Alla inlägg den 6 juni 2011

Av kaceyhanxu kaceyhanxu - 6 juni 2011 06:48

He grunted, keeping his eyes on the road. "Tell me what happens," she said. "I know I won't get to finish it; we'll be in Denver pretty soon. Do America and Britain get into a war, and one emerges as ruler of the world?" Presently Joe said, "In some ways it's not a bad book. He works all the details out; the U.S has the Pacific, about like our East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. They divide Russia. It works for around ten years. Then there's trouble -- naturally." "Why naturally?" "Human nature." Joe added, "Nature of states. Suspicion, fear, greed. Churchill thinks the U.S.A is undermining British rule in South Asia by appealing to the large Chinese populations, who naturally are pro-U.S.A., due to Chiang Kai-shek. The British start setting up" -- he grinned at her briefly -- "what are called 'detention preserves.' Concentration camps, in other words. For thousands of maybe disloyal Chinese. They're accused of sabotage and propaganda. Churchill is so --" "You mean he's still in power? Wouldn't he be around ninety?" Joe said, "That's where the British system has it over the American. Every eight years the U.S boots out its leaders, no matter how qualified -- but Churchill just stays on. The U.S doesn't have any leadership like him, after Tugwell. Just nonentities. And the older he gets, the more autocratic and rigid he gets -- Churchill, I mean. Until by 1960, he's like some old warlord out of Central Asia; nobody can cross him. He's been in power twenty years." "Good God," she said, leafing through the last part of the book, searching for verification of what Joe was saying. "On that I agree," Joe said. "Churchill was the one good leader the British had during the war; if they'd retained him they'd have been better off. I tell you; a state is no better than its leader. Fuhrerprinzip - Principle of Leadership, like the Nazis say. They're right. Even this Abendsen has to face that. Sure, the U.S.A expands economically after winning the war over Japan, because it's got that huge market in Asia that it's wrested from the Japs. But that's not enough; that's got no spirituality. Not that the British have. They're both plutocracies, rule by the rich. If they had won, all they'd have thought about was making more money, that upper class. Abendsen, he's wrong; there would be no social reform, no welfare public works plans -- the Anglo-Saxon plutocrats wouldn't have permitted it." Juliana thought, Spoken like a devout Fascist. Evidently Joe perceived by her expression what she was thinking; he turned toward her, slowing the car, one eye on her, one on the cars ahead. "Listen, I'm not an intellectual. Fascism has no need of that. What is wanted is the deed. Theory derives from action. What our corporate state demands from us is comprehension of the social forces of history. You see? I tell you; I know, Juliana." His tone was earnest, almost beseeching. "Those old rotten money-run empires, Britain and France and U.S.A., although the latter actually a sort of bastard sideshoot, not strictly empire, but money-oriented even so. They had no soul, so naturally no future. No growth. Nazis a bunch of street thugs; I agree. You agree? Right?" She had to smile; his Italian mannerisms had overpowered him in his attempt to drive and make his speech simultaneously. "Abendsen talks like it's big issue as to whether U.S or Britain ultimately wins out. Bull! Has no merit, no history to it. Six of one, dozen of other. You ever read what the Duce wrote? Inspired. Beautiful man. Beautiful writing. Explains the underlying actuality of every event. Real issue in war was: old versus new. Money -- that's why Nazis dragged Jewish question mistakenly into it -- versus communal mass spirit, what Nazis call Gemeinschaft -- folkness. Like Soviet. Commune. Right? Only, Communists sneaked in Pan-Slavic Peter the Great empire ambitions along with it, made social reform means for imperial ambitions." Juliana thought, Like Mussolini did. Exactly. "Nazi thuggery a tragedy," Joe stuttered away as he passed a slow-moving truck. "But change's always harsh on the loser. Nothing new. Look at previous revolutions such as French. Or Cromwell against Irish. Too much philosophy in Germanic temperament; too much theater, too. All those rallies. You never find true Fascist talking, only doing -- like me. Right?" Laughing, she said, "God, you've been talking a mile a minute." He shouted excitedly, "I'm explaining Fascist theory of action!" She couldn't answer; it was too funny. But the man beside her did not think it was funny; he glowered at her, his face red. Veins in his forehead became distended and he began once more to shake. And again he passed his fingers clutchingly along his scalp, forward and back, not speaking, only staring at her. "Don't get sore at me," she said. For a moment she thought he was going to hit her; he drew his arm back. . . but then he grunted, reached and turned up the car radio. They drove on. Band music from the radio, static. Once more she tried to concentrate on the book. "You're right," Joe said after a long time. "About what?" "Two-bit empire. Clown for a leader. No wonder we got nothing out of the war." She patted his arm. "Juliana, it's all darkness," Joe said. "Nothing is true or certain. Right?" "Maybe so," she said absently, continuing to try to read. "Britain wins," Joe said, indicating the book. "I save you the trouble. U.S dwindles, Britain keeps needling and poking and expanding, keeps the initiative. So put it away." "I hope we have fun in Denver," she said, closing the book. "You need to relax. I want you to." If you don't, she thought, you're going to fly apart in a million pieces. Like a bursting spring. And what happens to me, then? How do I get back? And do I just leave you? I want the good time you promised me, she thought. I don't want to be cheated; I've been cheated too much in my life before, by too many people. "We'll have it," Joe said. "Listen." He studied her with a queer, introspective expression. "You take to that Grasshopper book so much; I wonder -- do you suppose a man who writes a best seller, an author like that Abendsen, do people write letters to him? I bet lots of people praise his book by letters to him, maybe even visit." All at once she understood. "Joe -- it's only another hundred miles!" His eyes shone; he smiled at her, happy again, no longer flushed or troubled. "We could!" she said. "You drive so good -- it'd be nothing to go on up there, would it?" Slowly, Joe said, "Well, I doubt a famous man lets visitors drop in. Probably so many of them." "Why not try? Joe --" She grabbed his shoulder, squeezed him excitedly. "All he could do is send us away. Please." With great deliberation, Joe said, "When we've gone shopping and got new clothes, all spruced up. . . that's important, to make a good impression. And maybe even rent a new car up in Cheyenne. Bet you can do that." "Yes," she said. "And you need a haircut. And let me pick your