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Книга Dhalgren. Содержание - 2

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From the speakers beneath the table, Denny's chair leg squeaked.

Kid put his own phones down softly and listened (thinking: Temporal diffraction? Two hours? It had seemed perhaps twenty minutes!):

The long note bent.

Somehow, lost in a machine, I have been able to grasp and strip from the body of experience three layers of living theme: she inscribed them with her music, laid them over one another so that, thinned by tape and transistors, their transparent silences and aural aggregates, as she, the inventor, conceived them, clear for me, the invented one, at last. (On the tape Lanya whistled and played with her own whistling, the harmonica cradling its brittle, upper notes with low, breathy ones.) Is that where it goes (thinking:) when it goes? This is melody and there-the shrill whistle which Kid realized now was the real, musical signal for the clapping to begin-which began! He listened to a room full of people clap in time. One of the tracks was heavily echoed and made the clapping seem to come from dozens. The claps mounted; a final clap, and the dozens shouted — among them he recognized his own voice, and Denny's, and Lanya's; but there were many others. Their shouts died over a discord no single harmonica could make.

But probably any three could.

The finale cleared in its higher, supporting key; trills of notes fell into, and trills of notes rose out of, the moaning chord. The sound clutched at him, tightened his stomach.

Lanya listened, arms at her sides, head down, frowning with concentration. The white pips of her upper teeth dented one side of her lip.

The piece ended.

She still listened.

Then Denny applauded and laughed. Another Denny, on top of him, shouted, "Whoop-eee!" And Denny across the room, encased in light, said: "Hey, you know we got company in here? Look back there…"

Lanya's head came up suddenly. She turned off the tape.

Denny's light was over near the darkened corner. "Back behind the blackboard there."

"Huh?" Kid stepped forward.

"There's a big old nigger bitch in here, and, man, she's about to shit!"

"Denny!" Lanya exclaimed, and ran through the edge of his light, which turned, laughing, after her.

Kid pushed away the blackboard, looked down.

The board-stand's wheels stopped creaking.

The woman wore a black hat and a black coat, the hem rumpled on the floor around her. She blinked up at them, feeling for the string handles of the shopping bag beside her. Catching the bag up, she breathed a word all wind.

"What do you want?" Lanya asked. "Are you… all right?"

The woman's eyes narrowed at the light that was Denny, came to Kid's and widened. She blinked again. "You got juice and cookies…"

"What?"

"This is the school?" Her voice was still breathy. "You got the juice and the cookies for the children? Oh, I'm sorry!" Her knuckle rose to dent her double chin, a gesture recalling June. "I thought I could get some from here, you know? I live in Cumberland Park? And the store where I go all the time ain't got none no more. I go in there every day and I get some every day, but I go in there yesterday and there just ain't nothing. Nothing at all. Oh, God… from the children! I'm so sorry!"

"Then," Lanya said, "why don't you go to another store?"

"Oh, I'm sorry! I really am…"

"You got juice and cookies?" Denny asked. "Whyn't you give her some?"

"Because this is…" Lanya's lips worried the teeth behind them. "You wait here." She walked from the circle of Denny's illumination; Kid heard a door.

The woman transferred her bag to the other hand. "Taking from the children. That's just so awful!" Her voice was weak and low as some man's.

Lanya stepped back into the light. In one arm were two number ten cans of grapefruit juice. In the other were two boxes of Tollhouse cookies, glistening in cellophane. "You take these. But don't come back here. Don't break in here and try and take stuff out. Find another store. There's one four blocks up from here that still has things in it. And there's another one a block and a half down, right by the burned-out dry cleaners."

The woman, her tongue tip pink between her lips, blinking, opened her bag.

The can and the boxes went chattering in.

Lanya walked to the front door and held it open.

The woman glanced at Kid, at Denny's light, quite distressed, and stepped unsteadily forward. At the door she hesitated, suddenly turned to Lanya: "You teach little children dressed like that, half naked with your breasts all hanging out like that? Why, that's terrible! It's a disgrace to God!" Then she fled, coat hem swinging above her splayed heels.

"Get that!" Denny (lights doused) ran forward. "You want us to take back our God-damn juice and—!"

