Книга The Dead Zone. Содержание - CHAPTER EIGHTEEN
“But can I do it? You think I can do it?”
“I know you can,” Johnny said.
“All right. Then I will. “Chuck dived low and flat into the pool and came up, shaking water out of his long hair in a fine spray of droplets. “Come on in! It's fine!”
“I will,” Johnny said, but for the moment he was content just to stand on the pool's tile facing and watch Chuck swim powerfully toward the pool's deep end to savor this success. There had been no good feeling like this when he had suddenly known Eileen Magown's kitchen curtains were taking fire, no good feeling like this when he had uncovered the name of Frank Dodd. If God had given him a talent, it was teaching, not knowing things he had no business knowing. This was the sort of thing he had been made for, and when he had been teaching at Cleaves Mills back in 1970, he had known it. More important, the kids had known it and responded to it, as Chuck had done just now.
“You gonna stand there like a dummy?” Chuck asked. Johnny dived into the pool.
Warren Richardson came out of his small office building at quarter to five as he always did. He walked around to the parking lot and hoisted his two-hundred-pound bulk behind the wheel of his Chevy Caprice and started the engine. All according to routine. What was not according to routine was the face that appeared suddenly in the rear-view mirror an olive-skinned, stubbled face framed by long hair and set off by eyes every bit as green as those of Sarah Hazlett or Chuck Chatsworth. Warren Richardson had not been so badly scared since he was a kid, and his heart took a great, unsteady leap in his chest.
“Howdy,” said Sonny Elliman, leaning over the seat.
“Who… “was all Richardson managed, uttering the word in a terrified hiss of breath. His heart was pounding so hard that dark specks danced and pulsed before his eyes in rhythm with its beat. He was afraid he might have a heart attack.
“Easy,” the man who had been hiding in his back seat said. “Go easy, man. Lighten up.”
And Warren Richardson felt an absurd emotion. It was gratitude. The man who had scared him wasn't going to scare him anymore. He must be a nice man, he must be-
“Who are you?” he managed this time.
“A friend,” Sonny said.
Richardson started to turn and fingers as hard as pincers bit into the sides of his flabby neck. The pain was excruciating. Richardson drew breath in a convulsive, heaving whine.
“You don't need to turn around, man. You can see me as well as you need to see me in your rear-view. Can you dig that?”
“Yes,” Richardson gasped. “Yes yes yes just let me go I”
The pincers began to ease up, and again he felt that irrational sense of gratitude. But he no longer doubted that the man in the back seat was dangerous, or that he was in this car on purpose although he couldn't think why anyone would -And then he could think why someone would, at least why someone might, it wasn't the sort of thing you'd expect any ordinary candidate for office to do, but Greg Stillson wasn't ordinary, Greg Stillson was a crazy man, and-
Very softly, Warren Richardson began to blubber.
“Got to talk to you, man,” Sonny said. His voice was kind and regretful, but in the rear-view mirror his eyes glittered green. amusement. “Got to talk to you like a Dutch uncle.”
“It's Stillson, isn't it? It's-.
The pincers were suddenly back, the man's fingers were buried in his neck, and Richardson uttered a high-pitched shriek.
“No names,” the terrible man in the back seat told him in that same kind-yet-regretful voice. “You draw your own conclusions, Mr. Richardson, but keep the names to yourself. I've got one thumb just over your carotid artery and my fingers are over by your jugular, and I can turn you into a human turnip, if I want to.”
“What do you want?” Richardson asked. He did not exactly moan, but it was a near thing; he had never felt more like moaning in his life. He could not believe that this was happening in the parking lot behind his real estate office in Capital City. New Hampshire. on a bright summer's day. He could see the clock set into the red brick of the town hall tower. It said ten minutes to five. At home, Norma would be putting the pork chops, nicely coated with Shake “n Bake, into the oven to broil. Sean would be watching Sesame Street on TV. And there was a man behind him threatening to cut off the flow of blood to his brain and turn him into an idiot. No, it wasn't real; it was like a nightmare. The sort of nightmare that makes you moan in your sleep.
“I don't want anything,” Sonny Elliman said. “It's all a matter of what you want.”
“I don't understand what you're talking about. “But he was terribly afraid that he did.
“That story in the New Hampshire Journal about funny real estate deals,” Sonny said. “You surely did have a lot to say, Mr. Richardson, didn't you? Especially about certain people.”
“That stuff about the Capital Mail, for instance. Hinting around about kickbacks and payoffs and one hand washing the other. All that horseshit. “The fingers tightened on Richardson's neck again, and this time he did moan. But he hadn't been identified in the story, he had just been “an informed source”. How had they known? How had Greg Stillson known?
The man behind him began to speak rapidly into Warren Richardson's ear now, his breath warm and ticklish.
“You could get certain people into trouble talking horseshit like that, Mr. Richardson, you know it? People running for public office, let's say. Running for office, it's like playing bridge, you dig it? You're vulnerable. People can sling mud and it sticks, especially these days. Now, there's no trouble yet. I'm happy to tell you that, because if there was trouble, you might be sitting here picking your teeth out of your nose instead of having a nice little talk with me.”
In spite of his pounding heart, in spite of his fear, Richardson said: “This… this person… young man, you're crazy if you think you can protect him. He's played it as fast and loose as a snakeoil salesman in a southern town. Sooner or later…”
A thumb slammed into his ear, grinding. The pain was immense, unbelievable. Richardson's head slammed into his window and he cried out. Blindly, he groped for the horn ring.
“You blow that horn, I'll kill you,” the voice whispered.
Richardson let his hands drop. The thumb eased up.
“You ought to use Q-tips in there, man,” the voice said. “I got wax all over my thumb. Pretty gross.”
Warren Richardson began to cry weakly. He was powerless to stop himself. Tears coursed down his fat cheeks. “Please don't hurt me anymore,” he said. “Please don't. Please.
“It's like I said,” Sonny told him. “It's all a matter of what you want. Your job isn't to worry what someone else might say about…… these certain people. Your job is to watch what comes out of your own mouth. Your job is to think before you talk the next time that guy from the Journal comes around. You might think about how easy it is to find out who “an informed source” is. Or you might think about what a bummer it would be if your house burned down. Or you might think about how you'd pay for plastic surgery if someone threw some battery acid in your wife's face.”
The man behind Richardson was panting now. He sounded like an animal in a jungle.
“Or you might think, you know, dig it, how easy it would be for someone to come along and pick up your son on his way home from kindergarten.
“Don't you say that!” Richardson cried hoarsely. “Don't you say that, you slimy bastard!”
“All I'm saying is that you want to think about what you want,” Sonny said. “An election, it's an all-American thing, you know? Especially in a Bicentennial year. Everyone should have a good time. No one has a good time if numb fucks like you start telling a lot of lies. Numb jealous fucks like you.”