clothes; please, Joe. I used to pick Frank's clothes for him; a man can never buy his own clothes." "You got good taste in clothes," Joe said, once more turning toward the road ahead, gazing out somberly. "In other ways, too. Better if you call him. Contact him." "I'll get my hair done," she said. "Good." "I'm not scared at all to walk up and ring the bell," Juliana said. "I mean, you live only once. Why should we be intimidated? He's just a man like the rest of us. In fact, he probably would be pleased to know somebody drove so far just to tell him how much they liked his book. We can get an autograph on the book, on the inside where they do that. Isn't that so? We better buy a new copy; this one is all stained. It wouldn't look good." "Anything you want," Joe said. "I'll let you decide all the details; I know you can do it. Pretty girl always gets everyone; when he sees what a knockout you are he'll open the door wide. But listen; no monkey business." "What do you mean?" "You say we're married. I don't want you getting mixed up with him -- you know. That would be dreadful. Wreck everyone's existence; some reward for him to let visitors in, some irony. So watch it, Juliana." "You can argue with him," Juliana said. "That part about Italy losing the war by betraying them; tell him what you told me." Joe nodded. "That's so. We can discuss the whole subject." They drove swiftly on. At seven o'clock the following morning, PSA reckoning, Mr. Nobusuke Tagomi rose from bed, started toward the bathroom, then changed his mind and went directly to the oracle. Seated cross-legged on the floor of his living room he began manipulating the forty-nine yarrow stalks. He had a deep sense of the urgency of his questioning, and he worked at a feverish pace until at last he had the six lines before him. Shock! Hexagram Fifty-one! God appears in the sign of the Arousing. Thunder and lightning. Sounds -- he involuntarily put his fingers up to cover his ears. Ha-ha! Ho-ho! Great burst that made him wince and blink. Lizard scurries and tiger roars, and out comes God Himself! What does it mean? He peered about his living room. Arrival of -- what? He hopped to his feet and stood panting, waiting. Nothing. Heart pounding. Respiration and all somatic processes, including all manner of diencephalic-controlled autonomic responses to crisis: adrenalin, greater heartbeat, pulse rate, glands pouring, throat paralyzed, eyes staring, bowels loose, et al. Stomach queasy and sex instinct suppressed.

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Weren't you going to let me read that?" she asked. "Maybe while I drive," Joe said, without looking up. "You're going to drive? But it's my car!" He said nothing; he merely went on reading. At the cash register, Robert Childan looked up to see a lean, tall, dark-haired man entering the store. The man wore a slightly less-than-fashionable suit and carried a large wicker hamper. Salesman. Yet he did not have the cheerful smile; instead, he had a grim, morose look on his leathery face. More like a plumber or an electrician, Robert Childan thought. When he had finished with his customer, Childan called to the man, "Who do you represent?" "Edfrank Jewelry," the man mumbled back. He had set his hamper down on one of the counters. "Never heard of them." Childan sauntered over as the man unfastened the top of the hamper and with much wasted motion opened it. "Handwrought. Each unique. Each an original. Brass, copper, silver. Even hot-forged black iron." Childan glanced into the hamper. Metal on black velvet, peculiar. "No thanks. Not in my line." "This represents American artistry. Contemporary." Shaking his head no, Childan walked back to the cash register. For a time the man stood fooling with his velvet display boards and hamper. He was neither taking the boards out nor putting them back; he seemed to have no idea what he was doing. His arms folded, Childan watched, thinking about various problems of the day. At two he had an appointment to show some early period cups. Then at three -- another batch of items returning from the Cal labs, home from their authenticity test. He had been having more and more pieces examined, in the last couple of weeks. Ever since the nasty incident with the Colt .44. "These are not plated," the man with the wicker hamper said, holding up a cuff bracelet. "Solid copper." Childan nodded without answering. The man would hang around for a while, shuffle his samples about, but finally he would move on. The telephone rang. Childan answered it. Customer inquiring about an ancient rocking chair, very valuable, which Childan was having mended for him. It had not been finished, and Childan had to tell a convincing story. Staring through the store window at the midday traffic, he soothed and reassured. At last the customer, somewhat appeased, rang off. No doubt about it, he thought as he hung up the phone. The Colt .44 affair had shaken him considerably. He no longer viewed his stock with the same reverence. Bit of knowledge like that goes a long way. Akin to primal childhood awakening; facts of life. Shows, he ruminated, the link with our early years: not merely U.S history involved, but our own personal. As if, he thought, question might arise as to authenticity of our birth certificate. Or our impression of Dad. Maybe I don't actually recall F.D.R as example. Synthetic image distilled from hearing assorted talk. Myth implanted subtly in tissue of brain. Like, he thought, myth of Hepplewhite. Myth of Chippendale. Or rather more on lines of Abraham Lincoln ate here. Used this old silver knife, fork, spoon. You can't see it, but the fact remains. At the other counter, still fumbling with his displays and wicker hamper, the salesman said, "We can make pieces to order. Custom made. If any of your customers have their own ideas." His voice had a strangled quality; he cleared his throat, gazing at Childan and then down at a piece of jewelry which he held. He did not know how to leave, evidently. Childan smiled and said nothing. Not my responsibility. His, to get himself back out of here. Place saved or no. Tough, such discomfort. But he doesn't have to be salesman. We all suffer in this life. Look at me. Taking it all day from Japs such as Mr. Tagomi. By merest inflection manage to rub my nose in it, make my life miserable. And then an idea occurred to him. Fellow's obviously not experienced. Look at him. Maybe I can get some stuff on consignment. Worth a try. "Hey," Childan said. The man glanced up swiftly, fastened his gaze. Advancing toward him, his arms still folded, Childan said, "Looks like a quiet half hour, here. No promises, but you can lay some of those things out. Clear back those racks of ties." He pointed. Nodding, the man began to clear himself a space on the top of the counter. He reopened his hamper, once more fumbled with the velvet trays. He'll lay everything out, Childan knew. Arrange it painstakingly for the next hour. Fuss and adjust until he's got it all set up. Hoping. Praying. Watching me out of the corner of his eye