Книга The Dead Zone. Содержание - CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX
“Question 3: What would the results of either action have been to me?
“Imprisonment, probably. If I took the car option and then lightning struck it later that night, I suppose I could have argued… no, it doesn't wash. Common experience may recognize some sort of psychic ability in the human mind, but the law sure as hell doesn't. I think now, if I had it to do over again, I would do one of those things and never mind the consequences to me. Is it p0sssible that I didn't completely believe my own prediction?
“The matter of Stillson is horribly similar in all respects, except, thank God, that I have a lot more lead time.
“So, back to square one. I don't want Greg Stillson to become President. How can I change that outcome?
“1. Go back to New Hampshire and “line up”, as he puts it. Try to throw a few monkey wrenches into the America Now party. Try to sabotage him. There's dirt enough under the rug. Maybe I could sweep some of it out.
“2. Hire someone else to get the dirt on him. There's enough of Roger's money left over to hire someone good. On the other hand, I got the feeling that Lancte was pretty good. And Lancte's dead.
“3. Wound or cripple him. The way Arthur Bremmer crippled Wallace, the way whoever-it-was crippled Larry Flynt.
“4. Kill him. Assassinate him.
“Now, some of the drawbacks. The first option isn't sure enough. I could end up doing nothing more constructive than getting myself trounced, the way Hunter Thompson did when he was researching his first book, that one on the Hell's Angels. Even worse, this fellow Elliman may be familiar with what I look like, as a result of what happened at the Trimbull rally. Isn't it more or less S. O. P. to keep a file on people who may be dangerous to your guys? I wouldn't be surprised to find out that Stillson had one guy on his payroll whose only job was to keep updated files on weird people and kooks. Which definitely includes me.
“Then there's the second option. Suppose all the dirt has already come out? If Stillson has already formed his higher political aspirations-and all his actions seem to point that way-he may already have cleaned up his act. And another thing: dirt under the rug is only as dirty as the press wants to make it, and the press likes Stillson. He cultivates them. In a novel I suppose I would turn private detective myself and “get the goods on him”, but the sad fact is that I wouldn't know where to begin. You could argue that my ability to “read” people, to find things out that have been lost (to quote Sam) would give me a boost. If I could find out something about Lancte, that would turn the trick. But isn't it likely that Stillson delegates all that to Sonny Elliman? And I cannot even be sure, despite my suspicions, that Edgar Lancte was still on Stillson's trail when he was murdered. It is possible that I might hang Sonny Elliman and still not finish Stillson.
“Overall, the second alternative is lust not sure enough. The stakes are enormous, so much so that I don't even dare let myself think about “the big picture” very often. It brings on a very bitch-kitty of a headache every time.
“I have even considered, in my wilder moments, trying to hook him on drugs the way the character Gene Hack-man played in The French Connection II was, or driving him batty with LSD slipped into his Dr Pepper or whatever it is he drinks. But all of that is cop-show make-believe. Gordon Liddy shit. The problems are so great that this “option” doesn't even bear much talking about, Maybe I could kidnap him. After all, the guy is only a U. S. representative. I wouldn't know where to get heroin or morphine, but I could get plenty of LSD from Larry McNaughton right here in the good old Phoenix Public Works Department. He has pills for every purpose. But suppose (if we're willing to suppose the foreging) that he just enjoyed his trip(s)?
“Shooting and crippling him? Maybe I could and maybe I couldn't. I guess under the right circumstances, I could-like the rally in Trimbull. Suppose I did. After what happened in Laurel, George Wallace was never really a potent political force again. On the other hand, FDR campaigned from his wheelchair and even turned it into an asset.
“That leaves assassination, the Big Casino. This is the one unarguable alternative. You can't run for president if you're a corpse.
“If I could pull the trigger.
“And if I could, what would the results be to me?
“As Bob Dylan says, “Honey, do you have to ask me that?"”
There were a great many other notes and jottings, but the only other really important one was written out and neatly boxed: “Suppose outright murder does turnout to be the only alternative? And suppose it turned out that I could pull the trigger? Murder is still wrong. Murder is wrong. Murder is wrong. There may yet be an answer. Thank God there's years of time.”
But for Johnny, there wasn't.
In early December of 1978, shortly after another congressman, Leo Ryan of California, had been shot to death on a jungle airstrip in the South American country of Guayana, Johnny Smith discovered he had almost run out of time.
At 2:30 P. M. On December 26, 1978, Bud Prescott waited on a tall and rather haggard-looking young man with graying hair and badly bloodshot eyes. Bud was one of three clerks working in the 4th Street Phoenix Sporting Goods Store on the day after Christmas, and most of the business was exchanges-but this fellow was a paying customer.
He said he wanted to buy a good rifle, light-weight, bolt-action. Bud showed him several. The day after Christmas was a slow one on the gun-counter; when men got guns for Christmas, very few of them wanted to exchange them for something else.
This fellow looked them all over carefully and finally settled on a Remington 700,. 243 caliber, a very nice gun with a light kick and a flat trajectory. He signed the gun-book John Smith and Bud thought, If I never saw me an alias before in my life, there's one there. “John Smith” paid cash-took the twenties right out of a wallet that was bulging with them. Took the rifle right over the counter. Bud, thinking to poke him a little, told him he could have his initials burned into the stock, no extra charge. “John Smith” merely shook his head.
When “Smith” left the store, Bud noticed that he was limping noticeably. Would never be any problem identifying that guy again, he thought, not with that limp and those scars running up and down his neck.
At 10: 30 AM. on December 27, a thin man who walked with a limp came into Phoenix Office Supply, Inc., and approached Dean Clay, a salesman there. Clay said later that he noticed what his mother had always called a “fire-spot” in one of the man's eyes. The customer said he wanted to buy a large attache case, and eventually picked out a handsome cowhide item, top of the line, priced at $149. 95. And the man with the limp qualified for the cash discount by paying with new twenties. The whole transaction, from looking to paying; took no more than ten minutes. The fellow walked out of the store, and turned right toward the downtown area, and Dean Clay never saw him again until he saw his picture in the Phoenix Sun.
Late that same afternoon a tall man with graying hair approached Bonita Alvarez's window in the Phoenix Amtrak terminal and inquired about traveling from Phoenix to New York by train. Bonita showed him the connections. He followed them with his finger and then carefully jotted them all down. He asked Bonnie Alvarez if she could ticket him to depart on January 3. Bonnie danced her fingers over her computer console and said that she could.