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Книга The Dead Zone. Содержание - CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

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December 27, 1975

Dear Sarah,

Dad and I both enjoyed your le'tter, which arrived just this afternoon. I'm really fine, so you can stop worrying, okay? But I thank you for your concern. The” “frostbite” was greatly exaggerated in the press. Just a couple of patches on the” tips of three” fingers of my left hand. The” blackout was really nothing much more” than a fainting spell “brought on by emotional overload”, Weizak says. Yes, he came down himself and insisted on driving me to the hospital in Portland. Just watching him in action is nearly worth the price of admission. He bullied them into giving him a consultation room and an EEG machine and a technician to run it. He says he can find no new brain damage or signs of progressive brain damage. He wants to do a whole series of tests, some of them sound utterly inquisitorial-'Renounce, heretic, or we'll give you another pneumo-brainscan!” (Ha-ha, and are you still sniffin” that wicked cocaine”, darlin”?) Anyway, I turned down the kind offer to be pumped and prodded some more. Dad is rather pissed at me about turning the tests down, keeps trying to draw a parallel between my refusal to have them and my mother's refusal to take her hypertension medicine. It's very hard to make him see” that, if Weizak did find something, the odds would be” nine-to-one against him being able to do anything about it.

Yes, I saw the Newsweek article. That picture of me is from the press conference, only cropped. Don't look like anyone you'd like to meet in a dark alley, do I? Ha-ha! Holy Gee (as your buddy Anne Strafford is so fond of saying), but I wish they hadn't run that story. The packages, cards, and letters have started coming again. l don't open any of them anymore unless I recognize the return address, just mark them “Return to Sender”. They are too pitiful, too full of hope and hate and belief and unbelief, and somehow they all remind me of the way my Mom was.

Well, I don't mean to sound so gloomy, it ain't all that bad. But I don't want to be a practicing psychic, I don't want to go on tour or appear on TV (some yahoo from NBC got our phone number, who knows how, and wanted to know if I'd consider “doing the Carson show”. Great idea, huh? Don Rickles could insult some people, some” starlet could show her jugs, and I could make a few predictions. All brought to you by General Foods.). I don't want to do any of that S~H~I~T. What l am really looking forward to is getting back to Cleaves Mills and sinking into the utter obscurity of the H. S. English teacher. And save the psychic flashes for football pep rallies.

Guess that's all for this time. Hope you and Walt and Denny had yourself a merry little” Christmas and are looking forward eagerly (from what you said I'm sure” Walt is, at the very least) to the Brave Bicentennial Election Year now stretching before us. Glad to hear your spouse has been picked to run for the state senate seat there, but cross your fingers, Sarey-'76 doesn't exactly look like” a banner year for elephant-lovers. Send your thanks for that one” across to San Clemente.

My dad sends best and wants me to tell you thanks for the picture of Denny, who really impressed him. l send my best, also. Thanks for writing, and for your misplaced concern (misplaced, but very welcome). I'm fine”, and looking forward to getting back in harness.

Love” and good wishes, Johnny

P. S. For the” last time kiddo get off that cocaine”.

J.

December 29, 1975

Dear Johnny,

I think this is the” hardest, bitterest letter I've had to write in my sixteen years of school administration-not only because you're a good friend but because” you're a damned good teacher. There is no way to gild the lily on this, so guess I won't even try.

There was a special meeting of the school board last evening (at the behest of two members I won't name, but they were on the board when you were” teaching here” and I think you can probably guess the names), and they voted 5-2 to ask that your contract be withdrawn. The” reason: you're too controversial to be effective as a teacher. I came very close” to tendering my own resignation; I was that disgusted. If it wasn't for Maureen and the kids, I think I would have. This abortion isn't even on a par with tossing Rabbit, Run or Catcher in the Rye out of the” classroom. This is worse”. It stinks.

I told them that, but I might as well have been talking in Esperanto or igpay atm lay. All they can see is that your picture was in Newsweek and the New York Times and that the Castle” Rock story was on the national network news broadcasts. Too controversial! Five” old men in trusses, the kind of men who are more interested in hair length than in textbooks, more” involved in finding out who might smoke pot on the” faculty than in finding out how to get some” twentieth-century equipment for the Sci Wing.

l have written a strong letter of protest to the” board-at-large, and with a little arm-twisting I believe I can get Irving Finegold to cosign it with me”. But I'd also be” less than truthful if I told you there was a hope in he'll of getting those five old men to change their minds.

My honest advice” to you is to get yourself a lawyer, Johnny. You signed that blueback in good faith, and I believe you can squeeze them for every last cent of your salary, whether you ever step into a Cleaves Mills class-room or not. And call me when you feel like” talking.

With all my heart, I'm sorry.

Your friend, Dave” Pelsen

16.

Johnny stood beside the mailbox with Dave's letter in his hand, looking down at it unbelievingly. It was the last day of “975, clear and bitingly cold. His breath came out of his nostrils in fine white” jets of smoke.

“Shit,” he whispered. “Oh man, oh skit.”

Numbly, still not assimilating it totally, he” leaned down to see what else” the mailman had brought him. As usual, the box was crammed full It had just been luck that Dave's letter had been sticking out the end.

There was a white, fluttering slip of paper telling him to call at the” post office” for the” packages, the” inevitable package's. My husband deserted me in 1969, here” is a pair of his socks, tell me” where he is so I can get child-support out of the” bastard. My baby choked to death last year, here” is his rattle, please write and tell me if he is happy with the angels. l didn't have” him baptized because” his father did not approve” and now my heart is breaking. The endless litany.

What a talent God has given you, Johnny.

The reason: You're” too controversial to be” effective” as a teacher.

In a sudden vicious spasm he began to rake letters and manila envelopes out of the box, dropping some in the snow. The inevitable headache began to form around his temples like two dark clouds that would slowly draw together, enveloping him in pain. Sudden tears began to slip down his cheeks, and in the deep, stiff cold, they froze to glittering tracks almost immediately.

He bent and began to pick up the letters he had dropped; he saw one, doubled and trebled through the prisms of his tears, addressed in heavy dark pencil to

JOHN SMITH SIKIK SEER.

Sikik seer, that's me. His hands began to tremble wildly and he dropped everything, including Dave's letter. It fluttered down like a leaf and landed print side up among the other letters, all the other letters. Through his helpless tears he could see the letterhead, and the motto below the torch:

TO TEACH, TO LEARN, TO KNOW, TO SERVE.
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