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oranges, they are delicious
hardy fruits that taste
amazing and they make my
tingle with a delightful,
happy, jolly jiggle.
also, they're a
reasonable source for vitamin c.
i'm actually submitting flash now and they all get blammed. Shit may suck but at least give me a break >:o
3/4 of the faggots who rate don't even watch it or don't even realize how much time i put into it.
The next evening she brought him the Royal. It was an e model from an era when such things as electric typewriters, color TVs, and touch-tone telephones were only science fiction. It was as black and as proper as a pair of high-button shoes. Glass panels were set into the sides, revealing the machine's levers, springs, ratchets, and rods. A steel return lever, dull with disuse, jutted to one side like a hitchhiker's thumb. The roller was dusty, its hard rubber scarred and pitted. The letters ROYAL ran across the front of the machine in a semicircle. Grunting, she set it down on the foot of the bed between his legs after holding it up for his inspection for a moment. He stared at it. Was it grinning? Christ, it looked like it was. Anyway, it already looked like trouble. The ribbon was a faded two-tone, red over black. He had forgotten there were such ribbons. The sight of this one called up no pleasant nostalgia. "Well?" She was smiling eagerly. "What do you think?" "It's nice!" he said at once. "A real antique." Her smile clouded. "I didn't buy it for an antique. I bought it for second-hand. Good second-hand." He responded with immediate glibness. "Hey! There ain't no such thing as an antique typewriter - not when you come right down to it. A good typewriter lasts damn near forever. These old office babies are tanks!" If he could have reached it he would have patted it. If he could have reached it he would have kissed it. Her smile returned. His heartbeat slowed a little. "I got it at Used News. Isn't that a silly name for a store? But Nancy Dartmonger, the lady who runs it, is a silly woman." Annie darkened a little, but he saw at once that she was not darkening at him - the survival instinct, he was discovering, might be only instinct in itself, but it created some really amazing shortcuts to empathy. He found himself becoming more attuned to her moods, her cycles; he listened to her tick as if she were a wounded clock. "As well as silly, she's bad. Dartmonger! Her name ought to be Whoremonger. Divorced twice and now she's living with a bartender. That's why when you said it was an antique - " "It looks fine," he said. She paused a long moment and then said, as if confessing: "It has a missing n." "Does it?" "Yes - see?" She tilted the typewriter up so he could peer at the banked semicircle of keys and see the missing striker like a missing molar in a mouthful of teeth worn but otherwise complete. "I see." She set it back down. The bed rocked a little. Paul guessed the typewriter might weigh as much as fifty pounds. It had come from a time when there were no alloys, no plastics . . . also no six-figure book advances, no movie tie-in editions, no USA Today, no Entertainment Tonight, no celebrities doing ads for credit cards or vodka. The Royal grinned at him, promising trouble. "She wanted forty-five dollars but gave me five Because of the missing n." She offered him a crafty smile. No fool she, it said. He smiled back. The tide was in. That made both smiling and lying easy. "Gave it to you? You mean you didn't dicker?" Annie preened a little. "I told her n was an important letter," she allowed. "Well good for you! Damn!" Here was a new discovery. Sycophancy was easy once you got the hang of it. Her smile grew sly, inviting him to share a delicious secret. "I told her n was one of the letters in my favorite writer's name." "It's two of the letters in my favorite nurse's name." Her smile became a glow. Incredibly, a blush rose in her solid cheeks. That's what it would look like, he thought, if you built a furnace inside the mouth of one of those idols in the H. Rider Haggard stories. That is what it would look like at night. "You fooler!" she simpered. "I'm not!" he said. "Not at all." "Well!" She looked off for a moment, not blank but just pleased, a little flustered, taking a moment to gather her thoughts. Paul could have taken some pleasure in the way this was going if not for the weight of the typewriter, as solid as the woman and also damaged; it sat there grinning with its missing tooth, promising trouble. "The wheelchair was much more expensive," she said. "Ostomy supplies have gone right out of sight since I -" She broke off, frowned, cleared her throat. Then she looked back at him, smiling. "But it's time you began sitting up, and I don't begrudge the cost one tiny bit. And