"Denny!" Lanya blocked him at the door,

"I mean will you get that shit!" He turned in her restraining arms, shaking his head. "Why'd you give her the damn stuff?"

"Oh, come on. Let's go!"

"I mean, God damn, she didn't even say whether or not she liked your music!"

Lanya held on to Denny's shoulder. "Well, maybe if she was hungry she didn't really care about the music. Hiding back there for a couple of hours—"

"Then what's she care that much about your tits for?" Denny shrugged her hand away. "She could've come out. We wouldn't've done nothing. Shit!"

"Well, I'm not going to let it bother me," she said. "So don't let it bother you."

Kid thought: How did she get in here in the first place? Then thought: What was I just thinking… it was something I wanted to ask. "Yeah, let's go, huh?" He laughed, and thought: What was the thought that just slid off the tables of my mind?

Kid followed them outside. And thought: She is bothered.

"Close the door, will you?" Lanya said.

"By the way," Kid began, "how did she…?"

Denny glanced back at him.

Lanya didn't.

"You know?" Kid caught up to her. "I wonder if there're really any children ever in there? I mean I'm having a harder and harder time believing in anything I don't—"

"Huh?" Lanya looked up.

Deep in thought, she hadn't heard.

He grinned at her and rubbed the back of her neck. "Diffraction," he said. "I like it."

"Mmmm." She leaned her head back and shook it. Hair brushed his hand and wrist.

"What are you going to do with it?" he asked.

She shrugged: "I don't know. What are you going to do with your poems?"

He shrugged. "Maybe write… some more."

She slipped her shoulder under his arm. "Maybe I'll compose some more… maybe." Suddenly she said: "A disgrace to God? — really!"

Denny, who walked along the curb, picking at his chest, glanced back. And grinned.

What she's thinking, Kid thought, is seldom what it looks like she's thinking. Sometimes (as he walked, he catalogued incidents) he'd found her thoughts far simpler than her complicated expression of them. Other times (this catalogue was longer) more complex.

Denny, holding his chains with both hands and walking with his head down, to examine what was beside his feet, was easier, nastier, duller and (the attraction beyond the body) predictable.

Lanya lifted her harmonica (when, Kid tried to remember, had she snatched it up from the table inside? But that was lost too, with the others) toward her mouth. Her hair pulled from his forearm as she stepped ahead of him; his arm slid down the vest, fell.

She bent over the silver organ. Then she lowered it. Then turned it in her hands. Then she raised it. Then she lowered it again.

2

At the head of the stairs, Kid bent to scratch Muriel, who licked furiously at the ham of his thumb.

Madame Brown came into the hall and said, "Now I didn't even know you'd gone outside! I could have sworn I'd heard you back in Lanya's room just now. Would you like wine, or coffee?"

"Could I have both?" Denny asked.

"Certainly."

"Just wine for me," Lanya said. "That's probably what you want, too, right?"

"Yeah," Kid said. "Thanks."

They followed Madame Brown into the kitchen.

"You want to come to my party?" Kid asked. "Up at Mr Calkins'."

"The one he's giving for your book, that everybody's been talking about?" Madame Brown smiled. Her necklace glittered.

"Huh? Yeah. I guess that's it."

"I'd be delighted."

Lanya, legs crossed, raised the front feet of her chair. "He hasn't invited me, yet." Above her, in the grey window, an asparagus fern turned on a string.

"Oh, you know you two are invited." Kid sat on the kitchen stool.

"You got a party? Up at Calkins'?" Denny, hands in his pockets, leaned on the stove. He moved to let Madame Brown get the enameled coffee pot.

She said: "That should be quite something."

"He said bring about twenty or thirty friends. I'm going to bring the whole nest up."

"Marvelous!" Lanya clapped her hands. "I'm sure that's what he wants."

"Yeah? You think so?"

Madame Brown, dubious, set out glasses and picked the gallon jug up from the floor. "Well, it will be interesting." She twisted at the cap, her face lining with effort. "It's in three Sundays, isn't it?" The cap seemed stuck. "Mary will never forgive me if I go. She's invited me for dinner. But I wouldn't miss it for the world."

