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.Owen had probably thought poor old Duds was coughing up his lungs, when in fact he'd probably strained something in his throat.Not that this wasn't potentially serious.In Duddits's increasingly fragile condition, anything was potentially serious; a random cold-germ could kill him.From the moment he'd seen him, Henry had known Duds was coming out of the last turn and heading for home.'Duds!' he called sharply.Something different.Something different in him, Henry.What? No time to think about it now.'Duddits, breathe in through your nose! Your nose, Duds! Like this!'Henry demonstrated, taking big breaths through flared nostrils.and when he exhaled, little threads of white flew from his nostrils.Like the fluff in milkweed pods, or dandelions gone to seed.Byrus, Henry thought.It was growing up my nose, but now it's dead.I'm sloughing it off, literally breath by breath.And then he understood the difference: the itching had stopped, in his leg and in his mouth and in the thatch of his groin.His mouth still tasted as if it had been lined with someone's old carpet, but it didn't itch.Duddits began to imitate him, breathing deep through his nose, and his coughing began to ease as soon as it did.Henry took his paper bag, found a bottle of harmless no-alcohol cough medicine, and poured Duddits a capful.'This'll take care of you,' Henry said.Confidence in the thought as well as the words; with Duddits, how you sounded was only part of it.Duddits drank the capful of Robitussin, grimaced, then smiled at Henry.The coughing had stopped, but blood was still trickling from one nostril.and from the corner of one eye as well, Henry saw.Not good.Nor was Duddits's extreme pallor, much more noticeable than it had been at the house back in Derry.The cold.his lost night's sleep all this untoward excitement in someone who was an invalid.not good.He was getting sick, and in a late-stage ALL patient, even a nasal infection could be fatal.'He all right?' Owen asked.'Duds? Duds is iron.Right, Duddits?''I ion,' Duddits agreed, and flexed one woefully skinny arm.The sight of his face — thin and tired but still trying to smile — made Henry feel like screaming.Life was unfair; that was something he supposed he'd known for years.But this went far beyond unfair.This was monstrous.'Let's see what she put in here for good boys to drink.' Henry took the yellow lunchbox.'Oooby-Doo,' Duddits said.He was smiling, but his voice sounded thin and exhausted.'Yep, got some work to do now,' Henry agreed, and opened the Thermos.He gave Duds his morning Prednisone tablet, although it hadn't yet gone eight, and then asked Duddits if he wanted a Percocet, as well.Duddits thought about it, then held up two fingers.Henry's heart sank.'Pretty bad, huh?' he asked, passing Duddits a couple of Percocet tablets over the seat between them.He hardly needed an answer — people like Duddits didn't ask for the extra pill so they could get high.Duddits made a seesawing gesture with his hand — comme ci, comme ça.Henry remembered it well, that seesawing hand as much a part of Pete as the chewed pencils and toothpicks were of Beaver.Roberta had filled Duddits's Thermos with chocolate milk, his favorite.Henry poured him a cup, held it a moment as the Humvee skidded on a slick patch, then handed it over.Duddits took his pills.'Where does it hurt, Duds?''Here.' Hand to the throat.'More here.' Hand to the chest.Hesitating, coloring a little, then a hand to his crotch.'Here, ooo.'A urinary-tract infection, Henry thought.Oh, goody.'Ills ake ee etter?'Henry nodded.'Pills'll make you better.Just give em a chance to work.Are we still on the line, Duddits?'Duddits nodded emphatically and pointed through the windshield.Henry wondered (not for the first time) just what he saw.Once he'd asked Pete, who told him it was something like a thread, often faint and hard to see.It's best when it's yellow, Pete had said.Yellow's always easier to pick up.I don't know why.And if Pete saw a yellow thread, perhaps Duddits saw something like a broad yellow stripe, perhaps even Dorothy's yellow brick road.'If it goes off on another road, you tell us, okay?''I tell.''Not going to go to sleep, are you?'Duddits shook his head.In fact he had never looked more alive and awake, his eyes glowing in his exhausted face.Henry thought of how lightbulbs would sometimes go mysteriously bright before burning out for good.'If you do start to get sleepy, you tell me and we'll pull over.Get you some coffee.We need you awake.''O-ay.'Henry started to turn around, moving his aching body with as much care as he could muster, when Duddits said something else.'Isser Ay ont aykin.''Does he, now?' Henry said thoughtfully.'What?' Owen asked.'I didn't get that one.''He says Mr Gray wants bacon.''Is that important?''I don't know.Is there a regular radio in this heap, Owen? I'd like to get some news.'The regular radio was hanging under the dash, and looked freshly installed.Not part of the original equipment.Owen reached for it, then hit the brakes as a Pontiac sedan — two-wheel drive and no snow-tires — cut in front of them, The Pontiac slued from side to side, finally decided to stay on the road a little longer, and squirted ahead.Soon it was doing at least sixty, Henry estimated, and was pulling away.Owen was frowning after it.'You driver, me passenger,' Henry said, 'but if that guy can do it with no snows, why can't we? It might be a good idea to make up some ground.''Hummers are better in mud than snow.Take my word for it.'Still—''Also, we're going to pass that guy in the next ten minutes.I'll bet you a quart of good Scotch.He'll either be through the guardrails and down the embankment or spun out on the median.If he's lucky, he'll be right-side-up.Plus — this is just a technicality — we're fugitives running from duly constituted authority, and we can't save the world if we're locked up in some County.Jesus!'A Ford Explorer — four-wheel drive but moving far too fast for the conditions, maybe seventy miles an hour — roared past them, pulling a rooster-tail of snow.The roof-rack had been piled high and covered with a blue tarp.This had been indifferently lashed down, and Henry could see what was beneath: luggage.He guessed that much of it would soon be in the road.With Duddits seen to, Henry took a clear-eyed look at the highway.What he saw did not exactly surprise him.Although the turnpike's northern barrel was still all but deserted, the southbound lanes were now filling up fast.and yes, there were cars off it everywhere.Owen turned on the radio as a Mercedes hurried past him, throwing up fans of slush.He hit SEEK, found classical music, hit it again, found Kenny G tootling away, hit it a third time.and happened on a voice.'.great big fucking bomber joint,' the voice said, and Henry exchanged a glance with Owen.'He say uck onna rayo,' Duddits observed from the back seat.'That's right,' Henry said, and, as the owner of the voice inhaled audibly into the mike: 'Also, I'd say he's smoking a fatty.''I doubt if the FCC'D be in favor,' the deejay said after a long and noisy exhale, 'but if half of what I'm hearin is true, the FCC is the least of my worries [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]