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Книга Dhalgren. Содержание - 3

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"I've got a hard-on," Denny said.

"You've had a hard-on ever since I met you," Lanya told him. "Look, you two: two guys making it together turns me on. That's all. Most of my friends have always been gay. That's what I dig."

"I know a lot of guys who dig dikes," Denny said.

Lanya bit his ear.

"Owww…!"

"Anyway," she said, "that's the turn-on for me. Not getting gang-shagged."

"Glib." Kid rocked his stool legs now. "But logical."

"I think you look cute in my vest," Denny said. "You think I look cute without it?"

"As a bug, babes," Lanya told him.

"Hey," Denny said. "Are you mad at me?"

"No," she said. "Just a little confused." She looked at Kid. "I can never figure out if you're the person I keep thinking you are."

Kid stood up, walked over, and stopped with his hands on Lanya's shoulders, his legs astraddle Denny's knee. "If I talk about you screwing Denny or me, it's for real. If I talk about you screwing anybody else, I'm joking. See? And you can do or talk about whatever you want."

"And I think you misunderstand me entirely—" she nodded with a look both wary and wry—"sometimes."

He kissed her (face turning between his palms) and had to bend his legs. She turned her head gently back and forth, rubbing his tongue with hers, and meshed her fingers behind his neck, pulling his down, harder. Finally he had to settle his weight on Denny's thigh. Denny took Kid's shoulder with one hand. The knuckles of the other moved against Kid's breast, fondling hers. Kid's hands slid between Lanya's back and Denny's belly.

"Both of you," Denny said, "weigh more than I do. Either me or the chair is gonna go, one."

Lanya laughed into Kid's mouth.

"Let's go back into your room and ball." Kid said.

He had actually thought one or the other of them would protest.

Geoff Rivers       Arthur Pearson

Kit Darkfeather       Earl Rudolph

David Wise       Phillip Edwards

Michael Roberts        Virginia Colson

Jerry Shank       Hank Kaiser

Frank Yoshikami        Gary Disch

Harold Redwing        Alvin Fischer

Madeleine Terry        Susan Morgan

Priscilla Meyer        William Dhalgren

George Newman        Peter Weldon

Ann Harrison        Linda Evers

Thomas Sask        Preston Smith

At her desk, he read the list for the sixth time. The sky beyond the bay window, dense and low, darkened toward evening. Roberts or Rudolph, Rivers or Evers: Fantasize a persona for any. Which, he pondered, would I pick myself? Some permutation… Gary Morgan, Terry Rivers, Thomas Weldon? None was his. Was one perhaps nearer than the other? No… if they are all. real people, he reflected, then each is just as important. Hey, Kamp, isn't this what that democracy's about that put you up on… a moon? (But I don't want one. I need one about as much as I need a handful of dollars.) Lips tight, he picked up the papers: Three sheets from the phone pad, two pieces of newsprint, the back, blank pages of a paperback, some sheets of Lanya's paper — all he had written since Brass Orchids. I promised not to write any more; Newboy promised I would. Kid smiled, putting one paper behind the other. He slipped Brass Orchids from beneath the notebook, opened it, closed it, opened it again. Holding it on his palm too long made his stomach ache. Such a strange, marvelous, and marvelously inadequate object! He was still unable to read it through. He still tried. And tried again, and tried till his throat was constricted, his forearms wet, and his heart hammered down where he'd always thought his liver was. Neither dislike nor discomfort with the work explained that. Rather the book itself was lodged in some equatioa where it did not belong, setting off hyperradicals and differentials through all the chambers of his consciousness. He looked over at the notebook, read what was on the page behind the list:

Lingual synthesis: Wittgenstein, Lévi-Straus, Chomsky — I suspect it is what they were getting at: Attempts to reduce vast fields of Philosophy, Anthropology, and Linguistics to sets of parameters that not so much define as mirror the way in which philosophical, anthropological, and linguistic information respectively fit into, upon, and around the mind itself. Those particularly parametric works (the Tractatus. La Geste d'Asdiwal, Syntatic Structures—though all three men have written much longer works, work of this type must be very short; none of these is above 30 thousand words) do not discuss fields of study; they drop careful, crystalline catalysts, which, on any logical mind (as opposed to trained minds familiar with galleries of evidence and evaluations) perforce generate complicated and logical discussions of the subject using whatever evidence is at hand, limited only by the desire or ability to retain interest in the dialogue propagating in the inner ear.

