A SCANNER DARKLY -- CHAPTER 6
Which, Bob Arctor considered as he cautiously drove home, meant that both the dealers and the narks knew what the street drugs did to people. On that they agreed.
A Union station mechanic near where they had parked had driven out and gone over the car and finally fixed it up at a cost of thirty dollars. Nothing else seemed wrong, except that the mechanic had examined the left front suspension for quite a while.
"Anything wrong there?" Arctor had asked.
"Seems like you should be experiencing trouble when you corner sharply," the mechanic had said. "Does it yaw at all?"
The car didn't yaw, not that Arctor had noticed. But the mechanic refused to say more; he just kept poking at the coil spring and ball joint and oil-filled shock. Arctor paid him, and the tow truck drove off. He then got back into his own car, along with Luckman and Barris -- both of whom now rode in back -- and started north toward Orange County.
As he drove, Arctor ruminated about other ironic agreements in the minds of narcotics agents and dealers. Several narcotics agents that he had known had posed as dealers in their undercover work and wound up selling like hash and then, sometimes, even smack. This was a good cover, but it also brought the nark a gradually increasing profit over and above his official salary plus what he made when he helped bust and seize a good-sized shipment. Also, the agents got deeper and deeper into using their own stuff, the whole way of life, as a matter of course; they became rich dealer addicts as well as narks, and after a time some of them began to phase out their law-enforcement activities in favor of full-time dealing. But then, too, certain dealers, to burn their enemies or when expecting imminent busts, began narking and went that route, winding up as sort of unofficial undercover narks. It all got murky. The drug world was a murky world for everyone anyhow. For Bob Arctor, for example, it had become murky now: during this afternoon along the San Diego Freeway, while he and his two buddies had been within foot-seconds of being wiped out, the authorities, on his behalf, had been -- he hoped -- properly bugging their house, and if this had been done, then possibly he would be safe from now on from the kind of thing that had happened today. It was a piece of luck that ultimately might mean the difference between him winding up poisoned or shot or addicted or dead compared to nailing his enemy, nailing whoever was after him and who today had in fact almost gotten him. Once the holo-scanners were mounted in place, he ruminated, there would be very little sabotage or attacks against him. Or anyhow successful sabotage or successful attacks.
This was about the only thought that reassured him. The guilty, he reflected as he drove amid the heavy late-afternoon traffic as carefully as possible, may flee when no one pursues -- he had heard that, and maybe that was true. What for a certainty was true, however, was that the guilty fled, fled like hell and took plenty of swift precautions, when someone did pursue: someone real and expert and at the same time hidden. And very close by. As close, he thought, as the back seat of this car. Where, if he has his funky .22 single-action German-made nowhere pistol with him and his equally funky rinky-dink laughable alleged silencer on it, and Luckman has gone to sleep as usual, he can put a hollow-nose bullet through the back of my skull and I will be as dead as Bobby Kennedy, who died from gunshot wounds of the same caliber -- a bore that small.
And not only today but every day. And every night.
Except that in the house, when I check the storage drums of the holo-scanners, I'll pretty well know pretty soon what everyone in my house is doing and when they do it and probably even why, myself included. I will watch my own self, he thought, get up in the night to pee. I will watch all the rooms on a twenty-four-hour basis ... although there will be a lag. It won't help me much if the holo-scanners pick up me being given a hotshot of some disorientation drug ripped off by the Hell's Angels from a military arsenal and dumped in my coffee; someone else from the academy who goes over the storage drums will have to watch my thrashing around, unable to see or know where or what I am any more. It will be a hindsight I won't even get to have. Somebody else will have to have it for me.
Luckman said, "I wonder what's been going on back at the house while we've been gone all day. You know, this proves you got somebody out to burn you real bad, Bob. I hope when we get back the house is still there."
"Yeah," Arctor said. "I didn't think of that. And we didn't get a loan cephscope anyhow." He made his voice sound leaden with resignation.
Barris said, in a surprisingly cheerful voice, "I wouldn't worry too much."
With anger, Luckman said, "You wouldn't? Christ, they may have broken in and ripped off all we got. All Bob's got, anyhow. And killed or stomped the animals. Or --"
"I left a little surprise," Barris said, "for anybody entering the house while we're gone today. I perfected it early this morning ... I worked until I got it. An electronic surprise."
