A SCANNER DARKLY -- CHAPTER 3
Seated with Jim Barris in the Fiddler's Three coffee shop in Santa Ana, he fooled around with his sugar-glazed doughnut morosely. "It's a heavy decision," he said. "That's cold turkey they do. They just keep with you night and day so you don't snuff yourself or bite off your arm, but they never give you anything. Like, a doctor will prescribe. Valium, for instance."
Chuckling, Barris inspected his patty melt, which was melted imitation cheese and fake ground beef on special organic bread. "What kind of bread is this?" he asked.
"Look on the menu," Charles Freck said. "It explains."
"If you go in," Barris said, "you'll experience symptoms that emanate up from the basic fluids of the body, specifically those located in the brain. By that I refer to the catecholamines, such as noradrenalin and serotonin. You see, it functions this way: Substance D, in fact all addictive dope, but Substance D most of all, interacts with the catecholamines in such a fashion that involvement is locked in place at a subcellular level. Biological counter-adaptation has occurred, and in a sense forever." He ate a huge bite of the right half of his patty melt. "They used to believe this occurred only with the alkaloid narcotics, such as heroin."
"I never shot smack. It's a downer."
The waitress, foxy and nice in her yellow uniform, with pert boobs and blond hair, came over to their table. "Hi," she said. "Is everything all right?"
Charles Freck gazed up in fear.
"Is your name Patty?" Barris asked her, signaling to Charles Freck that it was cool.
"No." She pointed to the name badge on her right boob. "It's Beth."
I wonder what the left one's called, Charles Freck thought.
"The waitress we had last time was named Patty," Barris said, eyeing the waitress grossly. "Same as the sandwich."
"That must have been a different Patty from the sandwich. I think she spells it with an i."
"Everything is super good," Barris said. Over his head Charles Freck could see a thought balloon in which Beth was stripping off her clothes and moaning to be banged.
"Not with me," Charles Freck said. "I got a lot of problems nobody else has."
In a somber voice, Barris said, "More people than you'd think. And more each day. This is a world of illness, and getting progressively worse." Above his head, the thought balloon got worse too.
"Would you like to order dessert?" Beth asked, smiling down at them.
"What like?" Charles Freck said with suspicion.
"We have fresh strawberry pie and fresh peach pie," Beth said smiling, "that we make here ourselves."
"No, we don't want any dessert," Charles Freck said. The waitress left. "That's for old ladies," he said to Barris, "those fruit pies."
"The idea of turning yourself over for rehabilitation," Barris said, "certainly makes you apprehensive. That's a manifestation of purposeful negative symptoms, your fear. It's the drug talking, to keep you out of New-Path and keep you from getting off it. You see, all symptoms are purposeful, whether they are positive or negative."
"No shit," Charles Freck muttered.
"The negative ones show up as the cravings, which are deliberately generated by the total body to force its owner -- which in this case is you -- to search frantically --"
"The first thing they do to you when you go into New-Path," Charles Freck said, "is they cut off your pecker. As an object lesson. And then they fan out in all directions from there."
"Your spleen next," Barris said.
"They what, they cut -- What does that do, a spleen?"
"Helps you digest your food."
"By removing the cellulose from it."
"Then I guess after that --"
"Just noncellulose foods. No leaves or alfalfa."
"How long can you live that way?"
Barris said, "It depends on your attitude."
"How many spleens does the average person have?" He knew there usually were two kidneys.
"Depends on his weight and age."
"Why?" Charles Freck felt keen suspicion.
"A person grows more spleens over the years. By the time he's eighty --"
"You're shitting me."
Barris laughed. Always he had been a strange laugher, Charles Freck thought. An unreal laugh, like something breaking. "Why your decision," Barris said presently, "to turn yourself in for residence therapy at a drug rehab center?"
"Jerry Fabin," he said.
With a gesture of easy dismissal, Barris said, "Jerry was a special case. I once watched Jerry Fabin staggering around and falling down, shitting all over himself, not knowing where he was, trying to get me to look up and research what poison he'd got hold of, thallium sulfate most likely ... it's used in insecticides and to snuff rats. It was a burn, somebody paying him back. I could think of ten different toxins and poisons that might --"
"There's another reason," Charles Freck said. "I'm running low again in my supply, and I can't stand it, this always running low and not knowing if I'm fucking ever going to see any more."
"Well, we can't even be sure we'll see another sunrise."
