Лекция: Марк Леви 9 страница

«What was it like in there?» Mr. Wales asked. «Somebody told me you were up again.»

«I was,» Allen admitted.

«Serious?» Mr. Wales was concerned.

«Not too serious.» Allen patted the little fellow on the arm. «It's all over now.»

«I hope because I wasn't—»

«Made no difference at all. But thanks anyhow.»

They shook hands. «Drop by and see us,» Mr. Wales said. «My wife and I. We'd be glad to have you.»

«Okay,» Allen said, «we'll do that. When we're in the neighborhood.»


After returning Janet to the apartment, Allen walked the long way to Telemedia and his new office. His staff was subdued; they greeted him and swiftly returned to their work. His two-hour absence testified to a block meeting; they all knew where he had been.

In his office he examined a summary of the day's schedule. The tree packet was in process, and for that he was glad. He called a few T-M officials in, discussed technical problems, then sat alone for awhile, smoking and meditating.

At eleven-thirty Mrs. Sue Frost, in a long coat, looking handsome and efficient, bustled cheerfully in to pay a visit.

«I won't take up much of your time,» she announced. «I realize how busy you are.»

«Just sitting here,» he murmured. But she went on:

«We were wondering if you and your wife are free, tonight. I'm having a little Juggle get-together at my place, just a few people; we'd particularly like you two to be there. Mavis will be there, so will Mrs. Hoyt and perhaps—»

He interrupted: «You want my resignation? Is that it?»

Flushing, she said: «As long as we're going to be getting together I thought it might be a good opportunity to discuss further some of the—»

«Let's have a direct answer,» he said.

«All right,» she said. In a tight, controlled voice she said, «We'd like your written resignation.»


«As soon as possible.»

He said, «You mean now?»

With almost perfect composure Sue Frost said, «Yes. If it's convenient.»

«What if it isn't?»

For a moment she did not seem to understand.

«I mean,» he said, «what if I refuse to resign?»

«Then,» she said, facing him calmly, «you'll be discharged.»

«As of when?»

Now, for the first time, she floundered. «Mrs. Hoyt will have to approve. As a matter of fact—»

«As a matter of fact,» he said, «it takes full Committee action. My lease is good until the sixth and it'll be at least that long before you can legally get me out of T-M. Meanwhile I'm still Director. If you want me you can call me here at my office.»

«You're serious?» she said, in a strained voice.

«I am,» Allen said. «Has this ever happened before?»


«I didn't think so.» He picked up some papers from his desk and began to study them; in the time he had left there was a great deal of work to be done.



all alone, Mr. Wales surveyed his new apartment in unit R6 of leasing zone 28. A life-long dream was fulfilled. He had advanced not one but two zones toward omphalos. The Housing Authority had investigated his petition, seen the utter virtue of his life, his devotion to public good.

Moving about the room, Mr. Wales touched walls, the floor, gazed out the window, inspected the closet. He ran

his hands over the stove, marvelling at his gain. The former tenants had even left their Edufactured objects: clock, shaving wand, small appliances.

To Mr. Wales it seemed unbelievable that his trivial person had been recognized. Petitions lay in ten-foot heaps on the desks at the Housing Authority. Surely there was a God. Surely this proved that the gentle and the meek, the unassuming won out in the end.

Seating himself, Mr. Wales opened a package and brought forth a vase. He had acquired it as a gift for his wife, a celebration present. The vase was green and blue and speckled with light. Mr. Wales turned it around, blew on the smooth glazed surface, held it tightly in his hands.

Then he thought about Mr. Purcell. He remembered all the times Mr. Purcell had stuck up for victims in the weekly block meetings. All the kind words he had put in. The encouragement he had given the tormented in their trial.

Mr. Wales thought how Allen Purcell must have looked coming up before the last block meeting. The dogs tearing at him. The female bitches guzzling at his throat.

Suddenly Mr. Wales shouted: «I betrayed him! I let them crucify him!»

Anguished, he rocked back and forth. Then he sprang to his feet and hurled the vase against the wall. The vase burst, and bits of green and blue and speckled light danced around him.

«I'm a Judas,» Mr. Wales said to himself. He covered his eyes with his fingers so he would not have to look at the apartment. He hated the apartment. Now he had what he had always wanted, and he didn't want it.

«I've changed my mind!» he shouted. But nobody heard him. «You can have it back!»

The room was silent.

«Go away!» Mr. Wales cried.

He opened his eyes. The room was still there. It did not respond; it did not leave.

