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Книга The Deep Blue Good-Bye. Содержание - Seis

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Once, with great clarity, with a mature and stately indignation she said, “I will not do that!” Moments later she repeated it, but this time in the lisping narrow voice of a scared young child. “Oh, I will not do that!” The contrast came close to breaking my heart.

And then at last she slept. I cleaned up, hid the remaining liquor and went back to bed.

In the morning she was rational, and even a bit hungry. She ate eggs scrambled with butter and cream, and had a slice of toast. She napped for a little while, arid then she wanted to talk.

“It was such a stupid thing, in the beginning,” she said. “You live here all year around, and you want the natives to like you. You try to be pleasant. It’s a small community, after all. He was at the gas station. And terribly cheerful and agreeable. And just a little bit fresh. If I’d stopped him right in the beginning… But I’m not very good about that sort of thing. I guess I’ve always been shy. I don’t like to complain about people. People who are very confident, I guess I don’t really know how to handle the situations as they come up. It was just things he said, and the way he looked at me, and then one time at the gas station, I had the top down, he stood by the door on the driver’s side and put his hand on my shoulder. Nobody could see him doing it. He just held his hand there and I asked him please not to do that and he laughed and took his hand away. Then he got more fresh, after that. But I hadn’t reported him before, and I decided I would stop trading there, and I did. Then one day I was at the market and when I came out, he was sitting in my car and he asked me very politely if I could drop him off at the station. I said of course. I expected him to do something. I didn’t know what. And if he did anything, I was going to stop the car and order him to get out. After all, it was broad daylight. The moment I got in and shut the door and began to start the car, he just reached over and… put his hand on me. And he was grinning at me. It was such… such an unthinkable thing, Trav, so horrible and unexpected that it paralyzed me. I thought I would faint. People were walking by, but they couldn’t see. I couldn’t move or speak, or even think what I should do. People like me react too violently when they do react, I guess. I shoved him away and shouted at him and ordered him out of the car. He took his time getting out, never stopping his smile. Then he leaned into the car and said something about how I’d give him better treatment if he was rich. I told him there was not that much money in the world. You know, there is something sickening about that curly white hair and that brown face and those little blue eyes. He said that when he made his fortune he would come back and see how I reacted, something like that, some remark like that.”

The orderliness of that portion of the account was an exception. For the rest of it, her mind was less disciplined, her account more random. But it was a good mind. It had insight. Once, as she was getting sleepy, she looked somberly at me and said, “I guess there are a lot of people like me. We react too soon or too late or not at all. We’re jumpy people, and we don’t seem to belong here. We’re victims, maybe. The Junior Allens are so sure of themselves and so sure of us. They know how to use us, how to take us further than we wish before we know what to do about it.” She frowned. “And they seem to know by instinct exactly how to trade upon our concealed desire to accept that kind of domination. I wanted to make a life down here, Trav. I was lonely. I was trying to be friendly. I was trying to be a part of something.”

Ramirez came in the early afternoon just after I had teased her into eating more than she thought she could. He checked her over.

He said to me, “Not so close to hysteria now. A complex and involved organism, McGee. All physical resource was gone. And just the nerves left, and those about played out. Maybe we can rest them a little now. You wouldn’t think it, but there’s an awesome vitality there.”

I told him of my contact with the family, and of the wrestling match in the middle of the night.

“She may become agitated again, maybe not so much next time.”

“How about a rest home?”

He shrugged. “If you’ve had enough, yes. But this is better for her. I think she can come back quicker this way. But she can become emotionally dependent upon you, particularly if she learns to talk it out, to you.”

“She’s been talking.”

He stared at me. “Strange you should do all this for her.”

“Pity, I guess.”

“One of the worst traps of all, McGee.”

“What can I expect?”

“I think as she gets further back from the edge she will become placid, listless, somnolent. And dependent.”

“You said to get her away from here.”

“I’ll take a look at her tomorrow.”

The thunderheads built high that Thursday afternoon, and after a long hot silence, the winds came and the rain roared down. The sound of the rain terrified her. She could hear, in the sound of the rain, a hundred people all laughing and talking at once, as though a huge cocktail party filled all the other rooms of the sterile house.

She became so agitated I had to give her the second one of the quieting pills. She awakened after dark, and she had soaked the sheets and mattress pad with sweat. She said she felt strong enough to take a shower while I changed the bed for her. I had found one last set of clean sheets. I heard her call me, her voice faint. She was crouched on the bathroom floor, wet and naked and sallow as death. I bundled her into a big yellow terry robe and rubbed her warm and dry and got her into bed. Her teeth chattered. I brought her warm milk. It took her a long time to get warm. Her breath had a sour odor of illness. She slept until eleven and then ate a little and then talked some more. She wanted the light out when she talked, and wanted her hand in mine. A closeness. A comfort.

I heard more of it then. A vague outline. She had thought Junior Allen gone forever, and he had come back in the shining cruiser, wearing his brand-new resort clothes, curiously humble and apologetic and anxious for her esteem. He had tied up at her dock, just across the road from the house.

She had told him to go away. She kept looking out the windows and saw him sitting disconsolate in his new boat in his new clothes, and at dusk she had gone out onto the dock, endured another profuse apology, then gone aboard for a tour of the cruiser.

Once he had her aboard, had her below decks, he was the smiler again, crude and forceful, and he had taken her. She fought him for a long time, but he had been patient. There was no one to hear her. Finally in a kind of terrorized lethargy, she had endured him, knowing he was not quite sane, and thinking this would be the end of it. But it was not. He had kept her aboard with him for two days and two nights, and when he had sensed that she was too dazed and too exhausted and too confused to make even a token resistance, he had moved into the house with her.

“I can’t really explain it,” she whispered in the darkness. “There was just nothing that had gone before. The only past I knew was him. And he filled the present, and there wasn’t any future. I didn’t even feel revulsion toward him. Or think of him as a person. He was a force I had to accept. And somehow it began to be terribly important to please him-with the food I cooked for him, the drinks I made for him, the clothes I washed, the continual sex. It was easier to stay a little bit drunk. If I kept him pleased, even that kind of life was endurable.

“He turned me into an anxious thing, watching him every minute to be certain I was doing what he wanted me to do. I guess that is a kind of physical response to him, not pleasure. A kind of horrid release, a breaking. He learned how to make that happen sometimes, and he’d laugh at me. Then he would go away on that boat and it would be the same, and come back here and it would be the same. I didn’t even think of it ever ending. I was too busy getting through each hour as it came along.”

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