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Книга The Dead Zone. Содержание - CHAPTER ELEVEN

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In the corridor outside, someone dropped a water glass or something and cursed in surprise when it broke. Johnny glanced toward the sound, and his eyes cleared. He looked back, saw her frozen, wide-eyed face, and frowned with concern.

“What? Sarah, did I say something wrong?”

“How did you know?” she whispered. “How could you know those things?”

“I don't know,” he said. “Sarah, I'm sorry” if I… “Johnny, I ought to go, Denny's with the sitter. “All right. Sarah, I'm sorry I upset you.”

“How could you know about my ring, Johnny?” He could only shake his head.

7.

Halfway down the first-floor corridor, her stomach began to feel strange. She found the ladies” just in time. She hurried in, dosed the door of one of the stalls, and threw up violently. She flushed and then stood with her eyes closed, shivering, but also close to laughter. The last time she had seen Johnny she had thrown up, too. Rough justice? Brackets in time, like bookends? She put her hands over her mouth to stifle whatever might be trying to get out-laughter or maybe a scream. And in the darkness the world seemed to tilt irrationally, like a dish. Like a spinning Wheel of Fortune.

8.

She had left Denny with Mrs. Labelle, so when she got home the house was silent and empty. She went up the narrow stairway to the attic and turned the switch that controlled the two bare, dangling light bulbs. Their luggage was stacked up in one corner, the Montreal travel stickers still pasted to the sides of the orange Grants” suitcases. There were three of them. She opened the first, felt through the elasticized side pouches, and found nothing. Likewise the second. Likewise the third.

She drew in a deep breath and then let it out, feeling foolish and a little disappointed-but mostly relieved. Overwhelmingly relieved. No ring. Sorry, Johnny. But on the other hand, I'm not sorry at all. It would have been just a little bit too spooky.

She started to slide the suitcases back into place between a tall pile of Walt's old college texts and the floor lamp that crazy woman's dog had knocked over and which Sarah had never had the heart to throw out. And as she dusted off her hands preparatory to putting the whole thing behind her, a small voice far inside her whispered, almost too low to hear, Sort of a flying search, wasn't it? Didn't really want to find anything, did you, Sarah?

No. No, she really hadn't wanted to find anything. And if that little voice thought she was going to open all those suitcases again, it was crazy. She was fifteen minutes in picking up Denny. Walt was bringing home one of the senior partners in his firm for dinner (a very big deal), and she owed Bettye Hackman a letter-from the Peace Corps in Uganda, Bettye had gone directly into marriage with the son of a staggeringly rich Kentucky horse breeder. Also, she ought to dean both bathrooms, set her hair, and give Denny a bath. There was really too much to do to be frigging around up in this hot, dirty attic.

So she pulled all three suitcases open again and this time she searched the side pockets very carefully, and tucked all the way down in the corner of the third suitcase she found her wedding ring. She held it up to the glare of one of the naked bulbs and read the engraving inside, still as fresh as it had been on the day Walt slipped the ring on her finger: WALTER AND SARAH HAZLETT-JULY 9, 1972.

Sarah looked at it for a long time.

Then she put the suitcases back, turned off the lights, and went back downstairs. She changed out of the linen dress, which was now streaked with dust, and into slacks and a light top. She went down the block to Mrs. Labelle's and picked up her son. They went home and Sarah put Denny in the living room, where he crawled around vigorously while she prepared the roast and peeled some potatoes. With the roast in the oven, she went into the living room and saw that Denny had gone to sleep on the rug. She picked him up and put him in his crib. Then she began to dean the toilets. And in spite of everything, in spite of the way the dock was racing toward dinnertime, her mind never left the ring. Johnny had known. She could even pinpoint the moment he had come by this knowledge. When she had kissed him before leaving.

Just thinking about him made her feel weak and strange, and she wasn't sure why. It was all mixed up. His crooked smile, so much the same, his body, so terribly changed, so light and undernourished, the lifeless way his hair lay against his scalp contrasting so blindingly with the rich memories she still held of him. She had wanted to kiss him.

“Stop it,” she murmured to herself. Her face in the bathroom mirror looked like a stranger's face. Flushed and hot and let's face it, gang, sexy.

Her hand dosed on the ring in the pocket of her slacks, and almost-but not quite-before she was aware of what she was going to do, she had thrown it into the clean, slightly blue water of the toilet bowl. All sparkly clean so that if Mr. Treaches of Baribault, Treaches, Moorehouse, and Gendron had to take a leak sometime during the dinner party, he wouldn't be offended by any unsightly ring around the bowl, who knows what road-blocks may stand in the way of a young man on his march toward the counsels of the mighty, right? Who knows anything in this world?

It made a tiny splash and sank slowly to the bottom of the dear water, turning lazily over and over. She thought she heard a small clink when it struck the porcelain at the bottom, but that was probably just imagination. Her

head throbbed. The attic had been hot and stale and musty. But Johnny's kiss-that had been sweet. So sweet.

Before she could think about what she was doing (and thus allow reason to reassert itself), she reached out and flushed the toilet. It went with a bang and a roar. It seemed louder, maybe, because her eyes were squeezed shut. When she opened them, the ring was gone. It had been lost, and now it was lost again.

Suddenly her legs felt weak and she sat down on the edge of the tub and put her hands over her face. Her hot, hot face. She wouldn't go back and see Johnny again. It wasn't a good idea. It had upset her. Walt was bringing home a senior partner and she had a bottle of Mondavi and a budget-fracturing roast, those were the things she would think about. She should be thinking about how much she loved Walt, and about Denny asleep in his crib. She should think about how, once you made your choices in this crazy world, you had to live with them. And she would not think about Johnny Smith and his crooked, charming smile anymore.

9.

The dinner that night was a great success.

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