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Richard Laymon - The Lake

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Richard Laymon - The Lake
The Lake
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Описание книги "The Lake"

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Best stay quiet, she thought. Pretend I’m not here.

Deana shut her eyes tight, held her breath, slid down under the bedsheet, pulled it over her head, and lay there, heart racing, till she almost suffocated.

Then, peeking from under the bedsheet, she scanned the window again.

Nobody there. Only the moon, casting ghostly rays onto her bed.

Perhaps the thing with the hatchet never happened?

Oh yeah?

Deana wiped her face with a corner of the sheet.

It was awfully hot.

Hot, shitty, oppressive, and muggy.

Another summer night in Marin County.

’Cept it wasn’t just “another summer night.”

A mad axman’s out there, sneaking past my window.

Stalking me.

Looking for me. Wanting to hack me to death.

Deana listened, willing her heart to slow down.

A warm mistral rose up from nowhere, whispering into the night, tossing the leaves of the citrus outside her window. The rustling sounds should have been familiar and friendly.

Tonight, they didn’t seem that way.

In the past, she’d loved that big old tree.

At age ten, when she and Mom first came to live in this house, she’d imagined small furry creatures hiding away up there; birds, nesting in its branches. Mornings, she’d lie in bed watching it. At night, she went to sleep listening to its quiet, scurrying sounds.

Now it shivered and rustled like something in a horror movie.

It was so scary.

Her gaze switched to where she’d last seen the intruder.

Hoping she wouldn’t see him again.

Trying to convince herself the shadowy shape didn’t exist. Hadn’t really happened at all.

She waited…

But there was no Mr. Hatchet Man. Just her tree. Its leaves stirring softly in the night breeze…

Making long black shadows on her ceiling.

Raising her head off the pillow, she squinted at the clock on the nightstand.


Past midnight.

A good time for nightmares.

And weird dreams.

She stretched, letting her tense, coiled-up limbs ease out, running her tongue over bone-dry lips.

Her eyes darted nervously to the window.

Just checking.

Fearful the same spooky sequence would start over again.

Wide-eyed, waiting, she counted to thirty…forty…fifty…sixty.

No sign of the Hatchet Man.

Swinging out of bed, she peeled off her nightgown. It was soaked with sweat. She spread it over the bedrail, grabbed her robe, and shrugged into it.

It felt soft and comforting to her damp, chilled skin.

She tied the sash tight.

Wouldn’t do for Mr. Hatchet Man to catch her naked.

Mr. who?

That was a nightmare, dummy, and don’t you forget it.

Still her breath came hard and fast.

Calm down, she told herself.

You’re safe.

The doors are locked.

Mom’s in the next room…

Everything’s okay. Honest.

In the busy flickering shadows, familiar things greeted her like old friends.

She made for the kitchen.

Opening the fridge door, she reached inside and took out a jug of lemonade.

It felt good and cold.

Mom made it only yesterday. From fresh lemons. It was her own special brew, and Deana knew it’d taste bittersweet, tart, with just a dash of honey.

The way I like it.

The glass jug clouded up. It felt deliciously cold in her hands. Licking her lips, she watched the pale liquid swish around inside it—almost tasting that first almighty swig as it hit her throat.

First, she set the jug on the table and went over to the sink. Turning on the cold faucet, she cupped her hands and splashed water over her face.

Then she grabbed a hand towel, patted herself dry.

Feeling better, safer, all the time.

It was only a nightmare, she told herself again.

Deana downed two glassfuls of juice, knowing she’d probably spend the remainder of the night in the bathroom.

Who cares? I’m awake, I’m alive, and I’m all in one piece!

Back in her bedroom, she caught that same weird figure slink past the window.



Frowning, she stared hard. But saw nothing.

Just the curtain, stirring softly.

And her tree, murmuring in the breeze.

Wonderful. I’m going crazy. My mind’s playing tricks…

She set her refilled glass on the nightstand, took off her robe, and climbed into bed.

She yawned, glad the nightmare was over.

She felt safe again.

And sleepy.

Her lips curved in a smile.

As her lids closed, she thought about the party tomorrow night…

Tomorrow night?

Tonight, she reminded herself.