"Here. I'll do it." Kid opened the bottle and poured out yellow wine. "You got lots of patients here?"

Madame Brown, seated in what looked like a lawn chair, observed her glass. "A few. Would you like to come and have a session with me some afternoon?"

Kid looked up. And thought: I'm embarrassed. Why?

"Lanya's told me about some of the things you were feeling, and how upset you'd been. And about your memory problems. If you'd like to talk about them with someone, I'd be very happy to."

"Now?"

Lanya rocked in her chair.

Denny, sitting at the table now, looked back and forth between his wine glass and coffee cup.

"Goodness, no. Perhaps some afternoon next week. That would be best for me. I'm terminating sessions with two patients then, and if we want to work out something further, it would be a little easier to make arrangements."

"Oh," Kid said. "Yeah. You give therapy to people now?"

"Yes, I have been for quite a while now."

Lanya said, "I told Madame Brown you'd been in therapy before."

"You told her I'd been in a mental hospital?"

"You mentioned that to me once yourself," Madame Brown said.

Kid drank some wine. "Yeah. I'd like to come and talk to you. Thanks. That's nice of you."

"You think he's crazy?" Denny asked. He'd only drunk from the coffee. "He acts pretty funny sometimes. But I don't think he's crazy. Not like Dollar." He looked over his cup at Madame Brown and explained: "Dollar's killed somebody already. Beat his head in with a pipe. Now Dollar's a real nut. You wanna talk to him?"

"You shut up, huh?" Kid said.

Madame Brown said: "I'm afraid I don't have facilities for handling… real nuts. 'Crazy' and 'nuts' are terms doctors don't use — or shouldn't. But, no, I don't think Kid's crazy at all."

Denny's bead had gone to the side and his tongue into his cheek, listening for patronization. His mouth changed shape over the cup. He'd apparently found it.

"I don't want to start any long-term thing," Kid said, "where I come back and back — yeah, I know that's how it works. But I just don't want to get into that"

"Whether or not you needed something long term would more or less depend on what we found out in the first sessions, wouldn't it? So we'll do first things first."

"Okay…" Kid felt wary.

"You know—" Lanya's chair legs came down—"that whole thing about Dollar killing Wally has really got me upset."

"What is this," Madame Brown asked, "about someone killing somebody?"

So they told her.

"Now he sounds nuts." Madame Brown nodded.

"Oh, he ain't that nuts," Denny answered.

Madame Brown sighed: "Well, I suppose that afternoon did provide some extenuating circumstances." But she sounded more worried than convinced.

The bell rang.

"My patient. Well, my break is over." Madame Brown left the room.

As soon as she'd gone, Denny said: "Did you know that while you was asleep last night, the guys had two girls in the back they were shagging? Man, them niggers really went to town! I used to watch a lot, but I never took no turn before. One of them, the little white one, she was freaky, man! Really. Freaky. Glass said I could take a turn, if I wanted." He revolved the cup to align the handle with a crack between the table boards. "So I did. To come, though I had to pretend—" Denny glanced at Kid—"stuff with you."

"You been busy, huh?" Kid hadn't known; he was surprised.

Denny looked at Lanya. "I pretended about you too."

"I don't know whether I should be flattered or not." She rocked her chair again. "I've always pictured myself as a pretty worldly young lady, but you guys have a way of making me feel like I just got out of a convent. Not—" she let the chair legs down—"that I'm trying to keep up… well, maybe I am, just a little." She stood, stepped around the table corner, and put a hand on either side of Denny's face, which rotated between her palms, mouth opened. She dropped her mouth on his. He held the edge of the table and strained his neck to kiss her. Finally, he let go with one hand and put it around her waist. "Hey—" he pulled his face away from hers—"that's nice," giggled, and kissed her again.

Kid's laughter made them look.

"What would you do," Kid said, "if I brought the whole nest around and had them all lined up, taking turns?" *,

Leaning against Denny's shoulder, Lanya frowned. "I wouldn't put it past you, you bastard… Naw, that's not true. You wouldn't." She glanced down and sat on Denny's knee. Denny immediately settled one hand over her breast and frowned at her. "Gang bangs, chains, leather — it isn't my scene."

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