Книга The Dead Zone. Содержание - CHAPTER FIFTEEN
Greg Stillson's eyes blazed at the banker.
“You want to see the wave of the future? Look up in Maine at this guy Longley. The Republicans ran a guy named Erwin and the Democrats ran a guy named Mitchell and when they counted the votes for governor, they both got a big surprise, because the people went and elected themselves an insurance man from Lewiston that didn't want any part of either party. Now they're talking about him as a dark horse candidate for president.”
Gendron still couldn't talk.
Greg drew in his breath. “They're all gonna think I'm kiddin, see? They thought Longley was kiddin. But I'm not kiddin. I'm building windmills. And you're gonna supply the building materials.”
He ceased. Silence fell in the office, except for the hum of the clock. At last Gendron whispered, “Where did you get these pictures? Was it that Elliman?”
“Aw, hey. You don't want to talk about that. You forget all about those pictures. Keep them.”
“And who keeps the negatives?”
“Chuck,” Greg said earnestly, “you don't understand. I'm offering you Washington. Sky's the limit, boy! I'm not even asking you to raise that much money. Like I said, just a bucket of water to help prime the pump. When we get rolling, plenty of money is going to come in. Now, you know the guys that have money. You have lunch with them down at the Caswell House. You play poker with them. You have written them commercial loans tied to the prime rate at no more than their say so. And you know how to put an armlock on them.”
“Greg you don't understand, you don't…”
Greg stood up. “The way I just put an armlock on you,” he said.
The banker looked up at him. His eyes rolled helplessly. Greg Stillson thought he looked like a sheep that had been led neatly to the slaughter.
“Fifty thousand dollars,” he said. “You find it.”
He walked out, closing the door gently behind him. Gendron heard his booming voice even through the thick walls, bandying with his secretary. His secretary was a sixty-year-old flat-chested biddy, and Stillson probably had her giggling like a schoolgirl. He was a buffoon. It was that as much as his programs for coping with youthful crime that had made him mayor of Ridgeway. But the people didn't elect buffoons to Washington.
That wasn't his problem. Fifty thousand dollars in campaign contributions, that was his problem. His mind began to scurry around the problem like a trained white rat scurrying around a piece of cheese on a plate. It could probably be done. Yes, it could probably be done-but would it end there?
The white envelope was still on his desk. His smiling wife looked at it from her place in the lucite cube. He scooped the envelope up and jammed it into the inner pocket of his suitcoat. It had been Elliman, somehow Elliman had found out and had taken the pictures, he was sure of it.
But it had been Stillson who told him what to do.
Maybe the man wasn't such a buffoon after all. His assessment of the political climate of 1975-76 wasn't completely stupid. Building windmills instead of wind-breaks… the sky's the limit.
But that wasn't his problem.
Fifty thousand dollars was his problem.
Chuck Gendron, president of the Lions and all-round good fellow (last year he had ridden one of those small, funny motorcycles in the Ridgeway Fourth of July parade), pulled a yellow legal tablet out of the top drawer of his desk and began jotting down a list of names. The trained white rat at work. And down on Main Street Greg Stillson turned his face up into the strong autumn sunlight and congratulated himself on a job well-done-or well-begun.
Later, Johnny supposed that the reason he ended up finally making love to Sarah-almost five years to the day after the fair-had a lot to do with the visit of Richard Dees, the man from inside View. The reason he finally weakened and called Sarah and invited her to come and visit was little more than a wistful urge to have someone nice to come to call and take the nasty taste out of his mouth. Or so he told himself.
He called her in Kennebunk and got the former roommate, who said Sarah would be right with him. The phone clunked down and there was a moment of silence when he contemplated (but not very seriously) just hanging up and closing the books for good. Then Sarah's voice was in his ear.
“Johnny? Is it you?”
“The very same.”
“How are you?”
“Fine. How's by you?”
“I'm fine,” she said. “Glad you called. I… didn't know if you would.”
“Still sniffin that wicked cocaine?”
“No, I'm on heroin now.”
“You got your boy with you?”
“I sure do. Don't go anywhere without him.”
“Well, why don't the two of you truck on out here some day before you have to go back up north?”
“I'd like that, Johnny. “she said warmly.
“Dad's working in Westbrook and I'm chief cook and bottlewasher. He gets home around four-thirty and we eat around five-thirty. You're welcome to stay for dinner, but be warned: all my best dishes use Franco-Amencan spaghetti as their base.”
She giggled. “Invitation accepted. Which day is best?”
“What about tomorrow or the day after, Sarah?”
“Tomorrow's fine,” she said after the briefest of hesitations. “See you then.”
“Take care, Sarah.”
He hung up thoughtfully, feeling both excited and guilty-for no good reason at all. But your mind went where it wanted to, didn't it? And where his mind wanted to go now was to examine possibilities maybe best left unconsidered.
Well, she knows the thing she needs to know. She knows what time dad comes home-what else does she need to know?
And his mind answered itself: What you going to do if she shows up at noon?
Nothing, he answered, and didn't wholly believe it. Just thinking about Sarah, the set of her lips, the small, upward tilt of her green eyes-those were enough to make him feel weak and sappy and a little desperate.
Johnny went out to the kitchen and slowly began to put together this night's supper, not so important, just for two. Father and son batching it. It hadn't been all that bad. He was still healing. He and his father had talked about the four-and-a-half years he had missed, about his mother-working around that carefully but always seeming to come a little closer to the center, in a tightening spiral. Not needing to understand, maybe, but needing to come to terms. No, it hadn't been that bad. It was a way to finish putting things together. For both of them. But it would be over in January when he returned to Cleaves Mills to teach. He had gotten his half-year contract from Dave Pelsen the week before, had signed it and sent it back. What would his father do then? Go on, Johnny supposed. People had a way of doing that, just going on, pushing through with no particular drama, no big drumrolls. He would get down to visit Herb as often as he could, every weekend, if that felt like the right thing to do. So many things had gotten strange so fast that all he could do was feel his way slowly along, groping like a blind man in an unfamiliar room.
He put the roast in the oven, went into the living room, snapped on the TV, then snapped it off again. He sat down and thought about Sarah. The baby, he thought The baby will be our chaperon if she comes early. So that was all right, after all. All bases covered.
But his thoughts were still long and uneasily speculative.
She came at quarter past twelve the next day, wheeling a snappy little red Pinto into the driveway and parking it, getting out, looking tall and beautiful, her dark blonde hair caught in the mild October wind.