Книга The Deep Blue Good-Bye. Содержание - Cuatro
“Where did he come from originally?”
“Near Biloxi. He grew up on boats, that’s how the Army put him into the boats. He said he had no folks left there.”
“And you fell in love with him.”
She gave me a strange and troubled look. “I don’t know as it was love. I didn’t want him to have me like that, right there at the home place with my mother still alive then, and Davie there, and Christine and her two. It was shameful, but I couldn’t seem to help myself. Looking back I can’t understand how it could be.
“Trav, I had a husband, and there was one other man beside my husband and Junior Allen, but my husband and the other man weren’t like Junior Allen. I don’t know how to say it to a stranger without shaming myself more. But maybe it could help somehow to know this about him. The first time or so, he forced me. He would be tender and loving, but afterward. Saying he was sorry. But he was at me like some kind of animal, and he was too rough and too often. He said it had always been like that with him, like he couldn’t help himself. And after a while he changed me, so that it didn’t seem too rough any more, and I didn’t care how many times he came at me or when.
“It was all turned into a dream I couldn’t quite wake up from, and I went around feeling all soft and dreamy and stupid, and not caring a damn about what anybody thought, only caring that he wanted me and I wanted him. He’s a powerful man, and all the time we were together he never did slack off.
“Do a woman that way and I think she goes off into a kind of a daze, because really it’s too much, but there was no way of stopping him, and finally I didn’t want to, because you get used to living in that dazy way. Then when he come back and moved in with that Mrs. Atkinson… I couldn’t stop thinking how…”
She shook herself like a wet puppy and gave me a shamefaced smile and said, “How to get to be a damn fool in one easy lesson. I was just something real handy for him while he was looking for what my daddy hid away. And all the time I thought it was me pleasing him.” She looked at the coffee-shop clock. “I have to be going to get ready for the next show. What time do you want to go in the morning?”
“Suppose I pick you up about nine-thirty?”
“I’d rather I come to your boat about then, if that’s okay with you.”
“It’s fine with me, Cathy.”
She started to stand up and then sat back again and touched the back of my hand swiftly and lightly and pulled her fingers away. “Don’t hurt him.”
“I wouldn’t want to think I set anybody onto him that hurt him. My head knows that he’s an evil man deserving any bad thing that can happen to him, but my heart says for you not to hurt him.”
“Not unless I have to.”
“Try not to have to.”
“I can promise that much.”
“That’s all I wanted.” She cocked her head. “I think maybe you’re clever. But he’s sly. He’s animal-sly. You know the difference?”
She touched my hand again. “You be careful.
CATHY Kerr sat primly beside me on the genuine leather of old Miss Agnes as we drifted swiftly down through Perrine and Naranja and Florida City, then through Key Largo, Rock Harbor, Tavernier and across another bridge onto Candle Key. Her eagerness to see her child was evident when she pointed out the side road to me and, a hundred yards down the side road, the rock columns marking the entrance to the narrow driveway that led back to the old frame bay-front house. It was of black cypress and hard pine, a sagging weathered old slattern leaning comfortably on her pilings, ready to endure the hurricane winds that would flatten glossier structures.
A gang of small brown children came roaring around the corner of a shed and charged us. When they had sorted themselves out, I saw there were but three, all with a towheaded family resemblance. Cathy kissed and hugged them all strenuously, and showed me which one was Davie. She handed out three red lollipops and they sped away, licking and yelping.
Christine came out of the house. She was darker and heavier than Cathy. She wore faded jeans hacked off above the knee, and a man’s white T shirt with a rip in the shoulder. She moved slowly toward us, patting at her hair. She did not carry herself with any of Cathy’s lithe dancer’s grace, but she was a curiously attractive woman, slow and brooding, with a sensuous and challenging look.
Cathy introduced us. Christine stood there inside her smooth skin, warm and indolent, mildly speculative. It is that flavor exuded by women who have fashioned an earthy and simplified sexual adjustment to their environment, borne their young, achieved an unthinking physical confidence. They are often placidly unkempt, even grubby, taking no interest in the niceties of posture. They have a slow relish for the physical spectrum of food, sun, deep sleep, the needs of children, the caresses of affection. There is a tiny magnificence about them, like the sultry dignity of she-lions.
She kissed her sister, scratched her bare arm, said she was glad to meet me and come on in, there was coffee made recent.
The house was untidy with tracked shell and broken toys, clothing and crumbs. There was a frayed grass rug in the living room, and gigantic Victorian furniture, the dark wood scarred, the upholstery stained and faded. She brought in coffee in white mugs, and it was dark, strong and delicious.
Christy sat on the couch with brown scratched legs curled under her and said, “What I was thinking, that Lauralee Hutz is looking for something, and she could be here days for twenty-five a week and I could maybe make forty-five waitress at the Caribbee, but it would mean getting there and back, and the garden is coming along good, and I got six dollars last week from Gus for crabs, so it don’t seem worth it all the way around, getting along the way we are with what you send down, but it’s lonely some days nobody to talk with but little kids.”
“Did you fix up that tax money?”
“I took it in person, and Mr. Olney he showed me how it figures out a half per cent a month from the time it was first due. I got the receipt out there in the breadbox, Sis.”
“Christine, you do how you feel about the job and all.”
She gave Cathy a small curious smile. “Max keeps stopping by-”
“You were going to run him off.”
“I haven’t rightly decided,” Christine said. She looked me over. “You work at the same place, Mr. McGee?”
“No. I met Cathy through Chookie McCall. I had an errand down this way, so I thought Cathy might like to ride down.”
Cathy said abruptly, “Daddy’s letters from in the Army, you throw them out going through Ma’s things?”
“I don’t think I did. What do you want them for?”
“Just to read over again.”
“Where they’d be if anyplace, is in the hump-top trunk in that back bedroom, maybe in the top drawer someplace.”
Cathy went off. I heard her quick step on the wooden stairs.
“You going around with her?” Christine asked.
“She’s still legal married to Kerr, but she could say desertion and get loose in six months. A man could do a lot worse. She’s strong and she’s pretty and she’s a worker. She’s saddened now, but anybody make her happy, they’d see a different woman. She’s a loving one, laughing and singing when she’s happy.”
“I guess Junior Allen saddened her.”
She looked surprised. “You know all about him?”
“Most of it, I guess.”
“She must like you to tell you. Cathy is older than me but younger. She doesn’t see things about people. I wanted to run him off the place. All that laughing and smiling, and his eyes didn’t smile. Then he got to her, loving her up so she couldn’t think straight, and it was too late to run him off by then. Even too late to tell her he put his hands on me every chance he had, laughing at me when I called him names. I knew he was after something. I knew he was looking. But I didn’t know what for or where it could be. It was a wicked way he did her, Mr. McGee, getting her to need him so bad, then walking out. Better for her if he never come anywhere near here again, but he come back with our money and moved in on a rich woman, and not a damn thing in the world anybody could do about it.”