of course you can't type lying down, can you?" "No . . . " "I've got a board . . . I cut it to size . . . and paper . . . wait!" She dashed from the room like a girl, leaving Paul and the typewriter to regard each other. His grin disappeared the moment her back was turned. The Royal's never varied. He supposed later that he had pretty well known what all this was about, just as he supposed he had known what the typewriter would sound like, how it would clack through its grin like that old comic-strip character Ducky Daddles. She came back with a package of Corrasable Bond in shrink-wrap and a board about three feet wide by four feet long. "Look!" She put the board on the arms of the wheelchair that stood by his bed like some solemn skeletal visitor. Already he could see the ghost of himself behind that board, pent in like a prisoner. She put the typewriter on the board, facing the ghost, and put the package of Corrasable Bond - the paper he hated most in all the world because of the way the type blurred when the pages were shuffled together - beside it. She had now created a kind of cripple's study. "What do you think?" "It looks good," he said, uttering the biggest lie of his life with perfect ease, and then asked the question to which he already knew the answer. "What will I write there, do you think?" "Oh, but Paul" she said, turning to him, her eyes dancing animatedly in her flushed face. "I don't think, I know! You're going to use this typewriter to write a new novel! Your best novel! Misery's Return!"
Misery's Return. He felt nothing at all. He supposed a man who had just cut his hand off in a power saw might feel this same species of nothing as he stood regarding his spouting wrist with dull surprise. "Yes!" Her face shone like a searchlight. Her powerful hands were clasped between her breasts. "It will be a book just for me, Paul! My payment for nursing you back to health! The one and only copy of the newest Misery book! I'll have something no one else in the world has, no matter how much they might want it! Think of it!" "Annie, Misery is dead." But already, incredibly, he was thinking, I could bring her back. The thought filled him with tired revulsion but no real surprise. After all, a man who could drink from a floor-bucket should be capable of a little directed writing. "No she's not," Annie replied dreamily. "Even when I was . . . when I was so mad at you, I knew she wasn't really dead. I knew you couldn't really kill her. Because you're good." "Am I?" he said, and looked at the typewriter. It grinned at him. We're going to find out just how good you are, old buddy, it whispered. "Yes!" "Annie, I don't know if I can sit in that wheelchair. Last time - " "Last time it hurt, you bet it did. And it will hurt next time, too. Maybe even a little more. But there will come a day - and it won't be long, either, although it may seem longer to you than it really is - when it hurts a little less. And a little less. And a little less." "Annie, will you tell me one thing?" "Of course, dear!" "If I write this story for you - " "Novel! A nice big one like all the others - maybe even bigger!" He closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them. "Okay - if I write this novel for you, will you let me go when it's done?" For a moment unease slipped cloudily across her face, and then she was looking at him carefully, studiously. "You speak as though I were keeping you prisoner, Paul." He said nothing, only looked at her. "I think that by the time you finish, you should be up to the . . . up to the strain of meeting people again," she said. "Is that what you want to hear?" "That's what I wanted to hear, yes." "Well, honestly! I knew writers were supposed to have big egos, but I guess I didn't understand that meant ingratitude, too!" He went on looking at her and after a moment she looked away, impatient and a little flustered. At last he said: "I'll need all the Misery books, if you've got them, because I don't have my concordance." "Of course I have them!" she said. Then: "What's a concordance?" "It's a loose-leaf binder where I have all my Misery stuff," he said. "Characters and places, mostly, but cross-indexed three or four different ways. Time-lines. Historical stuff . . . " He saw she was barely listening. This was the second time she'd shown not the slightest interest in a trick of the trade that would have held a class of would-be writers spellbound. The reason, he thought, was simplicity itself. Annie Wilkes was the perfect audience, a woman who loved stories without having the slightest interest in the mechanics of making them. She was the embodiment of that Victorian archetype, Constant Reader. She did not want to hear about his concordance and indices because to her Misery and the characters