Книга The Dead Zone. Содержание - CHAPTER FIVE
His thing was standing up now.
He glanced at his watch. 3: 07. He dropped his cigarette half-smoked. Someone was coming.
He recognized her. It was Alma, Alma Frechette from the Coffee Pot across the street. Just coming off-shift. He knew Alma; he had dated her up once or twice, shown her a good time. Took her to Serenity Hill over in Naples.
She was a good dancer. Nasty-fuckers often were. He was glad it was Alma coming.
She was by herself.
Back in the US, back in the US, back in the USSR -'Alma!” he called, and waved. She started a little, looked around, and saw him. She smiled and walked over to the bench where he sat, saying hello and calling him by name. He stood up, smiling. He wasn't worried about anyone coming. He was untouchable. He was Superman.
“Why you wearing that?” she asked, looking at him.
“Slick, isn't it?” he said, smiling.
“Well, I wouldn't exactly…
“You want to see something?” he asked. “On the bandstand. It's the goddamnest thing.”
“What is it?”
“Come and look.”
As simple as that. She went with him to the bandstand. If anyone had been coming, he still could have called it off. But no one came. No one passed. They had the common to themselves. The white sky brooded over them. Alma was a small girl with light blonde hair. Dyed blonde hair, he was quite sure. Sluts dyed their hair.
He led her up onto the enclosed bandstand. Their feet made hollow, dead echoes on the boards. An overturned music stand lay in one corner. There was an empty Four Roses bottle. This was a place where the nasty-fuckers came, all right.
“What?” she asked, sounding a little puzzled now. A little nervous.
The killer smiled joyously and pointed to the left of the music stand. “There. See?”
She followed his finger. A used condom lay on the boards like a shriveled snakeskin.
Alma's face went tight and she turned to go so quickly that she almost got by the killer. “That's not very funny…”
He grabbed her and threw her back. “Where do you think you're going?”
Her eyes were suddenly watchful and frightened. “Let me out of here. Or you'll be sorry. I don't have any time for sick jokes…
“It's no joke,” he said. “It's no joke, you nasty-fucker. “He was light-headed with the joy of naming her, naming her for what she was. The world whirled.
Alma broke left, heading for the low railing that surrounded the bandstand, meaning to leap over it. The killer caught the back of her cheap cloth coat at the collar and yanked her back again. The cloth ripped with a low purring sound and she opened her mouth to scream.
He slammed his hand over her mouth, mashing her lips back against her teeth. He felt warm blood trickle over his palm. Her other hand was beating at him now, clawing for purchase, but there was no purchase. There was none because he… he was…
He threw her to the board floor. His hand came off her mouth, which was now smeared with blood, and she opened her mouth to scream again, but he landed on top of her, panting, grinning, and the air was driven out of her lungs in a soundless whoosh. She could feel him now, rock hard, gigantic and throbbing, and she quit trying to scream and went on struggling. Her fingers caught and slipped, caught and slipped. He forced her legs rudely apart and lay between them. One of her hands glanced off the bridge of his nose, making his eyes water.
“You nasty-fucker,” he whispered, and his hands closed on her throat. He began to throttle her, yanking her head up from the bandstand's board flooring and then slamming it back down. Her eyes bulged. Her face went pink, then red, then a congested purple. Her struggles began to weaken.
“Nasty-fucker, nasty-fucker, nasty-fucker,” the killer panted hoarsely. He really was the killer now, Alma Frechette's days of rubbing her body all over people at Serenity Hill were done now. Her eyes bugged out like the eyes of some of those crazy dolls they sold along carnival midways. The killer panted hoarsely. Her hands lay limp on the boards now. His fingers had almost disappeared from sight.
He let go of her throat, ready to grab her again if she stirred. But she didn't. After a moment he ripped her coat open with shaking hands and shoved the skirt of her pink waitress uniform up.
The white sky looked down. The Castle Rock town common was deserted. In fact, no one found the strangled, violated corpse of Alma Frechette until the next day. The sheriff's theory was that a drifter had done it. There were statewide newspaper headlines, and in Castle Rock there was general agreement with the sheriff's idea.
Surely no hometown boy could have done such a dreadful thing.
Herb and Vera Smith went back to Pownal and took up the embroidery of their days. Herb finished a house in Durham that December. Their savings did indeed melt away, as Sarah had foreseen, and they applied to the state for Extraordinary Disaster Assistance. That aged Herb almost as much as the accident itself had done. EDA was only a fancy way of saying “welfare” or “charity” in his mind. He had spent a lifetime working hard and honestly-with his hands and had thought he would never see the day when he would have to take a state dollar. But here that day was.
Vera subscribed to three new magazines which came through the mail at irregular intervals. All three were badly printed and might have been illustrated by talented children. God's Saucers, The Coming Transfiguration, and God's Psychic Miracles. The Upper Room, which still came monthly, now sometimes lay unopened for as long as three weeks at a stretch, but she read these others to tatters. She found a great many things in them that seemed to bear upon Johnny's accident, and she read these nuggets to her tired husband at supper in a high, piercing voice that trembled with exaltation. Herb found himself telling her more and more frequently to be quiet, and on occasion shouting at her to shut up that drivel and let him alone. When he did that, she would give him long-suffering, compassionate, and hurt glances-then slink upstairs to continue her studies. She began to correspond with these magazines, and to exchange letters with the contributors and with other pen-friends who had had similar experiences in their lives.
Most of her correspondents were good-hearted people like Vera herself, people who wanted to help and to ease the nearly insupportable burden of her pain. They sent prayers and prayer stones, they sent charms, they sent promises to include Johnny in their nightly devotions. Yet there were others who were nothing but con-men and women, and Herb was alarmed by his wife's increasing inability to recognize these. There was an offer to send her a sliver of the One True Cross of Our Lord for just $99. 98. An offer to send a vial of water drawn from the spring at Lourdes, which would almost certainly work a miracle when rubbed into Johnny's forehead. That one was $1. 10 plus postage. Cheaper (and more attractive to Vera) was a continuously playing cassette tape of the Twenty-third Psalm and the Lord's Prayer as spoken by southern evangelist Billy Humbair… Played at Johnny's bedside over a period of weeks it would almost certainly effect a marvelous recovery, according to the pamphlet.
As an added blessing (For A Short Time Only) an autographed picture of Billy Humbarr himself would be included.
Herb was forced to step in more and more frequently as her passion for these pseudoreligious geegaws grew. Sometimes he surreptitiously tore up her checks and simply readjusted the checkbook balance upward. But when the offer specified cash and nothing but, he simply had to put his foot down-and Vera began to draw away from him, to view him with distrust as a sinner and an unbeliever.