FOURTEEN Nighttime in Tijuana.
He walked aimlessly, scuffing the pavement, passing one after another the neon signs of the narrow boothlike shops, listening to the clamor of the Mexican hucksters and enjoying as he always did the steady motion and ceaseless, nervous honking of wheels and autonomic cabs and old-time turbine surface cars made in the USA, which somehow, in their last decrepitude, had been brought across the border. 'Girl, mister?' A boy no older than eleven seized Eric by the sleeve and hung on, dragging him to a stop. 'My sister, only seven, and never lay with a man in her life; I guarantee before God, you be assuredly first.' 'How much?' Eric asked. 'Ten dollars plus the cost of the room; there must be in name of God a room. The sidewalk makes love into something sordid; you cannot do it here and respect yourself after.' 'There's wisdom in that,' Eric agreed. But he continued on anyhow. At night the robant peddlars and their enormous, useless, machine-made rugs and baskets, their carts of tamales, customarily vanished; the daytime people of Tijuana disappeared along with the middle-aged American tourists to make way for the night people. Men, hurrying, pushed past him; a girl wearing a crushingly tight skirt and sweater squeezed past him, pressing momentarily against him ... as if, he thought, we had some durable relationship penetrating our two lives and this sudden heat exchange through body contact expressed the deepest possible understanding between the two of us. The girl went on, disappeared. Small tough Mexicans, youths wearing open-throated fur shirts, strode directly at him, their mouths agape as if they were strangling. He carefully stepped from their path. In a town where everything is legal, he thought, and nothing achieves worth, you are wrenched back into childhood. Placed among your blocks and toys, with all your universe within grasp. The price for license is high: it consists of a forfeit of adulthood. And yet he loved it here. The noise and stirrings represented authentic life. Some people found all this evil; he did not. People who thought that were wrong. The restless, roving banks of males who sought God knew what- they themselves didn't know: their striving was the genuine primal under-urge of protoplasmic material itself. This irritable ceaseless motion had once carried life right out of the sea and onto land; creatures of the land now, they still roamed on, up one street and down another. And he went along with them. Ahead, a tattoo parlor, modern and efficient, lit by a wall of glowing energy, the proprietor inside with his electric needle that did not touch the skin, only brushed near it as it wove a cat's cradle of design. How about that? Eric asked himself. What could I have etched on me, what motto or picture which would give me comfort in these unusual times of duress? In times when we wait for the 'Starmen to appear and take over. Helpless and frightened, all of us become essentially unmanly. Entering the tattoo parlor, he seated himself and said, 'Can you write on my chest something like- ' He pondered. The proprietor continued with his previous customer, a beefy UN soldier who stared sightlessly ahead. 'I want a picture,' Eric decided. 'Look through the book.' Huge sample-caselike ledger passed to him; he opened at random. Woman with four breasts; each spoke a complete sentence. Not quite it; he turned the page. Rocketship with puffs belching from its tail. No. Reminded him of his 2056 self whom he had failed. I am for the reegs, he decided. Tattoo that on me so the 'Star MPs can find it. And I won't have to make further decisions. Self-pity, he thought. Or is there such a thing as self-compassion? Not much mentioned, anyhow. 'Made up your mind, buddy?' the proprietor asked him, now finished. Eric said, 'I want you to write on my chest, "Kathy is dead." Okay? How much will that cost?' '"Kathy is dead,"' the proprietor said. 'Dead of what?' 'Korsakow's syndrome.' 'You want me to put that too? Kathy is dead from - how you spell it?' The proprietor got pen and paper. 'I want it to be right.' 'Where around here,' Eric said, 'can I find drugs? You know, real drugs?' 'Across the street at the pharmacy. Their specialty, creaker.' He left the tattoo parlor, crossed against the seething, massive organism of traffic. The pharmacy looked old-fashioned, with displays of foot-ailment models and hernia belts and bottles of cologne. Eric opened the door, manually operated, and walked to the counter in the back. 'Yes sir.' A gray-haired respectable professional-looking man in a white smock, waiting on him. 'JJ-180,' Eric said. He laid a fifty-dollar US bill on the counter. 'Three or four caps.' 'One hundred US.' This was business. With no sentiment. He added two twenties and two fives. The pharmacist disappeared. When he returned he had a glass vial which he placed close to Eric; he took the bills and rang them up on his antique register. 'Thanks', Eric said. Carrying the vial, he left the pharmacy. He walked until more or less by chance he located the Caesar Hotel. Entering, he approached the desk clerk. It appeared to be the same man who had taken care of him and Deg Dal II earlier in the day. A day, Eric thought, made out of years. 'You remember the reeg I came here with?' he asked the clerk. The clerk eyed him silently. 'Is he still here?' Eric said. 'Was he really cut to bits by Corning, the 'Star hatchet man in this area? Show me the room. I want the same room.' 'Pay in advance, sir.' He paid, received the key, took the elevator to the proper floor; he walked down the dark carpeted empty hall to the door of the room, unlocked it, and stepped in, feeling for the light switch. The room lit up and he saw that there was no sign of anything; the room was simply empty. As if the reeg had gone. Stepped out, perhaps. He was right, Eric decided, when he asked me to take him back to the POW camp; he was on the right track all the time. Knew how it would end. Standing there, he realized that the room horrified him. He opened the glass vial, got out one capsule of JJ-180, laid it on the vanity table, and with a dime cut the capsule into three parts. There was water in a pitcher nearby; he swallowed one third of the capsule and then walked to the window to look out and wait.
-"droga", pp. 131-136 in Antonio Caronia e Domenico Gallo "La macchina della paranoia. Enciclopedia dickiana", AGENZIA X, 2006 CREATIVE COMMONS [http://www.agenziax.it/imgProdotti/4D.pdf]