"Hut shit -- I'm down so low now that it's like a matter of days. And also ... I think I'm being ripped off. I can't be taking them that fast; somebody must be pilfering from my fucking stash."
"How many tabs do you drop a day?"
"That's very difficult to determine. But not that many."
"A tolerance builds up, you know."
"Sure, right, but not like that. I can't stand running out and like that. On the other hand ..." He reflected. "I think I got a new source. That chick, Donna. Donna something."
"Oh, Bob's girl."
"His old lady," Charles Freck said, nodding.
"No, he never got into her pants. He tries to."
"Is she reliable?"
"Which way? As a lay or --" Barris gestured: hand to mouth and swallowing.
"What kind of sex is that?" Then he flashed on it. "Oh, yeah, the latter."
"Fairly reliable. Scatterbrained, somewhat. Like you'd expect with a chick, especially the darker ones. Has her brain between her legs, like most of them. Probably keeps her stash there, too." He chuckled. "Her whole dealer's stash."
Charles Freck leaned toward him. "Arctor never balled Donna? He talks about her like he did."
Barris said, "That's Bob Arctor. Talks like he did many things. Not the same, not at all."
"Well, how come he never laid her? Can't he get it on?" Barris reflected wisely, still fiddling with his patty melt; he had now torn it into little bits. "Donna has problems. Possibly she's on junk. Her aversion to bodily contact in general -- junkies lose interest in sex, you realize, due to their organs swelling up from vasoconstriction. And Donna, I've observed, shows an inordinate failure of sexual arousal, to an unnatural degree. Not just toward Arctor but toward ..." He paused grumpily. "Other males as well."
"Shit, you just mean she won't come across."
"She would," Barris said, "if she were handled right. For instance ..." He glanced up in a mysterious fashion. "I can show you how to lay her for ninety-eight cents."
"I don't want to lay her. I just want to buy from her." He felt uneasy. There was perpetually something about Barris that made his stomach uncomfortable. "Why ninety-eight cents?" he said. "She wouldn't take money; she's not turning tricks. Anyhow, she's Bob's chick."
"The money wouldn't be paid directly to her," Barris said in his precise, educated way. He leaned toward Charley Freck, pleasure and guile quivering amid his hairy nostrils. And not only that, the green tint of his shades had steamed up. "Donna does coke. Anybody who would give her a gram of coke she'd undoubtedly spread her legs for, especially if certain rare chemicals were added in strictly scientific fashion that I've done painstaking research on."
"I wish you wouldn't talk that way," Charles Freck said. "About her. Anyhow, a gram of coke's selling now for over a hundred dollars. Who's got that?"
Half sneezing, Barris declared, "I can derive a gram of pure cocaine at a total cost to me, for the ingredients from which I get it, not including my labor, of less than a dollar."
"I'll give you a demonstration."
"Where do these ingredients come from?"
"The 7-11 store," Barris said, and stumbled to his feet, discarding bits of patty melt in his excitement. "Get the check," he said, "and I'll show you. I've got a temporary lab set up at the house, until I can create a better one. You can watch me extract a gram of cocaine from common legal materials purchased openly at the 7-11 food store for under a dollar total cost." He started down the aisle. "Come on." His voice was urgent.
"Sure," Charles Freck said, picking up the check and following. The mother's dingey, he thought. Or maybe he isn't. With all those chemistry experiments he does, and reading and reading at the county library ... maybe there's something to it. Think of the profit, he thought. Think what we could clear!
He hurried after Barris, who was getting out the keys to his Karmann Ghia as he strode, in his surplus flier's jump suit, past the cashier.
They parked in the lot of the 7-11, got out and walked inside. As usual, a huge dumb cop stood pretending to read a stroke-book magazine at the front counter; in actuality, Charles Freck knew, he was checking out everyone who entered, to see if they were intending to hit the place.
"What do we pick up here?" he asked Barris, who was casually strolling about the aisles of stacks of food.
"A spray can," Barris said. "Of Solarcaine."
"Sunburn spray?" Charles Freck did not really believe this was happening, but on the other hand, who knew? Who could be sure? He followed Barris to the counter; this time Barris paid.
They purchased the can of Solarcaine and then made it past the cop and back to their car. Barris drove rapidly from the lot, down the street, on and on at high speed, ignoring posted speed-limit signs, until finally he rolled to a halt before Bob Arctor's house, with all the old unopened newspapers in the tall grass of the front yard.