surrounding her were perfectly real. Indices meant nothing to her. If he had spoken of a village census in Little Dunthorpe, she might have shown some interest. "I'll make sure you get the books. They're a little dog-eared, but that's a sign a book has been well read and well loved, isn't it?" "Yes," he said. No need to lie this time. "Yes it is. "I'm going to study up on book-binding," she said dreamily. "I'm going to bind Misery's Return myself. Except for my mother's Bible, it will be the only real book I own." "That's good," he said, just to say something. He was feeling a little sick to his stomach. I'll go out now so you can put on your thinking cap," she said. "This is exciting! Don't you think so?" "Yes, Annie. I sure do." "I'll be in with some breast of chicken and mashed potatoes and peas for you in half an hour. Even a little Jell-O because you've been such a good boy. And I'll make sure you get your pain medication right on time. You can even have an extra pill in the night if you need it. I want to make sure you get your sleep, because you have to go back to work tomorrow. You'll mend faster when you're working, I'll bet!" She went to the door, paused there for a moment, and then, grotesquely, blew him a kiss. The door closed behind her. He did not want to look at the typewriter and for awhile resisted, but at last his eyes rolled helplessly toward it. It sat on the bureau, grinning. Looking at it was a little like looking at an instrument of torture - boot, rack, strappado - which is standing inactive, but only for the moment. I think that by the time you finish, you should be . . . up to the strain of meeting people again. Ah, Annie, you were lying to both of us. I knew it, and you did, too. I saw it in your eyes. The limited vista now opening before him wag extremely unpleasant: six weeks of life which he would spend suffering with his broken bones and renewing his acquaintance with Misery Chastain, nee Carmichael, followed by a hasty interment in the back yard. Or perhaps she would feed his remains to Misery the pig - that would have a certain justice, black and gruesome though it might be. Then don't do it. Make her mad. She's like a walking bottle of nitroglycerine as it is. Bounce her around a little. Make her explode. Better than lying here suffering. He tried looking up at the interlocked W's, but all too soon he was looking at the typewriter again. It stood atop the bureau, mute and thick and full of words he did not want to write, grinning with its one missing tooth. I don't think you believe that, old buddy. I think you want to stay alive even if it does hurt. If it means bringing Misery back for an encore, you'll do it. You'll try, anyway - but first you are going to have to deal with me . . . and I don't think I like your face. "Makes us even," Paul croaked. This time he tried looking out the window, where fresh snow was falling. Soon enough, however, he was looking at the typewriter again with avid repulsed fascination, not even aware of just when his gaze had shifted.
Getting into the chair didn't hurt as much as he had feared, and that was good, because previous experience had shown him that he would hurt plenty afterward. She set the tray of food down on the bureau, then rolled the wheelchair over to the bed. She helped him to sit up - there was a dull, thudding flare of pain in his pelvic area but it subsided - and then she leaned over, the side of her neck pressing against his shoulder like the neck of a horse. For an instant he could feel the thump of her pulse, and his face twisted in revulsion. Then her right arm was firmly around his back, her left under his buttocks. "Try not to move from the knees down while I do this," she said, and then simply slid him into the chair. She did it with the ease of a woman sliding a book into an empty slot in her bookcase. Yes, she was strong. Even in good shape the outcome of a fight between him and Annie would have been in doubt. As he was now it would be like Wally Cox taking on Boom Boom Mancini. She put the board in front of him, "See how well it fits?" she said, and went to the bureau to get the food. "Annie?" "Yes." "I wonder if you could turn that typewriter around. So it faces the wall." She frowned. "Why in the world would you want me to do that?" Because I don't want it grinning at me all night. "Old superstition of mine," he said. "I always turn my typewriter to the wall before I start writing." He paused and added: "Every night while I am writing, as a matter of fact." "It's like step on a crack, break your mother's back," she said. "I never step on a crack if I can help it." She turned it around so it grinned at nothing but blank wall. "Better?" "Much." "You are such a silly," she said, and came over and began to feed him.