Sharply, concealing his concern, Arctor said, "What kind of electronic surprise? It's my house, Jim, you can't start rigging up --"
"Easy, easy," Barris said. "As our German friends would say, leise. Which means be cool."
"What is it?"
"If the front door is opened," Barris said, "during our absence, my cassette tape recorder starts recording. It's under the couch. It has a two-hour tape. I placed three omni directional Sony mikes at three different --"
"You should have told me," Arctor said.
"What if they come in through the windows?" Luckman said. "Or the back door?"
"To increase the chances of their making their entry via the front door," Barris continued, "rather than in other less usual ways, I providentially left the front door unlocked."
After a pause, Luckman began to snigger.
"Suppose they don't know it's unlocked?" Arctor said.
"I put a note on it," Barris said.
"You've jiving me!"
"Yes," Barris said, presently.
"Are you fucking jiving us or not?" Luckman said. "I can't tell with you. Is he jiving, Bob?"
"We'll see when we get back," Arctor said. "If there's a note on the door and it's unlocked we'll know he isn't jiving us."
"They probably would take the note down," Luckman said, "after ripping off and vandalizing the house, and then lock the door. So we won't know. We'll never know. For sure. It's that gray area again."
"Of course I'm kidding!" Barris said, with vigor. "Only a psychotic would do that, leave the front door of his house unlocked and a note on the door."
Turning, Arctor said to him, "What did you write on the note, Jim?"
"Who's the note to?" Luckman chimed in. "I didn't even know you knew how to write."
With condescension, Barris said, "I wrote: 'Donna, come on inside; door's unlocked. We --' " Barris broke off. "It's to Donna," he finished, but not smoothly.
"He did do that," Luckman said. "He really did. All of it."
"That way," Barris said, smoothly again, "we'll know who had been doing this, Bob. And that's of prime importance."
"Unless they rip off the tape recorder when they rip off the couch and everything else," Arctor said. He was thinking rapidly as to how much of a problem this really was, this additional example of Barris's messed-up electronic nowhere genius of a kindergarten sort. Hell, he concluded, they'll find the mikes in the first ten minutes and trace them back to the recorder. They'll know exactly what to do. They'll erase the tape, rewind it, leave it as it was, leave the door unlocked and the note on it. In fact, maybe the unlocked door will make their job easier. Fucking Barris, he thought. Great genius plans which will work out so as to screw up the universe. He probably forgot to plug the recorder into the wall outlet anyhow. Of course, if he finds it unplugged.
He'll reason that proves someone was there, he realized. He'll flash on that and rap at us for days. Somebody got in who was hip to his device and cleverly unplugged it. So, he decided, if they find it unplugged I hope they think to plug it in, and not only that, make it run right. In fact, what they really should do is test out his whole detection system, run it through its cycle as thoroughly as they do their own, be absolutely certain it functions perfectly, and then wind it back to a blank state, a tablet on which nothing is inscribed but on which something would for sure be had anyone -- themselves, for example -- entered the house. Otherwise, Barris's suspicions will be aroused forever.
As he drove, he continued his theoretical analysis of his situation by means of a second well-established example. They had brought it up and drilled it into his own memory banks during his police training at the academy. Or else he had read it in the newspapers.
Item. One of the most effective forms of industrial or military sabotage limits itself to damage that can never be thoroughly proven -- or even proven at all -- to be anything deliberate. It is like an invisible political movement; perhaps it isn't there at all. If a bomb is wired to a car's ignition, then obviously there is an enemy; if a public building or a political headquarters is blown up, then there is a political enemy. But if an accident, or a series of accidents, occurs, if equipment merely fails to function, if it appears faulty, especially in a slow fashion, over a period of natural time, with numerous small failures and misfirings -- then the victim, whether a person or a party or a country, can never marshal itself to defend itself.
In fact, Arctor speculated as he drove along the freeway very slowly, the person begins to assume he's paranoid and has no enemy; he doubts himself. His car broke down normally; his luck has just become bad. And his friends agree. It's in his head. And this wipes him out more thoroughly than anything that can be traced. However, it takes longer. The person or persons doing him in must tinker and putter and make use of chance over a long interval. Meanwhile, if the victim can figure out who they are, he has a better chance of getting them --certainly better than if, say, they shoot him with a scope-sight rifle. That is his advantage.