every second. To see if I'm taking any interest. Any at all. "When you have it out," Childan said, "if I'm not too busy I'll take a look." The man worked feverishly, as if he had been stung. Several customers entered the store then, and Childan greeted them. He turned his attention to them and their wishes, and forgot the salesman laboring over his display. The salesman, recognizing the situation, became stealthy in his movements; he made himself inconspicuous. Childan sold a shaving mug, almost sold a hand-hooked rug, took a deposit on an afghan. Time passed. At last the customers left. Once more the store was empty except for himself and the salesman. The salesman had finished. His entire selection of jewelry lay arranged on the black velvet on the surface of the counter. Going leisurely over, Robert Childan lit a Land-O-Smiles and stood rocking back and forth on his heels, humming beneath his breath. The salesman stood silently. Neither spoke. At last Childan reached out and pointed at a pin. "I like that." The salesman said in a rapid voice, "That's a good one. You won't find any wire brush scratches. All rouge-finished. And it won't tarnish. We have a plastic lacquer sprayed on them that'll last for years. It's the best industrial lacquer available." Childan nodded slightly. "What we've done here," the salesman said, "is to adapt tried and proven industrial techniques to jewelry making. As far as I know, nobody has ever done it before. No molds. All metal to metal. Welding and brazing." He paused. "The backs are hand-soldered." Childan picked up two bracelets. Then a pin. Then another pin. He held them for a moment, then set them off to one side. The salesman's face twitched. Hope. Examining the price tag on a necklace, Childan said, "Is this --" "Retail. Your price is fifty percent of that. And you buy say around a hundred dollars or so, we give you an additional two percent." One by one Childan laid several more pieces aside. With each additional one, the salesman became more agitated; he talked faster and faster, finally repeating himself, even saying meaningless foolish things, all in an undertone and very urgently. He really thinks he's going to sell, Childan knew. By his own expression he showed nothing; he went on with the game of picking pieces. "That's an especially good one," the salesman was rambling on, as Childan fished out a large pendant and then ceased. "I think you got our best. All our best." The man laughed. "You really have good taste." His eyes darted. He was adding in his mind what Childan had chosen. The total of the sale. Childan said, "Our policy, with untried merchandise, has to be consignment." For a few seconds the salesman did not understand. He stopped his talking, but he stared without comprehension. Childan smiled at him. "Consignment," the salesman echoed at last. "Would you prefer not to leave it?" Childan said. Stammering, the man finally said, "You mean I leave it and you pay me later on when --" "You get two-thirds of the proceeds. When the pieces sell. That way you make much more. You have to wait, of course, but --" Childan shrugged. "It's up to you. I can give it some window display, possibly. And if it moves, then possibly later on, in a month or so, with the next order -- well, we might see our way clear to buy some outright." The salesman had now spent well over an hour showing his wares, Childan realized. And he had everything out. All his displays disarranged and dismantled. Another hour's work to get it back ready to take somewhere else. There was silence. Neither man spoke. "Those pieces you put to one side --" the salesman said in a low voice. "They're the ones you want?" "Yes. I'll let you leave them all." Childan strolled over to his office in the rear of the store. "I'll write up a tag. So you'll have a record of what you've left with me." As he came back with his tag book he added, "You understand that when merchandise is left on a consignment basis the store doesn't assume liability in case of theft or damage." He had a little mimeographed release for the salesman to sign. The store would never have to account for the items left. When the unsold portion was returned, if some could not be located -- they must have been stolen, Childan declared to himself. There's always theft going on in stores. Especially small items like jewelry. There was no way that Robert Childan could lose. He did not have to pay for this man's jewelry; he had no investment in this kind of inventory. If any of it sold he made a profit, and if it did not, he simply returned it all -- or as much as could be found -- to the salesman at some vague later date. Childan made out the tag, listing the items. He signed it and gave a copy to the salesman. "You can give me a call," he said, "in a month or so. To find out how it's been doing." Taking the jewelry which he wanted he went off to the back of the store, leaving the salesman to gather up his remaining stuff. I didn"t think he'd go along with it, he thought. You never know. That's why it's always worth trying. When he next looked up, he saw that the salesman was ready to leave. He had his wicker hamper under his arm and the counter was clear. The salesman was coming toward him, holding something out. "Yes?" Childan said. He had been going over some correspondence. "I want to leave our card." The salesman put down an odd-looking little square of gray and red paper on Childan's desk. "Edfrank Custom Jewelry. It has our address and phone number. In case you want to get in touch with us." Childan nodded, smiled silently, and returned to his work. When next he paused and looked up the store was empty. The salesman had gone. Putting a nickel into the wall dispenser, Childan obtained a cup of hot instant tea which he sipped contemplatively. I wonder if it will sell, he wondered. Very unlikely. But it is well made. And one never sees anything like it. He examined one of the pins. Quite striking design. Certainly not amateurs. I'll change the tags. Mark them up a lot higher. Push the handmade angle. And the uniqueness. Custom originals. Small sculptures. Wear a work of art. Exclusive creation on your lapel or wrist. And there was another notion circulating and growing in the back of Robert Childan's mind. With these, there's no problem of authenticity. And that problem may someday wreck the historic American artifacts industry. Not today or tomorrow -- but after that, who knows. Better not to have all irons in one fire. That visit by that Jewish crook; that might be the harbinger. If I quietly build up a stock of nonhistoric objects, contemporary work with no historicity either real or imagined, I might find I have the edge over the competition. And as long as it isn't costing me anything. Leaning back his chair so that it rested against the wall he sipped his tea and pondered. The Moment changes. One must be ready to change with it. Or otherwise left high and dry. Adapt. The rule of survival, he thought. Keep eye peeled regarding situation around you. Learn its demands. And meet them. Be