Stepping out, Barris lifted some items with wires dangling from the back seat to carry indoors. Voltmeter, Charles Freck saw. And other electronic testing gear, and a soldering gun. "What's that for?" he asked.
"I've got a long and arduous job to do," Barris said, carrying the various items, plus the Solarcaine, up the walk to the front door. He handed Charles Freck the door key. "And I'm probably not getting paid. As is customary."
Charles Freck unlocked the door, and they entered the house. Two cats and a dog rattled at them, making hopeful noises; he and Barris carefully edged them aside with their boots.
At the rear of the dinette Barris had, over the weeks, laid out a funky lab of sorts, bottles and bits of trash here and there, worthless-looking objects he had filched from different sources. Barris, Charles Freck knew, from having to hear about it, believed not so much in thrift as in ingenuity. You should be able to use the first thing that came to hand to achieve your objective, Barris preached. A thumbtack, a paper clip, part of an assembly the other part of which was broken or lost ... It looked to Charles Freck as if a rat had set up shop here, was performing experiments with what a rat prized.
The first move in Barris's scheme was to get a plastic bag from the roll by the sink and squirt the contents of the spray can into it, on and on until the can or at least the gas was exhausted.
"This is unreal," Charles Freck said. "Super unreal."
"What they have deliberately done," Barris said cheerfully as he labored, "is mix the cocaine with oil so it can't be extracted. But my knowledge of chemistry is such that I know precisely how to separate the coke from the oil." He had begun vigorously shaking salt into the gummy slime in the bag. Now he poured it all into a glass jar. "I'm freezing it," he announced, grinning, "which causes the cocaine crystals to rise to the top, since they are lighter than air. Than the oil, I mean. And then the terminal step, of course, I keep to myself, but it involves an intricate methodological process of filtering." He opened the freezer above the refrigerator and carefully placed the jar inside.
"How long will it be in there?" Charles Freck asked.
"Half an hour." Barris got out one of his hand-rolled cigarettes, lit it, then strolled over to the heap of electronic testing equipment. He stood there meditating, rubbing his bearded chin.
"Yeah," Charles Freck said, "but I mean, so even if you get a whole gram of pure coke out of this, I can't use it on Donna to ... you know, get into her pants in exchange. It's like buying her; that's what it amounts to."
"Exchange," Barris corrected. "You give her a gift, she gives you one. The most precious gift a woman has."
"She'd know she was being bought." He had seen enough of Donna to flash on that; Donna would make out the shuck right off.
"Cocaine is an aphrodisiac," Barris muttered, half to himself; he was setting up the testing equipment beside Bob Arctor's cephalochromoscope, which was Bob's most expensive possession. "After she's snorted a good part of it she'll be happy to uncork herself."
"Shit, man," Charles Freck protested. "You're talking about Bob Arctor's girl. He's my friend, and the guy you and Luckman live with."
Barris momentarily raised his shaggy head; he scrutinized Charles Freck for a time. "There's a great deal about Bob Arctor you're not aware of," he said. "That none of us are. Your view is simplistic and naive, and you believe about him what he wants you to."
"He's an all-right guy."
"Certainly," Barris said, nodding and grinning. "Beyond a doubt. One of the world's best. But I have come -- we have come, those of us who have observed Arctor acutely and perceptively -- to distinguish in him certain contradictions. Both in terms of personality structure and in behavior. In his total relatedness to life. In, so to speak, his innate style."
"You have anything specific?"
Barris's eyes, behind his green shades, danced.
"Your eyes dancing don't mean nothing to me," Charles Freck said. "What's wrong with the cephscope that you're working on it?" He moved in closer to look for himself.
Tilting the central chassis on end, Barris said, "Tell me what you observe there with the wiring underneath."
"I see cut wires," Charles Freck said. "And a bunch of what look like deliberate shorts. Who did it?"
Still Barris's merry knowing eyes danced with special delight.
"This crummy significant crud doesn't go down with me worth shit," Charles Freck said. "Who damaged this cephscope? When did it happen? You just find out recently? Arctor didn't say anything the last time I saw him, which was the day before yesterday."
Barris said, "Perhaps he wasn't prepared to talk about it yet."
