Книга Let's All Kill Constance. Содержание - CHAPTER FIVE

"Abrams, Alexander, Alsop, Allen."

I went on.

"Baldwin, Bradley, Benson, Burton, Buss…"

And felt a coldness take my fingers.

"These are all friends of yours? I know those names."


"Not all, but most of them, buried out at Forest Lawn. But dug up tonight. A graveyard book," I said.

"And worse than the one from 1900."


"I gave this one away years ago. To the Hollywood Helpers. I didn't have the heart to erase the names. The dead accumulated. A few live ones remained. But I gave the book away. Now it's back. Found it when I came in tonight from the surf."

"Jesus, you swim in this weather?"

"Rain or shine. And tonight I came back to find this lying like a tombstone in my yard."

“No note?”

"By saying nothing, it says everything."

"Christ." I took the old directory in one hand, Rattigan's small names and numbers book in the other.

"Two almost-Books of the Dead," I said.

"Almost, yes," said Constance. "Look here, and here, and also here."

She showed me three names on three pages, each with a red ink circle around it and a crucifix.

"These names?" I said. "Special?"

"Special, yes. AW dead. Or so I think. But they're marked, aren't they? With a cross by each, which means what?"

"Marked to die? Next up?"

"Yes, no, I don't know, except it scares me. Look."

Her name, up front, had a red ink circle around it, plus the crucifix.

"Book of the Dead, plus a list of the soon possibly dead?"

"Holding it, how does that book feel to you?"

"Cold," I said. "Awfully cold."

The rain beat on the roof.

"Who would do a thing like this to you, Constance? Name a few."

"Hell, ten thousand." She paused to add sums. "Would you believe nine hundred? Give or take a dozen."

"My God, that's too many suspects."

"Spread over thirty years? Sparse."

"Sparse!" I cried.

"They stood in lines on the beach."

"You didn't have to ask them in!"

"When they all shouted Rattigan!?"

"You didn't have to listen."

"What is this, a Baptist revival?"


"Well." She took the last swig in the bottle and winced. "Will you help find this son of a bitch, or two sons of bitches, if the Books of the Dead were sent by separate creeps?"

"I'm no detective, Constance."

"How come I remember you half-drowned in the canal with that psycho Shrank?"


"How come I saw you up on Notre Dame at Fenix Studios with the Hunchback? Please help Mama."

"Let me sleep on it."

"No sleep tonight. Hug these old bones. Now …"

She stood up with the two Books of the Dead and walked across the room to open the door on black rain and the surf eating the shore, and aimed the books. "Wait!" I cried. "If I'm going to help, I'll need those!"

"Atta boy." She shut the door. "Bed and hugs? But no phys ed."

"I wasn't planning, Constance," I said.


at two forty-five in the middle of the dark storm, a terrific lightning bolt rammed the earth behind my bungalow. Thunder erupted. Mice died in the walls.

Rattigan leaped upright in bed.

"Save me!" she yelled.

"Constance." I stared through the dark. "You talking to yourself, God, or me?"

"Whoever's listening!"

"We all are."

She lay in my arms.

The telephone rang at three A.M., the hour when all souls die if they need to die.

I lifted the receiver.

'"Who's in bed with you?" Maggie asked from some country with no rains and no storms.

I searched Constance's suntanned face, with the white skull lost under her summer flesh.

"No one," I said.

And it was almost true.


at six in the morning dawn was out there somewhere, but you couldn't see it for the rain. Lightning still flashed and took pictures of the tide slamming the shore.

An incredibly big lightning bolt struck out in the street and I knew if I reached across the bed, the other side would be empty.


The front door stood wide like a stage exit, with rain drumming the carpet, and the two phone books, large and small, dropped for me to find.

"Constance," I said in dismay, and looked around.

At least she put on her dress, I thought.

I telephoned her number. Silence.

I shrugged on my raincoat and trudged up the shoreline, blinded by rain, and stood in front of her Arabian-fortress house, which was brightly lit inside and out.

But no shadows moved anywhere.

"Constance!" I yelled.

The lights stayed on and the silence with it.

A monstrous wave slammed the shore.

I looked for her footprints going out to the tide.


Thank God, I thought. But then, the rain would have erased them.

"All right for you!" I yelled.

And went away.


LATER I moved along the dusty path through the jungle trees and the wild azalea bushes carrying two six-packs. I knocked on Crumley's carved African front door and waited. I knocked again. Silence. I set one six-pack of beer against the door and backed off.

After eight or nine long breaths, the door opened just enough to let a nicotine-stained hand grab the beer and pull it in. The door shut.

"Crumley," I yelled. I ran up to the door.

"Go away," said a voice from inside.

"Crumley, it's the Crazy. Let me in!"

"No way," said Crumley's voice, liquid now, for he had opened the first beer. "Your wife called."

"Damn!" I whispered.

Crumley swallowed. "She said that every time she leaves town, you fall off the pier in deep guano, or karate-chop a team of lesbian midgets."

"She didn't say that!"

"Look, Willie"-for Shakespeare-"I'm an old man and can't take those graveyard carousels and crocodile men snor-keling the canals at midnight. Drop that other six-pack. Thank God for your wife."

"Damn," I murmured.

"She said she'll come home early if you don't cease and desist."

"She would, too," I muttered.

"Nothing like a wife coming home early to spoil the chaos. Wait." He took a swallow. "You're okay, William, but no thanks."

I set the other six-pack down and put the 1900 telephone book and Rattigan's private phone book on top, and backed off.

After a long while that hand emerged again, touched Braille-wise over the books, knocked them off, and grabbed the beer. I waited. Finally the door reopened. The hand, curious, fumbled the books and snatched them in.

"Good!" I cried.

Good! I thought. In one hour, by God… he'll call!

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