Книга Let's All Kill Constance. Страница 28
Grey scribbled on a notepad map. "Easy to find. There're fresh flowers out front. The tomb door is open. There will be a memorial service there tomorrow."
"Who's being entombed?"
We all waited, eyes shut, guessing the answer.
"Rattigan," said Grey, almost smiling. "Someone named Constance Rattigan."
THE rain was so thick the graveyard disappeared. All we could see as we drove uphill in an electric runabout were monuments on the side of the road. The path ahead vanished in the downpour. I carried a map on my lap, marked with an arrow and the name of the area. We stopped.
"It's there," said Crumley. "Azalia Gardens? Plot sixteen. Neo-Palladian edifice."
The rain blew back like a curtain and a flicker of lightning showed us a slender tomb with Palladian pillars on each side of a tall metal door, which stood ajar.
"So if she wants out," said Henry, "she's out. Or invite folks in. Rattigan!"
The rain lifted and blew away and the tomb waited while thunder ran along the far brim of the graveyard. The open door trembled.
Crumley spoke almost to himself: "Jesus! Constance buried herself. Name after name. Year after year. When she was done with one act, one face, one mask, she hired a tomb and stashed herself away. And now, to get the job, maybe, from Fritz, she's killing all her selves again. Don't go in there, Willie."
"She's in there now," I said.
"Horse apples," said Crumley. "Goddamn intuition?"
"No." I shivered. "Goddamn hunch. She's got to be saved." I climbed out.
"I'll save her anyway?
"Like hell you will!" said Crumley. "You're under arrest! Get back in here!"
"You're the law, sure, but you're my friend."
I was flooded with cold rain.
"Dammit, dammit all to hell. Go on! Run, you stupid idiot! We'll be waiting downhill. I'll be goddamned if I'll sit and watch your head come flying out that goddamn door. Come find us! Damn you!"
"Hold on!" Fritz cried.
"Hold goddamn nothing!"
Fritz threw a small flask that hit me in the chest.
I stood shivering in the cold downpour and gave Fritz a long look as Crumley, cursing, got out of the runabout slowly. We stood in the big mortuary field with an open iron gate and open tomb door and the rain threatening to wash the bodies out of the earth. I shut my eyes and drank the vodka.
"Ready or not," I whispered. "Here goes."
"Goddammit," said Crumley.
it was a dark and stormy night.
My God, I thought, again?
Feet running. A cry. Lightning, thunder, a few nights back.
And here, my God, the same again!
The gates of heaven burst, a flood poured in darkness, with me near a cold tomb with someone crazed and maybe dead deep in the dark.
Stop, I told myself.
The outer gate creaked. The inner door squealed.
We stood in the entry of the marble tomb with the sun gone, never to return, and the rain to rain forever.
It was dark, but there were three small blue votive candles lit and wavering in the draft from the door.
We all looked at the sarcophagus down below on our right.
Holly's name was there. But there was no lid on the sarcophagus and it was empty, save for a powdering of dust.
Our eyes looked up to the next shelf.
Lightning flickered outside in the rain. Thunder mumbled.
On the next shelf Molly's name was cut in marble. But again no lid, and the sarcophagus was empty.
Rain drenched the open door behind us as we looked at the next-to-top and topmost shelves and marble cases. We saw the names of Emily and Polly. We could see one was unoccupied. Trembling, I reached up to probe the top casement. My fingers touched only empty air.
Holly, Polly, Molly, and Emily, but in the flickers of lightning no bodies, no remains.
I stared up at that final enclosure and began to reach up when there was the faintest gasp and something like a cold weeping, far away.
I took my hand down and looked at Crumley. He looked up at the last sarcophagus and at last said, "Junior, it's all yours." There was a final intake of breath above in the shadows.
"Okay," said Crumley, "everyone out."
Everyone backed out into the whispering rain. At the door Crumley looked back at his lunatic child, handed me a flashlight, nodded good luck, and was gone.
I was alone.
I pulled back. The flashlight fell. I almost collapsed. It took a long while before I found and raised its beam, my heartbeat quaked with it.
"You," I whispered, "there."
Jesus, what did that mean?
"It's," I whispered, "me."
"I came to find you," I whispered.
"So?" the shadow murmured. The rain behind me fell in a solid sheet. Lightning shimmered. But still no thunder.
"Constance," I said at last to the dark shape on the tall shelf with the shadows of rain curtaining it. "Listen."
And at last I said my name.
I spoke again.
Oh God, I thought, she's really dead!
No more of this! Get out, damn, go! But even in turning, the slightest shrug, it happened. The shadow above with a faceless face quickened with the merest breath.
I hardly heard, I only sensed the shadow.
"What?" it exhaled.
I quickened, glad for life, any life, any pulse.
"My name." I gave it again.
"Oh," someone murmured.
Which hammered me to quicker life. I leaned away from rain into cold tomb air.
"I've come to save you," I whispered.
"So?" the voice murmured.
It was the merest mosquito dance in the air, not heard, no, not there. How could a dead woman speak?
"Good," the whisper said. "Night."
"Don't sleep!" I cried. "Sleep and you won't come back! Don't die."
"Why?" came the murmur.
"Because," I gasped. "Because. I say so."
"Say." A sigh.
Jesus, I thought, say something!
"Say!" said the faintest shadow.
"Come out!" I murmured. "This isn't your place!"
"Yes." The faintest brush of sound.
"No!" I cried.
"Mine," came the breath in the shadow.
"I'll help you get away," I said.
"From what?" the shadow said. And then, in terrible fear: "Gone. They are gone!"
"Gone? They've got to be! Are they?"
Lightning struck the dark acres at last, thunder knocked the tomb. I spun to stare out at the meadows of stone, the hills of shining slabs with names being sluiced away. And the slabs and stones were lit by the fires in the sky and became names on mirror glass, photos on walls, inked names on papers, and again mirror names and dates being washed away down a storm drain while the pictures fell from the walls and the film slithered through the projector to dance faces on a silver screen ten thousand miles below. Pictures, mirrors, films. Films, mirrors, pictures. Names, dates, names.
"Are they still there?" said the shadow on the top shelf of the tomb.
"Out there in the rain?"
I looked out at the long hill of the mortuary place. The rain was falling on a dozen and a hundred and a thousand stones.
"They mustn't be there," she said. "I thought they were gone forever. But then they began to knock at the door, wake me. I swam out to my friends, the seals. But no matter how far I swam, they were waiting for me on the shore. The whisperers who want to remember what I want to forget."
She hesitated. "So if I couldn't outrun them, I'd have to kill them one by one, one by one. Who were they? Me? So I chased them instead of them me, and one by one I found where they were buried and buried them again. 1925, then 1928, 1930, '35. Where they would stay forever. Now it's time to lie down and sleep forever, or they might call me again at three in the morning. So, where am I?