Книга The Dead Zone. Содержание - CHAPTER ELEVEN
She hung up the telephone. They all looked at her, the nurses with avid curiosity, Johnny with only dull certainty.
“Jan says there's smoke pouring out of my kitchen window,” Eileen said, and all three nurses sighed in unison. Their eyes, wide and somehow accusing, turned to Johnny again. Jury's eyes, he thought dismally.
“I ought to go home,” Eileen said. The aggressive, cajoling, positive physical therapist was gone, replaced by a small woman who was worried about her cats and her house and her things… I don't know how to thank you, Johnny… I'm sorry I didn't believe you, but… “She began to weep.
One of the nurses moved toward her, but Johnny was there first. He put an arm around her and led her out into the hall.
“You really can,” Eileen whispered. “What they said…”
“You go on,” Johnny said. “I'm sure it's going to be fine. There's going to be some minor smoke and water damage, and that's all. That movie poster from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, I think you're going to lose that, but that's all.”
“Yes, okay. Thank you. Johnny. God bless you. “She kissed him on the cheek and then began to trot down the hall. She looked back once, and the expression on her face was very much like superstitious dread.
The nurses were lined up against the glass of the nurses” station, staring at him. Suddenly they reminded him of crows on a telephone line, crows staring down at something bright and shiny, something to be pecked at and pulled apart.
“Go on and answer your calls,” he said crossly, and they. flinched back at the sound of his voice. He began to limp up the hall toward the elevator, leaving them to start the gossip on its way. He was tired. His legs hurt. His hip joints felt as if they had broken glass in them. He wanted to go to bed.
“What are you going to do?” Sam Weizak asked.
“Christ, I don't know,” Johnny said. “How many did you say are down there?”
“About eight. One of them is the northern New England AP stringer. And there are people from two of the TV stations with cameras and lights. The hospital director is quite angry with you, Johnny. He feels you have been naughty.”
“Because a lady's house was going to burn down?” Johnny asked. “All I can say is it must have been one frigging slow news day.”
“As a matter of fact it wasn't. Ford vetoed two bills. The P. L. O. blew up a restaurant in Tel Aviv. And a police dog sniffed out four hundred pounds of marijuana at the airport.”
“Then what are they doing here?” Johnny asked. When Sam had come in with the news that reporters were gathering in the lobby, his first sinking thought was what his mother might make of this. She was with his father in Pownal, making ready for her California pilgrimage, which began the following week. Neither Johnny nor his father believed the trip was a good idea, and the news that her son had somehow turned psychic might make her cancel it, but in this case Johnny was very much afraid that the cure might be the greater of two evils. Something like this could set her off for good.
On the other hand-this thought suddenly blossomed in his mind with all the force of inspiration-it might persuade her to start taking her medicine again.
“They're here because what happened is news,” Sam said. “It has all the classic ingredients.”
“I didn't do anything, I just…
“You just told Eileen Magown her house was on fire and it was,” Sam said softly. “Come on, Johnny, you must have known this was going to happen sooner or later.”
“I'm no publicity hound,” Johnny said grimly.
“No. I didn't mean to suggest you were. An earthquake is no publicity hound. But the reporters cover it. People want to know.”
“What if I just refuse to talk to them?”
“That is not much of an option,” Sam replied. “They will go away and publish crazy rumors. Then, when you leave the hospital, they will fall on you. They will shove microphones in your face as if you were a senator or a crime boss, nuh?”
Johnny thought about it. “Is Bright down there?”
“Suppose I ask him to come up? He can get the story and give it to the rest of them.”
“You can do that, but it would make the rest of them extremely unhappy. And an unhappy reporter will be your enemy. Nixon made them unhappy and they tore him to pieces.”
“I'm not Nixon,” Johnny said.
Weizak grinned radiantly. “Thank God,” he said. “What do you suggest?” Johnny asked.
The reporters stood up and crowded forward when Johnny stepped through the swing doors and into the west lobby. He was wearing a white shirt, open at the collar, and a pair of blue jeans that were too big for him. His face was pale but composed. The scars from the tendon operations stoodout clearly on his neck. Flashbulbs popped warm fire at him and made him wince. Questions were babbled.
“Here! Here!” Sam Weizak shouted. “This is a convalescent patient! He wants to make a brief statement and he will answer some of your questions, but only if you behave in an orderly fashion! Now fall back and let him breathe!”
Two sets of TV light bars flashed on, bathing the lobby in an unearthly glare. Doctors and nurses had gathered by the lounge doorway to watch. Johnny winced away from the lights, wondering if this was what they meant by the limelight. He felt as if all of it might be a dream.
“Who're you?” one of the reporters yelled at Weizak.
“I am Samuel Weizak, this young man's doctor, and that name is spelled with two X's.”
There was general laughter and the mood eased a little. “Johnny, you feel all right?” Weizak asked. It was early evening, and his sudden insight that Eileen Magown's kitchen was catching fire seemed distant and unimportant, the memory of a memory.
“Sure,” he said.
“What's your statement?” one of the reporters called.
“Well,” Johnny said, “it's this. My physical therapist is a woman named Eileen Magown. She's a very nice lady, and she's been helping me get my strength back. I was in an accident, you see, and… “One of the TV cameras moved in, goggling at him blankly, throwing him off-stride for a moment “… and I got pretty weak. My muscles sort of collapsed. We were in the physical therapy room this morning, just finishing up, and I got the feeling that her house was on fire. That is, to be more specific… “Jesus) you sound like an asshole! “I felt that she had forgotten to turn off her stove and that the curtains in the kitchen were about to catch fire. So we just went and called the fire department and that's all there was to it.”
There was a moment's gaping pause as they digested that-I sort of got the feeling, and that's all there was to it-and then the barrage of questions came again, everything mixed together into a meaningless stew of human voices. Johnny looked around helplessly, feeling disoriented and vulnerable.
“One at a time!” Weizak yelled. “Raise your hands! Were you never schoolchildren?”
Hands waved, and Johnny pointed at David Bright.
“Would you call this a psychic experience, Johnny?”
“I would call it a feeling,” Johnny answered. “I was doing situps and I finished. Miss Magown took my hand to help me up and I just knew.”
He pointed at someone else.
“Mel Allen, Portland Sunday Telegram, Mr. Smith. Was it like a picture? A picture in your head?”
“No, not at all,” Johnny said, but he was not really able to remember what it had been like.
“Has this happened to you before, Johnny?” A young woman in a slacksuit asked.
“Yes, a few times.”
“Can you tell us about the other incidents?”
“No, I'd rather not.”
One of the TV reporters raised his hand and Johnny nodded at him. “Did you have any of these flashes before your accident and the resulting coma, Mr. Smith?”