Every nation in the world, he knew, trains and sends out a mass of agents to loosen bolts here, strip threads there, break wires and start little fires, lose documents -- little misadventures. A wad of gum inside a Xerox copying machine in a government office can destroy an irreplaceable -- and vital -- document: instead of a copy coming out, the original is wiped out. Too much soap and toilet paper, as the Yippies of the sixties knew, can screw up the entire sewage of an office building and force all the employees out for a week. A mothball in a car's gas tank wears out the engine two weeks later, when it's in another town, and leaves no fuel contaminants to be analyzed. Any radio or TV station can be put off the air by a pile driver accidentally cutting a microwave cable or a power cable. And so forth.
Many of the previous aristocratic social class knew about maids and gardeners and other serf-type help: a broken vase here, a dropped priceless heirloom that slips out of a sullen hand ...
"Why'd you do that, Rastus Brown?"
"Oh, Ah jes' fogot ta -- " and there was no recourse, or very little. By a rich homeowner, by a political writer unpopular with the regime, a small new nation shaking its fist at the U.S. or at the U.S.S.R.
Once, an American ambassador to Guatemala had had a wife who had publicly boasted that her "pistol-packin'" husband had overthrown that little nation's left-wing government. After its abrupt fall, the ambassador, his job done, had been transferred to a small Asian nation, and while driving his sports car he had suddenly discovered a slow-moving hay truck pulling out of a side road directly ahead of him. A moment later nothing remained of the ambassador except a bunch of splatted bits. Packing a pistol, and having at his call an entire CIA raised private army, had done him no good. His wife wrote no proud poetry about that.
"Uh, do what?" the owner of the hay truck had probably said to the local authorities. "Do what, massah? Ah jes' --"
Or like his own ex-wife, Arctor remembered. At that time he had worked for an insurance firm as an investigator ("Do your neighbors across the hall drink a lot?"), and she had objected to his filling out his reports late at night instead of thrilling at the very sight of her. Toward the end of their marriage she had learned to do such things during his late-night work period as burn her hand while lighting a cigarette, get something in her eye, dust his office, or search forever throughout or around his typewriter for some little object. At first he had resentfully stopped work and succumbed to thrilling at the very sight of her; but then he had hit his head in the kitchen while getting out the corn popper and had found a better solution.
"If they kill our animals," Luckman was saying, "I'll fire bomb them. I'll get all of them. I'll hire a professional down from L.A., like a bunch of Panthers."
"They won't," Barris said. "There's nothing to be gained by injuring animals. The animals haven't done anything."
"Have I?" Arctor said.
"Evidently they think so," Barris said.
Luckman said, "If I had known it was harmless I would have killed it myself. Remember?"
"But she was a straight," Barris said. "That girl never turned on, and she had heavy bread. Remember her apartment? The rich never understand the value of life. That's something else. Remember Thelma Kornford, Bob? The short girl with the huge breasts -- she never wore a bra and we used to just sit and look at her nipples? She came over to our place to get us to kill that mosquito hawk for her? And when we explained --"
At the wheel of his slow car, Bob Arctor forgot theoretical matters and did a rerun of a moment that had impressed them all: the dainty and elegant straight girl in her turtleneck sweater and bell-bottoms and trippy boobs who wanted them to murder a great harmless bug that in fact did good by wiping out mosquitoes -- and in a year in which an outbreak of encephalitis had been anticipated in Orange County -- and when they saw what it was and explained, she had said words that became for them their parody evil-wall-motto, to be feared and despised:
IF I HAD KNOWN IT WAS HARMLESS
That had summed up to them (and still did) what they distrusted in their straight foes, assuming they had foes; anyhow, a person like well-educated-with-all-the-financial- advantages Thelma Kornford became at once a foe by uttering that, from which they had run that day, pouring out of her apartment and back to their own littered pad, to her perplexity. The gulf between their world and hers had manifested itself, however much they'd meditated on how to ball her, and remained. Her heart, Bob Arctor reflected, was an empty kitchen: floor tile and water pipes and a drainboard with pale scrubbed surfaces, and one abandoned glass on the edge of the sink that nobody cared about.
