Книга The Dead Zone. Содержание - CHAPTER TWENTY
The hand went away altogether. The rear door opened. Oh thank God, thank God.
“You just want to think,” Sonny Elliman repeated. “Now do we have an understanding?”
“Yes,” Richardson whispered. “But if you think Gr. a certain person can be elected using these tactics, you're badly mistaken.”
“No,” Sonny said. “You're the one who's mistaken. Because everyone's having a good time. Make sure that you're not left out.”
Richardson didn't answer. He sat rigid behind the steering wheel, his neck throbbing, staring at the clock on the Town Office Building as if it were the only sane thing left in his life. It was now almost five of five. The pork chops would be in by now.
The man in the back seat said one more thing and then he was gone, striding away rapidly, his long hair swinging against the collar of his shirt, not looking back. He went around the corner of the building and out of sight.
The last thing he had said to Warren Richardson was:
Richardson began to shake all over and it was a long time before he could drive. His first clear feeling was anger-terrible anger. The impulse that came with it was to drive directly to the Capital City police department (housed in the building below the dock) and report what had happened-the threats on his wife and son, the physical abuse-and on whose behalf it had been done.
You might think about how you'd pay for plastic surgery… or how easy it would be for someone to come” along and pick up your son…
But why? Why take the chance? What he had said to that thug was just the plain, unvarnished truth. Everyone in southern New Hampshire real estate knew that Stillson had been running a shell game, reaping short-term profits that would land him in jail, not sooner or later, but sooner or even sooner. His campaign was an exercise in idiocy. And now strong-arm tactics! No one could get away with that for long in America-and especially not in New England.
But let someone else blow the whistle.
Someone with less to lose.
Warren Richardson started his car and went home to his pork chops and said nothing at all. Someone else would surely put a stop to it.
On a day not long after Chuck's first breakthrough, Johnny Smith stood in the bathroom of the guest house, running his Norelco over his cheeks. Looking at himself closeup in a mirror always gave him a weird feeling these days, as if he were looking at an older brother instead of himself. Deep horizontal lines had grooved themselves across his forehead. Two more bracketed his mouth. Strangest of all, there was that streak of white, and the rest of his hair was beginning to go gray. It seemed to have started almost overnight.
He snapped off the razor and went out into the combination kitchen-living room. Lap of luxury, he thought, and smiled a little. Smiling was starting to feel natural again. He turned on the TV, got a Pepsi out of the fridge, and settled down to watch the news. Roger Chatsworth was due back later in the evening, and tomorrow Johnny would have the distinct pleasure of telling him that his son was beginning to make real progress.
Johnny had been up to see his own father every two weeks or so. He was pleased with Johnny's new job and listened with keen interest as Johnny told him about the Chatsworths, the house in the pleasant college town of Durham, and Chuck's problems. Johnny, in turn, listened as his father told him about the gratis work he was doing at Charlene MacKenzie's house in neighboring New Gloucester.
“Her husband was a helluva doctor but not much of a handyman,” Herb said. Charlene and Vera had been friends before Vera's deepening involvement in the stranger offshoots of fundamentalism. That had separated them. Her husband, a GP, had died of a heart attack in 1973. “Place was practically falling down around that woman's ears,” Herb said. “Least I could do. I go up on Saturdays and she gives me a dinner before I come back home. I have to tell the truth, Johnny, she cooks better than you do.”
“Looks better, too,” Johnny said blandly.
“Sure, she's a fine-looking woman, but it's nothing like that, Johnny. Your mother not even in her grave a year…
But Johnny suspected that maybe it was something like that, and secretly couldn't have been more pleased. He didn't fancy the idea of his father growing old alone.
On the television, Walter Cronkite was serving up the evening's political news. Now, with the primary season over and the conventions only weeks away, it appeared that Jimmy Carter had the Democratic nomination sewed up. It was Ford who was in a scrap for his political life with Ronald Reagan, the ex-governor of California and ex-host of “GE Theater”. It was close enough to have the reporters counting individual delegates, and in one of her infrequent letters Sarah Hazlett had written: “Walt's got his fingers (and toes!) crossed that Ford gets in. As a candidate for state senate up here, he's already thinking about coattails. And he says that, in Maine at least, Reagan hasn't any.”
While he was shortorder cooking in Kittery, Johnny had gotten into the habit of going down to Dover or Portsmouth or any number of smaller towns in New Hampshire a couple of times a week. All of the candidates for president were in and out, and it was a unique opportunity to see those who were running closeup and without the nearly regal trappings bf authority that might later surround any one of them. It became something of a hobby, although of necessity a short-lived one; when New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary was over, the candidates would move on to Florida without a glance back. And of course a few of their number would bury their political ambitions somewhere between Portsmouth and Keene. Never a political creature before -except during the Vietnam era-Johnny became an avid politician-watcher in the healing aftermath of the Castle Rock business-and his own particular talent, affliction, whatever it was, played a part in that, too.
He shook hands with Morris Udall and Henry Jackson. Fred Harris clapped him on the back. Ronald Reagan gave him a quick and practiced politico's double-pump and said, “Get out to the polls and help us if you can. “Johnny had nodded agreeably enough, seeing no point in disabusing Mr. Reagan of his notion that he was a bona fide New Hampshire voter.
He had chatted with Sarge Shriver just inside the main entrance to the monstrous Newington Mall for nearly fifteen minutes. Shriver, his hair freshly cut and smelling of after-shave and perhaps desperation, was accompanied by a single aide with his pockets stuffed full of leaflets, and a Secret Service man who kept scratching furtively at his acne. Shriver had seemed inordinately pleased to be recognized. A minute or two before Johnny said goodbye, a candidate in search of some local office had approached Shriver and asked him to sign his nominating papers. Shriver had smiled gently.
Johnny had sensed things about all of them, but little of a specific nature. It was as if they had made the act of touching such a ritual that their true selves were buried beneath a layer of tough, clear lucite. Although he saw most of them-with the exception of President Ford -Johnny had felt only once that sudden, electrifying snap of knowledge that he associated with Eileen Magown -and, in an entirely different way, with Frank Dodd.
It was a quarter of seven in the morning. Johnny had driven down to Manchester in his old Plymouth. He had worked from ten the evening before until six this morning. He was tired, but the quiet winter dawn had been too good to sleep through. And he liked Manchester, Manchester with its narrow streets and timeworn brick buildings, the gothic textile mills strung along the river like mid-Victorian beads. He had not been consciously politician-hunting that morning; he thought he would cruise the streets for a while, until they began to get crowded, until the cold and silent spell of February was broken, then go back to Kittery and catch some sacktime.