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Книга The Dead Zone. Содержание - CHAPTER TWELVE

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Johnny collapsed backward. “Nope,” he panted. “Oh, I don't think so, Eileen.”

“Up. boy!” she cried in high and sadistic good humor. “Up! Up! Just three more and you can have a Coke!”

“Give me my ten-pound ball and I'll give you two more.”

“That ten-pound ball is going into the Guinness Book of Records as the world's biggest suppository if you don't give me three more. Up!”

“Urrrrrrgrah!” Johnny cried, jerking through number eight. He flopped back down, then jerked up again.

“Great! “Eileen cried. “One more, one more!”

“OOOOARRRRRRRRUNCH!” Johnny screamed, and sat up for the tenth time. He collapsed to the mat, letting the medicine ball roil away. “I ruptured myself, are you happy. all my guts just came loose, they're floating around inside me, I'll sue you, you goddam harpy.”

“Jeez, what a baby,” Eileen said, offering him her hand. “This is nothing compared to what I've got on for next time.”

“Forget it,” Johnny said. “All I I'm gonna do next time is swim in the…”

He looked at her, an expression of surprise spreading over his face. His grip tightened on her hand until it was almost painful.

“Johnny? What's wrong? Is it a charley horse?”

“Oh gosh,” Johnny said mildly.

“Johnny?”

He was still gripping her hand, looking into her face with” a faraway, dreamy contemplation that made her feel nervous. She had heard things about Johnny Smith, rumors that she had disregarded with her own brand of hard-headed pragmatism. There was a story that he had predicted Marie Michaud's boy was going to be all right, even before the doctors were one hundred percent sure they wanted to try the risky operation. Another rumor had something to do with Dr. Weizak; it was said Johnny had told him his mother was not dead but living someplace on the West Coast under another name. As far as Eileen Magown was concerned, the stories were so much eyewash. on a par with the confession magazines and sweet-savage love stories so many nurses read on station. But the way he was looking at her now made her feel afraid. It was as if he was looking inside her.

“Johnny, are you okay?” They were alone in the physical therapy room. The big double doors with the frosted glass panels which gave on the pool area were closed.

“Gosh sakes,” Johnny said. “You better… yes, there's still time. Just about.”

“What are you talking about?”

He snapped out of it then. He let go of her hand but he had gripped it tightly enough to leave white indentations along the back.

“Call the fire department,” he said. “You forgot to turn off the burner. The curtains are catching on fire.”

“What…?”

“The burner caught the dish towel and the dish towel caught the curtains,” Johnny said impatiently. “Hurry up and call them. Do you want your house to burn down?”

“Johnny, you can't know…

“Never mind what you can't know,” Johnny said, grabbing her elbow. He got her moving and they walked across to the doors. Johnny was limping badly on his left leg, as he always did when he was tired. They crossed the room that housed the swimming pool, their heels clacking hollowly on the tiles, then went out into the first floor hallway and down to the nurses” station. Inside, two nurses were drinking coffee and a third was on the phone, telling someone on the other end how she had redone her apartment.

“Are you going to call or should I?” Johnny asked.

Eileen's mind was in a whirl. Her morning routine was as set as a single person's is apt to be. She had gotten up and boiled herself a single egg while she ate a whole grapefruit, unsweetened, and a bowl of All-Bran. After breakfast she had dressed and driven to the hospital. Had she turned off the burner? Of course she had. She couldn't specifically remember doing it, but it was habit. She must have.

“Johnny, really, I don't know where you got the idea…”

“Okay, I will.”

They were in the nurses” station now, a glassed in booth furnished with three straight-backed chairs and a hot plate. The little room was dominated by the callboard -rows of small lights that flashed red when a patient pushed his call button. Three of them were flashing now. The two nurses went on drinking their coffee and talking about some doctor who had turned up drunk at Benjamin's. The third was apparently talking with her beautician.

“Pardon me, I have to make a call,” Johnny said.

The nurse covered the phone with her hand. “There's a pay phone in the lob…”

“Thanks,” Johnny said, and took the phone out of her hand. He pushed for one of the open lines and dialed 0. He got a busy signal. “What's wrong with this thing?”

“Hey!” The nurse who had been talking to her beautician cried. “What the hell do you think you're doing? Give me that!”

Johnny remembered that he was in a hospital with its own switchboard and dialed 9 for an outside line. Then he redialed the 0.

The deposed nurse, her cheeks flaming with anger, grabbed for the phone. Johnny pushed her away. She whirled, saw Eileen, and took a step toward her. “Eileen, what's with this crazy guy?” she asked stridently. The other two nurses had put down their coffee cups and were staring gape-mouthed at Johnny.

Eileen shrugged uncomfortably. “I don't know, he just

“Operator.”

“Operator, I want to report a fire in Oldtown,” Johnny said. “Can you give me the correct number to call, please?”

“Hey,” one of the nurses said. “Whose house is on fire?”

Eileen shifted her feet nervously. “He says mine is.”

The nurse who had been talking about her apartment to her beautician did a double take. “Oh my God, it's that guy,” she said.

Johnny pointed at the callboard, where five or six lights were flashing now. “Why don't you go see what those people want?”

The operator had connected him with the Oldtown Fire Department.

“My name is John Smith and I need to report a fire. It's at… “He looked at Eileen. “What's your address?”

For a moment Johnny didn't think she was going to tell him. Her mouth worked, but nothing came out. The two coffee drinkers had now forsaken their cups and withdrawn to the station's far corner. They were whispering together like little girls in a grammar school john. Their eyes were wide.

“Sir?” the voice on the other end asked.

“Come on,” Johnny said, “do you want your cats to fry?”

“624 Center Street,” Eileen said reluctantly. “Johnny, you've wigged out.”

Johnny repeated the address into the phone. “It's in the kitchen.”

“Your name, sir?”

“John Smith. I'm calling from the Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.”

“May I ask how you came by your information?”

“We'd be on the phone the rest of the day. My information is correct. Now go put it out. “He banged the phone down.

…and he said Sam Weizak's mother was still…”

She broke off and looked at Johnny. For a moment he felt all of them looking at him, their eyes lying on his skin like tiny, hot weights, and he knew what would come of this and it made his stomach turn.

“Eileen,” he said.

“What?”

“Do you have a friend next door?”

“Yes… Burt and Janice are next door…”

“Either of them home?”

“I guess Janice probably would be, sure.

“Why don't you give her a call?”

Eileen nodded, suddenly understanding what he was getting at. She took the phone from his hand and dialed an 827 exchange number. The nurses stood by watching avidly, as if they had stepped into a really exciting TV program by accident.

“Hello? Jan? It's Eileen. Are you in your kitchen?… Would you take a look out your window and tell me if everything looks, well, all right over at my place?… Well, a friend of mine says… I'll tell you after you go look, okay?” Eileen was blushing. “Yes, I'll wait. “She looked at Johnny and repeated, “You've wigged out, Johnny.”

There was a pause that seemed to go on and on. Then Eileen began listening again. She listened for a long time and then said in a strange, subdued voice totally unlike her usual one: “No, that's all right, Jan. They've been called. No… I can't explain right now but I'll tell you later. “She looked at Johnny. “Yes, it is funny how I could have known… but I can explain. At least I think I can. Good-bye.”

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