One time before he got solely into undercover work he had taken a deposition from a pair of upper-class well-off, straights whose furniture had been ripped off during their absence, evidently by junkies; in those days such people still lived in areas where roving rip-off bands stole what they could, leaving little. Professional bands, with walkie-talkies in the hands of spotters who watched a couple miles down the street for the marks' return. He remembered the man and his wife saying, "People who would burglarize your house and take your color TV are the same kind of criminals who slaughter animals or vandalize priceless works of art." No, Bob Arctor had explained, pausing in writing down their deposition, what makes you believe that? Addicts, in his experience anyhow, rarely hurt animals. He had witnessed junkies feeding and caring for injured animals over long periods of time, where straights probably would have had the animals "put to sleep," a straight-type term if there ever was one -- and also an old Syndicate term as well, for murder. Once he had assisted two totally spaced-out heads in the sad ordeal of unscrewing a cat which had impaled herself within a broken window. The heads, hardly able to see or understand anything any more, had over almost an entire hour deftly and patiently worked the cat loose until she was free, bleeding a little, all of them, heads and cat alike, with the cat calm in their hands, one dude inside the house with Arctor, the other outdoors, where the ass and tail were. The cat had come free at last with no real injury, and then they had fed her. They did not know whose cat she was; evidently she had been hungry and smelled food through their broken window and finally, unable to rouse them, had tried to leap in. They hadn't noticed her until her shriek, and then they had forgotten their various trips and dreams for a while in her behalf.
As to "priceless works of art" he wasn't too sure, because he didn't exactly understand what that meant. At My Lai during the Viet Nam War, four hundred and fifty priceless works of art had been vandalized to death at the orders of the CIA -- priceless works of art plus oxen and chickens and other animals not listed. When he thought about that he always got a little dingey and was hard to reason with about paintings in museums like that.
"Do you think," he said aloud as he painstakingly drove, "that when we die and appear before God on Judgment Day, that our sins will be listed in chronological order or in order of severity, which could be ascending or descending, or alphabetically? Because I don't want to have God boom out at me when I die at the age of eighty-six, 'So you're the little boy who stole the three Coke bottles off the Coca-Cola truck when it was parked in the 7-11 lot back in 1962, and you've got a lot of fast talking to do.'"
"I think they're cross-referenced," Luckman said. "And they just hand you a computer printout that's the total of a long column that's been added up already."
"Sin," Barris said, chuckling, "is a Jewish-Christian myth that is outdated."
Arctor said, "Maybe they've got all your sins in one big pickle barrel" -- he turned to glare at Barris the anti-Semite -- "a kosher pickle barrel, and they just hoist it up and throw the whole contents all at once in your face, and you just stand there dripping sins. Your own sins, plus maybe a few of somebody else's that got in by mistake."
"Somebody else by the same name," Luckman said. "Another Robert Arctor. How many Robert Arctors do you think there are, Barris?" He nudged Barris. "Could the Cal Tech computers tell us that? And cross-file all the Jim Barrises too while they're doing it?"
To himself, Bob Arctor thought, How many Bob Arctors are there? A weird and fucked-up thought. Two that I can think of, he thought. The one called Fred, who will be watching the other one, called Bob. The same person. Or is it? Is Fred actually the same as Bob? Does anybody know? I would know, if anyone did, because I'm the only person in the world that knows that Fred is Bob Arctor. But, he thought, who am I? Which of them is me?
When they rolled to a stop in the driveway, parked, and walked warily toward the front door, they found Barris's note and the door unlocked, but when they cautiously opened the door everything appeared as it had been when they left.
Barris's suspicions surfaced instantly. "Ah," he murmured, entering. He swiftly reached to the top of the bookshelf by the door and brought down his .22 pistol, which he gripped as the other men moved about. The animals approached them as usual, clamoring to be fed.
"Well, Barris," Luckman said, "I can see you're right. There definitely was someone here, because you see -- you see, too, don't you, Bob? -- the scrupulous covering-over of all the signs they would have otherwise left testifies to their --" He farted then, in disgust, and wandered into the kitchen to look in the refrigerator for a can of beer. "Barris," he said, "you're fucked."
Still moving about alertly with his gun, Barris ignored him as he sought to discover telltale traces. Arctor, watching, thought, maybe he will. They may have left some. And he thought, strange how paranoia can link up with reality now and then, briefly. Under very specialized conditions, such as today. Next thing, Barris will be reasoning that I lured everyone out of the house deliberately to permit secret intruders to accomplish their thing here. And later on he will discern why and who and everything else, and in fact maybe he already has. Had a while ago, in fact; long-enough ago to initiate sabotage and destruct actions on the cephscope, car, and God knows what else. Maybe when I turn on the garage light the house will burn down. But the main thing is, did the bugging crew arrive and get all the monitors in and finish up? He would not know until he talked to Hank and Hank gave him a proof-positive layout of the monitors and where their storage drums could be serviced. And whatever additional information the bugging crew's boss, plus other experts involved in this operation, wanted to dump on him. In their concerted play against Bob Arctor, the suspect.
