Книга The Dead Zone. Содержание - CHAPTER SIXTEEN
When he finished, she was standing by the driver's door, looking at him. “It was the best we could do,” she said, and smiled a little. But the brilliance of her eyes told him the tears were close again.
“It wasn't so bad at all,” Johnny said.
“We'll stay in touch?”
“I don't know, Sarah. Will we?”
“No, I suppose not. It would be too easy, wouldn't it?”
“Pretty easy, yes.
She stepped close and stretched to kiss his cheek. He could smell her hair, clean and fragrant.
“Take care,” she whispered. “I'll think about you.”
“Be good, Sarah,” he said, and touched her nose.
She turned then, got in behind the wheel, a smart young matron whose husband was on the way up. I doubt like hell if they'll be driving a Pinto next year, Johnny thought.
The lights came on, then the little sewing machine motor roared. She raised a hand to him and then she was pulling out of the driveway. Johnny stood by the chopping block, hands in his pockets, and watched her go. Something in his heart seemed to have closed. It was not a major feeling. That was the worst of it-it wasn't a major feeling at all.
He watched until the taillights were out of sight and then he climbed the porch steps and went back into the house. His dad was sitting in the big easy chair in the living room. The TV was off. The few toys he had found in the closet were scattered on the rug and he was looking at them.
“Good to see Sarah,” Herb said. “Did you and she have… “there was the briefest, most minute hesitation
–'a nice visit?”
“Yes,” Johnny said.
“She'll be down again?”
“No, I don't think so.”
He and his father were looking at each other.
“Well now, maybe that's for the best,” Herb said finally.
“Yes. Maybe so.”
“You played with these toys,” Herb said, getting down on his knees and beginning to gather them up. “I gave a bunch of them to Lottie Gedreau when she had her twins, but I knew I had a few of them left. I saved a few back.”
He put them back in the box one at a time, turning each of them over in his hands, examining them. A race car. A bulldozer. A police car. A small hook-and-ladder truck from which most of the red paint had been worn away where a small hand would grip. He took them back to the entryway closet and put them away.
Johnny didn't see Sarah Hazlett again for three years.
The snow came early that year. There were six inches on the ground by November 7, and Johnny had taken to lacing on a pair of old green gumrubber boots and wearing his old parka for the trek up to the mailbox. Two weeks before, Dave Pelsen had mailed down a package containing the texts he would be using in January, and Johnny had already begun making tentative lesson plans. He was looking forward to getting back. Dave had also found him an apartment on Howland Street in Cleaves. 24 Howland Street. Johnny kept that on a scrap of paper in his wallet, because the name and number had an irritating way of slipping his mind.
On this day the skies were slatey and lowering, the temperature hovering just below the twenty degree mark. As Johnny tramped up the driveway, the first spats of snow began to drift down. Because he was alone, he didn't feel too self conscious about running his tongue out and trying to catch a flake on it. He was hardly limping at all, and he felt good. There hadn't been a headache in two weeks or more.
The mail consisted of an advertising circular, a Newsweek, and a small manila envelope addressed to John Smith, no return address. Johnny opened it on the way back, the rest of the mail stuffed into his hip pocket. He pulled out a single page of newsprint, saw the words Inside View at the top, and came to a halt halfway back to the house.
It was page three of the previous week's issue. The headline story dealt with a reporter's “expose” on the handsome second banana of a TV crime show; the second banana had been suspended from high school twice (twelve years ago) and busted for possession of cocaine (six years ago). Hot news for the hausfraus of America. There was also an all-grain diet, a cute baby photo, and a story of a nine-year-old girl who had been miraculously cured of cerebral palsy at Lourdes (DOCTORS MYSTIFIED, the headline trumpeted gleefully). A story near the bottom of the page had been circled. MAINE “PSYCHIC” ADMITS HOAX, the headline read. The story was not by-lined.
IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE POLICY of Inside View not only to bring you the fullest coverage of the psychics which the so-called “National Press” ignores, but to expose the tricksters and charlatans who have held back true acceptance of legitimate psychic phenomena for so long.
One of these tricksters admitted his own hoax to an Inside View source recently. This so called “psychic”, John Smith of Pownal, Maine, admitted to our source that “it was all a gimmick to pay back my hospital bills. If there's a book in it, I might come out with enough to pay off what I owe and retire for a couple of years in the bargain,” Smith grinned. “These days, people will believe anything-why shouldn't I get on the gravy train?”
Thanks to Inside View, which has always cautioned readers that there are two phony psychics for each real one, John Smith's gravy train has just been derailed. And we reiterate our standing offer of $1000 to anyone who can prove that any nationally known psychic is a fraud.
Hoaxers and charlatans be warned!
Johnny read the article twice as the snow began to come down more heavily. A reluctant grin broke over his features. The ever-vigilant press apparently didn't enjoy being thrown off some bumpkin's front porch, he thought. He tucked the tear sheet back into its envelope and stuffed it into his back pocket with the rest of the mail.
“Dees,” he said aloud, “I hope you're still black and blue.
His father was not so amused. Herb read the clipping and then slammed it down on the kitchen table in disgust. “You ought to sue that son of a whore. That's nothing but slander, Johnny. A deliberate hatchet job.”
“Agreed and agreed,” Johnny said. It was dark outside. This afternoon's silently falling snow had developed into tonight's early winter blizzard. The wind shrieked and howled around the eaves. The driveway had disappeared under a dunelike progression of drifts. “But there was no third party when we talked, and Dees damn well knows it. It's his word against mine.”
“He didn't even have the guts to put his own name to this lie,” Herb said. “Look at this “an Inside View source”. What's this source? Get him to name it, that's what I say.
“Oh, you can't do that,” Johnny said, grinning. “That's like walking up to the meanest street-fighter on the block with a KICK ME HARD sign taped to your crotch. Then they turn it into a holy war, page one and all. No thanks. As far as I'm concerned, they did me a favor. I don't want to make a career out of telling people where gramps hid his stock certificates or who's going to win the fourth at Scarborough Downs. Or take this lottery. “One of the things that had most surprised Johnny on coming out of his coma was to discover that Maine and about a dozen other states had instituted a legal numbers game. “In the last month I've gotten sixteen letters from people who want me to tell them what the number's going to be. It's insane. Even if I could tell them, which I couldn't, what good would it do them? You can't pick your own number in the Maine lottery, you get what they give you. But still I get the letters.”
“I don't see what that has to do with this crappy article.
“If people think I'm a phony, maybe they'll leave me alone.”