Crompton Divided

Free Crompton Divided by Robert Sheckley

Book: Crompton Divided by Robert Sheckley Read Free Book Online
Authors: Robert Sheckley
before, in another time and place.
    ‘It’s called “Terminal Freedom,”’ Loomis said, returning. ‘Direct aural transmission. Pleasant little thing, isn’t it?’
    Crompton knew that Loomis was trying to impress him. And he was impressed. As Loomis poured drinks, Crompton looked around the room at the sculptures, drapes, furniture, gadgets; his clerky mind made some estimates. The goods in this room had cost a great deal of money.
    Crompton sipped his drink. It was an Aaian concoction; a feeling of well-being began to pervade him. He said reluctantly, ‘Pretty good.’
    He didn’t expect Loomis to possess such a measure of composure; or, as they say in the crosswords, sang-froid. It disturbed him. Loomis’s obvious competence, ease, and command of the situation argued the disturbing idea that perhaps Loomis was not as inadequate a personality as represented. If that were so, where did it leave Crompton? Middle or low man on the personality dominance totem pole? But that simply could not be. To have come all this way to have a mere sensualist dominate him? No!
    ‘I have come here,’ Crompton said, ‘for the purpose of effecting Reintegration, which, as I’m sure you know, is our legal and moral prerogative.’
    ‘Come to dissolve me back into your personality, eh, Alistair?’ Loomis said merrily.
    ‘The goal,’ Crompton pointed out, ‘is a state of fusion in which our various factors combine to form a new person, one which will partake of each of our memories equally, and so equally be each of us.’
    ‘That’s what is supposed to happen,’ Loomis said. ‘Personally, I have my doubts. And why should I run the risk of finding out? I’m perfectly happy just the way I am.’
    ‘Happiness is impossible for an inadequate and truncated personality such as yourself,’ Crompton said.
    ‘Well, just between us, I know what you mean. A life devoted exclusively to pleasure with no regard for higher values is a dog’s life. It’s a fact. Desires fade, Alistair, yet I continue the same weary round of repetitions. No, pleasure is not the fun it’s cracked up to be.’
    ‘Well then –’
    ‘But pleasure is the only game in town. Basically, I’m a party person, Al, not a deep thinker. Sure, pleasure isn’t all fun, but who am I to complain about it? It’s a living, isn’t it? A man must do his work, even if his work happens to be the pursuit of pleasures he no longer cares about. That’s what being a man means.’
    ‘I don’t think that definition would stand up to any real examination,’ Crompton said.
    ‘Precisely why I will not give it one,’ Loomis said. ‘My motto is: Be courageous, follow your impulses, and ignore the obvious!’
    ‘Have you always lived by that motto?’ Crompton asked.
    ‘I guess I always have. I always knew I was different from others. But it didn’t bother me much as a kid. I was always popular in school. Not much on education, of course; or not on the education they thought they were teaching me. But I picked up a lot on my own. What treasures of sensuality existed for me in those days! Early adolescence is a beautiful time. But you know how children are – a lot of fooling around, but not much of the real thing. The real thing began for me with Miss Tristana de Cunha, my history teacher. She was a tall woman in her late twenties. Beneath her shapeless school-marm clothing she had the body of a nymph! She was an inexhaustible treasure of sensuality. And after her there was Clovis, then Jennifer. …’
    ‘How long did you continue your formal education?’ Crompton asked.
    ‘I dropped out at the age of sixteen. Or rather, I was invited to leave. I was accused of corrupting minors (though only a minor myself!). They said that I was staging ‘unspeakable orgies.’ A gross exaggeration, I can assure you. In any event, formal education held no charm for me. I was young, attractive, energetic, enthusiastic, and I knew even then what I wanted to be in life.’

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