He dreamed of Annie Wilkes in the court of some fabulous Arabian caliph, conjuring imps and genies from bottles and then flying around the court on a magic carpet. When the carpet banked past him (her hair streamed out behind her; her eyes were as bright and flinty as the eyes of a sea-captain navigating among icebergs), he saw it was woven all in green and white; it made a Colorado license plate. Once upon a time, Annie was calling. Once upon a time it came to pass. This happened in the days when my grandfather's grandfather was a boy. This is the story of how a poor boy. I heard this from a man who. Once upon a time. Once upon a time.
When he woke up Annie was shaking him and bright morning sun was slanting in the window - the snow had ended. "Wake up, sleepyhead!" Annie was almost trilling. "I've got yogurt and a nice boiled egg for you, and then it will be time for you to begin." He looked at her eager face and felt a strange new emotion - hope. He had dreamed that Annie Wilkes was Scheherazade, her solid body clad in diaphanous robes, her big feet stuffed into pink sequined slippers with curly toes as she rode on her magic carpet and chanted the incantatory phrases which open the doors of the best stories. But of course it wasn't Annie that was Scheherazade. He was. And if what he wrote was good enough, if she could not bear to kill him until she discovered how it all came out no matter how much or how loudly her animal instincts yelled for her to do it, that she must do it . . . Might he not have a chance? He looked past her and saw she had turned the typewriter around before waking him; it grinned resplendently at him with its missing tooth, telling him it was all right to hope and noble to strive, but in the end it was doom alone which would count.
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. The windowpanes were edged on the inside with a tracery of frost, and when he held out his hand he could feel a bubble of cold like a dome around the window. The feel of it was both refreshing and somehow nostalgic, like a note from an old friend. For the first time in weeks - it felt like years - he was able to look at a geography different from that of his room with its unchanging verities - blue wallpaper, picture of the Arc de Triomphe, the long, long month of February symbolized by the boy sliding downhill on his sled (he thought that his mind would turn to that boy's face and stocking cap each time January became February, even if he lived to see that change of months another fifty times). He looked into this new world as eagerly as he had watched his first movie Bambi - as a child. The horizon was near; it always was in the Rockies, where longer views of the world were inevitably cut off by uptilted plates of bedrock. The sky was a perfect early-morning blue, innocent of clouds. A carpet of green forest climbed the flank of the nearest mountain. There were perhaps seventy acres of open ground between the house and the edge of the forest - the snow-cover over it was a perfect and blazing white. It was impossible to tell if the land beneath was tilled earth or open meadow. The view of this open square was interrupted by only one building: a neat red barn. When she spoke of her livestock or when he saw her trudging grimly past his window, breaking her breath with the impervious prow of her face, he had imagined a ramshackle outbuilding like an illustration from a child's book of ghost stories - rooftree bowed and sagging from years of snowweight, windows blank and dusty, some broken and blocked with pieces of cardboard, long double doors perhaps off their tracks and swaying outward. This neat and tidy structure with its dark-red paint and neat cream-colored trim looked like the five-car garage of a well-to-do country squire masquerading as a barn. In front of it stood a jeep Cherokee, maybe five years old but obviously well cared for. To one side stood a Fisher plow in a home-made wooden cradle. To attach the plow to the Jeep, she would only need to drive the Jeep carefully up to the cradle so that the hooks on the frame matched the catches on the plow, and throw the locking lever on the dashboard. The perfect vehicle for a woman who lived alone and had no neighbor she could call upon for help (except for those dirty-birdie Roydmans, of course, and Annie probably wouldn't take a plate of pork chops from them if she was dying of starvation). The driveway was neatly plowed, a testament to the fact that she did indeed use the blade, but he could not see the road - the house cut off the view. "I see you're admiring my barn, Paul." He looked