Книга The Dead Zone. Содержание - CHAPTER THIRTEEN

“Okay, Ma.”

“What a power,” she murmured. Her voice was growing furry and indistinct. “What a power God has given you… I knew… I always knew… “Her voice trailed off. The good eye closed. The other stared blankly forward.

Johnny sat with her another five minutes, then got up to leave. His hand was on the doorknob and he was easing the door open when her dry, rattling voice came again, chilling him with its implacable, positive command.

“Do your duty, John.”

“Yes, Ma.”

It was the last time he ever spoke to her. She died at five minutes past eight on the morning of August 20. Somewhere north of them, Walt and Sarah Hazlett were having a discussion about Johnny that was almost an argument, and somewhere south of them, Greg Stillson was cutting himself some prime asshole.



“You don't understand,” Greg Stillson said in a voice of utter, reasonable patience to the kid sitting in the lounge at the back of the Ridgeway police station. The kid, shirt-less, was tilted back in a padded folding chair and drinking a bottle of Pepsi. He was smiling indulgently at Greg Stillson, not understanding that twice was all Greg Still-son ever repeated himself, understanding that there was one prime asshole in the room, but not yet understanding who it was.

That realization would have to be brought home to him.

Forcibly, if necessary.

Outside, the late August morning was bright and warm. Birds sang in the trees. And Greg felt his destiny was closer than ever. That was why he would be careful with this prime asshole. That was no long-haired bike-freak with a bad case of bowlegs and B. O.; this kid was a college boy, his hair was moderately long but squeaky clean, and he was George Harvey's nephew. Not that George cared for him much (George had fought his way across Germany in 1945, and he had two words for these long-haired freaks, and those two words were not Happy Birthday), but he was blood. And George was a man to be reckoned with on the town council. See what you can do with him, George had told Greg when Greg informed him that Chief Wiggins had arrested his sister's kid. But his eyes said, Don't hurt him. He's blood.

The kid was looking at Greg with lazy contempt. “I understand,” he said. “Your Deputy Dawg took my shirt and I want it back. And you better understand something. If I don't get it back, I'm going to have the American Civil Liberties Union down on your red neck.”

Greg got up, went to the steel-gray file cabinet opposite the soda machine, pulled out his keyring, selected a key, and opened the cabinet. From atop a pile of accident and traffic forms, he took a red T-shirt. He spread it open so the legend on it was clear: BABY LET'S FUCK.

“You were wearing this,” Greg said in that same mild voice. “On the street.”

The kid rocked on the back legs of his chair and swigged some more Pepsi. The little indulgent smile playing around his mouth-almost a sneer-did not change. “That's right,” he said. “And I want it back. It's my property.

Greg's head began to ache. This smartass didn't realize how easy it would be. The room was soundproofed, and there had been times when that soundproofing had muffled screams. No-he didn't realize. He didn't understand.

But keep your hand on it. Don't go overboard. Don't upset the applecart.

Easy to think. Usually easy to do. But sometimes, his temper-his temper got out of hand.

Greg reached into his pocket and pulled out his Bic lighter.

“So you just go tell your gestapo” chief and my fascist uncle that the First Amendment… “He paused, eyes widening a little. “What are you…? Hey! Hey!”

Taking no notice and at least outwardly calm, Greg struck a light. The Bic's gas flame vroomed upward, and Greg lit the kid's T-shirt on fire. It burned quite well, actually.

The front legs of the kid's chair came down with a bang and he leaped toward Greg with his bottle of Pepsi still in his hand. The self-satisfied little smirk was gone, replaced with a look of wide-eyed shock and surprise-and the anger of a spoiled brat who has had everything his own way for too long.

No one ever called him runt, Greg Stillson thought, and his headache worsened. Oh, he was going to have to be careful.

“Gimme that!” the kid shouted. Greg was holding the shirt out, pinched together in two fingers at the neck, ready to drop it when it got too hot. “Gimme that, you asshole! That's mine! That's…”

Greg planted his hand in the middle of the kid's bare chest and shoved him as hard as he could-which was hard indeed. The kid went flying across the room, the anger dissolving into total shock, and-at last-what Greg needed to see: fear.

He dropped the shirt on the tile floor, picked up the kid's Pepsi, and poured what was left in the bottle onto the smouldering T-shirt. It hissed balefully.

The kid was getting up slowly, his back pressed against the wall. Greg caught his eyes with his own. The kid's eyes were br6wn and very, very wide.

“We're going to reach an understanding,” Greg said, and the words seemed distant to him, behind the sick thud in his head. “We're going to have a little seminar right here in this back room about just who's the asshole. you got my meaning? We're gonna reach some conclusions. Isn't that what you college boys like to do? Reach conclusions?”

The kid drew breath in hitches. He wet his lips, seemed about to speak, and then he yelled: “Help!”

“Yeah, you need help, all right,” Greg said. “I'm going to give you some, too.”

“You're crazy,” George Harvey's nephew said, and then yelled again, louder: “HELP!”

“I may be,” Greg said. “Sure. But what we got to find out, Sonny, is who the prime asshole is. See what I mean?”

He looked down at the Pepsi bottle in his hand, and suddenly he swung it savagely against the corner of the steel cabinet. It shattered, and when the kid saw the scatter of glass on the floor and the jagged neck in Greg's hand pointing toward him, he screamed. The crotch of his jeans, faded almost white, suddenly darkened. His face went the color of old parchment. And as Greg walked toward him, gritting glass under the workboots he wore summer and winter, he cringed against the wall.

“When I go out on the street, I wear a white shirt,” Greg said. He was grinning, showing white teeth. “Sometimes a tie. When you go out on the street, you wear some rag with a filthy saying on it. So who's the asshole, kiddo?”

George Harvey's nephew whined something. His bulging eyes never left the spears of glass jutting from the bottle neck in Greg's hand.

“I'm standing here high and dry,” Greg said, coming a little closer, “and you got piss running down both legs into your shoes. So who's the asshole?”

He began to jab the bottle neck lightly toward the kid's bare and sweaty midriff, and George Harvey's nephew began to cry. This was the sort of kid that was tearing the country in two, Greg thought. The thick wine of fury buzzed and coursed in his head. Stinking yellow-belly crybaby assholes like this.

Ah, but don't hurt him-don't kick over the apple cart -'I sound like a human being,” Greg said, “and you sound like a pig in a grease-pit, boy. So who's the ass-hole?”

He jabbed with the bottle again: one of the jagged glass points dimpled the kid's skin just below the right nipple and brought a tiny bead of blood. The kid howled.

“I'm talking to you,” Greg said. “You better answer up, same as you'd answer up one of your professors. Who's the asshole?”

The kid sniveled but made no coherent sound.

“You answer up if you want to pass this exam,” Greg said. “I'll let your guts loose all over this floor, boy. “And in that instant, he meant it. He couldn't look directly at this welling drop of blood; it would send him crazy if he did, George Harvey's nephew or not. “Who's the asshole?”

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