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Книга The Dead Zone. Содержание - CHAPTER SIX

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“No,” Greg Stillson said. “I don't see anything green, but I do see someone who looks suspiciously like a walking asshole.”

Elliman stiffened a little, then relaxed and laughed. In spite of the dirt, the almost palpable body odor, and Nazi regalia, his eyes, a dark green, were not without intelligence and even a sense of humor.

“Rank me to the dogs and back, man,” he said. “It's been done before. You got the power now.

“You recognize that, do you?”

“Sure. I left my guys back in the Hamptons, came here alone. Be it on my own head, man. “He smiled. “But if we should ever catch you in a similar position, you want to hope your kidneys are wearing combat boots.”

“I'll chance it,” Greg said. He measured Elliman. They were both big men. He reckoned Elliman had forty pounds on him, but a lot of it was beer muscle. “I could take you, Sonny.”

Elliman's face crinkled in amiable good humor again. “Maybe. Maybe not. But that's not the way we play it, man. All that good American John Wayne stuff. “He leaned forward, as if to impart a great secret. “Me personally, now, whenever I get me a piece of mom's apple pie, I make it my business to shit on it.”

“Foul mouth, Sonny,” Greg said mildly.

“What do you want with me?” Sonny asked. “Why don't you get down to it? You'll miss your Jaycee's meeting.”

“No,” Greg said, still serene. “The Jaycees meet Tuesday nights. We've got all the time in the world.”

Elliman made a disgusted blowing sound.

“Now what I thought,” Greg went on, “is that you'd want something from me. “He opened his desk drawer and from it took three plastic Baggies of marijuana. Mixed in with the weed were a number of gel capsules. “Found this in your sleeping bag,” Greg said. “Nasty, nasty, nasty, Sonny. Bad boy. Do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars. Go directly to New Hampshire State Prison.”

“You didn't have any search warrant,” Elliman said. “Even a kiddy lawyer could get me off, and you know it.”

“I don't know any such thing,” Greg Stillson said. He leaned back in his swivel chair and cocked his loafers, bought across the state line at L. L. Bean's in Maine, up on his desk. “I'm a big man in this town, Sonny. I came into New Hampshire more or less on my uppers a few years back, and now I've got a nice operation here. I've helped the town council solve a couple of problems, including just what to do about all these kids the chief of police catches doing dope… oh, I don't mean bad-hats like you, Sonny, drifters like you we know what to do with when we catch them with a little treasure trove like that one right there on my desk… I mean the nice local kids. Nobody really wants to do anything to them at all, you know? I figured that out for them. Put them to work on community projects instead of sending them to jail, I said. It worked out real good. Now we've got the biggest head in the town area coaching Little League and doing a real good job at it.”

Elliman was looking bored. Greg suddenly brought his feet down with a crash, grabbed a vase with a UNH logo on the side, and threw it past Sonny Elliman's nose. It missed him by less than an inch, flew end over end across the room, and shattered against the file cabinets in the corner. For the first time Elliman looked startled. And for just a moment the face of this older, wiser Greg Still-son was the face of the younger man, the dog-bludgeoner.

“You want to listen when I talk,” he said softly. “Because what we're discussing here is your career over the next ten years or so. Now if you don't have any interest in making a career out of stamping LIVE FREE OR DIE on license plates, you want to listen up, Sonny. You want to pretend this is the first day of school again, Sonny. You want to get it all right the first time. Sonny.”

Elliman looked at the smashed fragments of vase, then back at Stillson. His former uneasy calm was being replaced by a feeling of real interest. He hadn't been really interested in anything for quite a while now. He had made the run for beer because he was bored. He had come by himself because he was bored. And when this big guy had pulled him over, using a flashing blue light on the dashboard of his station wagon, Sonny Elliman had assumed that what he had to deal with was just another small-town Deputy Dawg, protecting his territory and rousting the big bad biker on the modified Harley-Davidson. But this guy was something else. He was

was…

He's crazy! Sonny realized, with dawning delight at the discovery. He's got two public service awards on his wall, and pictures of him talking to the Rotarians and the Lions, and he's vice president of this dipshit town's Jaycees, and next year he'll be president, and he's just as crazy as a fucking bedbug!

“Okay,” he said. “You got my attention.”

“I have had what you might call a checkered career,” Greg told him. “I've been up, but I've also been down. I've had a few scrapes with the law. What I'm trying to say, Sonny, is that I don't have any set feelings about you. Not like the other locals. They read in the Union-Leader about what you and your bikie friends are doing over in the Hamptons this summer and they'd like to castrate you with a rusty Gillette razor blade.”

“That's not the Devil's Dozen,” Sonny said. “We came down on a run from upstate New York to get some beach-time, man. We're on vacation. We're not into trashing a bunch of honky-tonk bars. There's a bunch of Hell's Angels tearing ass, and a chapter of the Black Riders from New Jersey, but you know who it is mostly? A bunch of college kids. “Sonny's lip curled. “But the papers don't like to report that, do they? They'd rather lay the rap on us than on Susie and Jim.”

“You're so much more colorful,” Greg said mildly. “And William Loeb over at the Union-Leader doesn't like bike clubs.”

“That bald-headed creep,” Sonny muttered.

Greg opened his desk drawer and pulled out a flat pint of Leader's bourbon. “I'll drink to that,” he said. He cracked the seal and drank half the pint at a draught. He blew out a great breath, his eyes watering, and held the pint across the desk. “You?”

Sonny polished the pint off. Warm fire bellowed up from his stomach to his throat.

“Light me up, man,” he gasped.

Greg threw back his head and laughed. “We'll get along, Sonny. I have a feeling we'll get along.”

“What do you want?” Sonny asked again, holding the empty pint.

“Nothing… not now. But I have a feeling… “Greg's eyes became far away, almost puzzled. “I told you I'm a big man in Ridgeway. I'm going to run for mayor next time the office comes up, and I'll win. But that's Just the beginning?” Sonny prompted.

“It's a start, anyway. “That puzzled expression was still there. “I get things done. People know it. I'm good at what I do. I feel like… there's a lot ahead of me. Sky's the limit. But I'm not… quite…… what I mean. You know?”

Sonny only shrugged.

The puzzled expression faded. “But there's a story, Sonny. A story about a mouse who took a thorn out of a lion's paw. He did it to repay the lion for not eating him a few years before. You know that story?”

“I might have heard it when I was a kid,”

Greg nodded. “Well, it's a few years before”… whatever it is, Sonny. “He shoved the plastic Baggies across the desk. “I'm not going to eat you. I could if I wanted to, you know. A kiddie lawyer couldn't get you off. In this town, with the riots going on in Hampton less than twenty miles away, Clarence Fucking Darrow couldn't get you off in Ridgeway. These good people would love to see you go up.

Elliman didn't reply, but he suspected Greg was right. There was nothing heavy in his dope stash-two Brown Bombers was the heaviest-but the collective parents of good old Susie and Jim would be glad to see him breaking rocks in Portsmouth, with his hair cut off his head.

“I'm not going to eat you,” Greg repeated. “I hope you'll remember that in a few years if I get a thorn in my paw… or maybe if I have a job opportunity for you. Keep it in mind?”

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