around, startled. The quick and uncalculated movement awoke his pain from its doze. It snarled dully in what remained of his shins and in the bunched salt-dome that had replaced his left knee. It turned over, needling him from where it lay imprisoned in its cave of bones, and then fell lightly asleep again. She had food on a tray. Soft food, invalid food . . . but his stomach growled at the sight of it. As she crossed to him he saw that she was wearing white shoes with crepe soles. "Yes," he said. "It's very handsome." She put the board on the arms of the wheelchair and then put the tray on the board. She pulled a chair over beside him and sat down, watching him as he began to eat. "Fiddle-de-foof! Handsome is as handsome does, my mother always said. I keep it nice because if I didn't, the neighbors would yap. They are always looking for a way to get at me, or start a rumor about me. So I keep everything nice. Keeping up appearances is very, very important. As far as the barn goes, it really isn't much work, as long as you don't let things pile up. Keeping the snow from breaking in the roof is the oogiest part." The oogiest part, he thought. Save that one for the Annie Wilkes lexicon in your memoirs - if you ever get a chance to write your memoirs, that is. Along with dirty birdie and fiddle-de-foof and all the others which I'm sure will come up in time. "Two years ago I had Billy Haversham put heat-tapes in the roof. You throw a switch and they get hot and melt the ice. I won't need them much longer this winter, though see how it's melting on its own?" He had a forkful of egg halfway to his mouth. It stopped in midair as he looked out at the barn. There was a row of icicles along the cave. The tips of these icicles were dripping - dripping fast. Each drop sparkled as it fell onto a narrow canal of ice which lay at the base of the barn's side. "It's up to forty-five degrees and it's not even nine o'clock!" Annie was going on gaily as Paul imagined the rear bumper of his Camaro surfacing through the rotted snow for the sun to twinkle on. "Of course it won't last - we've got a hard snap or three ahead of us yet, and probably another big storm as well - but spring is coming, Paul, and my mother always used to say that the hope of spring is like the hope of heaven." He put his fork back down on the plate with the egg still on it. "Don't want that last bite? All done?" "All done," he agreed, and in his mind he saw the Roydmans driving up from Sidewinder, saw a bright arrow of light strike Mrs Roydman's face, making her wince and put a shielding hand up - What's down there, Ham? . . . Don't tell me I'm crazy, there's something down there! Reflection damn near burned m'eye out! Back up, I want to take another look. "Then I'll just take the tray," she said, "and you can get started." She favored him with a glance that was very warm. "I just can't tell you how excited I am, Paul." She went out, leaving him to sit in the wheelchair and look at the water running from the icicles which clung to the edge of the barn.
"I'd like some different paper, if you could get it," he said when she came back to put the typewriter and paper on the board. "Different from this?" she asked, tapping the cellophane-wrapped package of Corrasable Bond. "But this is the most expensive of all! I asked when I went into the Paper Patch!" "Didn't your mother ever tell you that the most expensive is not always the best?" Annie's brow darkened. Her initial defensiveness had been replaced by indignation. Paul guessed her fury would follow. "No, she did not. What she told me, Mister Smart Guy, is that when you buy cheap, you get cheap." The climate inside her, he had come to discover, was like springtime in the Midwest. She was a woman full of tornadoes waiting to happen, and if he had been a farmer observing a sky which looked the way Annie's face looked right now, he would have at once gone to collect his family and herd them into the storm cellar. Her brow was too white. Her nostrils flared regularly, like the nostrils of an animal scenting fire. Her hands had begun to spring limberly open and then snatch closed again, catching air and squashing it. His need for her and his vulnerability to her screamed at him to back off, to placate her while there was still time if indeed there still was - as a tribe in one of -those Rider Haggard stories would have placated their goddess when she was angry, by making sacrifice to her effigy. But there was another part of him, more calculating and less cowed, which reminded him that he could not play the part of Scheherazade if he grew frightened and