Mr. Wales began gathering up the fragments of vase. The bits of glass cut his fingers. He was glad.



the next morning Allen arrived promptly at eight o'clock at his office in the Telemedia building. As the staff appeared for work, he called them into his office until all thirty-three of them were present. The hundreds of assignment workers continued at their desks throughout the building as Allen addressed their executive department heads.

«Yesterday my resignation was requested. It's involved with the fracas that took place here Monday afternoon. I refused to resign, so I'm still Director, at least until the Committee can assemble and fire me.»

The staff took the news with aplomb. One member, head of the layout department, asked: «How long will you remain in your estimation?»

«A week or so,» Allen answered. «Maybe a little longer.»

«And you intend to continue work during that time?»

«I'll work to the best of my ability,» Allen said. «There's plenty to do and I want to get into it. But you're entitled to know the situation.»

Another member of the staff, a trim woman with glasses, asked: «You're the legal Director, is that correct? Until they fire you—»

«Until dismissal papers are served, I'm the sole legal Director of this Trust; I'm your boss, with the powers im-

plicit and explicit in that capacity. Naturally my policies here will be highly suspect. Probably the next Director will cancel them all, straight across the board.»

The staff murmured among themselves.

«You should meditate over that,» Allen said, «as I give you your assignments. How much trouble you'll get into for obeying and working with me I can't say. Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe the next Director will fire the lot of you. Probably not.»

«It's unlikely,» a staff member said.

«I'm going to give you a few hours to talk it over among yourselves. Let's say until noon. Those of you who would prefer not to take the risk can go home and wait out the period of my directorship. I'm positive that won't get you into trouble with the Committee; they may even suggest it.»

One staff member asked: «What are your policies going to be? Maybe we should hear them before we decide.»

«I don't think you should,» Allen said. «You should make your decision on other grounds. If you stay, you'll have to follow my orders no matter what they are. This is the important thing for you to decide: do you care to work for a man who's out of favor?»

The staff left his office, and he was alone. Outside in the corridor their mumbles reached him dully through the closed door.

By noon virtually all the department heads had discreetly gone home. He was without an executive staff. The various operations went on, but the ranks were thinning. An unearthly loneliness hung around the building. The din of machines echoed in the empty offices and halls, and nobody seemed to feel like talking.

To the intercom he said: «Vivian, come in here a moment.»

A rather drab young woman entered with pencil and pad. «Yes, Mr. Purcell. My name is Nan, Mr. Purcell. Vivian left.»

«You're staying?» he asked.

«Yes sir.» She put on her thick glasses and made ready to take dictation.

«I want you to canvass the departments. It's noon, so presumably those remaining will be with us during the next week. Find out where the depletions are.»

«Yes sir.» She scribbled notes.

«Specifically I'll need to know which departments can function and which can't. Then send me the highest ranking staff member left. If no staff members are left, send in whoever you think is most familiar with general operations.»

«Yes sir.» She departed. An hour later a tall, gangling middle-aged party entered shyly.

«Mr. Purcell,» he said. «I'm Gleeby. They said you wanted me. I'm head of music.» He tilted his right ear with his thumb, conveying the interesting bit of news that he was deaf.

«Sit down,» Allen said, pleased by the man, and pleased, also, that one of the staff remained. «You were in here at eight? You heard my speech?»

«Yes. I heard.» Evidently the man lip-read.

«Well? Can we function?»

Gleeby pondered and lit his pipe. «Well, that's hard to say. Some departments are virtually closed down. We can redistribute personnel. Try to even up the losses. Fill in some of the widest gaps.»

Allen asked: «Are you really prepared to carry out my orders?»

«Yes. I am.» Gleeby sucked on his pipe.

«You may be held Morecly responsible.»

«I'd become psychotic loafing around my apartment a week. You don't know my wife.»

«Who here does the research?»

Gleeby was puzzled. «The Agencies handle that.»

«I mean real research. Checking for historical accuracy. Isn't machinery set up to go over projections point by point?»

«A gal named Phyllis Frame does that. She's been around here thirty years. Has a big desk down in the basement, millions of files and records.»

«Did she leave? If not, send her up.»

Miss Frame hadn't left, and presently she appeared. She was a heavy, sturdy-looking, iron-haired lady, formidable and taciturn. «You wanted me, Director?»

«Be seated.» He offered her his cigarette case, which she declined. «You understand the situation?»

«What situation?»

He explained. «So bear that in mind.»

«I'll bear it in mind. What is it you want? I'm in a hurry to get back to my work.»

«I want,» Allen said, «a complete profile of Major Streiter. Not derived from packets or projections, but the actual facts as are known about his life, habits, character, and so forth. I want unbiased material. No opinions. Material that is totally authentic.»

«Yes, Director.»

«How soon can you have the profile?»