"Well," Charles Freck said, ''as far as I'm concerned, you're talking in spaced-out riddles. I think I'll go over to one of the New-Path residences and turn myself in and go through withdrawal cold turkey and get therapy, the destruct game they play, and be with those guys day and night, and not have to be around mysterious nuts like yourself that don't make sense and I can't understand. I can see this cephscope has been fucked over, but you're not telling me anything. Are you trying to allege that Bob Arctor did it, to his own expensive equipment, or are you not? What are you saying? I wish I was living over at New-Path, where I wouldn't have to go through this meaningful shit I don't dig day after day, if not with you then with some burned-out freak like you, equally spaced." He glared.
"I did not damage this transmitting unit," Barris said speculatively, his whiskers twitching, "and doubt seriously that Ernie Luckman did."
"I doubt seriously if Ernie Luckman ever damaged anything in his life, except that time he flipped out on bad acid and threw the livingroom coffee table and everything else besides out through the window of that apartment they had, him and that Joan chick, onto the parking area. That's different. Normally Ernie's got it all together more than the rest of us. No, Ernie wouldn't sabotage somebody else's cephscope. And Bob Arctor -- it's his, isn't it? What'd he do, get up secretly in the middle of the night without his knowledge and do this, burn himself like this? This was done by somebody out to burn him. That's what this was." You probably did it, you gunjy motherfucker, he thought. You got the technical know-how and your mind's weird. "The person that did this," he said, "ought to be either in a federal Neural-Aphasia Clinic or the marble orchard. Preferably, in my opinion, the latter. Bob always really got off on this Altec cephscope; I musta seen him put it on, put it on, every time as soon as he gets home from work at night, soon as he steps in the door. Every guy has one thing he treasures. This was his. So I say, this is shit to do to him, man, shit."
"That's what I mean."
"What's what you mean?"
" As soon as he gets home from work at night," Barris repeated. "I have been for some time conjecturing as to who Bob Arctor is really employed by, what specific actual organization it is that he can't tell us."
"It's the fucking Blue Chip Redemption Stamp Center in Placentia," Charles Freck said. "He told me once."
"I wonder what he does there."
Charles Freck sighed. "Colors the stamps blue." He did not like Barris, really. Freck wished he were elsewhere, maybe scoring from the first person he ran into or called. Maybe I should split, he said to himself, but then he recalled the jar of oil and cocaine cooling in the freezer, one hundred dollars' worth for ninety-eight cents. "Listen," he said, "when will that stuff be ready? I think you're shucking me. How could the Solarcaine people sell it for that little if it has a gram of pure coke in it? How could they make a profit?"
"They buy," Barris declared, "in large quantities."
In his head, Charles Freck rolled an instant fantasy: dump trucks full of cocaine backing up to the Solarcaine factory, wherever it was, Cleveland maybe, dumping tons and tons of pure, unstepped- on, uncut, high-grade cocaine into one end of the factory, where it was mixed with oil and inert gas and other garbage and then stuck in little bright-colored spray cans to be stacked up by the thousands in 7-11 stores and drugstores and supermarkets. What we ought to do, he ruminated, is knock over one of those dump trucks; take the whole load, maybe seven or eight hundred pounds -- hell, lots more. What does a dump truck hold?
Barris brought him the now empty Solarcaine spray can for his inspection; he showed him the label, on which were listed all the contents. "See? Benzocaine. Which only certain gifted people know is a trade name for cocaine. If they said cocaine on the label people would flash on it and they'd eventually do what I do. People just don't have the education to realize. The scientific training, such as I went through."
"What are you going to do with this knowledge?" Charles Freck asked. "Besides making Donna Hawthorne horny?"
"I plan to write a best-seller eventually," Barris said. "A text for the average person about how to manufacture safe dope in his kitchen without breaking the law. You see, this does not break the law. Benzocaine is legal. I phoned a pharmacy and asked them. It's in a lot of things."
"Gee," Charles Freck said, impressed. He examined his wristwatch, to see how much longer they had to wait.
Bob Arctor had been told by Hank, who was Mr. F., to check out the local New-Path residence centers in order to locate a major dealer, whom he had been watching, but who had abruptly dropped from sight.
Now and then a dealer, realizing he was about to be busted, took refuge in one of the drug- rehabilitation places, like Synanon and Center Point and X-Kalay and New-Path, posing as an addict seeking help. Once inside, his wallet, his name, everything that identified him, was stripped away in preparation for building up a new personality not drug-oriented. In this stripping-away process, much that the law-enforcement people needed in order to locate their suspect disappeared. Then, later on, when the pressure was off, the dealer emerged and resumed his usual activity outside.
