Лекция: Марк Леви 4 страница
Malparto nodded in agreement.
«Also,» Mr. Coates said, «your sister came after me.»
To Malparto this discouraging was. Not only had Gretchen meddled, but she had meddled wisely. Mr. Coates would have appeared eventually, but Gretchen had sawed the interval in half. He wondered what she got out of it.
«Didn't you know that?» Mr. Coates asked.
He decided to be honest. «No, I didn't. But it's of no consequence.» He rattled through the report. «Mr. Coates, I'd like you to tell me in your own words what you feel your problem is.»
Mr. Coates chewed his lip. «Director of T-M. It was offered to me this Monday.»
«You're currently operating an independent Research Agency?» Malparto consulted his notes. «When do you have to decide?»
«By the day after tomorrow.»
«Isn't it?» Mr. Coates said.
«That doesn't give you long. Do you feel you can decide?»
His patient hesitated.
«Are you worried that a juvenile might be hiding in my closet?» Malparto smiled reassuringly. «This is the only spot in our blessed civilization where juveniles are forbidden.»
«So I've heard.»
«A fluke of history. It seems that Major Streiter's wife had a predilection for psychoanalysts. A Fifth Avenue Jungian cured her partially-paralyzed right arm. You know her type.»
Mr. Coates nodded.
«So,» Malparto said, «when the Committee Government was set up and the land was nationalized, we were permitted to keep our deeds. We—that is, the Psych Front left over from the war. Streiter was a canny person. Unusual ability. He saw the necessity—»
Mr. Coates said: «Sunday night somebody pulled a switch in my head. So I japed the statue of Major Streiter. That's why I can't accept the T-M directorship.»
«Ah,» Malparto said, and his eyes fastened on the -gram [sic] with its irreducible core. He had a sensation of hanging head downward over an ocean; his lungs seemed filled with dancing foam. Carefully he removed his glasses and polished them with his handkerchief.
Beyond his office window lay the city, flat except for the Morec spire set dead-center. The city radiated in concentric
zones, careful lines and swirls that intersected in an orderly manner. Across the planet, Doctor Malparto thought. Like the hide of a vast mammal half-submerged in mud. Half-buried in the drying clay of a stern and puritanical morality.
«You were born here,» he said. In his hands was the information, the history of his patient; he leafed through the pages.
«We all were,» Mr. Coates said.
«You met your wife in the colonies. What were you doing on Bet-4?»
His patient said: «Supervising a packet. I was consultant to the old Wing-Miller Agency. I wanted a packet rooted in the experience of the agricultural colonists.»
«You liked it there?»
«In a way. It was like the frontier. I remember a whitewashed board farmhouse. That was her family's... her father's.» He was quiet a moment. «He and I used to argue. He edited a small-town newspaper. All night—arguing and drinking coffee.»
«Did—» Malparto consulted the dossier. «Did Janet participate?»
«Not much. She listened. I think she was afraid of her father. Maybe a little afraid of me.»
«You were twenty-five?»
«Yes,» Mr. Coates said. «Janet was twenty-two.»
Malparto, reading the information, said: «Your own father was dead. Your mother was alive, still, was she not?»
«She died in 2111,» Mr. Coates said. «Not much later.»
Malparto put on his video and audio tape transports. «May I keep a record of what we say?»
His patient pondered. «You might as well. You've got me anyhow.»
«In my power? Like a wizard? Hardly. I've got your problem; by telling me you've transferred it to me.»
Mr. Coates seemed to relax. «Thanks,» he said.
«Consciously,» Malparto said, «you don't know why you
japed the statue; the motive is buried down deep. In all probability the statue episode forms part of a larger event-stretching, perhaps, over years. We'll never be able to understand it alone; its meaning lies in the circumstances preceding it.»
His patient grimaced. «You're the wizard.»