In an age glutted with information, this "storage method" is, necessarily, popular. But these primitive

was the end of the page. He did not turn to the next Wittgenstein, Lévi-Straus, Chomsky: He mulled their sounds. A year, a year and a half ago, he had read everything he could find by one.

He had never heard of the other two.

"Lingual synthesis…" That was nice on the tongue. "…particularly parametric works…" He picked up Brass Orchids, balanced it on blunt fingers. "…careful, crystalline catalysts…" He nodded. A particularly parametric work of careful, crystalline catalysts in lingual synthesis. That, at any rate, was the type of object it ought to be. Well, it was short.

One of them turned in the bed.

One of them turned again.

He looked across the room:

The tent of a knee. An arm over an arm.

The chair back was cool against his. Caning prickled the bottom of one thigh. The plants leaned from their pots.

He pinched the bright chain across his belly.

Dark ones coiled the clothing on the floor.

Suppose, he thought, she wants me to stay and him to go. Well, I get rid of the bastard. Suppose she wants me to go? I get rid of all the bastards.

But she won't. She likes privacy too much. Why else would she go along with this? Along? Something in me would like to have it that she is doing this for me. But all joy in it comes from those moments when it is obviously real as her music, and personally otherwise.

I am restless.

She turns restlessly.

His arm, limp, moves with her moving shoulder.

Lanya blinked, raised her head. Kid watched her eyes close and her head lay down. He was smiling. He turned Brass Orchids in his hands, turned the loose pages, as though he might heft, through some quality other than weight, the difference.

The notebook was open again at the list. Puzzling, he read the names once more (it was almost too dark), this time right to left, bottom to top:

Preston Smith       Thomas Sask

Linda Evers       Ann Harrison

Peter Weldon       George Newman

William Dhalgren       Priscilla Meyer

Susan Morgan…        Madeleine Terry…

3

"Why'd she kick us out?"

"She didn't kick us out. She had things to do. She'll be down to see us. Don't worry."

"I ain't worrying." Denny balanced along the curb edge. "Shit, I could have stayed up there for the rest of my life and been happy. You on one end and her on the other."

"How'd you manage to eat?"

"Present company excepted—" Denny rugged at his vest—"I'd just send out for it. You sure she wasn't mad at us?"

"Yeah."

"Okay… you really think she's gonna come down and visit the nest?"

"If she doesn't, we'll go up and see her. She'll come."

"She's a nice person!" Denny emphasized each stress with a beat of his chin. "And I really like that song. Diffraction, huh?"

Kid nodded.

"I hope she comes down. I mean I know she likes you, 'cause you wrote a book and everything, and you known her a long time. But I'm just a fuck-up. She ain't got no reason to like me."

"She does anyway."

Denny frowned. "Sure acts like it, don't she?"

The street light above them pulsed… at half strength; then died. The sky sheeted over with one more film of darkness. The only other light to come on was two blocks away; it pulsed, pulsed, pulsed again.

Someone moved into it and shouted, "Hey! Hey, Kid! Denny!" Others trooped into the wavering circle.

"What the hell are they doing here?"

Denny shrugged.

In the middle of the next block, Dollar, lugging the brass lion on its broken base, pushed between Copperhead and Jack the Ripper. "Hey, we gotta move, you know? We're movin' again!" Dollar was grinning.

Copperhead was not. "The fuckin' house burnt up on us! How you like that? The fuckin' house burnt up!" A knapsack, one green with his fatigues, swung about his shins. He hefted the strap to the other hand.

"Jesus," Denny said. "All my shit…?"

"What happened?"

"Nothin'," Copperhead shrugged. "You know… it just, well…."

"The whole damn block," Siam said. "About an hour ago. Shit, it was something!"

