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.We were soul-mates, and to prove it he was now purring away like an amorous teakettle.Tina had made her way to the rear of the truck, with some difficulty, since there wasn’t room for her to stand up under the canopy and she wasn’t exactly dressed for making progress on hands and knees.“What are you going to do with it?” she demanded.“I’m going to take him home,” I said, “unless you think we should keep him with us for company.”“Go back? But that is crazy! Can’t you just—”“What? Turn him out here, five miles from the house? Hell, the poor damn fool can’t even find his bowl of milk in the morning if you happen to move it across the room.Anyway, he’d get himself run over sure, and the children would miss him.”She said sharply, “You are being sentimental and stupid.I absolutely forbid—”I grinned at her.“You do that, honey,” I said, letting the hinged door drop.She must have pulled back in time; I didn’t hear it hit anything on its way down.I set the latch, got into the cab, waited for a lone car to go by, and swung back towards town.Suddenly I was feeling fine.You can stay tense only so long.I was over the hump.I was driving ten miles out of the way, with a corpse in the bed of the truck, just to take a worthless alleycat home.It was exactly the kind of screwball thing I needed to wake me up out of my panic-stricken trance.I reached out and scratched Tiger’s stomach, driving one-handed, and the ridiculous beast rolled over on its back in abject appreciation, all four paws in the air.Apparently he’d never heard that, unlike dogs, cats are reserved and dignified animals.I tossed him out at the corner, half a block from the house.All the driving around hadn’t been wasted.The solution to our problem had come to me, and I threw the truck into gear again and headed out of town by a different route, no longer creeping along and paying no more attention to the rearview mirror than I normally do.If anybody wanted us, they’d catch us.There wasn’t any sense in worrying about something that couldn’t possibly be avoided.13I dropped into low gear for the last steep grade to the mine.Even that didn’t quite do it, and I double-clutched into compound low, which is an unsynchronized gear and quite a trick to get into smoothly while the wheels are turning.I hit it right for a change, the lever went home without a murmur, and we ground on up the mountainside in the dark with that fine roar of powerful machinery doing the job it was designed for.It always gives me a kick to throw her into that housemoving gear and feel her buckle down and go to work, using everything that’s under the hood, while the big mud-and-snow tires dig for traction…Maybe that was my trouble, I reflected.I just hadn’t been using everything that was under the hood for a hell of a long time.I pulled up just below the mine entrance, where enough of a level spot remained—most of the road and other construction had washed out or blown away since the workings were abandoned.God knows how long ago—to let me park on a reasonably even keel just short of a small arroyo some rainstorm had cut across the little flat.Beyond this gully, the headlights showed me the barren hillside and the mine opening, a black hole surrounded by weathered, crumbling timbers.It gave me the creepies, as Tina would have said, to think of going in there at night, although why it should be worse at night, I really couldn’t tell you.Fifty feet inside the entrance, the time of day—or the time of year, for that matter—would make no difference at all.It was a good place for what we had to leave there.I cut the lights, got the flash from the glove compartment, and went back to open up the rear end.I heard her move inside; she made her way out onto the tailgate, but when she tried to swing her legs over the edge, something caught and ripped, and she had to pause to disentangle her sharp heel from the hem of her dress.Then I helped her down, and she pulled back and hit me alongside the jaw, with the flat of her gloved hand, just as hard as she was able [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]