«I wish you wouldn't think of me like that.» He was offended by what he identified as a lay stereotype; the man-in-the-street had come to regard the Resort analysts with a mixture of awe and dread, as if the Resort were a sort of temple and the analysts priests. As if there was some religious mumbo-jumbo involved; whereas, of course, it was all strictly scientific, in the best psychoanalytic tradition.
«Remember, Mr. Coates,» he said, «I can only help you if you wish to be helped.»
«How much is this going to cost?»
«An examination will be made of your income. You'll be charged according to your ability to pay.» It was characteristic of Morec training, this old Protestant frugality. Nothing must be wasted. A hard bargain must always be driven.
The Dutch Reformed Church, alive even in this troubled heretic... the power of that iron revolution that had crumbled the Age of Waste, put an end to «sin and corruption,» and with it, leisure and peace of mind—the ability simply to sit down and take things easy. How must it have been? he wondered. In the days when idleness was permitted. The golden age, in a sense: but a curious mixture, too, an odd fusion of the liberty of the Renaissance plus the strictures of the Reformation. Both had been there; the two elements struggling in each individual. And, at last, final victory for the Dutch hellfire-preachers.. .
Mr. Coates said: «Let's see some of those drugs you people use. And those light and high-frequency gadgetry.»
«In due time.»
«Good Lord, I have to tell Mrs. Frost by Saturday!»
Malparto said: «Let's be realistic. No fundamental change can be worked in forty-eight hours. We ran out of miracles several centuries ago. This will be a long, ardous [sic] process with many setbacks.»
Mr. Coates stirred fitfully.
«You tell me the japery is central,» Malparto said. «So let's start there. What were you doing just prior to your entrance into the Park?»
«I visited a couple of friends.»
Malparto caught something in his patient's voice, and he said: «Where? Here in Newer York?»
«Does anybody live there?» He was amazed.
«A few people. They don't live long.»
«Have you ever been there before?»
«Now and then. I get ideas for packets.»
«And before that. What were you doing?»
«I worked at the Agency most of the day. Then I got—bored.»
«You went from the Agency directly to Hokkaido?»
His patient started to nod. And then he stopped, and a dark, intricate expression crossed his face. «No. I walked around for awhile. I fogot [sic] about that. I remember visiting—» He paused for a long time. «A commissary. To get some 3.2 beer. But why would I want beer? I don't particularly like beer.»
«Did anything happen?»
Mr. Coates stared at him. «I can't remember.»
Malparto made a notation.
«I left the Agency. And then a haze closes over the whole d--n thing. At least half an hour is cut out.»
Rising to his feet Malparto pressed a key on his desk intercom. «Would you ask two therapists to step in here, please? And I'm not to be disturbed until further notice. Cancel my next appointment. When my sister comes in I'd
like to see her. Yes, let her by. Thanks.» He closed the key.
Mr. Coates, agitated, said: «What now?»
«Now you get your wish.» Unlocking the supply closet he began wheeling out equipment. «The drugs and gadgetry. So we can dig down and find out what happened between the time you left the Agency and the time you reached Hokkaido.»
the silence depressed him. He was alone in the Mogentlock Building, working in the center of a vast tomb. Outside, the sky was cloudy and overcast. At eight-thirty he gave up.
Eight-thirty. Not ten.
Closing his desk he left the Agency and went out onto the dark sidewalk. Nobody was in sight. The lanes were deserted; on Sunday evening there was no flood of commuters. He saw only the shapes of housing units, closed-up commissaries, the hostile sky.
His historical research had acquainted him with the vanished phenomenon of the neon sign. Now he would have wished for a few to break the monotony. The garish, blaring racket of commercials, ads, blinking signs—it had disappeared. Swept aside like a bundle of faded circus posters: to be pulped by history for the printing of textbooks.
Ahead, as he walked sightlessly along the lane, was a cluster of lights. The cluster drew him, and presently he found himself at an autofac receiving station.
The lights formed a hollow ring rising a few hundred feet.
