Жанр книги: Научная Фантастика
Robert A Heinlein To Sail Beyond The Sunset

‘Uh. .. Mama, if you are trying to tell me that Priss is hooked on coke, all I can say is that you must be out of your mind. Of course, most kids these days have tried it once or twice but -‘

‘You have tried it? '

‘Well, sure. The janitor at our school sold it. But I didn't like it. It rots your nose out - did you know that? '

‘I knew that. Has Priss tried it? '

He looked at the mirror and blade. ‘I suppose so. It looks like it. '

‘Have you seen her try it? '

‘Uh. .. once. I chewed her out about it. Told her not to do it again. '

‘But, as you have told me and as she says herself, she doesn't like to take orders. And apparently did not take yours. I wonder if it's the janitor at her present school? '

‘Uh, it could be a teacher just as easily. Or one of the seniors, a Big Man on Campus. Or a book store. Lots of places. Mama, they clean up the neighbourhood dealers every now and then - doesn't make the least bit of difference; there's a new pusher the next week. The way I hear it, it's the same everywhere. '

I sighed. ‘It beats me, Donald. I'll get you a blanket to pull over you. '

‘Mama, why can't I sleep in my own bed? '

‘Because you're not supposed to be here at all. The only reason you're being indulged even this much is because I don't think it is safe to let you go back on the road without something to eat and a few hours sleep. '

I went back to bed, could not sleep. After about an hour I got up and did something I should have done earlier: I searched the maid's room.

I found the stash. It was between the mattress and the mattress cover, at the foot of the bed. I was tempted to taste the least trace of it, having some notion from biochemistry of what cocaine should taste like - but I had sense enough - or was chicken enough - not to risk it; there are street drugs that are dangerous in the tiniest amounts. I took it back up with me, locked it, the ‘grass' and the cigarette papers, and the mirror and blade, into a lock box I keep in my bedroom.

They won. I lost. They were too much for me.

I brought Priscilla home, cured but sullen as ever. Two Public Health officers, a man and a woman, called on us (Jim's doing, with my co-operation) almost as we were taking off our coats. They wanted to know, gently and politely, Priscilla's contacts - who could have given the bugs to her and to whom she could have passed them on.

‘What infections? I'm not ill, I never was ill. I've been held against my will in a conspiracy! Kidnapped and held prisoner! I'm going to sue somebody! '

‘But, Miss Smith, we have copies of your lab tests and your medical history. Here, look at them. '

Priscilla brushed them aside. ‘Lies! I'm not going to say another word without my lawyer. '

At which point I made yet another mistake. ‘But, Priscilla, I am a lawyer; you know that. What they're asking is quite reasonable, a matter of public health. '

I have never been looked at with such contempt. ‘You're not my lawyer. You're ore of the ones I'm going to sue. And these two characters, too, if they don't quit heckling me. ' She turned her back and went upstairs.

I apologised to the two Public Health officers. I'm sorry, Mr Wren and Mrs Lantry, but I can't do anything with her, as you can see. I'm afraid you'll have to get her on the witness stand and under oath to get anything out of her. '

Mr Wren shook his head. ‘It would not work. In the first place, we have no way to put her on the stand; she has not broken any laws that we know of. And we don't know of anyone who has. In the second place, a youngster with her attitude simply takes the Fifth Amendment and shuts up. '

‘I'm not sure she knows what the Fifth Amendment is. '

‘You can bet she does, Mrs Johnson. Today all these kids are street smart and every ore of them is a chimney-corner lawyer, even in a rich neighbourhood like this ore. Put ore on the stand and he'll holler for a lawyer and the ACLU will supply one pronto. The ACLU figures it is more important to protect a teenager's right to clam up than it is to protect some other teenager from infection and sterility. '

‘That's ridiculous. '

‘Those are the conditions we work under, Mrs Johnson. If we don't get voluntary co-operation, we have no way to force it. '

‘Well. .. I can do one thing. I can go talk to her principal, tell him that be has VD running around loose in his school:

‘It won't do any good, Mrs Johnson. You will find that he is extremely leary of being sued. '

I thought about it. .. and had to admit (the lawyer in me) that I had nothing to tell the principal if Priscilla refused to co-operate. Ask him to run ‘short arm inspection' (Brian's Army slang for it) on all his older boys? He would have hundreds of parents on his neck before dark.

‘What about drugs? '

‘What about drugs, Mrs Johnson? '

‘Does Public Health deal with drugs? '

‘Some. Not much. Drugs are usually a police matter. '

I told them what I had found. ‘What should I do? '

‘Does your daughter admit that these items are hers? '

‘I haven't had a chance to talk to her about them yet. '

‘If she won't admit it, you may have great trouble proving that the key items - the cannabis and the powder that may be cocaine - are hers, rather than yours. I know you are a lawyer. .. but perhaps you need to see a lawyer who specialises in such matters. There is an old saw about that, is there not? '

(‘A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client. ')

‘Indeed there is all right, I'll take advice first'

Donald showed up right after that. He had not been on the couch on Saturday morning; I had assumed that he had gone back to Grinnell. It was now evident from the speed with which he showed up once I fetched Priscilla home from the hospital that he had stayed in Kansas City and placed himself somewhere near to watch for her return. Evident, but not true. He had learned somehow what hospital she was in - I could think of three simple ways - then arranged for someone to let him know when she was dismissed - again, three simple ways, including bribery if he could afford it. Never mind; he showed up.

The door chimed.