A Scanner Darkly2006

Fred:
[voiceover] Crazy job they gave me. But if I wasn't doing it, someone else would be. And they might get it wrong. They might set Arctor up, plant drugs on him and collect a reward. Better it be me, despite the disadvantages. Just protecting everyone from Barris is justification in itself. 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 too bad. In fact, he works for the Orange County Sheriff's office covertly, which is probably why Barris is after him. But that wouldn't explain why the Orange County Sheriff's office is after him. Something big is definitely going down in this house. This rundown, rubble-filled house with its weed patch yard and cat box that never gets emptied. What a waste of a truly good house. So much could be done with it. A family and children could live here. It was designed for that. Such a waste. They ought to confiscate it and put it to better use. I'm supposed to act like they aren't here. Assuming there's a "they" at all. It may just be my imagination. Whatever it is that's watching, it's not human, unlike little dark eyed Donna. It doesn't ever blink. What does a scanner see? Into the head? Down into the heart? Does it see into me, into us? Clearly or darkly? I hope it sees clearly, because I can't any longer see into myself. I see only murk. I hope for everyone's sake the scanners do better. Because if the scanner sees only darkly, the way I do, then I'm cursed and cursed again. I'll only wind up dead this way, knowing very little, and getting that little fragment wrong too.

[Freck turns on the radio]

Freck Suicide Narrator:
Charles Freck, becoming progressively more and more depressed by what was happening around him, decided, finally, to off himself. There was no problem in the circles where he hung out in putting an end to yourself. You just bought a large quantity of downers and took them with some cheap wine. The planning part had to do with the artifacts he wanted found on him by later archeologists. He had spent several days deciding, much longer than he had spent deciding to kill himself. He would be found lying on his back, on his bed, with a copy of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead and an unfinished letter to Exxon, protesting the cancellation of his gas credit card. That way, he would indite the system, and achieve something by his death, over and above what the death itself achieved. At the last moment, he changed his mind on a decisive issue and decided to drink the pills with a connoisseur wine, instead of Ripple or Thunderbird. So he set off on one last drive, over to Tiny's Liquors, which specialized in fine wines, and bought a bottle of 2001 Azalea Springs Merlot, which set him back almost seventy dollars. Back home again, he uncorked the wine, let it breathe, drank a few glasses of it, tried to think of something meaningful but could not, and then, with a glass of Merlot, gulped down all the pills at once. However, he had been burned. Instead of quietly suffocating, Charles Freck began to hallucinate. The next thing he knew, a creature from between dimensions was standing beside his bed, looking down at him disapprovingly.

Freck:
You gonna read me my sins?

[Creature nods]

Freck:
Eh, it's gonna take a hundred thousand hours.

Creature:
Your sins will be read to you ceaselessly, in shifts, throughout eternity. The list will never end.

Creature:
[starts reading] "The Sins of Freck"

Freck Suicide Narrator:
Charles Freck wished he could take back the last half hour of his life.

Creature:
[Creature continues to read] "... theft of fingernail clippers..." "... you did knowingly and with malice..." "... punched your baby sister, Evelyn..." "... December, theft of Christmas presents..." "... one billion lies..."

Freck Suicide Narrator:
One thousand years later, they had reached the sixth grade, the year he had discovered masturbation.

Creature:
[Creature continues to read] "... November fourteenth, Percodan... Vicodin... Cocaine..."

Freck Suicide Narrator:
Charles Freck thought, "At least I got a good wine."

Freck:
What do you think about the New Path?

Barris:
While it doesn't matter what I think, I kinda have to tip my hat to any entity that can bring so much integrity to evil. I mean, imagine this: a seemingly voluntary, privatized gulag which has managed to eliminate the meddling middlemen of public accountability and free will and wrap it up in a little bow and give it to the public like a gift. I mean, come on this is... [he makes exploding sounds and gestures]... this is awe-inspiring stuff.

Freck:
I heard you have to go cold turkey.

Barris:
Cold turkey doesn't even apply to Substance D. Unlike the legacy of inherited predisposition to addictive behaviors or substances, this needs no genetic assistance. There's no weekend warriors on the D. You're either on it... or you haven't tried it.

Freck:
Well, I like it.

Barris:
Yeah. How many caps do you take per day?

Freck:
Hmmm... very difficult to determine. But not that many.

Barris:
Well, like the old-school pharmacopoeia, a tolerance develops, you know. These visions of bugs, they're just garden-variety psychosis, but a clear indication that you've hurdled over the initial fun and euphoric phase and passed on... to the next phase. News from the guinea pig grapevine suggests that whatever it is, we won't know until it's way too late, you see? You see that we're all canaries in the coal mine on this one?

Freck:
Mm. I do think I have another source. That Donna chick.

Barris:
Bob's girl?

Freck:
Yeah.

Barris:
Yeah, "his girl," although I know for a fact he never gets in her pants.

Freck:
Really?

Barris:
Yeah.

Freck:
But he... talks like he does.

Barris:
Oh, yeah. That's Bob Arctor. He talks like he does many things. It's not the same, my friend, it's not the same thing. Donna has an aversion to bodily contact. I mean, junkies lose their interest in sex, you realize, due to organs swelling up from vasoconstriction. And I have observed in her an inordinate failure of sexual arousal not just toward Bob Arctor, but to... other males as well.

Freck:
I can't believe she doesn't put out.

Barris:
Well, she would... if she were handled right. For instance, I could show you how to sleep with her for less than three dollars.

Freck:
I don't wanna sleep with her. I wanna buy from her.

Barris:
Donna does coke, all right?

Freck:
Three dollars doesn't get you a line of coke.

Barris:
Ah-ah. That's where you're wrong, pal.

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