there at the right time doing the right thing. Be yinnish. The Oriental knows. The smart black yinnish eyes. Suddenly he had a good idea; it made him sit upright instantly. Two birds, one stone. Ah. He hopped to his feet, excited. Carefully wrap best of jewelry pieces (removing tag, of course). Pin, pendant, or bracelet. Something nice, anyhow. Then -- since have to leave shop, close up at two as it is -- saunter over to Kasouras' apartment building. Mr. Kasouras, Paul, will be at work. However, Mrs. Kasoura, Betty, will very likely be home. Graft gift, this new original U.S artwork. Compliments of myself personally, in order to obtain high-place reaction. This is how a new line is introduced. Isn't it lovely? Whole selection back at store; drop in, etc. This one for you, Betty. He trembled. Just she and I, midday in the apartment. Husband off at work. All on up and up, however; brilliant pretext. Airtight! Getting a small box plus wrapping paper and ribbon, Robert Childan began preparing a gift for Mrs. Kasoura. Dark, attractive woman, slender in her silk Oriental dress, high heels, and so on. Or maybe today blue cotton cooliestyle lounging pajamas, very light and comfortable and informal. Ah, he thought. Or is this too bold? Husband Paul becoming irked. Scenting out and reacting badly. Perhaps go slower; take gift to him, to his office? Give much the same story, but to him. Then let him give gift to her; no suspicion. And, Robert Childan thought, then I give Betty a call on the phone tomorrow or next day to get her reaction. Even more airtight! When Frank Frink saw his business partner coming back up the sidewalk he could tell that it had not gone well. "What happened?" he said, taking the wicker hamper from Ed and putting it in the truck. "Jesus Christ, you were gone an hour and a half. It took him that long to say no?" Ed said, "He didn't say no." He looked tired. He got into the truck and sat. "What'd he say, then?" Opening the hamper, Frink saw that a good many of the pieces were gone. Many of their best. "He took a lot. What's the matter, then?" "Consignment," Ed said. "You let him?" He could not believe it. "We talked it over --" "I don't know how come." "Christ," Frink said. "I'm sorry. He acted like he was going to buy it. He picked a lot out. I thought he was buying."

ANNONS
Av kaceyhanxu kaceyhanxu - 6 juni 2011 06:46

Another thought: That man had been one of the true vampires; the living dead. Would sunlight have the same effect on those who were still alive? The first excitement he'd felt in months made him break into a run for the station wagon. As the door slammed shut beside him, he wondered if he should have taken away the dead man. Would the body attract others, would they invade the crypt? No, they wouldn't go near the casket, anyway; It was sealed with garlic. Besides, the man's blood was dead now, it—Again his thoughts broke off as he leaped to another conclusion. The sun's rays must have done something to their blood! Was it possible, then, that all things bore relations to the blood? The garlic, the cross, the mirror, the stake, daylight, the earth some of them slept in? He didn't see how, and yet... He had to do a lot of reading, a lot of research. It might be just the thing he needed. He'd been planning for a long time, to do it, but lately it seemed as if he'd forgotten it altogether. Now this new idea started the desire again. He started, the car and raced up the street, turning off into a residential section and pulling up before the first house he came to. He ran up the pathway to the front door, but it was locked and he couldn't force it in. With an impatient growl, he ran to the next house. The door was open and he ran to the stairs through the darkened living room and jumped up the carpeted steps two at a time. He found the woman in the bedroom. Without hesitation, he jerked back the covers and grabbed her by the wrists. She grunted as her body hit the floor, and he heard her making tiny sounds in her throat as he dragged her into the hail and started down the stairs. As he pulled her across the living room, she started to move. Her hands closed over his wrists and her body began to twist and flop on the rug. Her eyes were still closed, but she gasped and muttered and her body kept trying to writhe out of his grip. Her dark nails dug into his flesh. He tore out of her grasp with a snarl and dragged her the rest of the way by her hair. Usually he felt a twinge when he realized that, but for some. affliction he didn't understand, these people were the same as he. But now an experimental fervor had seized him and he could think of nothing else. Even so, he shuddered at the strangled sound of horror she made when he threw her on the sidewalk outside. She lay twisting helplessly on the sidewalk, hands opening and closing, lips drawn back from red-spotted lips. Robert Neville watched her tensely. His throat moved. It wouldn't last, the feeling of callous brutality. He bit his lips as he watched her. All right, she's suffering, he argued with himself, but she's one of them and she'd kill me gladly if she got the chance. You've got to look at it that way, it's the only way. Teeth clenched, he stood there and watched her die. In a few minutes she stopped moving, stopped muttering, and her hands uncurled slowly like white blossoms on the cement. Robert Neville crouched down and felt for her heartbeat. There was none. Already her flesh was growing cold. He straightened up with a thin smile. It was true, then. He didn't need the stakes. After all this time, he'd finally found a better method. Then his breath caught. But how did he know the woman was really dead? How could he know until sunset? The thought filled him with a new, more restless anger. Why did each question blight the answers before it? He thought about it as he sat drinking a can of tomato juice taken from the supermarket behind which he was parked. How was he going to know? He couldn't very well stay with the woman until sunset came. Take her home with you, fool. Again his eyes closed and he felt a shudder of irritation go through him. He was missing all the obvious answers today. Now he'd have to go all the way back and find her, and he wasn't even sure where the house was. He started the motor and pulled away from the parking lot, glancing down at his watch. Three o'clock. Plenty of time to get back before they came. He eased the gas pedal. down and the station wagon pulled ahead faster. It took him about a half hour to relocate the house. The woman was still in the same position on the sidewalk. Put ting on his gloves, Neville lowered the back gate of the station wagon and walked over to the woman. As he walked, he noticed her figure. No, don't start that again, for God's sake. He dragged the woman back to the station wagon and tossed her in. Then he closed the gate and took off his gloves. He held up the watch and looked at it. Three o'clock. Plenty of time to—He jerked up the watch and held it against his ear, his heart suddenly jumping. The watch had stopped.