«By six.» She was starting from the office. «Should this project include material on the Major's immediate family?»

Allen was impressed. «Yes. Very good.»

«Thank you, Director.» The door closed and she was gone.

At two o'clock Gleeby re-appeared with the final list of workers remaining. «We could be worse off. But there's almost nobody capable of making decisions.» He rattled the list. «Give these people something to do and they'll go into action. But what'll we give them?»

«I have some ideas,» Allen said.

After Gleeby had left the office, Allen phoned his old Agency.

«I have vacancies here,» he said, «that need to be filled. I think I'll draw from the Agency. I'll put our people on the T-M payroll and try to get funds from the paymaster. If

not, then I'll cover with Agency funds. Anyhow, I want people over here, and I'm sending my want-list to you.»

«That'll deplete us,» Harry Friar pointed out.

«Sure. But it's only for a week or so. Give our people the situation about me, see who's willing to come. Then fill as best you can. A dozen should do. What about you personally?»

«I'll work for you,» Priar said.

«I'm in big disfavor.»

Priar said: «When they ask, I'll say you brainwashed me.»

Toward four in the afternoon the first trickle of Agency personnel began to show up. Gleeby interviewed each person and assigned him to a department. By the end of the day a make-shift working staff had been built up. Gleeby was optimistic.

«These are policy-making people,» he said to Allen. «And they're used to working with you. We can trust them, too. Which good is. I suppose the Committee has a few of its creatures lurking around. Want us to set up some sort of loyalty review board?»

«Not important,» Allen said. «As long as we see the finished products.» He had studied the statement of projections in process; some were now scratched off, some had been put ahead, and most had been rerouted into dead-ends. The assembly lines were open and functioning, ready to undertake fresh material.

«What's that?» Gleeby asked, as Allen brought out sheets of lined paper.

«My preliminary sketches. What's the normal span required from first stage to last?»

«Well,» Gleeby said, «say a packet is approved on Monday. Usually we take anywhere from a month to five months, depending on the medium it's to be projected over.»

«Jesus,» Allen said.

«It can be cut. For topical stuff we prune down to—» He computed. «Say, two weeks.»

Allen turned to Harry Priar, who stood listening. «How's that strike you?»

«By the time you're out of here,» Priar said, «you won't have one item done.»

«I agree,» Allen said. «Gleeby, to be on the safe side we'll have to prune to four days.»

«That only happened once,» Gleeby said, tugging at the lobe of his ear. «The day William Pease, Ida Pease Hoyt's father, died. We had a huge projection, on all media, within twenty-four hours.»

«Even woven baskets?»

«Baskets, handbills, stenciled signs. The works.»

Priar asked: «Anybody else going to be with us? Or is this the total crew?»

«I have a couple more people,» Allen said. «I won't be sure until tomorrow.» He looked at his watch. «They'd be at the top, as original idea men.»

«Who are they?» Gleeby asked. «Anybody we know?»

«One of them is named Gates,» he said. «The other is a man named Sugermann.»

«Suppose I asked you what you're going to do?»

Allen said: «I'd tell you. We're going to do a jape on Major Streiter.»


He was with his wife when the first plug was aired. At his direction a portable TV receiver was set up in their one-room apartment. The time was twelve-thirty at night; most of Newer York was asleep.

«The transmitting antenna,» he told Janet, «is at the T-M building.» Gleeby had collected enough video technicians to put the transmitter—normally closed down at that hour—back on the air.

«You're so excited,» Janet said. «I'm glad you're doing this; it means so much to you.»

«I only hope we can pull it off,» he said, thinking about it.

«And afterward?» she said. «What happens then?»

«We'll see,» he said. The plug was unfolding.

A background showed the ruins of the war, the aftermath of battle. The tattered rags of a settlement appeared; slow, halting motion of survivors creeping half-starved, half-baked through the rubble.

A voice said: «In the public interest a Telemedia discussion program will shortly deal with a problem of growing importance for our times. Participants will analyze the question: Should Major Streiter's postwar policy of active assimilation be revived to meet the current threat? Consult your area log for time and date.»

The plug dissolved, carrying the ruins and desolation with it. Allen snapped off the TV set, and felt tremendous pride.

«What'd you think of it?» he asked Janet.

«Was that it?» She seemed disappointed. «There wasn't much.»

«With variations, that plug will be repeated every half hour on all channels. Mavis' hit 'em, hit 'em. Plus plants in the newspapers, mentions on all the news programs, and minor hints scattered over the other media.»

«I don't remember, what 'active assimilation' was. And what's this 'current threat'?»

