Книга The Deep Blue Good-Bye. Содержание - Diez
I tried to stroke her. Her body was like wood, that great tension which comes with hysteria.
“Ugly rotten,” she moaned. “You don’t know the things, the ugly things. It can’t ever be nice again. I let things happen. I did things. I stopped fighting.”
“Give yourself time, Lois.”
“I… love… you!” she wailed, protest and lament.
“You tried too soon.”
“I wanted you.”
“Not for me. I can’t turn my mind off. It will always come back.”
I laced my hands behind my head and thought about it. It was very touching. Such a total preparation. All plucked and perfumed, scrubbed and anointed, all tremulous with the reward for the heroic rescuer. Then, in the darkness, Junior Allen smirked at her and that sense of her own value, which a woman must have, was gone. She had packed and wrapped the gift with greatest care, labeled it with love, but suddenly it was a gift-wrapped flagon of slime. She had tried too soon, but had I tried to turn her away at the first touch, it might have been more traumatic than what had happened. I wondered if shock would be better than soothing.
“Terribly terribly dramatic, dear Lois.”
“So sad. Forever soiled, stained, lost, hopeless. The corrupted trollop of Candle Key. Gad, what drama!”
She uncurled herself slowly and cautiously, keeping her distance, furtively tucking the covering up under her chin. “Don’t be a cruel disgusting bastard,” she said in a flat voice. “At least try to have some empathy”
“For whom? A thirty-one-year-old adolescent, for God’s sake? Do you think I’m so starved for a woman I take anything I can get? Sometimes I get a little foolish or a little depressed, and I do just that, but it leaves a bad taste. The bad taste comes from my being an incurable romantic who thinks the man/woman thing shouldn’t be a contest on the rabbit level. The rabbits have us beat. My dear, if I thought you a bundle of corruptions, what feast is that for a romantic? No, dear Lois, you are sweet and clean from top to tippy toe, fresh and wholesome in every part, and pleasantly silly.”
“I didn’t tell you one little item, dear. It was Junior Allen who beat up Cathy. In her words, he grappled holt of her neck with one hand and pounded on her face with the other. Until she doesn’t seem to have much of a face at the present time. And she didn’t turn him in, not because she was scared, but because she thought because I’m trying to help her I might be brought into it somehow and the police might mess me up somehow. I keep stacking that up against your dramatics, and somehow you don’t come out too well. Try it yourself and see.”
She was silent for a long time. I could not guess how she would respond, but I knew it was a critical moment, perhaps the moment upon which her whole future was balanced. And I despised myself right along with all other amateur psychiatrists, parlor sages, barstool philosophers.
“But I’ve been sick!” she said in a teeny, squeaky, ludicrous voice, and after a shocked moment I recognized it as the tag line of that ancient mouse joke, and I knew this girl would be well. My laughter exploded, and in a moment she joined in. Like children, we laughed ourselves into tears. It kept dying away and beginning again, and I was glad to see she did not water it down by trying to repeat it.
Then she got up, a pale and slender shape in darkness, and found the diaphanous wrap and floated it over her shoulders and was gone in silence, but for the small click of my door latch. Water ran. There was a thread of light under my door. After a long time it went out. I thought I knew by then how her mind would work, and I waited. The door made the smallest sound. The timid ghost drifted to me. And it began as before.
Often she faltered, and I brought her back. A lot of it was gentleness and waiting. And being kind. And,telling her of her sweetness. At last there came the reward for patience, her tremendous inhalation broken into six separate fragments, her whole body listening to itself then, finding, being certain, and then taking with hunger.
Later she lay curled languid against my chest, her heart and breathing slow. “Wasn’t too soon,” she said, a blurred drone.
“No, it wasn’t.”
“Sweet,” she said. ‘Ver’ sweet.“ And she nestled down into the sleep of total exhaustion.
I could have gone to sleep at once if I could have convinced myself that everything was just peachy fine. But I felt I had maneuvered myself into a rather nasty little corner. Where does responsibility stop? Do you buy the cripple a shoeshine box and send it out into the traffic?
I had the feeling I now owned this sleeping thing. True, it was a splendid specimen, good bones, a true heart and a marvelous pelt. It could cook and adore and it had a talent for making love. Sew it into burlap and roll it in the mud and it would still be, unmistakably, a lady. You could take it anywhere.
But I wasn’t built for owning, nor for anything which lasts. I could mend her spirit, only to go on and break her loving heart. And she would probably think it a poor bargain when the time came.
All the little gods of irony must whoop and weep and roll on the floors of Olympus when they tune in on the night thoughts of a truly fatuous male.
And I hold several international records.
I DID not know how she would be in the morning. I could only hope that she would not be bubbly, girlish and coy.
She was pouring juice when I went into the galley, and she turned gravely to be kissed, knowing it her due. A little tilt to the dark head. A flicker of appraisal in slanted eyes.
“Temperature normal, pulse normal, patient starving,” she said.
“McGee’s clinic. Morning report. I’m having poached.”
The breakfast was rather silent, but not with strain.
After pouring second coffees, she sat and looked at me and said, “I’m being a hell of a problem to you, Trav.”
“I worry about it every minute.”
“Thank you for patience and endurance. You have won the Lois Award.”
“Hang it with my other plaques.“
“I watched the dawn from your sun deck. It was a nice one, with thunderheads. I came to the astonishing conclusion that I better not try to give anything until I’ve built up something to give. Otherwise, it’s just taking.”
“In the morning I’m often anti-semantic.”
“Any future aggression, if there is any, will have to be yours.”
“And if there isn’t any, don’t go around worrying about what I might be thinking. Last night I collected on my assurance. in advance.”
“Finish your coffee and come see what unskilled labor has done to your barge.”
The work was worth the admiration I gave it. I shooed her off to the beach, with all her gear. She was back in three minutes just to tell me that she couldn’t guarantee she wouldn’t get a little nutty from time to time, but she felt she was past the pill period, and then she headed back toward the beach, a lissome broad in her mirrored sunglasses, walking on good legs and she was far younger than her years, yet old as the sea she approached.
The operator tracked down Harry in New Vork, from one number to the next.
“In answer to your questions, laddy boy, it is mostly a yes. A few months back some very fine items made an appearance here and were you might say classic items, the kind you expect there should be a description, like perhaps on an insurance list. But they are clean, I am told. All Asiatic items, with, as usual, some of the faceted stuff cut freehand enough to take a smidgen off the value. They have appeared here and there and worked their way up through the Street, everybody taking the small edge a quality thing brings, and they are now mostly in the hands of the top houses being mounted in ways worthy of them, and you can find one advertised in The New Yorker as of present, page eighty-one, a retail to curl the three hairs I have remaining. It was a goodly number of top items, a minimum of ten, and perhaps no more than fifteen, unless somebody is holding tight. As to source, laddy boy, on the Street I found a word here, a word there, adding up to a smiling savage man, not by any means a fool, unloading one at a time, without haste, for cash, known to slam one man against a wall, and having no trouble thereafter, claiming he’d be back often with more of the same.”