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At one time, the Dark and Middle Ages, to be succinct, the vampire's power was great, the fear of him tremendous. He was anathema and still remains anathema. Society hates him without ration. But are his needs any more shocking than the needs of other animals and men? Are his deeds more outrageous than the deeds of the parent who drained the spirit from his child? The vampire may foster quickened heartbeats and levitated hair. But is he worse than the parent who gave to society a neurotic child who became a politician? Is he worse than `the manufacturer who set up belated foundations with the money he made by handing bombs and guns to suicidal nationalists? Is he worse than the distiller who gave bastardized grain juice to stultify further the brains of those who, sober, were incapable of a progressive thought? (Nay, I apologize for this calumny; I nip the brew that feeds me.) Is he worse, then, than the publisher who filled ubiquitous racks with lust and death wishes? Really, now, search your soul; lovie—is the vampire so bad? All he does is drink blood. Why, then, this unkind prejudice, this thoughtless bias? Why cannot the vampire live where he chooses? Why must he seek out hiding places where none can find him out? Why do you wish him destroyed? Ah, see, you have turned the poor guileless innocent into a haunted animal. He has no means of support, no measures for proper education, he has not the, voting franchise No wonder he is compelled to seek out a predatory nocturnal existence; Robert Neville grunted a surly grunt. Sure, sure, he thought, but would you let your sister marry one? He shrugged. You got me there, buddy, you got me there. The music ended. The needle scratched back and forth in the black grooves. He sat there, feeling a chill creeping up his legs. That's what was wrong with drinking too much. You became immune to drunken delights. There was no solace in liquor. Before you got happy, you collapsed. Already the room was straightening out, the sounds outside were starting to nibble at his eardrums.. "Come out, Neville!" His throat moved and a shaking breath passed his lips. Come out. The women were out there, their dresses open or taken off, their flesh waiting for his touch, their lips waiting for—My blood, my blood! As if it were someone else's hand, he watched his whitened fist rise up slowly, shuddering, to drive down on his leg. The pain made him suck in a breath of the house's stale air. Garlic. Everywhere the smell of garlic. In his clothes and in the furniture and in his food and even in his drink. Have a garlic and soda; his mind rattled out the attempted joke. He lurched up and started pacing. What am I going to do now? Go through the routine again? I'll save you the trouble. Reading - drinking - soundproof the house - the women. The women, the lustful, bloodthirsty, naked women flaunting their hot bodies at him. No, not that. .A shuddering whine wrenched up through his chest and throat. Goddamn them, what were they waiting for? Did they think he was going to come out and hand himself over? Maybe I am, maybe I am. He actually found himself jerking off the crossbar from the door. Coming, girls, I'm coming. Wet your lips, now. Outside, they heard the bar being lifted, and a howl of anticipation sounded in the night. Spinning, he drove his fists one after the, other into the wall until he'd cracked the plaster and broken his skin; Then he stood there trembling helplessly, his teeth chattering. After a while it passed. He put the bar back across the door and went into the bedroom. He sank down, on the bed and fell back on' the pillow with a groan. His left hand beat once, feebly, on the bedspread. Oh, God, he thought, how long, how long? THE ALARM NEVER WENT off because he'd forgotten to set it. He slept soundly and motionlessly, his body like cast iron. When he finally opened his eyes, it was ten o'clock. With a disgusted muttering, he struggled up and dropped his legs over the side of the bed. instantly his head began throbbing as if his brains were trying to force their way through his skull. Fine, he thought, a hangover. That's all I need. He pushed himself up with a groan and stumbled into the bathroom, threw water in his face and splashed some over his head. No good, his mind complained, no good. I still feel like hell. In the mirror his face was gaunt, bearded, and very much like the face of a man in his forties. Love, your magic spell is everywhere; inanely, the words flapped across his brain like wet sheets in a wind. He walked slowly into the living room and opened the front door. A curse fell thickly from his lips at the sight of the woman crumpled across the sidewalk. He started to tighten angrily, but it made his head throb too much and he had to let it go. I'm sick, he thought. The sky was gray and dead. Great! he thought. Another day stuck in this boarded-up rat hole! He slammed the door viciously, then winced, groaning, at the brain-stabbing noise. Outside, he heard the rest of the mirror fall out and shatter on the porch cement. Oh, great! His lips contorted back into a white twist of flesh. Two cups of burning black coffee only made his stomach feel worse. He put down the cup and went into the living room. To hell with it, he thought, I'll get drunk again. But the liquor tasted like turpentine, and with a rasping snarl he flung the glass against the wall and stood watching the liquor run down onto the rug. Hell, I'm runnin' out of glasses. The thought irritated him while breath struggled in through his nostrils and out again in faltering bursts. He sank down on the couch and sat there, shaking his bead slowly. It was no use; they'd beaten him, the black bastards had beaten him. That restless feeling again; the feeling as if he were expanding and the house were contracting and any second now he'd go bursting through its frame in an explosion of