But when he found it once again, if they were lucky, pattern-recognition would take place. Correct comparison in the right hemisphere. Even at the subcontical level available to him. And the journey, so awful for him, so costly, so evidently without point, would be finished.
A light shone in her eyes. Standing in front of her, a cop with nightstick and flashlight. "Would you please stand up?" the officer said. "And show me your identification? You first, miss."
She let go of Bob Arctor, who slid sideways until he lay against the ground; he was unaware of the cop, who had approached them up the hill, stealthily, from a service road below. Getting her wallet out of her purse, Donna motioned the officer away, where Bob Arctor could not hear.
For several minutes the officer studied her identification by the muted light of his flashlight, and then said, "You're undercover for the federal people."
"Keep your voice down," Donna said.
"I'm sorry." The officer handed the wallet back to her.
"Just f*cking take off," Donna said.
The officer shone his light in her face briefly, and then turned away; he departed as he had approached, noiselessly.
When she returned to Bob Arctor, it was obvious that he had never been aware of the cop. He was aware of almost nothing, now. Scarcely of her, let alone anyone or anything else.
Far off, echoing, Donna could hear the police can moving down the rutted, invisible service road. A few bugs, perhaps a lizard, made their way through the dry weeds around them. In the distance the 91 Freeway glowed in a pattern of lights, but no sound reached them; it was too remote.
"Bob," she said softly. "Can you hear me?"
All the circuits are welded shut, she thought. Melted and fused. And no one is going to get them open, no matter how hand they try. And they are going to try.
"Come on," she said, tugging at him, attempting to get him to his feet. "We've got to get started."
Bob Arctor said, "I can't make love. My thing's disappeared."
"They're expecting us," Donna said firmly. "I have to sign you in."
"But what'll I do if my thing's disappeared? Will they still take me in?"
Donna said, "They'll take you."
It requires the greatest kind of wisdom, she thought, to know when to apply injustice. How can justice fall victim, even, to what is right? How can this happen? She thought, Because there is a curse on this world, and all this proves it; this is the proof right here. Somewhere, at the deepest level possible, the mechanism, the construction of things, fell apart, and up from what remained swam the need to do all the various sort of unclean wrongs the wisest choice has made us act out. It must have started thousands of years ago.
By now it's infiltrated into the nature of everything. And, she thought, into every one of us.
We can't turn around on open our mouth and speak, decide at all, without doing it. I don't even cane how it got started, when or why. She thought, I just hope it'll end some time.
Like with Tony Amsterdam; I just hope one day the shower of brightly colored sparks will return, and this time we'll all see it. The narrow doorway where there's peace on the far side. A statue, the sea, and what looks like moonlight. And nothing stirring, nothing to break the calm.
A long, long time ago, she thought. Before the curse, and everything and everyone became this way. The Golden Age, she thought, when wisdom and justice were the same. Before it all shattered into cutting fragments. Into broken bits that don't fit, that can't be put back together, hard as we try.
Below her, in the dankness and distribution of urban lights a police siren sounded.
A police car in hot pursuit. It sounded like a deranged animal, greedy to kill. And knowing that it soon would. She shivered; the night air had become cold. It was time to go.