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Maybe there was a queer sort of truth in that. "He brushed his cheek with his free hand and, yes, there was moisture there. There was a double thud of booted heels, the sound slightly hollow, as he stepped off the parlor carpet and onto the bare boards of the hallway. He smelled something sour that he automatically associated with hospitals — Lysol, maybe. He hoped, he said, that the doctor would prescribe a sleeping powder for Ian, who really did seem quite ill. He tried to think of it as recycling and drank what he had managed to hold and then ticked his wet palms. She had splinted them — of course he had known that, felt the rigid ungiving shapes, but until now he had not known what she had done it with.This part of the world had turned into one big skating rink. You had an idea — what was it? "Oh, your poor hand! He got into the Bel Air. Outside the pain.
In an act of self-preservation, part of his imagination had, over the last few weeks, actually become Annie, and it was now this Annie-part that spoke up in its dry and uncontradictable voice. He had the tumbler twice, but both times the bobby-pin slipped off and the tumbler snapped back before he could do more than begin to move it. More bees, giant Africa browns, the most poisonous and bad-tempered bees in all the world, crawled back and forth over the steel bracelet's before joining the living gloves on Misery's hands. She had splinted them — of course he had known that, felt the rigid ungiving shapes, but until now he had not known what she had done it with. "I don't think they'll come tonight — except maybe to cruise by — but they will come. Something at least approximating sense came back into his terrified, maddened gaze. Part of him understood exactly what this assessment meant: he had given up the idea of escape. Whenever the Camaro stole into his mind, he immediately called the Brain Police and had the thought led away in handcuffs and leg-irons. And since he was in here on one side of a locked door and she was out there on the other side of it, you didn't have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out that she'd slapped herself. It went slowly at first — the image of Annie pulling those furrows into her skin kept intruding — and he thought it was going to be no good, he had just better pack it in for the day, when the story caught him and he fell through the hole in the paper again. Immediately his mind lit up with panicky floodlights and his skin flushed with his terror. The Lawnboy's engine suddenly lugged down and there was a series of fast, strangely liquid thudding sounds. Reed urging his patients at The Institute of Psychoplasmatics (a name Paul had found deliciously funny) to "go through it! For April Fools»Day four years ago he'd had a small booklet privately printed and had sent it to a dozen close acquaintances. The neat handwriting below this clipping read Los Angeles Call, January 29th, 1962. Paul thought that the occasional moments like this were the most ghastly of all, because in them he saw the woman she might have been if her upbringing had been right or the drugs squirted out by all the funny little glands inside her had been less wrong. Paul tried; to cry out to him, to warn him, but every time he opened his mouth nothing came out but a neatly reasoned paragraph of narration — although this paragraph was different each time he tried to scream, it always opened the same way: "One day, about a week later. She took no notice of that; simply stood impatiently staring at him until he could talk. At last, as he had begun to think she had just sailed off into oblivion forever with no fuss or fanfare, she lowered the trap and went on as if she had never stopped speaking. Annie apparently not only pinched and slapped herself when she was feeling depressed. She rolled him over to the window so the sun fell on him for the first time in weeks, and it seemed to him he could feel his pasty-white skin, dotted here and there with minor bedsores, murmur its pleasure and thanks. Paul made a mental bet with himself that Bossie would tear in half before Annie got her to the grave, but that one he lost.
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