"Look at this!" Barris said. He bent over an ashtray on the coffee table. "Come here!' he called sharply to both of them, and both men responded.
Reaching down, Arctor felt heat rising from the ashtray.
"A still-hot cigarette butt," Luckman said, marveling. "It sure is."
Jesus, Arctor thought. They did screw up. One of the crew smoked and then reflexively put the butt here. So they must just have gone. The ashtray, as always, overflowed; the crewman probably assumed no one would notice the addition, and in another few moments it would have cooled.
"Wait a second," Luckman said, examining the ashtray. He fished out, from among the tobacco butts, a roach. "This is what's hot, this roach. They lit a joint while they were here. But what did they do? What the hell did they do?" He scowled and peered about, angry and baffled. "Bob, fuck it -- Barris, was right. There was somebody here! This roach is still hot, and you can smell it if you hold it --" He held it under Arctor's nose. "Yeah, it's still burning a little down inside. Probably a seed. They didn't manicure it too good before they rolled it."
"That roach," Barris said, equally grim, "may not have been left here by accident. This evidence may not be a slip-up."
"What now?" Arctor said, wondering what kind of police bugging crew would have a member who smoked a joint in front of the others while on the job.
"Maybe they were here specifically to plant dope in this house," Barris said. "Setting us up, then phone in a tip later ... Maybe there's dope hidden like this in the phone, for example, and the wall outlets. We're going to have to go through the whole house and get it absolutely clean before they phone the tip in. And we've probably got only hours."
"You check the wall sockets," Luckman said. "I'll take the phone apart."
"Wait," Barris said, holding up his hand. "If they see us scrambling around just before the raid --"
"What raid?" Arctor said.
"If we're running frantically around flushing dope," Barris said, "then we can't allege, even though it's true, that we didn't know the dope was there. They'll catch us actually holding it. And maybe that, too, is part of their plan."
"Aw shit," Luckman said in disgust. He threw himself down on the couch. "Shit shit shit. We can't do anything. There's probably dope hidden in a thousand places we'll never find. We've had it." He glared up at Arctor in baffled fury. "We've had it!"
Arctor said to Barris, "What about your electronic cassette thing rigged to the front door?" He had forgotten about it. So had Barris, evidently. Luckman, too.
"Yes, this should be extremely informational at this point," Berris said. He knelt down by the couch, reached underneath, grunted, then hauled forth a small plastic cassette tape recorder. "This should tell us a great deal," he began, and then his face sank. "Well, it probably wouldn't ultimately have proven that important." He pulled out the power plug from the back and set the cassette down on the coffee table. "We know the main fact -- that they did enter during our absence. That was its main task."
"I'll bet I can guess," Arctor said.
Barris said, "The first thing they did when they entered was switch it to the off position. I left it set to on, but look now it's turned to off. So although I --"
"It didn't record?" Luckman said, disappointed.
"They made their move swiftly," Barris said. "Before so much as an inch of tape passed through the recording head. This, by the way, is a neat little job, a Sony. It has a separate head for playback, erase and record and the Dolby noise-reduction system. I got it cheap. At a swap meet. And it's never given me any trouble."
Arctor said, "Mandatory soul time."
"Absolutely," Barris agreed as he seated himself in a chair and leaned back, removing his shades. "At this point we have no other recourse in view of their evasive tactics. You know, Bob, there is one thing you could do, although it would take time."
"Sell the house and move out," Arctor said.
"But hell," Luckman protested. "This is our home."
"What are houses like this in this area worth now?" Barris asked, hands behind his head. "On the market? I wonder, too, what interest rates are up to. Maybe you could make a considerable profit, Bob. On the other hand, you might have to take a loss on a quick sale. But, Bob, my God, you're up against professionals."
"Do you know a good realtor?" Luckman asked both of them. Arctor said, "What reason should we give for selling? They always ask."
"Yeah, we can't tell the realtor the truth," Luckman agreed. "We could say ..." He pondered as he moodily drank his beer. "I can't think of a reason. Barris, what's a reason, a shuck we could give?"
Arctor said, "We'll just say flat-out there's narcotics planted all over the house and since we don't know where it is we decided to move out and let the new owner get busted instead of us."
