Откъсът от "Dr. Sleep", прочeтeн от Кинг:
The Tribe owned whole towns in Maine, Florida, Colorado, and Arizona, but they never stayed in those places for long. Mostly they were migratory. If you drive the turnpikes and main-traveled highways of America, you may have seen them. Maybe it was on I-95 in South Carolina, somewhere south of Dillenen, north of Santee, maybe it was on I-80 in Montana, in the mountain country, west of Draper, or on 301 in Florida, outside of Ocala.
How many times have you found yourself behind a lumbering RV, eating exhaust and waiting impatiently for your chance to pass? Creeping along at 40, when you could be doing a perfectly legal 65, or even 70. And when there’s finally a hole in the fast lane, and you pull out—holy god—you see a whole line of those damn things. Gas hogs, driven by bespectacled golden oldies who hunch over the wheel, gripping it like they think it’s going to fly away.
Or maybe you’ve encountered them in turnpike rest areas, when you stop to take a leak, stretch your legs, maybe drop a few quarters into one of the vending machines. The entrance ramps to those rest stops always divide in two, don’t they? Cars in one parking lot, long haul trucks and RVs in another. Usually the lot for the big rigs and RVs is a little farther away. You might have seen the Tribe’s rolling motorhomes parked in that lot, all in a cluster. You might have seen them walking up to the main building—slow, because most of them look old and many of them are pretty darn fat. Always in a group, and always keeping to themselves.
Sometimes, they pull off at one of the exits where there are plenty of gas stations, motels, and fast food joints. And if you see all those RVs parked at McDonald’s and Burger King, you keep on going, because you know they’ll all be lined up at the counter, the men wearing floppy golf hats or long-billed fishing caps, the women in stretch pants (always powder blue) and shirts that say things like ASK ME ABOUT MY GRANDCHILDREN, or JESUS IS KING, or HAPPY WANDERER. You’d rather go half a mile farther down the road to the Waffle House or Shoney’s, because you know they’ll take forever to order, mooning over the menu, always wanting their quarter pounders without the pickles or their whoppers without the sauce, asking if there are any interesting tourist attractions in the area, even though anyone can see this is just another nothing three-stoplight burg, where the kids leave as soon as they graduate from the nearest high school.
You hardly see them, do you? They’re just “the RV people” you think. The ones living out their retirement on the road, staying at campgrounds, where they sit around on their Wal-Mart long chairs and cook on hibachi grills. They’re the ones who always stop at flea markets and yard sales, parking their damn RVs nose to tail, half on the shoulder and half on the road, so you have to slow to a crawl in order to creep by.
They’re the opposite of the motorcycle clubs you sometimes see on those same turnpikes and main-traveled highways—the mild angels instead of the wild ones. They’re annoying as hell when they descend en masse on a rest area and fill up all the toilets, but once their balky old bowels finally work and you are able to take a pee yourself, you put them out of your mind, don’t you? They’re no more remarkable than a flock of birds on a telephone wire or a herd of cows grazing in the field beside the road.
Oh, you might wonder, how they can afford to fill up those fuel-guzzling monstrosities, because they must be on fixed incomes, you think. How else could they spend all that time driving around like they do? And you might puzzle over why anyone would want to spend their golden years driving all those endless American miles between Hoot and Holler or Shit and Shinola, but beyond that, they probably never cross your mind.
And, if you happen to be one of those unfortunate people who has ever lost a kid—nothing left but a bike in the vacant lot down the street, or a little cap lying in the bushes at the edge of the nearby stream—you probably never thought about them, did you? Why would you? No, it was probably some hobo or—worse to consider, but horribly plausible—some sick bastard from your very own town, maybe your very own neighborhood, maybe even your very own street. Some sick killer pervo who is very good at looking normal and will go on looking normal until someone finds a clutter of bones in the guy’s basement or buried in his backyard.
You’d never think of the RV people—those sweet grandmas and grandpas in their golf hats and sun visors with the applique flowers on them—and mostly you’d be right, because there are thousands of RV people, but by 2011 there was only one Tribe left in America. They like moving around and that was good, because they had to. If they stayed in one place they’d eventually attract attention, because they don’t age like other people.
Abe Ronany or Dirty Phil (rube names Ann Lomon and Phil Caputo) might appear to age twenty years overnight. The little twins, Pea and Pod, the youngest ones (rube names Peter and Preston Gabin) might snap back from twenty-two to twelve, the age at which they were turned. You could see how stuff like that might raise some questions. A tottery, grumpy old lady of eighty suddenly becomes sixty again. A leathery old gent of seventy is able to put away his cane, the skin tumors on his arms and face disappear. Black-eyed Suzy loses her hitching limp. Diesel Doug goes from half-blind with cataracts to sharp-eyed, his bald spot magically gone. Steamhat Steve starts walking in a crooked-back shuffle at the same time his wife Baba is able to ditch her incontinence pants and go out line dancing.
People would wonder, and people would talk. Eventually some reporter would turn up, and the Tribe shied away from publicity the way vampires supposedly shy away from sunlight. But since they don’t live in one place—now when they stop for awhile in one for their bought and paid-for towns, they keep to themselves—they fit right in. Why not? They wear the same clothes as the other RV people. They wear the same el cheapo sunglasses. They buy the same souvenir tee-shirts and consult the same AAA roadmaps. They put the same decals on their Bounders and Winnebagos, touting all the peculiar places they visited—“I had a ball in Cawker City, Kansas, home of the world’s largest ball of twine.” And you find yourself looking at the same bumper stickers: OLD BUT NOT DEAD, SAVE MEDICARE, I’M A CONSERVATIVE AND I VOTE.
While you’re stuck behind them, waiting for a chance to pass, they eat fried chicken from the Colonel and buy the occasional scratch ticket in those easy on/easy off convenient stores where they sell beer, energy drinks, country and western CDs and ten thousand kinds of candy bars. If there’s a bingo hall in the town where they stop, a bunch of them are apt to go on over, take a table, and play until the last coverall game is finished.
At one of those games, Greedy G (rube name Greta Moore), won five hundred dollars. She chortled over that for months, and although they all had all the money they need, it pissed off some of the other ladies to no end.
If one of them happens to get stopped for speeding or some other minor traffic offense—it’s rare, but it does happen—the cop finds nothing but valid licenses, up to date insurance cards, and paperwork in apple-pie order. No voices are raised while the cop’s standing there with his citation book, even if it’s an obvious speed trap. The charges are never disputed. All fines are paid promptly. America is a living body, the highways are its arteries, and the Tribe slips along them like a silent virus.
But…there are no dogs. Occasionally, ordinary RV people travel with lots of canine company, usually those little dogs with white fur, gaudy rhinestone-studded collars, and nasty tempers. You know the kind, they have irritating barks and ratty little eyes full of disturbing intelligence. You see them sniffing their way through the grass in the designated pet walking areas of the turnpike rest stops, their owners trailing behind, plastic doggy bags and pooper scoopers at the ready. In addition to the usual decals and bumper stickers on the motorhomes of these ordinary RV people, you’re apt to see yellow diamond shaped signs reading POMERANIAN ON BOARD or I ♥ MY POODLE.
Not the Tribe. They don’t like dogs and dogs don’t like them. You might say dogs see through them. To the sharp and watchful eyes behind the cut-rate sunglasses, to the strong and long-muscled hunter’s legs beneath the polyester slacks from Wal-Mart, to the sharp teeth beneath the dentures, waiting to come out. They don’t like dogs, but they like certain children. Yes, they like certain children very much.