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Книга The Dead Zone. Содержание - CHAPTER NINE

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The words seemed to come out of him of their own:

“Let them give you the medicine, Mom. That's best.”

Her eyes widened, she wet her lips and then Herb was beside her, his eyes filled with tears. He had lost some weight-not as much as Vera had put on, but he was noticeably thinner. His hair was going fast but the face was the same, homely and plain and well-loved. He took a large brakeman's bandanna from his back pocket and wiped his eyes with it. Then he stuck out his hand.

“Hi, son,” he said. “Good to have you back.”

Johnny shook his father's hand as well as he could; his pale and strengthless fingers were swallowed up in his father's red hand. Johnny looked from one to the other -his mother in a bulky powder-blue pantsuit, his father in a really hideous houndstooth jacket that looked as if it should belong to a vacuum-cleaner salesman in Kansas -and he burst into tears.

“I'm sorry,” he said. “I'm sorry, it's just that…”

“You go on,” Vera said, sitting on the bed beside him. Her face was calm and clear now. There was more mother than madness in it. “You go on and cry, sometimes that's best.”

And Johnny did.


Herb told him his Aunt Germaine had died. Vera told him that the money for the Pownal Community Hall had finally been raised and the building had commenced a month ago, as soon as the frost was out of the ground. Herb added that he had put in a bid, but he guessed honest work cost too dear for them to want to pay. “Oh, shush, you sore loser,” Vera said.

There was a little silence and then Vera spoke again. “I hope you realize that your recovery is a miracle of God, Johnny. The doctors despaired. In Matthew, chapter nine, we read…

“Vera,” Herb said warningly.

“Of course it was a miracle, Mom. I know that.”

“You… you do?”

“Yes. And I want to talk “about it with you… hear your ideas about what that means… just as soon as I get on my feet again.”

She was staring at him, open-mouthed. Johnny glanced past her at his father and their eyes met for a moment. Johnny saw great relief in his father's eyes. Herb nodded imperceptibly.

“A Conversion!” Vera ejaculated loudly. “My boy has had a Conversion! Oh, praise God!”

“Vera, hush,” Herb said. “Best to praise God in a lower voice when you're in the hospital.”

“I don't see how anybody could not call it a miracle, Mom. And we're going to talk about it a lot. Just as “soon as I'm out of here.”

“You're going to come home,” she said. “Back to the house where you were raised. I'll nurse you back to health and we'll pray for understanding.”

He was smiling at her, but holding the smile was an effort. “You bet. Mom, would you go down to the nurses” station and ask Marie if I can have some juice? Or maybe some ginger ale? I guess I'm not used to talking, and my throat…”

“Of course I will. “She kissed his cheek and stood up. “Oh, you're so thin. But I'll fix that when I get you home. “She left the room, casting a single victorious glance at Herb as she went. They heard her shoes tapping off down the hall.

“How long has she been that way?” Johnny asked quietly.

Herb shook his head. “It's come a little at a time since your accident. But it had its start long before that. You know. You remember.”

“Is she…,”

“I don't know. There are people down South that handle snakes. I'd call them crazy. She doesn't do that, How are you, Johnny? Really?”

“I don't know,” Johnny said. “Daddy, where's Sarah?”

Herb leaned forward and clasped his hands between his knees. “I don't like to tell you this, John, but…”

“She's married? She got married?”

Herb didn't answer. Without looking directly at Johnny, he nodded his head.

“Oh, God,” Johnny said hollowly. “I was afraid of that.”

“She's been Mrs. Walter Hazlett for going on three years. He's a lawyer. They have a baby boy. John… no one really believed you were going to wake up. Except for your mother, of course. None of us had any reason to believe you would wake up. “His voice was trembling now, hoarse with guilt. “The doctors said… ah, never mind what they said. Even I gave you up. I hate like hell to admit it, but it's true: All I can ask you is try to understand about me… and Sarah.”

He tried to say that he did understand, but all that would come out was a sickly sort of croak. His body felt sick and old, and suddenly he was drowning in his sense of loss. The lost time was suddenly sitting on him like a load of bricks-a real thing, not just a vague concept.

“Johnny, don't take on. There are other things. Good things.”

“It's… going to take some getting used to,” he managed.

“Yeah. I know.”

“Do you ever see her?”

“We write back and forth once in a while. We got acquainted after your accident. She's a nice girl, real nice. She's still teaching at Cleaves, but I understand she is getting done this June. She's happy, John.”

“Good,” he said thickly. “I'm glad someone is.”


“I hope you're not telling secrets,” Vera Smith said brightly, coming back into the room. She had an ice-clogged pitcher in one hand. “They said you weren't ready for fruit juice, Johnny, so I brought you the ginger ale.

“That's fine, Mom.”

She looked from Herb to Johnny and back to Herb again. “Have you been telling secrets? Why the long faces?”

“I was just telling Johnny he's going to have to work hard if he wants to get out of here,” said Herb. “Lots of therapy.”

“Now why would you want to talk about that now?” She poured ginger ale into Johnny's glass. “Everything's going to be fine now. You'll see.”

She popped a flexible straw into the glass and handed it to him.

“Now you drink all of it,” she said, smiling. “It's good for you.”

Johnny did drink all of it. It tasted bitter.



“Close your eyes,” Dr. Weizak said.

He was a small, roly-poly man with an incredible styled head of hair and spade sideburns. Johnny couldn't get over all that hair. A man with a haircut like that in 1970 would have had to fight his way out of every bar in eastern Maine, and a man Weizak's age would have been considered ripe for committal.

All that hair. Man.

He closed his eyes. His head was covered with electrical contact points. The contacts went to wires that fed into a wall-console EEG. Dr. Brown and a nurse stood by the console, which was calmly extruding a wide sheet of graph paper. Johnny wished the nurse could have been Marie Michaud. He was a little scared.

Dr. Weizak touched his eyelids and Johnny jerked.

“Nuh… hold still, Johnny. These are the last two. Just… there.”

“All right, Doctor',” the nurse said.

A low hum.

“All right, Johnny. Are you comfortable?”

“Feels like there are pennies on my eyelids.”

“Yes? You'll get used to that in no time. Now let me explain to you this procedure. I am going to ask you to visualize a number of things. You will have about ten seconds on each, and there are twenty things to visualize in all. You understand?”


“Very fine. We begin. Dr. Brown?”

“All ready.”

“Excellent. Johnny, I ask you to see a table. On this table there is an orange.”

Johnny thought about it. He saw a small card-table with folding steel legs. Resting on it, a little off-center, was a large orange with the word SUNKIST stamped on its pocky skin.

“Good,” Weizak said.

“Can that gadget see my orange?”

“Nuh… well, yes; in a symbolic way it can. The machine is tracing your brainwaves. We are searching for blocks, Johnny. Areas of impairment. Possible indications of continuing intercranial pressure. Now I ask you to shush with the questions.”

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