"No," Barris disagreed, "I don't think we can afford to be up front like that. I'd suggest you say, Bob, you say that you got a job transfer."
"Where to?" Luckman said.
"Cleveland," Barris said.
"I think we should tell them the truth," Arctor said. "In fact, we could put an ad in the L.A. Times: 'Modern three-bedroom tract house with two bathrooms for easy and fast flushing, high-grade dope stashed throughout all rooms; dope included in sale price.'"
"But they'd be calling asking what kind of dope," Luckman said. "And we don't know; it could be anything."
"And how much there is," Barris murmured. "Prospective buyers might inquire about the quantity."
"Like," Luckman said, "it could be an ounce of roach weed, just shit like that, or it could be pounds of heroin."
"What I suggest," Barris said, "is that we phone county drug abuse and inform them of the situation and ask them to come in and remove the dope. Search the house, find it, dispose of it. Because, to be realistic, there really isn't time to sell the house. I researched the legal situation once for this type of bind, and most lawbooks agree --"
"You're crazy," Luckman said, staring at him as if he were one of Jerry's aphids. "Phone drug abuse? There'll be narks in here within less time than --"
"That's the best hope," Barris continued smoothly, "and we can all take lie-detector tests to prove we didn't know where it was or what it was or even put it there. It is there without our knowledge or permission. If you tell them that, Bob, they'll exonerate you." After a pause he admitted, "Eventually. When all the facts are known in open court.
"But on the other hand," Luckman said, "we've got our own stashes. We do know where they are and like that. Does this mean we've got to flush all our stashes? And suppose we miss some? Even one? Christ, this is awful!"
"There is no way out," Arctor said. "They appear to have us."
From one of the bedrooms Donna Hawthorne appeared, wearing a funny little knee-pants outfit, hair tumbled in disarray, her face puffy with sleep.
"I came on in," she said, "like the note said. And I sat around for a while and then crashed. The note didn't say when you'd be back. Why were you yelling? God, you're uptight. You woke me."
"You smoked a joint just now?" Arctor asked her. "Before you crashed?"
"Sure," she said. "Otherwise I can't ever sleep."
"It's Donna's roach," Luckman said. "Give it to her."
My God, Bob Arctor thought. I was into that trip as much as they were. We all got into it together that deep. He shook himself, shuddered, and blinked. Knowing what I know, I still stepped across into that freaked-out paranoid space with them, viewed it as they viewed it -- muddled, he thought. Murky again; the same murk that covers them covers me; the murk of this dreary dream world we float around in.
"You got us out of it," he said to Donna.
"Out of what?" Donna said, puzzled and sleepy.
Not what I am, he thought, or what I know was supposed to take place here today, but this chick -- she put my head back together, got all three of us out. A little black-haired chick wearing a funky outfit who I report on and am shucking and hopefully will be fucking ... another shuck-and-fuck reality world, he thought, with this foxy girl the center of it: a rational point that unwired us abruptly. Otherwise where would our heads finally have gone? We, all three of us, had gotten out of it entirely.
But not for the first time, he thought. Not even today.
"You shouldn't leave your place unlocked like that," Donna said. "You could get ripped off and it'd be your own fault. Even the giant capitalist insurance companies say that if you leave a door or window unlocked they won't pay. That's the main reason I came in when I saw the note. Somebody ought to be here if it's unlocked like that."
"How long have you been here?" Arctor asked her. Maybe she had aborted the bugging; maybe not. Probably not.
Donna consulted her twenty-dollar electric Timex wrist-watch, which he had given her. "About thirty-eight minutes. Hey." Her face brightened. "Bob, I got the wolf book with me -- you want to look at it now? It's got a lot of heavy shit in it, if you can dig it."
"Life," Barris said, as if to himself, "is only heavy and none else; there is only the one trip, all heavy. Heavy that leads to the grave. For everyone and everything."
"Did I hear you say you're going to sell your house?" Donna asked him. "Or was that -- you know, me dreaming? I couldn't tell; what I heard sounded spaced out and weird."
"We're all dreaming," Arctor said. If the last to know he's an addict is the addict, then maybe the last to know when a man means what he says is the man himself, he reflected. He wondered how much of the garbage that Donna had overheard he had seriously meant. He wondered how much of the insanity of the day -- his insanity -- had been real, or just induced as a contact lunacy, by the situation. Donna, always, was a pivot point of reality for him; for her this was the basic, natural question. He wished he could answer.