Within the circle an autofac ship was lowering itself, a tubby cylinder pitted and corroded by its trip. There were no humans aboard, and there were none at its point of origin. Nor was the receiving equipment manual. When the robot controls had landed the ship, other self-regulating machines would unload it, check the shipment, cart the boxes into the commissary, and store them. Only with the clerk and the customer did the human element come into it.
At the moment a small band of sidewalk superintendents was gathered around the station, following operations. As usual, the bulk of watchers were teen-agers. Hands in their pockets, the boys gazed up raptly. Time passed and none of them stirred. None of them spoke. Nobody came and nobody went.
«Big,» one boy finally observed. He was tall, with dull red hair, pebbled skin. «The ship.»
«Yes,» Allen agreed, also looking up. «I wonder where it's from,» he said awkwardly. As far as he was concerned the industrial process was like the movement of planets: it functioned automatically and that was as it should be.
«It's from Bellatrix 7,» the boy stated, and two of his mute companions nodded. «Tungsten products. They been unloading light-globes all day. Bellatrix's only a slave system. None of them habitable.»
«Nuts to Bellatrix,» a companion spoke up.
Allen was puzzled. «Why?»
«Because you can't live there.»
«What do you care?»
The boys regarded him with contempt. «Because we're going,» one of them croaked finally.
Contempt turned to disgust; the group of boys edged away from him. «Out. Where it's open. Where something's going on.»
The red-headed boy told him: «On Sirius 9 they grow walnuts. Almost like here. You can't taste the difference. A
whole planet of walnut trees. And on Sirius 8 they grow oranges. Only, the oranges died.»
«Mealy bug blight,» a companion said gloomily. «Got all the oranges.»
The red-headed boy said: «I'm personally going to Orionus. There they breed a real pig you can't tell from the original. I defy you to tell the difference; I defy you.»
«But that's away from center,» Allen said. «Be realistic—it's taken your families decades to lease this close.»
"----," one of the boys said bitterly, and then they had melted away, leaving Allen to ponder an obvious fact.
Morec wasn't natural. As a way of life it had to be learned. That was the fact, and the unhappiness of the boys was there to remind him.
The commissary, to which the autofac receiving station belonged, was still open. He stepped through the entrance, reaching, as he did so, for his wallet.
«Sure,» the invisible clerk said, as the buy card was punched out. «But only the 3.2 stuff. You really want to drink that?» The window displaying the beer bottles glowed along the wall of items. It's made from hay."
Once, a thousand years ago, he had punched the slot for 3.2 beer and got a fifth of scotch. God knew where it came from. Perhaps it had survived the war, had been discovered by a robot storekeeper and automatically placed in the single official rack. It had never happened again, but he continued to punch the slot, hoping in a wan, childish way. Evidently it was one of the implausible foul-ups that occurred even in the perfect society.
«Refund,» he requested, setting the unopened bottle on the counter. «I've changed my mind.»
«I told you,» the clerk said, and restored Allen's buy card. Allen stood for a moment, empty-handed, his mind flat with futility. Then he walked outside again.
A moment later he was climbing the ramp to the tiny
roof-top field used by the Agency for rush flights. The sliver was parked there, locked up in its shed.
«And that's all?» Malparto asked. He clicked off the overhanging trellis of wires and lenses that had been focussed on his patient. «Nothing else happened between the time you left your office and the time you started for Hokkaido?»
«Nothing else.» Mr. Coates lay prone on the table, his arms at his sides. Above him the two technicians examined their meters.
«That was the incident you couldn't remember?»
«Yes, the boys at the autofac station.»
«You were despondent?»
«I was,» Mr. Coates agreed. His voice lacked emotion; under the blanket of drugs his personality had receded to diffusion.
«Because it was unfair.»
Malparto saw no point involved; the incident meant nothing to him. He had expected a sensational revelation of murder or copulation or excitement or all three together.
«Let's go on,» he said reluctantly. «The Hokkaido episode itself.» Then he lingered. «The incident with the boys. You genuinely feel it was crucial?»
«Yes,» Mr. Coates said.
Malparto shrugged, and signalled to his technicians to restart the trellis of paraphernalia.
