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Книга The Deep Blue Good-Bye. Содержание - Trece

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Suddenly he rolled against my hand, pinning it, rolled onto my wrist and arm and the leverage forced me down against the deck. Then he was on his back, my right arm under him. He hooked his left arm around my neck, pulled my head against his waist and began hammering me with his free hand. I had no leverage and no room to strike back.

As my face began to break, and the world began to blur, I planted my knees and stuffed my other arm under him and heaved. It brought him up and turned him, and I ripped my right hand free of his pocket. He bounded up with a rubbery agility. and I barely saw the kick coming, and turned just enough to take it on the point of the shoulder. My left arm went numb.

He was a jolly brawler. He kept low and balanced, snorting with each exhalation, and I hit him twice before he bowled me over and bore me down in a tangle of chairs and began the jolly business of rib cracking, gouging, kneeing and breaking everything loose he could reach. He clambered and straddled me, trapping my arms under his blocky legs, picked me up by the ears and banged my head back onto the teak. As the world went slow and dreamy I got an arm loose and saw my hand way up there, the heel of it under his chin.

He tried to hammer his clasped hands down onto my rigid arm, and would have snapped it nicely had I not gotten my feet braced and bucked him off. He was back at me like a cat, and he swung a hard chunk of wood from one of the smashed chairs. I caught the first one on the shoulder and I cleverly caught the next one right over the left ear. It broke a big white bell in my head, and he side-stepped, grunting for breath, and let me go down. I landed on my side, and he punted me in the belly like Groza trying for one from the mid-field stripe.

I had that fractional part of consciousness left which gave me a remote and unimportant view of reality. The world was a television set at the other end of a dark auditorium, with blurred sound and a fringe area picture. Somewhere the happy smiler leaned against the rail and sucked air for a time. I couldn’t have fluttered an eyelid if somebody had set me on fire. He began cleaning up the cockpit. He hummed to himself. I recognized the tune. “Love Is a Many Splendored Thing.” William Holden and Jennifer Jones. I remembered her going into the shallows of that bay in Hong Kong in that white swim suit. But I couldn’t keep my mind on her. Every time Dads got in range of me, he kicked. In time to the music. Then he kicked me in the head. It faded that distant television set right out, right down to a little white dot and then that was gone too…

… The little set came back to life. There was vibration. Marine rumble. Sound of the wake. Boat idling along. And a thin and hopeless little female voice nearby saying, “Oh, don’t. Oh, don’t any more. Oh, please don’t any more please.”

I was folded into a corner of the stern of the cockpit. I had to puzzle that voice out. Slowly. Dear little Patty. But she wasn’t supposed to be around. I’d written her out of the script. And Junior went, “Ho, ho, ho.” Like a jolly Santa. “You are a cute little ole button,” he said. “You’re a tasty bit.”

I picked one eye and pumped it open. Right eye. It was like jacking up a truck. In the night radiance, Junior Allen was ho-ho-hoing Miss Patricia Devlan. He was crouched at her like a bear, and he had her butted back against the transom, both her thin wrists held behind her in one hand, and his other hand up under her skirt, lifting her onto tiptoe. They were close enough to fall on me.

Suddenly he turned and stared forward and grunsed, released her,and went up toward the wheel. A course correction, reset the automatic pilot, came back to the fun. But I did not want anyone ho-ho-hoing Miss Devlan. She was hunched over; sobbing. I came up with blinding speed-like one of those trick clothes drying racks being unfolded by a sleepy drunk. I was forty feet tall and one inch wide, with a head fashioned of stale gas. As Junior roared, I stooped one dead arm out and around the girl’s waist, pulled her toward me and rocked right over backward with her, over the rail and down into the black bay water, tucking in all elbows and knees, feeling the wrench of the water, waiting to see how a prop would feel chopping meat.

We popped up in the turbulence, and I saw the running lights receding at a comforting pace. I looked around at shore lights, orienting myself. We were about one mile south of the kick in the head, in a place where the bay was wide, but the channel was fairly narrow. She tilted her pale child-face back, her hair pasted seal black to her head; and made a waffling sound of total hysteria.

The boat stopped bubbling along and roared into a turn. I clopped Miss Devlan across the chops and shoved her in the best direction and yelled, “Swim, baby!” She came out of it. She swam very well indeed. She pulled ahead of me. I felt as if I were swimming with four broken arms. And with each breath I could convince myself he was still kicking me in the stomach. We had a good angle of escape. We had to go fifty feet to get past the submerged spoil banks from the channel dredging. He had to come back about a hundred and fifiy yards. I was hoping I could sucker him into jamming it aground. But heard him throttle down sharply, then roar the engines again as he put it into reverse to sit dead in the water.

“Keep going,” I yelled at her. “Angle a little left.”

The spotlight hit us. She stopped swimming. I took two big strokes and reached her and bore her under. Pistols make a silly spatting sound over open water. And slugs hitting near you make a strange sound. Tzzeee-unk. Tzzeee-unk. I tried to kick us along and she got the idea. The underwater breast stroke felt as if it pulled my ribs free of my breastbone. I lost her. I grabbed some air and went down again and kept churning along. I peered up and saw no radiance, and came up and looked back. He was in a big curve, and he straightened out and went ramming south toward Lauderdale.

“Patty?” I yelled.

“H-here I am,” she said, about ten feet behind me. She was standing in waist-deep water. I went to her and felt the lumpy edges of an oyster bar underfoot.

“He… He… He was going to…”

“But he didn’t.”

“He… He… He was going to…”

“He’s gone. Pull yourself together.”

I put an arm around her. She leaned her face against my chest and said, “Haw! Oh God. Haw!”

“Come on, baby.”

“I’m… I’m all right. He took my glasses off and threw them overboard. He said I’d never need them again. I c-can’t hardly see without them.”

“He’s gone, Patty And he’s got his little chum with him, and they deserve each other. Get yourself collected, and then we’ll swim to shore.”

Behind her, two hundred yards away; was the bright shore, loud with neon in the night. It made pink and green and blue highlights on her hair. I let her go. Her blouse was pasted to her peach-sized breasts. Except for the breasts, she looked about twelve. With them, she looked fourteen.

“How did you get into the act?” I asked her.

“I phoned your mother and told her the damn lool thing you were planning to do.”

“That was you? I… I went out my bedroom window. I didn’t want to… miss the fun.”

“He’s a real fun fellow, old Dads is.”

“Don’t, please. He said I was the one he was really after. I went to the boat and everything was… so strange. You were lying there so still and bloody I thought you were dead. He told me to go below and wake Dee up. I tried, and I couldn’t. I wanted to go home then. He said we were going to have a nice cruise, not to worry. He said you’d tried to rob him. He said he was going to turn you over to the police. He said you were just knocked out. He said that before he turned you in, he wanted to get your accomplice too. He told me to stay aboard and watch you, and give a yell if you woke up. He said he’d be hiding close by. I didn’t like it, but I stayed there like he said. I was thinking about Pete and that girl, and I just didn’t care what I did. Then a woman came. A tall pretty woman. She stood on the dock and she said in a loud voice, ‘What have you people done to him? What have you done to Travis McGee?’ She couldn’t see you from there.”

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