placatory whenever she stormed. If he did, she would storm all the more. If you didn't have something she badly wants, this part of him reasoned, she would have taken you to the hospital right away or killed you later on to protect herself from the Roydmans - because for Annie the world is full of Roydmans, for Annie they're lurking behind every bush. And if you don't bell this bitch right now, Paulie my boy, you may never be able to. She was beginning to breathe more rapidly, almost to hyperventilate; the rhythm of her clenching hands was likewise speeding up, and he knew that in a moment she would be beyond him. Gathering up the little courage he had left, trying desperately to summon exactly the right note of sharp and yet almost casual irritability, he said: "And you might as well stop that. Getting mad won't change a thing." She froze as if he had slapped her and looked at him, wounded. "Annie," he said patiently, "this is no big deal." "It's a trick," she said. "You don't want to write my book and so you're making up tricks not to start. I knew you would. Oh boy. But it's not going to work. It - " "That's silly," he said. "Did I say I wasn't going to start?" "No . . . no, but - " "That's right. Because I am. And if you come here and take a look at something, I'll show you what the problem is. Bring that Webster Pot with you, please." "The what?" "Little jar of pens and pencils, " he said. "On newspapers, they sometimes call them Webster Pots. After Daniel Webster." This was a lie he had made up on the spur of the moment, but it had the desired effect - she looked more confused than ever, lost in a specialists" world of which she had not the slightest knowledge. The confusion had diffused (and thus defused) her rage even more; he saw she now didn't even know if she had any right to be angry. She brought over the jar of pens and pencils and slammed them down on the board and he thought: Goddam! I won No - that wasn't right. Misery had won. But that isn't right, either. It was Scheherazade. Scheherazade won. "What?" she said grumpily. "Watch." He opened the package of Corrasable and took out a sheet He took a freshly sharpened pencil and drew a fine on the paper. Then he took a ballpoint pen and drew another line parallel to the first. Then he slid his thumb across the slightly waffled surface of the paper. Both lines blurred smudgily in the direction his thumb was travelling, the pencil-line slightly more than the one he had drawn with the pen. "See?" "So what?" "Ribbon-ink will blur, too," he said. "It doesn't blur a much as that pencil-line, but it's worse than the ballpoint-ink line." "Were you going to sit and rub every page with your thumb?" "Just the shift of the pages against each other will accomplish plenty of blurring over a period of weeks or ever days," he said, "and when a manuscript is in work, it get shifted around a lot. You're always hunting back through to find a name or a date. My God, Annie, one of the first thing you find out in this business is that editors hate reading manuscripts typed on Corrasable Bond almost as much a they hate hand-written manuscripts." "Don't call it that. I hate it when you call it that." He looked at her, honestly puzzled. "Call what what?" "When you pervert the talent God gave you by calling it a business. I hate that." "I'm sorry." "You ought to be," she said stonily. "You might as well call yourself a whore." No, Annie, he thought, suddenly filled with fury. I'm no whore. Fast Cars was about not being a whore. That's what killing that goddamned bitch Misery was about, now that I think about it. I was driving to the West Coast to celebrate my liberation from a state of whoredom. What you did was to pull me out of the wreck when I crashed my car and stick me back in the crib again. Two dollar straight up, four dollar I take you around the world. And every now and then I see a flicker in your eyes that tells me a part of you way back inside knows it too. A jury might let you off by reason of insanity, but not me, Annie. Not this kid. "A good point," he said. "Now, going back to the subject of the paper - " "I'll get you your cockadoodie paper," she said sullenly. "Just tell me what to get and I'll get it." "As long as you understand I'm on your side - " "Don't make me laugh. No one has been on my side since my mother died twenty years ago." "Believe what you want, then," he said. "If you're so insecure you can't believe I'm grateful to you for saving my life, that's your problem." He was watching her shrewdly, and again saw a flicker of uncertainty, of wanting to believe, in her eyes. Good. Very