Darkness lay all around. The sliver dropped toward the island below, guiding itself, speaking to itself mechanically. He rested his head against the seat and closed his eyes. The whoosh of descent lessened, and, on the signal board, a blue light blinked.
There was no field to locate; all Hokkaido was a field. He tripped the landing release, and the ship coasted of its own accord across the surface of ash. Eventually the pattern of
Sugermann's transmitter was intercepted and the ship changed its course. The pattern led it in and brought it down. With a faint bump and a few rattles the ship eased to a stop. Now the only sound was the hum of batteries recharging.
Allen opened the door and stepped haltingly out. The ash sank under his feet; it was like standing on mush. The ash was complicated, a mixture of organic and inorganic compounds. A fusion of people and their possessions into a common gray-black blur. During the postwar years the ash had made good mortar.
To his right was an insignificant glow. He walked toward it, and ultimately it became Tom Gates waving a flashlight.
«Morec to you,» Gates said. He was a bony, pop-eyed shrimp with uncombed hair and a nose bent like a macaw's.
«How're things?» Allen asked, as he plodded after the gaunt shape toward the neck of the underground shelter. Built during the war, the shelter was still intact. Gates and Sugermann had reinforced and improved it, Gates pounding nails and Sugermann overseeing.
«I was expecting Sugie. It's almost dawn on this side; he's been out all night buying supplies.» Gates giggled, a nervous high-pitched twitter. «Trading big. We got a good hand, these days. Plenty of stuff people want; don't kid yourself.»
The stairs brought them down to the shelter's main room. It was a litter of books, furniture, paintings, cans and boxes and jars of food, carpets and bric-a-brac and just plain junk. The phonograph was blaring a Chicago version of «I Can't Get Started.» Gates turned it down, grinning.
«Make yourself at home.» He tossed a box of crackers to Allen, and then a wedge of cheddar cheese. «Not hot—perfectly safe. Man, we've been digging, digging. Under all this ash, way down. Gates and Sugermann, archeologists for hire.»
Remnants of the old. Tons of usable, partly usable, and ruined debris, objects of priceless worth, trinkets, indis-
criminate trash. Allen seated himself on a carton of glassware. Vases and cups and tumblers and cut crystal.
«Pack rats,» he said, examining a chipped bowl designed by some long-dead craftsman of the twentieth century. On the bowl was a design: a faun and hunter. «Not bad.» «Sell it to you,» Gates offered. «Five bucks.» «Too much.»
«Three bucks, then. We've got to move this stuff. Fast turnover, assure profit.» Gates giggled happily. «What do you want? Bottle of Beringer's chablis? One thousand dollars. Copy of the Decameron? Two thousand dollars. Electric waffle iron?» He computed. «Depends on if you want the kind becomes a sandwich grill. That's more.»
«Nothing for me,» Allen murmured. Before him was a huge pile of moldering newspapers, magazines, books, tied with brown cord. Saturday Evening Post, the top one read. «Six years of the Post,» Gates said. «From 1947 to 1952. Lovely condition. Say, fifteen bills.» He pawed into an opened stack beside the Posts, ripping and shredding violently. «Here's a sweet item. Yale Review. One of those 'little' magazines. Got stuff on Truman Capote, James Jones.» His eyes sparkled slyly. «Plenty of sex.»
Allen examined a faded, water-logged book. It was cheaply bound, a bulging pulp with stained pages.
THE INDEFATIGABLE VIRGIN
Opening at random he came across an absorbing paragraph.
"... Her breasts were like two cones of white
marble bulging within the torn covering of her thin
silk dress. As he pulled her against him he could
feel the hot panting need of her wonderful body.
Her eyes were half-shut and she was moaning
faintly. 'Please,' she gasped, trying feebly to push
him away. Her dress slipped entirely aside, re-
vealing the pulsing fullness of her taut, firm
«Good grief,» Allen said.
«Fine book,» Gates remarked, squatting down beside him. «Lots more. Here.» He dug out another and pushed it at Allen. «Read.»
