Книга The Dead Zone. Содержание - CHAPTER TEN



The doctor put Vera Smith on a blood-pressure drug called Hydrodiural. It didn't lower her blood pressure much ('not a dime's worth,” she was fond of writing in her letters), but it did make her feel sick and weak. She had to sit down and rest after vacuuming the floor. Climbing a flight of stairs made her stop at the top and pant like a doggy on a hot August afternoon. If Johnny hadn't told her it was for the best, she would have thrown the pills out the window right then.

The doctor tried her on another drug, and that made her heart race so alarmingly that she did stop taking it.

“This is a trial-and-error procedure,” the doctor said. “We'll get you fixed up eventually, Vera. Don't worry.

“I don't worry,” Vera said. “My faith is in the Lord God.”

“Yes, of course it is. Just as it should be, too.”

By the end of June, the doctor had settled on a combination of Hydrodiural and another drug called Aldomet fat, yellow, expensive pills, nasty things. When she started taking the two drugs together, it seemed like she had to make water every fifteen minutes. She had headaches. She had heart palpitations. The doctor said her blood pressure was down into the normal range again, but she didn't believe him. What good were doctors, anyway? Look what they were doing to her Johnny, cutting him up like butcher's meat, three operations already, he looked like a monster with stitches all over his arms and legs and neck, and he still couldn't get around without one of those walkers, like old Mrs. Sylvester had to use. If her blood pressure was down, why did she feel so crummy all the time?

“You've got to give your body time enough to get used to the medication,” Johnny said. It was the first Saturday in July, and his parents were up for the weekend. Johnny had just come back from hydrotherapy, and he looked pale and haggard. In each hand he held a small lead ball, and he was raising them and then lowering them into his lap as,they talked, flexing his elbows, building up his biceps and triceps. The healing scars which ran like slashmarks across his elbows and forearms expanded and contracted.

“Put your faith in God, Johnny,” Vera said. “There's no need of all this foolishness. Put your faith in God and he'll help you.”

“Vera… “Herb began.

“Don't you Vera me. This is foolishness! Doesn't the Bible say, ask and it shall be given, knock and it shall be opened unto you? There's no need for me to take that evil medicine and no need for my boy to let those doctors go on torturing him. It's wrong, it's not helping, and it's sinful!”

Johnny put the balls of lead shot on the bed. The muscles in his arms were trembling. He felt sick to his stomach and exhausted and suddenly furious at his mother.

“The Lord helps those who help themselves,” he said. “You don't want the Christian God at all, Mom. You want a magic genie that's going to come out of a bottle and give you three wishes.”


“Well, it's true.”

“Those doctors put that idea in your head! All of these crazy ideas I” Her lips were trembling; her eyes wide but tearless. “God brought you out of that coma to do his will, John. These others, they're just…

“Just trying to get me back on my feet so I won't have to do God's will from a wheelchair the rest of my life.”

“Let's not have an argument,” Herb said. “Families shouldn't argue. “And hurricanes shouldn't blow, but they do every year, and nothing he could say was going to stop this. It had been coming.

“If you put your trust in God, Johnny… “Vera began, taking no notice of Herb at all.

“I don't trust anything anymore.”

“I'm sorry to hear you say that,” she said. Her voice was stiff and distant. “Satan's agents are everywhere. They'll try to turn you from your destiny. Looks like they are getting along with it real well.”

“You have to make some kind of… of eternal thing out of it, don't you? I'll tell you what it was, it was a stupid accident. a couple of kids were dragging and I just happened to get turned into dog meat. You know what I want, Mom? I want to get out of here. That's all I want. And I want you to go on taking your medicine and and try to get your feet back on the ground. That's all I want.”

“I'm leaving. “She stood up. Her face was pale and drawn. “I'll pray for you, Johnny.”

He looked at her helpless, frustrated, and unhappy. His anger was gone. He had taken it out on her. “Keep taking your medicine! “he said.

“I pray that you'll see the light.”

She left the room, her face set and as grim as stone.

Johnny looked helplessly at his father.

“John, I wish you hadn't done that,” Herb said.

“I'm tired. It doesn't do a thing for my judgment. Or my temper.”

“Yeah,” Herb said. He seemed about to say more and didn't.

“Is she still planning to go out to California for that flying saucer symposium or whatever it is?”

“Yes. But she may change her mind. You never know from one day to the next, and it's still a month away.”

“You ought to do something.”

“Yeah? What? Put her away? Commit her?” Johnny shook his head. “I don't know. But maybe it's time you thought about that seriously instead of just acting like it's out of the question. She's sick. You have to see that.”

Herb said loudly: “She was all right before you…

Johnny winced, as if slapped.

Look, I'm sorry. John, I didn't mean that.”

“Okay, Dad.”

“No, I really didn't. “Herb's face was a picture of misery. “Look, I ought to go after her. She's probably leafleting the hallways by now.”


“Johnny, just try to forget this and concentrate on getting well. She does love you, and so do I. Don't be hard on us.”

“No. It's all right, dad.”

Herb kissed Johnny's cheek. “I have to go after her.”

“All right.”

Herb left. When they were gone, Johnny got up and tottered the three steps between his chair and the bed. Not much. But something. A start, He wished more than his father knew that he hadn't blown up at his mother like that. He wished it because an odd sort of certainty was growing in him that his mother was not going to live much longer.


Vera stopped taking her medication. Herb talked to her, then cajoled, finally demanded. It did no good. She showed him the letters of her “correspondents in Jesus”, most of them scrawled and full of misspellings, all of them supporting her stand and promising to pray for her. One of them was from a lady in Rhode Island who had also been at the farm in Vermont, waiting for the end of the world (along with her pet Pomeranian, Otis). “GOD is the best medicine,” this lady wrote, “ask GOD and YOU WILL BE HEALED, not DRS who OSURP the POWER of GOD, it is DRS who have caused all the CANCER in this evil world with there DEVIL'S MEDDLING, anyone who has had SURGERY for instance, even MINOR like TONSILS OUT, sooner or later they will end up with CANCER, this is a proven fact, so ask GOD, pray GOD, merge YOUR WILL with HIS WILL and YOU WILL BE HEALED!!”

Herb talked to Johnny on the phone, and the next day Johnny called his mother and apologized for being so short with her. He asked her to please start taking the medicine again-for him. Vera accepted his apology, but refused to go back to the medication. If God needed her treading the earth, then he would see she continued to tread it. If God wanted to call her home, he would do that even if she took a barrel of pills a day. It was a seamless argument, and Johnny's only possible rebuttal was the one that Catholics and Protestants alike have rejected for eighteen hundred years: that God works His will through the mind of man as well as through the spirit of man.

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