Книга The Dead Zone. Содержание - CHAPTER TWO

“Honey, you all right?” a woman's voice asked her, and Sarah shook her head blindly.

“Sarah!” Johnny called.

You just can't hide… from Jekyll and Hyde, she thought incoherently. The fluorescent mask seemed to hang sickly before her eyes in the midway dark as she hurried past the merry-go-round. She struck a light pole with her shoulder, staggered, grabbed it, and threw up. It seemed to come all the way from her heels, convulsing her stomach like a sick, slick fist. She let herself go with it as much as she could.

Smells like cotton candy, she thought, and with a groan she did it again, then again. Spots danced in front of her eyes. The last heave had brought up little more than mucus and air.

“Oh, my,” she said weakly, and clung to the light pole to keep from falling over. Somewhere behind her Johnny was calling her name, but she couldn't answer just yet, didn't want to. Her stomach was settling back down a little and for just a moment she wanted to stand here in the dark and congratulate herself on being alive, on having survived her night at the fair.

“Sarah? Sarah!”

She spat twice to clear her mouth a little.

“Over here, Johnny.”

He came around the carousel with its plaster horses frozen in mid-leap. She saw he was absently clutching a thick wad of greenbacks in one hand.

“Are you all right?”

“No, but better. I threw up.”

“Oh. Oh, Jesus. Let's go home. “He took her arm gently.

“You got your money.

He glanced down at the wad of bills and then tucked it absently into his pants pocket. “Yeah. Some of it or all of it, I don't know. That burly guy counted it out.”

Sarah took a handkerchief from her purse and began rubbing her mouth with it. Drink of water, she thought. I'd sell my soul for a drink of water.

“You ought to care,” she said. “It's a lot of money.”

“Found money brings bad luck,” he said darkly. “One of my mother's sayings. She has a million of em. And she's death on gambling.”

“Dyed-in-the-wool Baptist,” Sarah said, and then shuddered convulsively.

“You okay?” he asked, concerned.

“The chills,” she said. “When we get in the car I want the heater on full blast, and… oh, Lord, I'm going to do it again.”

She turned away from him and retched up spittle with a groaning sound. She staggered. He held her gently but firmly. “Can you get back to the car?”

“Yes. I'm all right now. “But her head ached and her mouth tasted foul and the muscles of her back and belly all felt sprung out of joint, strained and achey.

They walked slowly down the midway together, scuffing through the sawdust, passing tents that had been closed up and snugged down for the night. A shadow glided up behind them and Johnny glanced around sharply, perhaps aware of how much money he had in his pocket.

It was one of the teenagers-about fifteen years old. He smiled shyly at them. “I hope you feel better,” he said to Sarah. “It's those hot dogs, I bet. You can get a bad one pretty easy.”

“Ag, don't talk about it,” Sarah said.

“You need a hand getting her to the car?” he asked Johnny.

“No, thanks. We're fine.”

“Okay. I gotta cut out anyway. “But he paused a moment longer, his shy smile widening into a grin. “I love to see that guy take a beatin.”

He trotted off into the dark.

Sarah's small, white station wagon was the only car left in the dark parking lot; it crouched under a sodium light like a forlorn, forgotten pup. Johnny opened the passenger door for Sarah and she folded herself carefully in. He slipped in behind the wheel and started it up.

“It'll take a few minutes for the heater,” he said.

“Never mind. I'm hot now.

He looked at her and saw the sweat breaking on her face. “Maybe we ought to trundle you up to the emergency room at Eastern Maine Medical,” he said. “If it's salmonella, it could be serious.”

“No, I'm okay. I just want to go home and go to sleep, I'm going to get up just long enough tomorrow morning to call in sick at school and then go back to sleep again.”

“Don't even bother to get up that long. I'll call you in, Sarah.”

She looked at him gratefully. “Would you?”


They were headed back to the main highway now. “I'm sorry I can't come back to your place with you,” Sarah said. “Really and truly.”

“Not your fault.”

“Sure it is. I ate the bad hot dog. Unlucky Sarah.”

“I love you, Sarah,” Johnny said. So it was out, it couldn't be called back, it hung between them in the moving car waiting for someone to do something about it.

She did what she could. “Thank you, Johnny. “They drove on in a comfortable silence.



It was nearly midnight when Johnny turned the wagon into her driveway. Sarah was dozing.

“Hey,” he said, cutting the motor and shaking her gently. “We're here.”

“Oh… okay. “She sat up and drew her coat more tightly about her.

“How do you feel?”

“Better. My stomach's sore and my back hurts, but better. Johnny, you take the car back to Cleaves with you.

“No, I better not,” he said. “Someone would see it parked in front of the apartment house all night. That kind of talk we don't need.”

“But I was going to come back with you…

Johnny smiled. “And that would have made it worth the risk, even if we had to walk three blocks. Besides, I want you to have the car in case you change your mind about the emergency room.”

“I won't.”

“You might. Can I come in and call a cab?”

“You sure can.

They went in and Sarah turned on the lights before being attacked by a fresh bout of the shivers.

“The phone's in the living room. I'm going to lie down and cover up with a quilt.”

The living room was small and functional, saved from a barracks flavor only by the splashy curtains-flowers in a psychedelic pattern and color-and a series of posters along one wall: Dylan at Forest Hills, Baez at Carnegie Hall, Jefferson Airplane at Berkeley, the Byrds in Cleveland.

Sarah lay down on the couch and pulled a quilt up to her chin. Johnny looked at her with real concern. Her face was paper-white except for the dark circles under her eyes. She looked about as sick as a person can get.

“Maybe I ought to spend the night here,” he said. “Just in case something happens, like…”

“Like a hairline fracture at the top of my spine?” She looked at him with rueful humor.

“Well, you know. Whatever.”

The ominous rumbling in her nether regions decided her. She had fully intended to finish this night by sleeping with John Smith. It wasn't going to work out that way. But that didn't mean she had to end the evening with him in attendance while she threw up, dashed for the w. c., and chugged most of a bottle of Pepto-Bismol.

“I'll be okay,” she said. “It was just a bad carnival hot dog, Johnny. You could have just as easily gotten it yourself. Give me a call during your free period tomorrow.

“You sure?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Okay, kid. “He picked up the phone with no further argument and called his cab. She closed her eyes, lulled and comforted by the sound of his voice. One of the things she liked most about him was that he would always really try to do the right thing, the best thing, with no self-serving bullshit. That was good. She was too tired and feeling too low to play little social games.

“The deed's done,” he said, hanging up. “They'll have a guy over in five minutes.”

“At least you've got cab fare,” she said, smiling.

“And I plan to tip handsomely,” he replied, doing a passable W. C. Fields.

He came over to the couch, sat beside her, held her hand.

“Johnny, how did you do it?”


“The Wheel. How could you do that?”

“It was a streak, that's all,” he said, looking a little uncomfortable. “Everybody has a streak once in a while. Like at the race track or playing blackjack or just matching dimes.”

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