Soma Blues

Free Soma Blues by Robert Sheckley

Book: Soma Blues by Robert Sheckley Read Free Book Online
Authors: Robert Sheckley
Also a god. Why?”
    “There’s some talk it’s being made currently.”
    “I doubt that very much,” Peter said. “There’s never been a formula for it. No one’s got any idea what went into it. Someone’s pulling your leg, my friend.”
    “That’s not what the Paris police think,” Hob said.
    “The French are a hysterical race,” Peter said sententiously. “France is the original home of the conspiracy theory. It all began with the Knights Templar. Etienne, you ever hear of this stuff?”
    “Never have,” Etienne said. “But if it’s going around I’d like some. What was that about the French police, Hob?”
    “Well, it’s no secret that Stanley Bower was killed in Paris this week. The French believe he was selling some drug called soma.”
    “I hope they’re wrong,” Peter said.
    “Why?” Hob asked.
    “Something new and flashy like that could play hell with my business.”
    Etienne said, “I’m going to see if Devi will make me a glass of tea. Catch you guys later.”
    He left, ambling up the sunlit courtyard. Peter busied himself rolling a joint from the marijuana he had just clipped. He did it in the West Indian style, using five papers and coming up with something that looked like a cigar. Neither he nor Hob talked while he was rolling, for rolling a joint was almost a religious rite with Peter, who was one of the best-known dope dealers on the island but didn’t like to talk about it.
    The joint completed, Peter gave it to Hob to begin. Hob lit the end carefully with a wooden match, took four or five tokes, coughed appreciately and passed the joint to Peter. Peter toked. They both settled down in the big wicker chairs Peter had provided in the drying shed. For a while they didn’t talk. The first smoke of the day was a sacred moment.
    Finally, Peter said, “How’s the agency going?”
    “Pretty well,” Hob said.
    After that they smoked, and there was no need for further conversation. Half an hour later Hob was on his way back to his finca, pleasantly stoned, with one of Peter’s one-ounce Temple Balls, made of the finest Pakistani hashish and wrapped in the bright blue cellophane that was Peter’s trademark. It was a present worth having. Peter had done so well in the dope trade in the last year that he hardly bothered selling his Temple Balls, reserving them as gifts for special friends.
     
     

 
    4
     
     
    Investigating someone in Ibiza can be as simple or as complicated as you care to make it. If the investigatee lived in the village of Santa Eulalia, the first thing to do was to go to El Kiosko, the big open-air café in the center of town. El Kiosko occupied the upper portion of a large rectangle of tiled ground that led down to the sea. The café was on the upper portion, near the statue of Abel Matutes.
    It didn’t take Hob long to get a line on Stanley Bower. The guy was a member of the permanent British house guest set, always broke—“just a little stony, old boy”—but always wearing good clothes, which were to the professional house guest as hex wrenches were to the auto mechanic. Good shoes were important, too. Stanley Bower would always be remembered for his collection of Bally’s. And he had a gold Audemars Piguet watch—probably a Hong Kong copy, but you can’t go opening up the back of a man’s watch to prove it.
    Hob was making his investigation at a good time. It was late afternoon, just before the stores opened again after the siesta. A cross-section of expatriates from the area were at the café, with their straw baskets crouched at their feet like hungry dogs, waiting to be filled with the evenings’ provisions.
    Tomas the Dane was at a center table, tall and blond with his usual small dark blue captain’s hat. “Stanley? Sure, I saw him last week. Went off to Paris, so I hear. He owe you money?”
    “Not exactly. I need his assistance in my investigations.” That brought a big laugh from Tomas and his friends. At that time nobody took Hob’s

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