wood, plaster, and brick He got up and moved quickly to the door, his hands shaking. On the lawn, he stood sucking in great lungfuls of the wet morning air, his face turned away from the house he hated. But he hated the other houses around there too, and he hated the pavement and the sidewalks and the lawns and everything that was on Cimarron Street. It kept building up. And suddenly he knew he had to get out of there. Cloudy, day or not, he had to get out of there. He locked the front door, unlocked the garage, and dragged up the thick door on its overhead hinges. He didn't bother putting down the door. I'll be back soon, he thought. I'll just go away for a while. He backed the station wagon quickly down the driveway, jerked it around, and pressed down hard on the accelerator, heading for Compton Boulevard. He didn't know where he was going. He went around the corner doing forty and jumped that to sixty-five before he'd gone another block. The car leaped forward under his foot and he kept the accelerator on the floor, forced down by a rigid leg. His hands were like carved ice on the wheel and his face was the face of a statue. At eighty-nine miles an hour, he shot down the lifeless, empty boulevard, one roaring sound in the great stillness. Things rank and gross in nature possess it merely, he thought as he walked slowly across the cemetery lawn. The grass was so high that the weight of it had bent it over and it crunched under his heavy shoes as he walked. There was no sound but that of his shoes and the now senseless singing of birds. Once I thought they sang because everything was right with the world, Robert Neville thought I know now I was wrong. They sing because they're feeble-minded. He had raced six miles, the gas pedal pressed to the floor, before he'd realized where he was going. It was strange the way his mind and body had kept it secret from his consciousness. Consciously, he'd known only that he was sick and depressed and had to get away from the house. He didn't know he was going to visit Virginia. But he'd driven there directly and as fast as he could. He'd parked at the curb and entered through the rusted gate, and now his shoes were pressing and crackling through the thick grass. How long had it been since he'd come here? It must have been at least a month He wished he'd brought flowers, but then, he hadn't realized he was coining here until he was almost at the gate. His lips pressed together as an old sorrow held him again. Why couldn't he have Kathy there too? Why had he followed so blindly, listening to those fools who set up their stupid regulations during the plague? If only she could be them, lying across from her mother. Don't start that again, he ordered himself. Drawing closer to the crypt, he stiffened as he noticed that the iron door was slightly ajar Oh, no, he thought He broke into a run across the wet grass. If they've been at her, I'll burn down the city, he vowed. I swear to God, I'll bum it to the ground if they've touched her. He flung open the door and it clanged against the marble wall with a hollow, echoing sound. His eyes moved quickly to the marble base on which the sealed casket rested. The tension sank; he drew in breath again. It was still there, untouched. Then, as he started in, he saw the man lying in one corner of the crypt, body curled up on the cold floor. With a grunt of rage, Robert Neville rushed at the body, and, grabbing the man's coat in taut fingers, he dragged him across the floor and flung him violently out onto the grass. The body rolled onto its back, the white face pointing at the sky. Robert Neville went back into the crypt, chest rising and falling with harsh movements. Then he closed his eyes and stood with his palms resting on the cover of the casket. I'm here, he thought. I'm back. Remember me. He threw out the flowers he'd brought the time before and cleared away the few leaves that had blown in because the door had been opened. Then he sat down beside the casket and rested his forehead against its cold metal side. Silence held him in its cold and gentle hands. If I could die now, he thought; peacefully, gently, without a tremor or a crying out. if I could be with her. If I could believe I would be with her. His fingers tightened slowly and his head sank forward on his chest. Virginia. Take me where you are. A tear, crystal, fell across his motionless hand... He had no idea how long he'd been there. After a while, though, even the deepest sorrow faltered, even the most penetrating despair lost its scalpel edge. The flagellant's curse, he thought, to grow inured even to the whip. He straightened up and stood. Still alive, he thought, heart beating senselessly, veins running without point, bones and muscles and tissue all alive and functioning with no purpose at all. A moment longer he stood looking down at the casket, then he turned away with a sigh and left, closing the door behind him quietly so as not to disturb her sleep. He'd forgotten about the man. He almost tripped over him now, stepping aside with a muttered curse and starting past the body. Then, abruptly, he turned back. What's this? He looked down incredulously at the man. The man was dead; really dead. But how could that be? The change had occurred so quickly, yet already the man looked and smelled as though he'd been dead for days. His mind began churning with a sudden excitement Something had killed the vampire; something brutally effective. The heart had not been touched, no garlic had been present, and yet... It came, seemingly, without effort. Of course—the daylight! A bolt of self-accusation struck him. To know for five months that they remained indoors by day and never once to make the connection! He closed his eyes, appalled by his own stupidity. The rays of the sun; the infrared and ultraviolet. It had to be them. But why? Damn it, why didn't he know anything about the effects of sunlight on the human system?