«By Monday you'll have the whole story,» Allen said. «The slam will come on 'Pageant of Time.' I don't want to spoil it for you.»

Downstairs on the public rack, he bought a copy of tomorrow's newspaper, already distributed. There, on page one, in the left-hand column, was the plant developed by Sugermann and Priar.




Newer York Oct 29 (T-M),: It is reliably reported

that a number of persons high in Committee circles

who prefer to remain anonymous at this time, favor

a revival of the postwar policy of active assimilation

developed by Major Streiter to cope with the then-

extensive threats to Moral Reclamation. Growing

out of the current menace this revived interest

in assimilation expresses the continued uneasiness of

violence and lawlessness, as demonstrated by the

savage assault on the Park of the Spire momument [sic]

to Major Streiter. It is felt that the therapeutic

method of Mental Health, and the efforts of the

Mental Health Resort to cope with current insta-

bility and unrest, have failed to


Allen folded up the newspaper and went back upstairs to the apartment. Within a day or so the domino elements of the Morec society would be tipped. «Active assimilation» as a solution to the «curent [sic] threat» would be the topic of discussion for everybody.

«Active assimilation» was his brain child. He had made it up. Sugermann had added the idea of the «current threat.» Between them they had created the topic out of whole cloth.

He felt well-pleased. Progress was being made.



by monday mornnig [sic] the projection was complete. T-M workers, armed, carried it upstairs to the transmitter and stood guard over it. The Telemedia building was sealed off; nobody came and nobody went. During the day the hints, spots, mentions on various media dinned like pond frogs. Tension began to build, a sense of expectancy. The public

was alive to the topic of «active assimilation,» although nobody knew what it meant.

«Opinion» Sugermann said, «runs about two to one in favor of restoring a cautious policy of active assimilation.» A poll had been taken, and the results were arriving.

«Active assimilation's too good for those rascals,» Gates announced. «Let's have no coddling of traitors.»

At a quarter of eight that evening, Allen assembled his staff in his office. The mood was one of optimism.

«Well,» Allen said, «it won't be long. Another fifteen minutes and we're on the air. Anybody feel like backing out?»

Everybody grinned inanely.

«Got your dismissal notice yet?» Gates asked him.

The notice, from the Committee, had arrived registered mail. Now Allen opened the envelope and read the brief, formal statement. He had until noon Thursday. Then he was no longer Director of Telemedia.

«Give me the story on the follow-ups,» he said to Gleeby.

«Pardon? Yes, um.» From a prepared list Gleeby read him the total projected coverage. «Up to now it's been ground breakers. Tonight at eight comes the actual discussion. Tomorrow night a repeat of the discussion program will be aired, by 'public demand.' „

“Better move that up,» Allen said. «Allows too much time for them to act.»

«Make it later tonight,» Sugermann suggested. «About ten, as they're all popping into bed.»

Gleeby scribbled a few words. «We've already mailed out duplicate films to the colonies. The discussion has been written up and will be printed in full in Tuesday morning's newspapers, plus comments pro and con. Late news programs tonight will give resumes. We've had the presses run off paper-bound copies to be sold in commissaries at magazine slots. Youth editions for school use have been prepared, but frankly, I don't imagine we can distribute them in time. It'll take another four days.»

«And the poll,» Sugermann added.

«Fine,» Allen said. «For less than a week that's not bad.»

A T-M employee entered. «Mr. Purcell, something's come up. Secretary Frost and Mrs. Hoyt are outside in a Committee Getabout. They want to be admitted.»

«Peace party,» Priar said.

«I'll talk to them outside,» Allen said. «Show me where they are.»

The employee led him to the ground floor and outside through the barricade erected before the entrance. In the back seat of a small blue Getabout sat the two women, bolt-upright, their faces pinched. Ralf Hadler was behind the tiller. He pretended not to notice or in any way conceive of Allen. They were not in the same world.

«Hi,» Allen said.

Mrs. Hoyt said: «This unworthy is. I'm ashamed of you, Mr. Purcell. I really am.»

«I'll make a note of that,» Allen said. «What else?»

«Would you have the decency to tell us what you're doing?» Sue Frost demanded in a low, choked voice. She held up a newspaper. " 'Active assimilation.' What in the name of heaven is this? Have you all completely lost your minds?"

«We have,» Allen admitted. «But I don't see that it matters.»

«It's a fabrication, isn't it?» Sue Frost accused. «You're inventing it all. This is some sort of horrible prank. If I didn't know better I'd say you had a hand in the japery of Major Streiter's statue; I'd say you're involved in this whole outbreak of anarchistic and savage lawlessness.»

Her choice of words showed the potency of the campaign. It made him feel odd to hear her speaking right out of the plug.