Deana yawned again, going through the scenario of telling Mom how she and Allan would be going to the movies after dinner. Mom’d be furious, but she’d soon simmer down. Hey. She knew how it was; she’d been there herself, hadn’t she?

Once upon a time.

So she keeps reminding me.

Deana smiled sleepily. It felt good, touching her naked body beneath the sheet, the soft breeze wafting through the window.

Thinking about the dinner party—and afterward, when she and Allan would bunk off together.

“Mmm…,” she whispered. “Tonight, we’re gonna have the time of our lives!”


“If I were the suspicious type,” Deana said, “I might think that car is following us.”

“But you’re not,” Allan said.

“A little bit, maybe.” She looked over her shoulder. The other car was still beyond the last curve, its beams dim and barely visible through the narrow rear window of Allan’s Mustang. Seconds later, the headlights appeared. One was out of alignment, throwing its beam crooked and high. Deana didn’t like the cross-eyed look. It made the car seem a bit demented.

“How about turning around,” Allan suggested. “You’re making me nervous.”

“It’s making me nervous.”

“Probably just some guy on his way to Stinson Beach. Once you’re on this road, you’re on it for keeps.”

Deana faced the front. Her hands were sweaty. She wiped them on her kilt. “Maybe you should slow down and let him pass.”

“You’ve seen too many Friday the 13th movies.”

You dragged me to some of them.”

“I love the way you squeal and cover your eyes…and peek through your fingers.”

“Maybe we should have gone to a movie,” Deana said.

“Losing your nerve?”

“It’s awfully dark out here.”

“It’s supposed to be.”

“How soon’s the turnoff?” Deana asked.

“It’s coming up.”

“Well, if he makes the turn, too, I say we forget it.”

Allan turned his head toward her. She couldn’t see his expression in the darkness, but he obviously wasn’t thrilled by the idea of forgetting it. She couldn’t blame him. He had suffered through the dinner with Deana’s mother and grandparents, which must’ve been quite a drag for him, probably able to keep his spirits up only by reminding himself of what was planned for afterward.

“One more thing,” she had told him on the telephone before the party.

He had responded with an “Uh-oh.”

“This isn’t an ‘uh-oh,’ pal, this is an ‘ah-ha.’ Once dinner’s over, you and I will be free to amscray. I was thinking of somewhere very dark and very secluded, perhaps in the vicinity of Mount Tamalpias. You might want to bring a blanket.”

Maybe dinner hadn’t been such a drag for him, after all, Deana thought. If the nervous, excited looks he gave her were any indication, he was too busy imagining sex in the woods to be bored with the family gathering. She’d had a difficult time, herself, keeping her mind on the festivities. By the time they were clearing off the dishes, she was such a wreck that Mom asked whether she was upset about something.

Well, see, Mom, it’s like this. Allan and I aren’t actually going to a double feature. We thought we’d find a place over by Mt. Tam where we’ll have a little privacy; we’ve only done this kind of thing once before, and we were both a little loaded then, so this will almost be like the first time, and I’m a little tense.

Just a little tense, that’s all.

The clicking sound of Allan’s turn signal brought her back to the present. She realized she was gripping her thighs and trembling. Calm down, she told herself. This is nothing to be scared about.

“It went right on by,” Allan said after making the turn. For a moment, Deana didn’t know what he was talking about. Then she remembered—the car that had been behind them.

“Well,” she said in a shaky voice, “I guess we’re in luck.”

Allan downshifted, the car growling like a determined animal as it started to climb the steep road, headbeams pushing into the darkness. Deana felt herself sink deeper into the bucket seat.

“Wouldn’t a breakdown be fun about now?” Allan asked.

“A laugh riot.”

Maybe this area is a little too secluded, she thought. And too dark—and scary. She found herself thinking about last night. Nightmare on Del Mar, starring, ta-dah…Mr. Hatchet Man. Uhhh…

She turned her eyes to the safe, familiar green glow of the dashboard instruments.

“We should’ve gone to a Holiday Inn,” she muttered.

“I thought you were against motels.”

“Yeah, well, I might be changing my mind.”

“Man, I wish you’d changed your mind half an hour ago. Want me to turn around?”

“No, that’s okay. We’re already here.”

“I don’t mind. A bed. A shower. Heyyy.”

“Maybe some other time.”

“Is that a promise?”