ANNONS
Av kaceyhanxu kaceyhanxu - 6 juni 2011 06:30

Thank you, Dr. Van Helsing, he thought, putting down his copy Of "Dracula." He sat staring moodily at the bookcase, listening to Brahms' second piano concerto, a whisky sour in his right hand, a cigarette between his lips. It was true. The book was a hodgepodge of superstitions and soap-opera clichés, but that line was true; no one had believed in them, and how could they fight something they didn't even believe in? That was what the situation had been. Something black and of the night had come crawling out of the Middle Ages. Something with no framework or credulity, something that had been consigned, fact and figure, to the pages of imaginative literature. Vampires were passé; Summers' idylls or Stoker's melodramatics or a brief inclusion in the Britannica or grist for the pulp writer's mill or raw material for the B-film factories. A tenuous legend passed from century to century. Well, it was true. He took a sip from his drink and closed his eyes as the cold liquid trickled down his throat and warmed his stomach. True, he thought, but no one ever got the chance to know it. Oh, they knew it was something, but it couldn't be that—not that. That was imagination, that was superstition, there was no such thing as that. And, before science had caught up with the legend, the legend had swallowed science and everything. He hadn't found any doweling that day. He hadn't checked the generator. He hadn't cleaned up the pieces of mirror. He hadn't eaten supper; he'd lost his appetite. That wasn't hard. He lost it most of the time. He couldn't do the things he'd done all afternoon and then come home to a hearty meal. Not even after five months. He thought of the eleven—no, the twelve children that afternoon, and he finished his drink in two swallows. He blinked and the room wavered a little before him. You're getting blotto, Father, he told himself. So what? he returned. Has anyone more right? He tossed the book across the room. Begone, Van Helsing and Mina and Jonathan and blood-eyed Count and all! All figments, all driveling extrapolations on a somber theme. A coughing chuckle emptied itself from his throat. Outside, Ben Cortman called for him to come out. Be right out, Benny, he thought. Soon as I get my tuxedo on. He shuddered. and gritted his teeth edges together. Be right out. Well; why not? Why not go out? It was a sure way to be free of them. Be one of them. He chuckled at the simplicity of it, then shoved himself up and walked crookedly to the bar. Why not? His mind plodded on. Why go through all this complexity when a flung open door and a few steps would end it all? For the life of him, he didn't know. There was, of course, the faint possibility that others like him existed somewhere, trying to go on, hoping that someday they would be among their own kind again. But how could he ever find them if they weren't within a day's drive of his house? He shrugged and poured more whisky in the glass; he'd given up the use of jiggers months ago. Garlic on the windows, and nets over the hothouse and burn the bodies and cart the rocks away and, fraction of an inch by fraction of an inch, reduce their unholy numbers. Why kid himself? He'd never find anyone else. His body dropped down heavily on the chair. Here we are, kiddies, sitting like a bug in a rug, snugly, surrounded by a battalion of blood-suckers who wish no more than to sip freely of my bonded, 100-proof hemoglobin. Have a drink, men, this one's really on me. His face twisted into an expression of raw, unqualified hatred. Bastards! I'll kill every, mother's son of you before I'll give in! His right hand closed like a clamp and the glass shattered in his grip. He looked down, dull-eyed, at the fragments on the floor, at the jagged piece of glass still in his hand, at the whisky-diluted blood dripping off his palm. Wouldn't they like to get some of it, though? he. thought. He started up with a furious lurch and almost opened the door so he could wave the hand in their faces and hear them howl. Then he closed his eyes and a shudder ran through his body. Wise up, buddy, he thought. Go bandage your goddamn hand. He stumbled into the bathroom and washed his hand carefully, gasping as he daubed iodine into the sliced-open flesh. Then he bandaged it clumsily, his broad chest rising and falling with jerky movements, sweat dripping from his forehead. I need a cigarette, he thought. In the living room again, he changed Brahms for Bernstein and lit a cigarette. What will I do if I ever run out of coffin nails? he wondered, looking at the cigarette's blue trailing smoke. Well, there wasn't much chance of that. He had about a thousand cartons in the closet of Kathy's—He clenched his teeth together. In the closet of the larder, the larder, the larder. Kathy's room. He sat staring with dead eyes at the mural while "The Age of Anxiety" pulsed in his ears. Age of anxiety, he mused. You thought you had anxiety, Lenny boy. Lenny and Benny; you two should meet. Composer, meet corpse. Mamma, when I grow up I wanna be a wampir like Dada. Why, bless you, boo, of course you shall. The whisky gurgled into the `glass. He grimaced a little at the pain in his hand and shifted the bottle to his left hand. He sat down and sipped. Let the jagged edge of sobriety be now dulled, he thought. Let the crumby balance of clear vision be expunged, but post haste. I hate `em. Gradually the room shifted on its gyroscopic center and wove and undulated about his chair. A pleasant haze, fuzzy at the edges, took over sight He looked at the glass, at the record player. He let his head flop from side to side. Outside, they prowled and muttered and waited. Poor vampires, he thought, poor little cusses, pussyfootin' round my house, so thirsty, so all forlorn. A thought. He raised a forefinger that wavered before his eyes. Friends, I come before you to discuss the vampire; a minority element if there ever was one, and there was one. But to concision: I will sketch out the basis for my thesis, which thesis is this: Vampires are prejudiced against. The keynote of minority prejudice is this: They are loathed because they are feared. Thus He made himself a drink. A long one.