I, THE KILLER
The author's name was blurred by time and decay. Opening the tattered paper-covered book, Allen read:
"... Again I shot her in the groin. Guts and
blood spilled out, soaking through her torn skirt.
The floor under my shoes was slippery with her
gore. I accidently crushed one of her mangled
breasts under my heel, but what the hell, she was
Bending down, Allen pulled out a fat, mildewed, gray-bound book and opened it.
"... Stephen Dedalus watched through the
webbed window the lapidary's fingers prove a time-
dulled chain. Dust webbed the window and the
showtrays. Dust darkened the toiling fingers with
their vulture nails.. ."
«That's a hot one,» Gates said, peering over his shoulder. «Go on, look through it. At the end especially.» «Why is this here?» Allen asked.
Gates clapped his hands together and writhed. «Man, that's the one. That's the spiciest of them all. You know how much I get for a copy of that? Ten thousand dollars!» He tried to grab the book, but Allen hung onto it.
"... Dust slept on dull coils of bronze and silver,
lozenges of cinnabar, on rubies, leprous and wine-
dark stones.. ."
Allen put down the book. «That's not bad.» It gave him a queer feeling, and he reread the passage carefully.
There was a scraping at the stairs and Sugermann entered. «What's not bad?» He saw the book and nodded. «James
Joyce. Excellent writer. Ulysses brings us a good deal, these days. More than Joyce himself ever got.» He tossed down his armload. «Tom, there's a shipload up on the surface. Don't let me forget. We can get it down later.» He, a heavy-set, round-faced man, with a stubble of bluish beard, began peeling off his wool overcoat.
Examining the copy of Ulysses, Allen said: «Why is this book with the others? It's entirely different.»
«Has the same words,» Sugermann said. He lit a cigarette and stuck it in a carved, ornate ivory holder. «How are you these days, Mr. Purcell? How's the Agency?»
«Fine,» he said. The book bothered him. «But this—»
«This book is still pornography,» Sugermann said: «Joyce, Hemingway. Degenerate trash. The Major's first Book Committee listed Ulysses on the hex-sheet back in 1988. Here.» Laboriously, he scooped up a handful of books; first one and then another was tossed into Allen's lap. «A bunch more of them. Novels of the twentieth century. All gone, now. Banned. Burned. Destroyed.»
«But what was the purpose of these books? Why are they lumped with the junk? They weren't once, were they?»
Sugermann was amused, and Gates cackled and slapped his knee.
«What kind of Morec did they teach?» Allen demanded.
«They didn't,» Sugermann said. «These particular novels even taught unMorec.»
«You've read these?» Allen scanned the volume of Ulysses. His interest and bewilderment grew. «Why? What did you find?»
Sugermann considered. «These, as discriminated from the others, are real books.»
«What's that mean?»
«Hard to say. They're about something.» A smile spread across Sugermann's face. «I'm an egghead, Purcell. I'd tell you these books are literature. So better not ask me.»
«These guys,» Gates explained, breathing into Allen's face,
«wrote it all down, the way it was back in the Age of Waste.» He hammered a book with his fist. «This tells. Everything's here.»
«But these ought to be preserved,» Allen said. «They shouldn't be tossed in with the trash. We need them as historical records.»
«Certainly,» Sugermann said. «So we'll know what life was like, then.»
Angrily, Allen said: «They tell the truth!»
Sugermann bellowed with laughter. He got out a pocket handkerchief and wiped his eyes. «That's so, Purcell. They tell the truth, the one and only absolute truth.» Suddenly he stopped laughing. «Tom, give him the Joyce book. As a present from you and me.»
Gates was appalled. «But Ulysses is worth a hundred bills!»
«Give it to him.» Sugermann sank into a growling, acrid stupor. «He should have it.»
Allen said: «I can't take it; it's worth too much.» And, he realized, he couldn't pay for it. He didn't have ten thousand dollars. And, he also realized, he wanted the book.
