Книга The Deep Blue Good-Bye. Содержание - Doce

I moved close to the bed, barely making out the dark spill of the pillowed hair, holding my breath to try to hear the cadence of her breathing. She made a small throaty sound of total contentment, of a perfect gladness, and reached and found my wrist and drew me to her. Ripping the sheet and blanket aside, presenting herself so totally, guiding us with such an artful ease, that as I lay with her we were joined, her readiness and her long exultant shudder a confession of what her night thoughts had been.

After a few moments she stilled us, so sweetly enclasped, saying, as she turned us, “Wait, darling. Please. The way we talked tonight. I could not really look at you. You couldn’t really look at me. Because we couldn’t say anything about the end of it. And that’s a shadow. You know it is.”

“There isn’t any other choice.”

“You know there is. I can charge him with rape. It’s true enough, you know. I can testify. They can put him away.”

“It won’t look very good for you. Stayng with him.”

“Look good to whom? I care about my opinion of myself and your opinion of me. No one eIse. He terrorized me. I’m articulate. I can make anyone see how it was. And I can talk to Cathy and she will identify him as the man who beat her. Between the two of us, darling, we can make certain he’ll be put away for a long time. Get the first part of it done, and before he can retaliate, we’ll go to the police, Cathy and I.”

“I don’t think that’s the way to…”

“I want it that way. Promise.”

“But… ”

She had her fingers laced at the nape of my neck. She gave me a hearty tug. “Promise!”

“You have me at a disadvantage.”

“Ah, I have you at an advantage, McGee. Promise!”

“… All right.”

She pulled strongly. She rocked her wide mouth against my shoulder in a dainty, exacting, continuing, irresistible demand. And at last murmurously curled herself into sleep, the small love words falling away into heavy slumber. Once she was gone I had a little time to think of the promise. I looked at it coldly. It was a tactical stupidity. Junior Allen, once he was trapped, would spoil everything he could reach. He would try to make deals. And he would have the knowledge of Sergeant David Berry’s fortune to bargain with, stolen, restolen, and stolen once again… if all went well for me.

Yet I knew I would keep the promise. Try to salvage something. She moaned in her sleep. Her long legs twitched. She was running from an old horror. I stroked her hair and kissed her eyes and she came half awake and sighed and settled back again.

If it all went wrong, would anyone ever be able to comfort Patty Devlan?


THE SMALL insured package from Harry arrived Monday morning. When I got back from the post office, Lois, excited and nervous, told me that Howard Wicker had called collect and left the message that the Play Pen was set up for a ten o’clock appointment Tuesday morning for installation of the new generator.

“It’s moving so quickly,” she said, wide-eyed. I opened the package and took out the imitation gem. It was deep blue, big as a songbird’s egg, with a bright and perfect star. I did a stupid thing. I bent and rolled it across the floor toward her, when it rolled crookedly. Had it heen a snake she could not have leapt back inore violently, ashen and trembling, putting her hand to her throat, looking sick.

“Just like that,” she whispered.

“Pick it up.”

She hesitated a long moment, then reached and picked it up. Her color was coming back. She studied it and looked at me. “This really isn’t real?”

“Not unless my friend made a horrible mistake.”

“It’s beautiful.”

“Cornflower blue. Long ago they were thought to be love charms. It wouldn’t fool an expert.”

“Will it fool Junior Allen?”

“For just long enough, I think.”

“My God, Trav, be careful!”

I took it away from her and wrapped it in some of the tissue from the small box and put it into my pocket.

She wore blue sailcloth shorts I had not seen before, a blouse with a narrow blue and white horizontal stripe. We had a connubial flavor this morning, but awkward. I had stayed the night with her, and when the early snarl of the fishermen leaving had awakened me, I had made love to her again. Without words. Afterward, she had rolled onto her stomach and wept and could not say why and could not be soothed. She had showered first, and when I came out she was busy fixing breakfast, her mouth small, her face prim, her eyes evasive.

“What are you going to do?” I asked her.

“Just some lawyer things, about the sale of the house. It won’t take long.”

“Make it last. Keep busy. Keep your mind off this.”

I offered her Miss Agnes, but she decided she would rather take a cab. She changed to a skirt and left. There is a cab stand up by the charter boat docks.

I looked at a chart and estimated that Junior Allen would cast off at about seven to be at Robinson-Rand by ten. With happy cruise passengers. Suddenly the careful plan seemed full of basic flaws. How could I be so certain he kept the loot aboard the Play Pen?

Logically, that was the best place for it. He vas good with his hands. He’d had all the time n the world to prepare a hiding place. A forty-foot cruiser is a complex piece of equipment. It would take days to make a careful search of every inch of it. I’d had a good opportunity to study the layout, and saw no good reason why my short cut wouldn’t work. If the random factors didn’t get too random. If they didn’t get out of control. He’d had more luck than he deserved.

And I had done my homework on him. Know the man, know the terrain, know the values. Nothing had been wasted and, I hoped, nothing overlooked.

There is as much danger in overestimating as in underestimating the quality of the opposition.

A. A. Allen, Junior, came through as a crafty, impulsive and lucky man. He had gone after the sergeant’s fortune with guile and patience, but now that he had begun to have the use of it, he was recklessly impatient to find his own rather perverse gratifications.

Sanity is not an absolute term. Probably, in the five years of imprisonment, what had originally been merely a strong sexual drive had been perverted into a search for victims. He had indulged himself with erotic fantasies of gentle women, force, terror, corruption. Until, finally, the restolen fortune became merely a means to that end, to come out and live the fantasies.

Cathy was a victim. And then Lois Atkinson. And Patty Devlan was next. As if each satisfaction required that the next victim be more vulnerable, more open to terror. Taste is quickly jaded. Make a projection of his trend and his needs, and it might well end up with the jumprope set, and then become murderous because smaller mouths would not stay closed.

Good old Dads. Would honey like a nice boat ride on the nice man’s boat? Would sweetie like a nice ten-day nightmare?

The five of them aboard would, catalyzed by a total isolation and the brute heat of the islands in August, and by the closeness of flesh in a confined space, by the liquor, by the meaty and casual permissiveness of the girls from the Citrus Inn, finally embark on those permutations and interrelations which would fit Junior Allen’s fantasies. Good old Dads would gradually take charge, and all the fragile alarms of Miss Patty would find no response in the sundulled and drink-dulled paganism of Corry and Deeleen and Pete, find among them no protective conspiracy to save her from that inevitable result of Junior Allen’s sly maneuvering, that obligatory scene for her when good old Dads would, smiling, and with grotesque ham-handed imitation of tenderness, gather her squeaking and whimpering and pleading into the seaman’s bunk for that thickened and driving instruction, that hammering indoctrination which would thrust her quickly along the road of not giving a damn, not for Pete, not for herself, not for any of the abandoned and gentle dreams. Poor frantic little clowngirl, hiding the loveliness behind the heavy lenses, the shrill guffaw, the exaggerated gawkiness. Have some nice candy, sweetheart, and go with the nice man in his nice car, and wave good-by to all your friends.

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