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Книга The Deep Blue Good-Bye. Содержание - Nuevo

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After I untied him, I had to help him to his feet and half carry him into the bedroom. He sat on the edge of the bed and put his bald head down on his bare hairy knees and began to cry.

“I’m sick,” he said. “I’m real sick, McGee.” He huddled and his teeth began to chatter. I tossed his clothes to him and he dressed quickly, his lips blue.

“Where are we?”

“About two miles from your house. We walked out of that club in Brownsville about three and a half hours ago. Nobody is looking for you.”

He stared at me. “Do you know how you looked? You looked like you’d enjoy killing me.”

“I didn’t want to take too long over this, George.”

“I couldn’t hold out against what you were going to do.”

“Nobody could, George.”

He felt his bald head. “Where is it?”

“In the bathroom.”

He tottered in. In a few moments he came out, hair piece in place. But the haggardness of his face made it look more spurious than before. He sat again on the edge of the bed. We were oppressor and oppressed. Traditionally this is supposed to create enmity. But, so often, it does not. It had opened up too many conflicting areas of emotions. The violence was a separate thing, like a wind that had blown through, and we were left with an experience shared. He was anxious to have me know that he had acquitted himself well. I was eager to have him believe he had left me no other choice.

“You are a friend of Callowell’s?”


“I wrote the stuffy son of a bitch a nice letter and got a brush-off.”

“I traced you through him.”

He didn’t seem to hear me. “Callowell was so damn nervous about anything cute. He’d check that airplane. He’d check around, and right over his fat head some of the static line braces would be solid gold. I tried to kid with Dave about it. Dave didn’t see anything funny. He was dead serious about everything. God, it warted him to send money home when he knew he could keep it and keep on doubling it. I kept spending too much. I had a private car in a private garage in Calcutta. I had a wife and two kids home too. But the difference between Dave and me, he was sure he’d live forever.” He shivered violently. “Trav, you think you could get me home? I feel terrible.”

I drove him home in the Lincoln. My rental was in his drive, and the Triumph was there, in the triple carport, beside a compact station wagon. I rolled the Lincoln into the empty space. Lights were on in the back of the house. I went into the big kitchen with him. There was a center island of stone, and copper pots aligned on a fruitwood wall.

Gerry Brell came into the light wearing a pink quilted robe with big white lapels, her blonde hair tousled, eyes squinting in the light.

“Honey, I don’t feel so good,” George said.

“He’s having chills,” I told her.

She took him off. At the doorway she turned and said, “Wait for me, Trav.”

I looked in the refrigerators and found cold Tuborg in the second one. I leaned against the center island and drank it, feeling unreal. I walked on a fabric of reality but it had an uncomfortable give to it. You could sink in a little way. If you walked too much and came to a weak spot, you could fall through. I think it would be pretty black down there.

After fifteen minutes she came back to the kitchen, saw what I was having and got herself one. She had brushed her hair and her eyes were accustomed to the light.

She leaned against a bank of stainless steel sinks, facing me, and drank from the bottle and said, “He threw up. I turned on his electric blanket and gave him a sleeping pill.”

“I think he’s just emotionally upset.”

“You’ve had a dandy introduction to the Brell family.”

“Why did you ask me to stay?”

“Couldn’t you just wait so we could work around to it instead of coming out with it like that?”

“I’m not at my best at four in the morning.”

“Did you give him some bad news?”

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“George operates on the thin edge, and the edge is getting thinner all the time. I wanted to cut down the way we live, but he won’t hear of it. Any little thing could tip the scales, and then the walls come tumbling down.”

“How do you know that isn’t exactly what I want?”

She looked rueful. “Then I made a bad guess about you. Did he say anything about me tonight?”

“No. But it’s nice to know why you had me stay.”

“What do you mean?”

“I hope you had a nice long talk with the girl when she got home.”

“I guess I had to, didn’t I? Not stepmother to child. That doesn’t work, does it? Woman to woman. Call it an armed truce.”

“The next time she makes a crack like that, Gerry, it might not go over his head.”

“I think I made her understand that, if she loves her father, it would be a poor way to show it to give him a big broad hint about my infidelity. It’s a hell of a confusing world, Mr. McGee. She’s trying to throw herself away because she trusted me and I cheated on her father.”

“Can she be sure of that?”

Her laugh was ugly. “Eyewitnesses are usually pretty positive. It happened back in June. Kids are so idealistic. How can I explain to her that it really didn’t mean very much, that it was an old friend, sort of sentimental, unplanned, old-times-sake sort of thing. I don’t make a habit of that sort of thing. But ever since I heard the door open and turned my head and saw her there, pale as death before she slammed the door and ran, I’ve felt cheap and sick about it. We were getting fond of each other up until then. Now she thinks I’m a monster. Tonight she was trying to hurt me by hurting herself. I just hope George has forgotten what she said. His judgment is bad enough lately without something like that to cloud it.”

“He didn’t make any mention of what she said.”

“Good. Could this thing with Angie have made him so sick?”

“I think it’s probable.”

She tilted her pretty head and studied me. “Trav, you seem so mild and sure of yourself, and maybe you know enough about people to tell me what I should do about Angie.”

“I’m not that sure of myself.”

“I just wish there was a starting place. I can’t reach her. She looks at me with hate. I just can’t ever explain it to her.”

“Are you a good human being, Gerry? I mean good in the sense that if you put everything in the scales, they’d tip that way?”

It startled her. “I don’t know. I haven’t thought of myself that way. I think I like the lush life a little too much. That’s why I married George. I’m vain. I like men to admire me. I’ve got a coarse streak that comes out at the wrong times. But I do try to live up to… some kind of a better image of myself. And I try to improve. I came from nothing, Trav, from a little raggedy-ass spread in the Panhandle with too many kids and too few rooms. Dusted out, flooded out, burned out we had it all.

“Until I got big enough to know that if I wore a tight skirt and red shoes, I could get the pretties I’d ached for, and then smart enough to know that the cheap approach gets the cheap pretties. This house and this life, they’re big pretties, but the same old equation holds. I just don’t know. Maybe I’m good, but that goddamn scale would hesitate a long time before tilting that way.”

“Then tell the kid the whole thing. Lew proved she’s old enough. Make her identify. Level with her. The saga of Gerry Srell, up to and including your little sentimental gesture, and how you feel about her. Don’t hold anything back. Don’t let George send her away. Keep her here until she knows it all and she can balance it out herself.”

“She’ll despise me.”

“She already does.”

She brooded for a few moments. “I’ll do no sleeping tonight. I got to walk this one around, boy.” She set the empty bottle aside and said, “I have the feeling I won’t be seeing you again.”

“I have to see George once more.”

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