“It’s a thought. We’ll think about it, okay? It still seems kind of…I don’t know…tawdry.”


“Look it up.”

“You’re definitely weird, you know that? It’s all right to fool around in a car or in the woods someplace, but you do the same thing in a motel room and it’s tawdry. Does that make sense?”

“It must,” Deana said, “or why would I feel that way?”

“Because you’re nuts?” Allan suggested.

At the top of a rise, the road leveled out. Ahead was a wide, moonlit clearing—the parking area for the outdoor theater. When they’d been here last month for a production of Othello, the lot had been packed with cars.

Now it was deserted.

“Looks like we’ve got the place to ourselves,” Allan


“I figured we might.”

Allan drove to the far end of the lot. He stopped at its edge near the start of the footpath leading through the trees to the theater. He turned off the engine. “Well, here we are,” he said, sounding a little nervous himself. He killed the headlights. Darkness closed over the car. He took the key from the ignition, pushed the key case into a front pocket of his corduroy pants, and rubbed his hands on his legs. Twisting around, he reached between the seat backs and brought the blanket through the gap.

Outside, the night breeze chilled Deana’s legs and seeped like cool water through her sweater. Shivering, she gritted her teeth. She wrapped her arms across her chest. Allan joined her in front of the car. “Cold?” he asked.

“A little.”

He fluttered open the blanket and draped it over her shoulders like a cape.

“There’s room for two,” she said, holding out one side.

He huddled in close against her, drawing the blanket across his back and slipping an arm around her. They walked slowly toward the path. The blanket felt warm and good. So did his hand stroking her side. They were just a few steps along the path before his hand found its way beneath her sweater. She moaned as it moved over her bare skin. It roamed higher.

“Hmmm?” A surprised, questioning sound.

“Fooled you,” she said.

“You were wearing one at dinner.”

“My last stop in the john before we left. It went in the hamper.”

With a sigh, he reached and caressed her breast.

“God,” he whispered. He drew her around to face him. She lost her end of the blanket, but let it fall as Allan hugged her tightly, both hands now under her sweater and rubbing her back, his mouth open and urgent against hers. Breathless, Deana tugged out his shirttails. She sucked his tongue. She stroked his bare back. His hardness was a stiff bulge against her belly, the feel of it stirring a warm, moist tremor deep inside her.

He eased Deana away and lifted her sweater. Her skin, bare to the night breeze, crawled with goose bumps. Her nipples, already erect, grew so hard they ached, and then his hands were on them. Warm. Enclosing her breasts. Squeezing. The heat in her breasts was almost like pain, and she threw back her head, squirming.

His hands loosened as if he feared he might be hurting her.

“Toss anything else in the hamper?” he asked in a husky voice.

“Could be.”

He reached for Deana’s hips, but she danced backward, out of range. She pulled her sweater down. “Not here,” she said.


She shrugged. “We’re too close to the parking lot.” She waved a hand in that direction. She could see moonlight on the windshield of Allan’s Mustang. “Let’s go in farther.”

“Over by the theater?”


“How about on the stage?”

She flung out her arms. “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely—”

“Props,” Allan put in.

“The bard you’re not.”

“Can you see it? There we are, right in the middle of the theater, surrounded on every side…”

“You’re being redundant.”

“Surrounded by all those high rows of seats, empty seats, while we…”

“Make the beast with two backs.”

“Screw our heads off,” he said, curling a hand over the back of Deana’s neck.

“Yeah,” she sighed.

“And as we lie there,” he whispered, “our naked bodies sweaty and tangled…”

“Gleaming in the moonlight…”

“…from off in the distance, high up in the seats, comes…” He took his hand off Deana’s neck and slowly clapped.

She stared through the darkness at him. He kept on clapping. “Christ,” she muttered.

He clapped again and again.

“Cut it out, you’re scaring me.”

He stopped. He laughed softly.

“Let’s go back to the car,” Deana said.

“You’re kidding.”

“No I’m not.”

“Deana, it was a joke.”

She turned away. He caught her from behind and wrapped his arms around her belly. She settled back against his warmth.

“I want to get out of here, Allan. It was a rotten idea in the first place.”

“Man, that’s the last time I’ll tell you a story.”

“Yeah, well, somebody could be around here. How do we know?”

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