And then he thought, What the hell am I talking about? I must be nuts. I know Bob Arctor; he's a good person. He's up to nothing. At least nothing unsavory. In fact, he thought, he works for the Orange County Sheriff's Office, covertly. Which is probably . . .
Zwei Seelen wohnen, ach! in meiner Brust,
Die eine will sich von dem andern trennen:
Die eine hŠlt, in derber Liebeslust,
Sich an die Welt mit klammernden Organen;
Die andre hebt gewaltsam sich vom Dust
Zu den Gefilden hoher Ahnen.
. . . why Barris is after him. But, he thought, that wouldn't explain why the Orange County Sheriff's office is after him--especially to the extent of installing all those holos and assigning a full-time agent to watch and report on him. That wouldn't account for that. It does not compute, he thought. More, a lot more, is going down in that house, that run-down rubble-filled house with its weed-patch backyard and catbox that never gets emptied and animals walking on the kitchen table and garbage spilling over that no one ever takes out. What a waste, he thought, of a truly good house. So much could be done with it. A family, children, and a woman, could live there. It was designed for that: three bedrooms. Such a waste; such a f*cking waste! They ought to take it away from him, he thought; enter the situation and foreclose. Maybe they will. And put it to better use; that house yearns for that. That house has seen so much better days, long ago. Those days could return. If another kind of person had it and kept it up. The yard especially, he thought, as the cab pulled into the newspaper-splattered driveway.
He paid the driver, got out his door key, and entered the house. Immediately he felt something watching: the holo-scanners on him. As soon as he crossed his own threshold. Alone-- no one but him in the house. Untrue! Him and the scanners, insidious and invisible, that watched him and recorded. Everything he did. Everything he uttered. Like the scrawls on the wall when you're peeing in a public urinal, he thought. SMILE! YOU'RE ON CANDID CAMERA! I am, he thought, as soon as I enter this house. It's eerie. He did not like it. He felt self-conscious; the sensation had grown since the first day, when they'd arrived home--the "dog-sh*t day," as he thought of it, couldn't keep from thinking of it. Each day the experience of the scanners had grown.
"Nobody home, I guess," he stated aloud as usual, and was aware that the scanners had picked that up. But he had to take care always: he wasn't supposed to know they were there. Like an actor before a movie camera, he decided, you act like the camera doesn't exist or else you blow it. It's all over. And for this sh*t there are no take-two's. What you get instead is wipeout. I mean, what I get. Not the people behind the scanners but me. What I ought to do, he thought, to get out of this, is sell the house; it's run down anyway. But . . . I love this house. No way!
It's my house.
Nobody can drive me out.
For whatever reasons they would or do want to. Assuming there's a "they" at all. Which may just be my imagination, the "they" watching me. Paranoia. Or rather the "it." The depersonalized it.
Whatever it is that's watching, it is not a human. Not by my standards, anyhow. Not what I'd recognize. As silly as this is, he thought, it's frightening. Something is being done to me and by a mere thing, here in my own house. Before my very eyes. Within something's very eyes; within the sight of some thing. Which, unlike little dark-eyed Donna, does not ever blink. What does a scanner see? he asked himself. I mean, really see? Into the head? Down into the heart? Does a passive infrared scanner like they used to use or a cube-type holo-scanner like they use these days, the latest thing, see into me--into us--clearly or darkly? I hope it does, he thought, see clearly, because I can't any longer these days see into myself. I see only murk. Murk outside; murk inside. I hope, for everyone's sake, the scanners do better. Because, he thought, if the scanner sees only darkly, the way I myself do, then we are cursed, cursed again and like we have been continually, and we'll wind up dead this way, knowing very little and getting that little fragment wrong too. From the living-room bookcase he took down a volume at random; it turned out to be, he discovered, The Picture Book of Sexual Love. Opening at random, he perceived a
page--which showed a man nibbling happily at a chick's right tit, and the chick sighing--and said aloud, as if reading to himself from the book, as if quoting from some famous oldtime double-dome philosopher, which he was not: "Any given man sees only a tiny portion of the total truth, and very often, in fact almost . . .
Weh! steck' ich in dem Kerker noch?
Verfluchtes dumpfes Mauerloch,
Wo selbst das liebe Himmelslicht
Trüb durch gemalte Scheiben bricht!
Beschränkt mit diesem Bücherhauf,
Den Würme nagen, Staub bedeckt,
Den bis ans hohe.
. . . perpetually, he deliberately deceives himself about that little precious fragment as well. A portion of him turns against him and acts like another person, defeating him from inside. A man inside a man. Which is no man at all." Nodding, as if moved by the wisdom of the nonexisting written words on that page, he closed the large red-bound, gold-stamped Picture Book of Sexual Love and restored it to the shelf. I hope the scanners don't zoom in on the cover of this book, he thought, and blow my shuck.