Kid felt his heart thump once (like it always did when he found out somebody he knew had died) and in the hollow remains, he thought: That isn't so much a reaction as it is a fear of what the reaction might be. The house burnt down? The… house burnt down? But that seems so easy. The house…

He asked: "Was Nightmare there?"

"Fuck," Copperhead said. "Fuck. He and the Lady was off somewhere. Thirteen was gone somewhere too. Fuck."

Glass chuckled. "I could smell Thirteen's stash burning right up. Sure wished I knew where he kept it, and I would have got it out for him. But when it was burning—" he swung a pillowcase down from his shoulder into his arms—"you sure could smell it. You know I been in seven God-damn fires. Seven times I had my house burn out from under me. Lost my mother in a God-damn fire."

"In Bellona?" Siam asked.

Glass looked at Siam, realization in his face that he had been misunderstood. "No…" He hugged up the pillowcase. "I ain't been in no fire in Bellona, except this one."

"Where are we going to move?"

Denny said, "You want to go back to Lanya's and see if she'll put us—"

"Not on your fucking life," Kid said.

"I mean," Denny questioned, "you said she wasn't mad at us none."

"You got some place for us to move?" Copperhead asked.

"Nope," Kid said. "Come on. We'll find one."

"Now we don't want no place that's gonna burn up again before we get in it," Copperhead said. "Do we?"

Scorpions mumbled outside the circle of the lamp. Some carried mattresses, some cartons, some shovels and tools.

"Come on down this street," and the cavalcade practically filled the alley. Trees had been planted and ringed with ornamental fences. But each trunk was charred to a black fork with twisted tines. "That wooden house must have gone up like a matchbook."

"Naw," Copperhead told him. "Nobody got hurt. Nobody didn't really lose nothing they didn't want to lose. We all got out in tune."

"I got the lion!"

Kid turned on Dollar's pocked and stubbled grin.

"Man, I wouldn't've left my lion behind for nothing. It's the only fuckin' thing I own. You got that for me, Kid, remember? You got that for me and I wouldn't leave behind nothing like that for anything in the world, you know?"

"Denny…?"

Behind Dollar, she pushed her way forward. Her arms were full, her hair was tangled, and one heavy cheek was smudged.

"Denny, I got your stuff out!"

Her eyes, sweeping among them, caught Kid's and swept away.

"Denny? I think I got it all…"

"Oh, wow!" Denny said. "Oh, hey, you did? Wow, that's great!"

"Here: I got your shirts." She caught up with them. "And—" she glanced up blankly at Kid; the heavy breasts in her blue sweatshirt pressed out against bags and packages. Her small, full fingers had left the brown paper sweaty so that it bellied between them—"and the posters down from your wall. And the picture books. I didn't bring the blankets… I didn't bring the blankets because I thought it wouldn't be too hard to get some more blankets—"

"You got my radio?"

"Of course I got your radio. I think I got everything — there wasn't very much — except the blankets."

"I don't care about the God-damn blankets," Denny said. "You okay? I mean the house was burning down, and you were back up in there getting my stuff?" He took a paper bag from her—

"Oh, watch out…!"

— pulled Brass Orchids from his back pocket and dropped it inside.

"What's that?"

"Nothin'. What you so curious about? Oh, hey! You got my game in there."

"Un-huh. Denny?"

"Why don't you let me carry the rest of those?"

"That's all right. Denny?"

"What?"

"I don't think me and my friend—"

She glanced back.

Kid did too.

The blond girl in the pea jacket was just behind them.

"— are going to stay with you guys any more. I just wanted to bring you your stuff."

"Hey," Denny said. "Why not?"

"I don't know." She adjusted the other bags. "We just want to go somewhere else. We don't want to be members. And we know some nice people who have a house where we thought we could stay. It's just girls there."

"Just girls?" Denny said. "You ain't gonna have no fun there."

"Boys can visit and stuff like that. Boys just don't live there. I just don't think I want to live with you guys any more. I mean after the fire—" once more she glanced at Kid—"and everything. You know."

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