«Now look,» Mrs. Hoyt said presently, in a tone of forced amiability. «If you'll resign we'll see that you regain your lease. You'll be able to continue your Agency; you'll be exactly where you were. We'll prepare a guarantee,

written, that Telemedia will buy from you.» She hesitated. «And we'll undertake to expose Blake-Moffet for their part in the frame-up.»

Allen said: «Now I know I'm on the right track. And try to watch TV tonight; you'll get the full story on 'active assimilation.' „

Re-entering the building he halted to watch the blue Getabout steam away. Their offer had genuinely surprised him. It was amazing how much moral righteousness the breath of scandal could blow down. He ascended by the elevator and joined the group waiting in his office.

“Almost time,» Sugermann said, consulting his watch. «Five more minutes.»

«At a rough guess,» Gleeby said, «dominos representing seventy percent of the population will be watching. We should achieve an almost perfect saturation on this single airing.»

From a suitcase Gates produced two fifths of Scotch whiskey. «To celebrate,» he said, opening both. «Somebody get glasses. Or we can pass them around.»

The phone rang, and Allen answered it.

«Hello, Allen,» Myron Mavis' creaky voice came. «How're things going?»

«Absolutely perfect,» Allen answered. «Want to stop by and join us?»

«Sorry. Can't. I'm bogged down in leaving. All my stuff to get packed for the trip to Sirius.»

«Try to catch the projection tonight,» Allen said. «It starts in a couple of minutes.»

«How's Janet?»

«Seems to be feeling pretty fair. She's glad it's out in the open.» He added,"[sic] She's watching at the apartment."

«Say hello to her,» Mavis said. «And good luck on your lunacy.»

«Thanks,» Allen said. He said goodbye and hung up.

«Time,» Sugermann said. Gates turned on the big TV receiver and they gathered around it. «Here we go.»

«Here we go,» Allen agreed.


Mrs. Georgina Birmingham placed her favorite chair before her television set and anticipated her favorite program, «The Pageant of Time.» She was tired from the hectic activities of the day, but a deep spiritual residuum reminded her that work and sacrifice were their own reward.

On the screen was an inter-program announcement. A large decayed tooth was shown, grimacing with pain. Next to it a sparkling healthy tooth jeered sanctimoniously. The two teeth engaged in Socratic dialogue, the upshot of which was the rout and defeat of the bad tooth.

Mrs. Birmingham gladly endured the inter-program announcements because they were in a good cause. And the program, «Pageant of Time,» was well worth any reasonable effort. She always hurried home early on Monday evening; in ten years she hadn't missed an edition.

A shower of brightly-colored fireworks burst across the screen, and from the speaker issued the rumble of guns. A jagged, slashing line of words cut through the blur of war:


Her program had begun. Folding her arms, leaning her head back, Mrs. Birmingham now found herself viewing a table at which sat four dignified gentlemen. A discussion was in progress, and dim words were audible. Over them was superimposed the announcer's voice.

«Pageant of Time. Ladies and gentlemen, at this table sit four men, each a distinguished authority in his field. They had come together to discuss an issue vital to every citizen of the Morec society. In view of the unusual importance of this program there will be no interruptions, and the discussion, which is already in progress, will proceed without pause until the end of the hour. Our topic for tonight.. .» Visible words grew on the screen.


Mrs. Birmingham was delighted. She had been hearing about active assimilation for some time, and this was her opportunity to learn once and for all what it was. Her lack of information had made her feel out of touch.

«Seated at my right is Doctor Joseph Gleeby, the noted educator, lecturer, writer of numerous books on problems of social values.» A lean middle-aged man, smoking a pipe and rubbing his ear, was shown. «To Doctor Gleeby's right is Mr. Harold Priar, art critic, architect, frequent contributor to the Encyclopedia Britannica.» A smaller individual was shown, with an intense, serious face. «Seated next to Mr. Priar is Professor Sugermann, whose historical studies rank with those of Gibbon, Schiller, Toynbee. We are very fortunate to have Professor Sugermann with us.» The camera moved forth to show Professor Sugermann's heavy, solemn features. «And next to Professor Suggermann sits Mr. Thomas L. Gates, lawyer, civic leader, consultant to the Committee for a number of years.»

Now the moderator appeared, and Mrs. Birmingham found herself facing Allen Purcell.

«And I,» Mr., Purcell said, «am Allen Purcell, Director of Telemedia.» He seated himself at the end of the table, by the water pitcher. «Shall we begin, gentlemen, with a few words about the etymology of active assimilation? Just how did Major Streiter develop the policy that was to prove so effective in his dealings with opposition groups?»

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