How often this happened nobody knew. The drug-rehab outfits tried to discern when they were being so used, but not always successfully. A dealer in fear of forty years' imprisonment had motivation to spin a good story to the rehab staff that had the power to admit or refuse him. His agony at that point was mainly real.
Driving slowly up Katella Boulevard, Bob Arctor searched for the New-Path sign and the wooden building, formerly a private dwelling, that the energetic rehab people operated in this area. He did not enjoy shucking his way into a rehab place posing as a prospective resident in need of help, but this was the only way to do it. If he identified himself as a narcotics agent in search of somebody, the rehab people -- most of them usually, anyhow -- would begin evasive action as a matter of course. They did not want their family hassled by the Man, and he could get his head into that space, appreciate the validity of that. These ex-addicts were supposed to be safe at last; in fact, the rehab staff customarily officially guaranteed their safety on entering. On the other hand, the dealer he sought was a mother of the first water, and to use the rehab places this way ran contrary to every good interest for everyone. He saw no other choice for himself, or for Mr. F., who had originally put him onto Spade Weeks. Weeks had been Arctor's main subject for an interminable time, without result. And now, for ten whole days, he had been unfindable.
He made out the bold sign, parked in their little lot, which this particular branch of New-Path shared with a bakery, and walked in an uneven manner up the path to the front door, hands stuffed in his pockets, doing his loaded-and-miserable number.
At least the department didn't hold it against him for losing Spade Weeks. In their estimation, officially, it just proved how slick Weeks was. Technically Weeks was a runner rather than a dealer: he brought shipments of hard dope up from Mexico at irregular intervals, to somewhere short of L.A., where the buyers met and split it up. Weeks's method of sneaking the shipment across the border was a neat one: he taped it on the underside of the car of some straight type ahead of him at the crossing, then tracked the dude down on the U.S. side and shot him at the first convenient opportunity. If the U.S. border patrol discovered the dope taped on the underside of the straight's vehicle, then the straight got sent up, not Weeks. Possession was prima facie in California. Too bad for the straight, his wife and kids.
Better than anyone else in Orange County undercover work, he recognized Weeks on sight: fat black dude, in his thirties, with a unique slow and elegant speech pattern, as if memorized at some phony English school. Actually, Weeks came from the slums of L.A. He'd learned his diction, most likely, from edutapes loaned by some college library.
Weeks liked to dress in a subdued but classy way, as if he were a doctor or a lawyer. Often he carried an expensive alligator-hide attache case and wore horn-rimmed glasses. Also, he usually was armed, with a shotgun for which he had commissioned a custom-made pistol grip from Italy, very posh and stylish. But at New-Path his assorted shucks would have been stripped away; they would have dressed him like everyone else, in random donated clothes, and stuck his attache case in the closet.
Opening the solid wood door, Arctor entered.
Gloomy hall, lounge to his left, with guys reading. A ping pong table at the far end, then a kitchen. Slogans on the walls, some hand-done and some printed: THE ONLY REAL FAILURE IS TO FAIL OTHERS and so forth. Little noise, little activity. New-Path maintained assorted retail industries; probably most of the residents, guys and chicks alike, were at work, at their hair shops and gas stations and ballpoint-pen works. He stood there, waiting in a weary way.
"Yes?" A girl appeared, pretty, wearing an extremely short blue cotton skirt and T-shirt with NEW-PATH dyed across it from nipple to nipple.
He said, in a thick, croaking, humiliated voice, "I'm -- in a bad space. Can't get it together any more. Can I sit down?"
"Sure." The girl waved, and two guys, mediocre in appearance, showed up, looking impassive. "Take him where he can sit down and get him some coffee."
What a drag, Arctor thought as he let the two guys coerce him to a seedy-looking overstuffed couch. Dismal walls, he noticed. Dismal low-quality donated paint. They subsisted, though, on contributions; difficulty in getting funded. "Thanks," he grated shakily, as if it was an overwhelming relief to be there and sit. "Wow," he said, attempting to smooth his hair; he made it seem that he couldn't and gave up.
The girl, directly before him, said firmly, "You look like hell, mister."
"Yeah," both guys agreed, in a surprisingly snappy tone. "Like real shit. What you been doing, lying in your own crap?"
