[ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]

appearance which the simulacrum gave; if I had not known better I would have assumed that it was
Lincoln reincarnated in some unnatural fashion. And, after all, wasn't that precisely what it was?
Wasn't Pris right after all?
Presently I noticed a sign in the window; professionally lettered, it explained to the crowd what
was going on.
THIS IS AN AUTHENTIC RECONSTRUCT
OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN, SIXTEENTH
PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. IT
WAS
MANUFACTURED
BY
MASA
ASSOCIATES IN CONJUNCTION WITH
THE
ROSEN
ELECTRONIC
ORGAN
FACTORY OF BOISE, IDAHO. IT IS THE
FIRST
OF
ITS
KIND.
THE
ENTIRE
MEMORY AND NEURAL SYSTEM OF OUR
GREAT CWIL WAR PRESIDENT HAS BEEN
FAITHFULLY
REPRODUCED
IN
THE
RULING MONAD STRUCTURE OF THIS
MACHINE, AND IT IS CAPABLE OF
RENDERING ALL ACTIONS, SPEECH AND
DECISIONS
OF
THE
SIXTEENTH
PRESIDENT
TO
A
STATISTICALLY
PERFECT DEGREE.
INQUIRIES INVITED.
The corny phrasing gave it away as Maury's work. Infuriated, I pushed through the crowd and
rattled the showroom door; it was locked, but having a key I unlocked it and passed on inside.
There in the corner on a newly-purchased couch sat Maury, Bob Bundy and my father. They
were quietly watching the Lincoln.
"Hi, buddy boy," Maury said to me.
"Made your cost back yet?" I asked him.
44
"No. We're not charging anybody for anything. We're just demonstrating."
"You dreamed up that sixth-grader type sign, didn't you? I know you did. What sort of sidewalk
traffic did you expect to make an inquiry? Why don't you have the thing sell cans of auto wax or
dishwasher soap? Why just have it sit and write? Or is it entering some breakfast-food contest?"
Maury said, "It's going over its regular correspondence." He and my dad and Bundy all seemed
sobered.
"Where's your daughter?"
"She'll be back."
To my dad I said, "You mind it using your desk?"
"No, mein Kind," he answered. "Go speak with it; it maintains a calmness when interrupted that
astonishes me. This I could well learn."
I had never seen my father so chastened.
"Okay," I said, and walked over to the rolltop desk and the writing figure. Outside the showroom
window the crowd gawked.
"Mr. President," I murmured. My throat felt dry. "Sir, I hate to bother you." I felt nervous, and yet
at the same time I knew perfectly well that this was a machine I was facing. My going up to it and
speaking to it this way put me into the fiction, the drama, as an actor like the machine itself; nobody
had fed me an instruction tape--they didn't have to. I was acting out my part of the foolishness
voluntarily. And yet I couldn't help myself. Why not say to it, "Mr. Simulacrum"? After all that was
the truth.
The truth ! What did that mean? Like a kid going up to the department store Santa; to know the
truth was to drop dead. Did I want to do that? In a situation like this, to face the truth would mean
the end of everything, of me before all. The simulacrum wouldn't have suffered. Maury, Bob Bundy
and my dad wouldn't even have noticed. So I went on, because it was myself I was protecting; and I
knew it, better than anyone else in the room, including the crowd outside gawking in.
Glancing up, the Lincoln put aside its quill pen and said in a rather high-pitched, pleasant voice,
"Good afternoon. I take it you are Mr. Louis Rosen."
"Yes sir," I said.
And then the room blew up in my face. The rolltop desk flew into a million pieces; they burst up
at me, flying slowly, and I shut my eyes and fell forward, flat on the floor; I did not even put out my
hands. I felt it hit me; I smashed into bits against it, and darkness covered me up.
I had fainted. It was too much for me. I had passed out cold.
Next I knew I was upstairs in the office, propped up in a corner. Maury Rock sat beside me,
smoking one of his Corina Larks, glaring at me and holding a bottle of household ammonia under my
nose.
"Christ," he said, when he realized I had come to. "You got a bump on your forehead and a split
lip."
I put up my hand and felt the bump; it seemed to be as big as a lemon. And I could taste the
shreds of my lip. "I passed out," I said.
"Yeah, didn't you."
Now I saw my dad hovering nearby. And--disagreeably-- Pris Frauenzimmer in her long gray
cloth coat, pacing back and forth, glancing at me with exasperation and the faint hint of
contemptuous amusement.
"One word from it," she said to me, "and you're out. Good grief."
45
"So what," I managed to say feebly.
To his daughter, Maury said, grinning, "It proves what I said; it's effective."
"What--did the Lincoln do?" I asked. "When I passed out?" Maury said, "It got up, picked you [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]