little awkwardly poured himself a drink. He lifted it and studied it absently against the light, then on impulse walked into the bathroom. Drink in hand he examined the mirror the deep, dark circles under the eyes and the bronzed, barb-wire stubble on the jawline.

He threw back his head and drained the glass, swallowed hard, shuddered, and looked back into the mirror again at the lips drawn down thinly at the corners of the hard mouth. He spoke bitterly to the face in the mirror.

“'Goodbye, my friend. I have a certain familiarity with losing causes.'“ He cleared his throat, and put down the empty glass. “If you hadn't felt like playin' God, Ugly, you could've kept her alive. You think you can maybe convince yourself one of these days she probably really died a dozen years ago?”

He became aware that a sound impinging upon his consciousness was the dripping of water. He walked to the shower stall and turned the faucet viciously, and looked down a little blankly at the imprint of the metal in his palm.

He turned aimlessly back to the mirror; his voice when he spoke again was a husky whisper. “Willie-”

He broke away from the mirror and went into the bedroom. He looked down at the thin body on the bed, already asleep on top of the covers. He found a lightweight robe in the closet which he drew over her; she murmured in her sleep, breaking the rhythm of her breathing.

Johnny removed his clothes, with difficulty because of the strapped arm. He had trouble bending for shoelaces, but he got the shoes off. As he struggled out of the trousers he noticed the stains and abrasions in the fabric, and all too quickly his thoughts were back in Room 1224. He put it firmly from his mind.

He lay down on the further side of the bed, cautiously, so as not to disturb the sleeper. He eased himself onto his back, and threw the good arm behind his head. With his eyes he traced the sunlight on the ceiling, and the familiar smudges, cracks, and shadows.

In a little while he would sleep.

Вы читаете Doorway to Death
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