"Who are you?" one guy demanded.
"You can see what he is," the other said. "Some scum from the fucking garbage pail. Look." He pointed at Arctor's hair. "Lice. That's why you itch, Jack."
The girl, calm and above it, but not in any way friendly, said, "Why did you come in here, mister?"
To himself Arctor thought, because you have a bigtime runner in here somewhere. And I'm the Man. And you're stupid, all of you. But instead he muttered cringingly, which was evidently what was expected, "Did you say --"
"Yes, mister, you can have some coffee." The girl jerked her head, and one of the guys obediently strode off to the kitchen.
A pause. Then the girl bent down and touched his knee. "You feel pretty bad, don't you?" she said softly.
He could only nod.
"Shame and a sense of disgust at the thing you are," she said.
"Yeah," he agreed.
"At the pollution you've made of yourself. A cesspool. Sticking that spike up your ass day after day, injecting your body with --"
"I couldn't go on any more," Arctor said. "This place is the only hope I could think of. I had a friend come in here, I think, he said he was going to. A black dude, in his thirties, educated, very polite and --"
"You'll meet the family later," the girl said. "If you qualify. You have to pass our requirements, you realize. And the first one is sincere need."
"I have that," Arctor said. "Sincere need."
"You've got to be bad off to be let in here."
"I am," he said.
"How strung out are you? What's your habit up to?"
"Ounce a day," Arctor said.
"Yeah." He nodded. "I keep a sugar bowl of it on the table."
"It's going to be super rough. You'll gnaw your pillow into feathers all night; there'll be feathers everywhere when you wake up. And you'll have seizures and foam at the mouth. And dirty yourself the way sick animals do. Are you ready for that? You realize we don't give you anything here."
"There isn't anything," he said. This was a drag, and he felt restless and irritable. "My buddy," he said, "the black guy. Did he make it here? I sure hope he didn't get picked up by the pigs on the way -- he was so out of it, man, he could hardly navigate. He thought --"
"There are no one-to-one relationships at New-Path," the girl said. "You'll learn that."
"Yeah, but did he make it here?" Arctor said. He could see he was wasting his time. Jesus, he thought: this is worse than we do downtown, this hassling. And she won't tell me jack shit. Policy, he realized. Like an iron wall. Once you go into one of these places you're dead to the world. Spade Weeks could be sitting beyond the partition, listening and laughing his ass off, or not be here at all, or anything in between. Even with a warrant -- that never worked. The rehab outfits knew how to drag their feet, stall around until anyone living there sought by the police had zipped out a side door or bolted himself inside the furnace. After all, the staff here were all ex-addicts themselves. And no law-enforcement agency liked the idea of rousting a rehab place: the yells from the public never ceased.
Time to give up on Spade Weeks, he decided, and extricate myself. No wonder they never sent me around here before; these guys are not nice. And then he thought, do as far as I'm concerned, I've indefinitely lost my main assignment; Spade Weeks no longer exists.
I'll report back to Mr. F., he said to himself, and await reassignment. The hell with it. He rose to his feet stiffly and said, "I'm splitting." The two guys had now returned, one of them with a mug of coffee, the other with literature, apparently of an instructional kind.
"You're chickening out?" the girl said, haughtily, with contempt. "You don't have it at gut level to stick with a decision? To get off the filth? You're going to crawl back out of here on your belly?" All three of them glared at him with anger.
"Later," Arctor said, and moved toward the front door, the way out.
"Fucking doper," the girl said from behind him. "No guts, brain fried, nothing. Creep out, creep; it's your decision."
"I'll be back," Arctor said, nettled. The mood here oppressed him, and it had intensified now that he was leaving.
"We may not want you back, gutless," one of the guys said.
"You'll have to plead," the other said. "You may have to do a lot of heavy pleading. And even then we may not want you."
"In fact, we don't want you now," the girl said.
At the door Arctor paused and turned to face his accusers. He wanted to say something, but for the life of him he couldn't think of anything. They had blanked out his mind.
His brain would not function. No thoughts, no response, no answer to them, even a lousy and feeble one, came to him at all.
Strange, he thought, and was perplexed.
And passed on out of the building to his parked car.
As far as I'm concerned, he thought, Spade Weeks has disappeared forever. I ain't going back inside one of those places.
Time, he decided queasily, to ask to be reassigned. To go after somebody else.
They're tougher than we are.