Sugermann glared at him for a long, disconcerting time. «Morec,» he muttered at last. «No gift-giving. Okay, Allen. I'm sorry.» He roused himself and went into the next room. «How about a glass of sherry?»
«That's good stuff,» Gates said. «From Spain. The real thing.»
Re-emerging with the half-empty bottle, Sugermann found three glasses and filled them. «Drink up, Purcell. To Goodness, Truth, and—» He considered. «Morality.»
Malparto made a final note and then signalled his tech-
nicians. The office lights came on as the trellis was wheeled away.
On the table the patient blinked, stirred, moved feebly.
«And then you came back?» Malparto asked.
«Yes,» Mr. Coates said. «I drank three glasses of sherry and then I flew back to Newer York.»
«And nothing else happened?»
Mr. Coates, with an effort, sat up. «I came back, parked the sliver, got the tools and bucket of red paint, and japed the statue. I left the empty paint can on a bench and walked home.»
The first session was over and Malparto had learned absolutely nothing. Nothing had happened to his patient either before or at Hokkaido; he had met some boys, tried to buy a fifth of Scotch, had seen a book. That was all. It was senseless.
«Have you ever been Psi-tested?» Malparto asked.
«No.» His patient squinted with pain. «Those drugs of yours gave me a headache.»
«I have a few routine tests I'd like to give you. Perhaps next time; it's a trifle late, today.» He had decided to cease the recall-therapy. There was no value in bringing to the surface past incidents and forgotten experiences. From now on he would work with the mind of Mr. Coates, not with its contents.
«Learn anything?» Mr. Coates asked, rising stiffly to his feet.
«A few things. One question. I'm curious to know the effect of this japery. In your opinion—»
«It gets me into trouble.»
«I don't mean on you. I mean on the Morec Society.»
Mr. Coates considered. «None. Except that it gives the police something to do. And the newspapers have something to print.»
«How about the people who see the japed statue?»
«Nobody sees it; they've got it boarded up.» Mr. Coates
rubbed his jaw. «Your sister saw it. And some of the Cohorts saw it; they were rounded up to guard it.»
Malparto made a note af that.
«Gretchen said that some of the Cohorts laughed. It was japed in an odd way; I suppose you've heard.»
«I've heard,» Malparto said. Later, he could get the facts from his sister. «So they laughed. Interesting.»
«Well, the Cohorts are the storm-troopers of the Morec Society. They go out and do the dirty work. They're the teeth, the vigilantes. And they don't usually laugh.»
At the office door Mr. Coates had paused. «I don't see the point.»
Doctor Malparto was thinking: precognition. The ability to anticipate the future. «I'll see you Monday,» he said, getting out his appointment book. «At nine. Will that be satisfactory?»
Mr. Coates said that it was satisfactory, and then he set off glumly for work.
as he entered his office at the Agency, Doris appeared and said: «Mr. Purcell, something has happened. Harry Priar wants to tell you.» Priar, who headed the Agency's art department, was his pro-tem assistant, taking Fred Luddy's place.
Priar materialized, looking somber. «It's about Luddy.»
«Isn't he gone?» Allen said, removing his coat. Malparto's drugs still affected him; his head ached and he felt dulled.
«He's gone,» Priar said. «Gone to Blake-Moffet. We got a tip from T-M this morning, before you showed up.» Allen groaned.
«He knows everything we've got on tap,» Priar continued. «All the new packets, all the current ideas. That means Blake-Moffet has them.»
«Make an inventory,» Allen said. «See what he took.» He settled drearily down at his desk. «Let me know as soon as you're finished.»
A whole day was consumed by inventory-taking. At five the information was in and on his desk.
«Picked us clean,» Priar said. He admiringly shook his head. «Must have spent hours. Of course we can attach the material, try to get it back through the claims court.»
«Blake-Moffet will fight for years,» Allen said, fooling with the long yellow pad. «By the time we get the packets back they'll be obsolete. We'll have to dream up new ones. Better ones.»