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And they were all there for the same thing. Robert Neville closed his eyes a moment and held his lips in a tight line. Then he opened his eyes and lit another cigarette, letting the smoke go deep into his lungs. He wished he'd had time to soundproof the house. It wouldn't be so bad if it weren't that he had to listen to them. Even after five months, it got on his nerves. He never looked at them any more. In the beginning he'd made a peephole in the front window and watched them. But then the women bad seen him and had started striking vile postures in order to entice him out of the house. He didn't want to look at that. He put down his book and stared bleakly at the rug, hearing Verklärte Nacht play over the loud-speaker. He knew he could put plugs in his ears to shut off the sound of them, but that would shut off the music too, and he didn't want to feel that they were forcing him into a shell. He closed his eyes again. It was the women who made it so difficult, he thought, the women posing like lewd puppets in the night on the possibility that he'd see them and decide to come out. A shudder. ran through him. Every night it was the same. He'd be reading and listening to music. Then he'd start to think about soundproofing the house, then he'd think about the women. Deep in his body, the knotting heat began again, and he pressed his lips together until they were white. He knew the feeling well and it enraged him that he couldn't combat it. It grew and grew until he couldn't sit still any more. Then he'd get up and pace the floor, fists bloodless at his sides. Maybe he'd set up the movie projector or eat something or have too much to drink or turn the music up so loud it hurt his ears. He had to do something when it got really bad. He felt the muscles of his abdomen closing in like frightening coils. He picked up the book and tried to read, his lips forming each word slowly and painfully. But in a moment the book was on his lap again. He looked at. the bookcase across from him. All the knowledge in those books couldn't put out the fires in him; all the words of centuries couldn't end the wordless, mindless craving of his flesh. The realization made him sick. It was an insult to a man. All right, it was a natural drive, but there was no outlet for it any more. They'd forced celibacy on him; he'd have to live with it. You have a mind, don't you? he asked himself. Well, use it? He reached over and turned the music still louder; then forced himself to read a whole page without pause. He read about blood cells being forced through membranes, about pale lymph carrying the wastes through tubes blocked by lymph nodes, about lymphocytes and phago-cytic cells. "...to empty, in the left shoulder region, near the thorax, into a large vein of the blood circulating system." The book shut with a thud. Why didn't they leave him alone? Did they think they could all have him? Were they so stupid they thought that? Why did they keep coming every night? After five months, you'd think they'd give up and try elsewhere. He went over to the bar and made himself another drink. As he turned back to his chair he heard stones rattling down across the roof and landing with thuds in the shrubbery beside the house. Above the noises, he heard Ben Cortman shout as he always shouted. "Come out, Neville!" Someday I'll get that bastard, he thought as he took a big swallow of the bitter drink. Someday I'll knock a stake right through his goddamn chest. I'll make one a foot long for him, a special one with ribbons on it, the bastard. Tomorrow. Tomorrow he'd soundproof the house. His fingers drew into white-knuckled fists. He couldn't stand thinking about those women. If he didn't hear them, maybe he wouldn't think about them. Tomorrow. Tomorrow. The music ended and he took a stack of records off the turntable and slid them back into their cardboard envelopes. Now he could hear them even more clearly outside. He reached for the first new record he could get and put it on the turntable and twisted the volume up to its highest point. "The Year of the Plague," by Roger Leie, filled his ears. Violins scraped and whined, tympani thudded like the beats of a dying heart, flutes played weird, atonal melodies. With a stiffening of rage, he wrenched up the record and snapped it over his right knee. He'd meant to break it long ago. He walked on rigid legs to the kitchen and flung the pieces into the trash box. Then he stood in the dark kitchen, eyes tightly shut, teeth clenched, hands damped over his ears. Leave me alone,, leave me alone, leave me alone! No use, you couldn't beat them at night. No use trying; it was their special time. He was acting very stupidly, trying to beat them. Should he watch a movie? No, he didn't feel like setting up the projector. He'd go to bed and put the plugs in his ears. It was what he ended up doing every night, anyway. Quickly, trying not to think at all; he went to the bedroom and undressed. He put on pajama bottoms and went into the bathroom. He never wore pajama tops; it was a habit he'd acquired in Panama during the war. As he washed, he looked into the mirror at his broad chest, at the dark hair swirling around the nipples and down the center line of his chest. He looked at the ornate cross he'd had tattooed on his chest one night in Panama when he'd been drunk. What a fool I was in those days! he thought. Well, maybe that cross had saved his life. He brushed his teeth carefully and used dental-floss. He tried to take good care of his teeth because he was his own dentist now. Some things could go to pot, but not his health, he thought. Then why don't you stop pouring alcohol into yourself? he thought. Why don't you shut the hell up? he thought. Now he went through the house, turning out lights. For a few minutes he looked at the mural and tried to believe it was really the ocean. But how could he believe it with all the bumpings and the scrapings, the howlings and snarlings and cries in the night? He turned off the living-room lamp and went into the bedroom. He made a sound of disgust when he saw that sawdust covered the bed. He brushed it off with snapping hand strokes, thinking that he'd better build a partition between the shop and the sleeping portion of the room. Better do this and better do that, he thought morosely. There were so many damned things to do, he'd never get to the real problem. He jammed in his earplugs and a great silence engulfed him. He turned off the light and crawled in between the sheets. He looked at the radium-faced clock and saw that it was only a few minutes past ten. Just as well, he thought. This way I'll get an early start. He lay there on the bed and took deep breaths of the darkness, hoping for sleep. But the silence didn't really help. He could still see them out there, the white-faced men prowling around his house, looking ceaselessly for a way to get in at him. Some of them, probably, crouching on their haunches like dogs, eyes glittering at the house, teeth slowly grating together, back and forth, back and forth. And the women ... Did he have to start thinking about them again? He tossed over on his stomach with a curse and pressed his face into the hot pillow. He lay there, breathing heavily, body writhing slightly on the sheet. Let the morning come. His mind spoke the words it spoke every night Dear God, let the morning come. He dreamed about Virginia and he cried out in his sleep and his fingers gripped the sheets like frenzied talons.

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