, Fred thought, with revulsion. "You're James Barris, aren't you?" he said. "Have you ever been arrested?"
"His I.D. shows him to be James R. Barris," Hank said, "and that is who he claims to be." He added, "He has no arrest record."
"What does he want?" To Barris, Fred said, "What's your information?"
"I have evidence," Barris said in a low voice, "that Mr. Arctor is part of a large secret covert organization, well funded, with arsenals of weapons at their disposal, using code words, probably dedicated to the overthrow of --"
"That part is speculation," Hank interrupted. "What you suppose it's up to? What's your evidence? Now don't give us anything that is not firsthand."
"Have you ever been sent to a mental hospital?" Fred said to Barris.
"No," Barris said.
"Will you sign a sworn, notarized statement at the D.A.'s office," Fred continued, "regarding your evidence and information? Will you be willing to appear in court under oath and --"
"He has already indicated he would," Hank interrupted.
"My evidence," Barris said, "which I mostly don't have with me today, but which I can produce, consists of tape recordings I have made of Robert Arctor's phone conversations. I mean, conversations when he didn't know I was listening."
"What is this organization?" Fred said.
"1 believe it to be --" Barris began, but Hank waved him off. "It is political," Barris said, perspiring and trembling a little, but looking pleased, "and against the country. From outside. An enemy against the U.S."
Fred said, "What is Arctor's relationship with the source of Substance D?"
Blinking, then licking his lip and grimacing, Barris said, "It is in my --" He broke off. "When you examine all my information you will -- that is, my evidence -- you will undoubtedly conclude that Substance D is produced by a foreign nation determined to overthrow the U.S. and that Mr. Arctor has his hands deep within the machinery of this --"
"Can you tell us specific names of anyone else in this organization?" Hank said. "Persons Arctor has met with? You understand that giving false information to the legal authorities is a crime and if you do so you can and probably will be cited."
"I understand that," Barris said.
"Who has Arctor conferred with?" Hank said.
"A Miss Donna Hawthorne," Barris said. "On various pretexts he goes over to her place and colludes with her regularly."
Fred laughed. "Colludes. What do you mean?"
"I have followed him," Barris said, speaking slowly and distinctly, "in my own car. Without his knowledge."
"He goes there often?" Hank said.
"Yes, sir," Barris said. "Very often. As often as --''
"She's his girl," Fred said.
Barris said, "Mr. Arctor also --"
Turning to Fred, Hank said, "You think there's any substance in this?"
"We should definitely look at his evidence," Fred said.
"Bring in your evidence," Hank instructed Barris. "All of it. Names we want most of all -- names, license-plate numbers, phone numbers. Have you ever seen Arctor deeply involved in large amounts of drugs? More than a user's?"
"Certainly," Barris said.
"Several kinds. I have samples. I carefully took samples ... for you to analyze. I can bring them in too. Quite a bit, and varied."
Hank and Fred glanced at each other.
Barris, sightlessly gazing straight ahead, smiled. "Is there anything else you want to say at this time?" Hank said to Barris. To Fred he said, "Maybe we should send an officer with him to get his evidence." Meaning, to make sure he doesn't panic and split, doesn't try to change his mind and pull out.
"There is one thing I would like to say," Barris said. "Mr. Arctor is an addict, addicted to Substance D, and his mind is deranged now. It has slowly become deranged over a period of time, and he is dangerous."
"Dangerous," Fred echoed.
"Yes," Barris declared. "He is already having episodes such as occur with brain damage from Substance D. The optic chiasm must be deteriorated, since a weak ipsilateral component ... But also --" Barris cleared his throat. "Deterioration, as well, in the corpus callosum."
"This kind of unsupported speculation," Hank said, ''as I already informed you, warned you, is worthless. Anyhow, we will send an officer with you to get your evidence. All right?"
Grinning, Barris nodded. "But naturally --"
"We'll arrange for an officer out of uniform."
"I might --" Barris gestured. "Be murdered. Mr. Arctor, as I say --"
Hank nodded. "All right, Mr. Barris, we appreciate this, and your extreme risk, and if it works out, if your information is of significant value in obtaining a conviction in court, then naturally --"
"I'm not here for that reason," Barris said. "The man is sick. Brain-damaged. From Substance D. The reason I am here --"
"We don't care why you're here," Hank said. "We only care whether your evidence and material amount to anything. The rest is your problem."
"Thank you, sir," Barris said, and grinned and grinned.