good. He looked at her with all the sincerity he could muster, and again in his mind he imagined shoving a chunk of glass into her throat, once and forever letting out the blood that serviced her crazy brain. "At least you should be able to believe that I am on the book's side. You spoke of binding it. I assume that you meant binding the manuscript? The typed pages?" "Of course that's what I meant." Yes, you bet. Because if you took the manuscript to a printer, it might raise questions. You may be naive about the world of books and publishing, but not that naive. Paul Sheldon is missing, and your printer might remember receiving a book-length manuscript concerning itself with Paul Sheldon's most famous character right around the time the man himself disappeared, mightn't he? And he'd certainly remember the instructions - instructions so queer any printer would remember them. One printed copy of a novel-length manuscript. Just one. "What did she look like, officer? Well, she was a big woman. Looked sort of like a stone idol in a H. Rider Haggard story. Just a minute, I've got her name and address here in the files . . . Just let me look up the carbons of the invoices . . . " "Nothing wrong with the idea, either," he said. "A bound manuscript can be damned handsome. Looks like a good folio edition. But a book should last a long time, Annie, and if I write this one on Corrasable, you're going to have nothing but a bunch of blank papers in ten years or so. Unless, of course, you just put it on the shelf." But she wouldn't want that, would she? Christ, no. She'd want to take it down every day, maybe every few hours. Take it down and gloat over it. An odd stony look had come onto her face. He did not like this mulishness, this almost ostentatious look of obduracy. It made him nervous. He could calculate her rage, but there was something in this new expression which was as opaque as it was childish. "You don't have to talk anymore," she said. "I already told you I'll get you your paper. What kind?" "In this business-supply store you go to - " "The Paper Patch." "Yes, the Paper Patch. You tell them you'd like two reams - a ream is a package of five hundred sheets - " "I know that. I'm not stupid, Paul." "I know you're not," he said, becoming more nervous still. The pain had begun to mutter up and down his legs again, and it was speaking even more -loudly from the area of his pelvis - he had been sitting up for nearly an hour, and the dislocation down there was complaining about it. Keep cool, for God's sake - don't lose everything you've gained! But have I gained anything? Or is it only wishful thinking? "Ask for two reams of white long-grain mimeo. Hammermill Bond is a good brand; so is Triad Modem. Two reams of mimeo will cost less than this one package of Corrasable, and it should be enough to do the whole job, write and rewrite." "I'll go right now," she said, getting up suddenly. He looked at her, alarmed, understanding that she meant to leave him without his medication again, and sitting up this time, as well. Sitting already hurt; the pain would be monstrous by the time she got back, even if she hurried. "You don't have to do that," he said, speaking fast. "The Corrasable is good enough to start with - after all, I'll have to rewrite anyway - " "Only a silly person would try to start a good work with a bad tool." She took the package of Corrasable Bond, then snatched the sheet with the two smudged lines and crumpled it into a ball. She tossed both into the wastebasket and turned back to him. That stony, obdurate look covered her face like a mask. Her eyes glittered like tarnished dimes. "I'm going to town now," she said. "I know you want to get started as soon as you can, since you're on my side - " she spoke these last words with intense, smoking sarcasm (and, Paul believed, more self-hate than she would ever know) "and so I'm not even going to take time to put you back in your bed." She smiled, a pulling of the lips that was grotesquely puppet-like, and slipped to his side in her silent white nurse" shoes. Her fingers touched his hair. He flinched. He tried not to but couldn't help it. Her dead-alive smile widened. "Although I suspect we may have to put off the actual start of Misery's Retum for a day . . . or two . . . perhaps even three. Yes, it may be as long as three days before you are able to sit up again. Because of the pain. Too bad. I had champagne chilling in the fridge. I'll have to put it back in the shed." "Annie, really, I can start if you'll just - " "No, Paul." She moved to the door and then turned, looking at him with that stony face.