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Under the Dome(11)
Author: Stephen King

'Howie, the power's out. And there were bangs!

Howie. Always Howie. As in Here's Howie and Howie's tricks and Howie's life treatin you. He tried to be a Christian about it - hell, he was a Christian about it - but sometimes he wondered if that nickname wasn't at least partially responsible for the little gadget he now carried around in his chest.


She rolled her eyes, marched to the radio on the hood of her car, and pushed the power button, cutting off the Norman LubofF Choir in the middle of'What a Friend We Have in Jesus.'

'How many times have I told you not to stick this thing on the hood of my car? You'll scratch it and the resale value will go down.'

'Sorry, Bren. What did you say?'

'The power's out! And something boomed. That's probably what Johnny Trent's rolling on.'

'It's Henry,' he said. 'Johnny's over in The Rock with the FD.'

'Well, whoever it is - '

Another siren started up, this one of the newer kind that Duke Perkins thought of as Tweety Birds. That would be Two, Jackie Wettington. Had to be Jackie, while Randolph sat minding the store, rocked back in his chair with his feet cocked up on his desk, reading the Democrat. Or sitting in the crapper. Peter Randolph was a fair cop, and he could be just as hard as he needed to be, but Du.ce didn't like him. Partly because he was so clearly Jim Rennie s man, partly because Randolph was sometimes harder than he needed to be, but mostly because he thought Randolph was lazy, and Duke Perkins could not abide a lazy policeman.

Brenda was looking at him with large eyes. She had been a policeman's wife for forty-three years, and she knew that two booms, two sirens, and a power failure added up to nothing good. If the lawn got raked this weekend - or if Howie got to listen to his beloved Twin Mills Wildcats take on Castle Rock's football team - she would be surprised.

'You better go on in,' she said. 'Something got knocked down. I just hope no one's dead.'

He took his cell phone off his belt. Goddam thing hung there like a leech from morning til night, but he had to admit it wis handy. He didn't dial it, just stood looking down at it, waiting for it to ring.

But then another Tweety Bird siren went off: car One. Randolph rolling after all.Which meant something very serious. Duke no longer thought the phone would ring and moved to put it back on his belt, but then it did. It was Stacey Moggin.

'Stacey?' He knew he didn't have to bellow into the goddam thing, Brenda had told him so a hundred times, but he couldn't seem to help it. 'Wliat are you doing at the station on Saturday m -

'I'm not, I'm at home. Peter called me and said to tell you it's out on 119, and it's bad. He said... an airplane and a pulp-truck collided.' She sounded dubious. 'I don't see how that can be, but - '

A plane. Jesus. Five minutes ago, or maybe a little long2r, while he'd been raking leaves and singing along with 'How Great The u Art' -

'Stacey, was it Chuck Thompson? I saw that new Piper of his flying over. Pretty low.'

'I don't know, Chief, I've told you everything Peter told me.'

Brenda, no dummy, was already moving her car so he could back the forest-green Chief's car down the driveway. She had set the portable radio beside his small pile of raked leaves.

'Okay, Stace. Power out on your side of town, too?'

'Yes, and the landlines. I'm on my cell. It's probably bad, isn't it?'

'I hope not. Can you go in and cover? I bet the place is standing there empty and unlocked.'

'I'll be there in five. Reach me on the base unit.'

'Roger that.'

As Brenda came back up the driveway, the town whistle went off, its rise and fall a sound that never failed to make Duke Perkins feel tight in the gut. Nevertheless, he took time to put an arm around Brenda. She never forgot that he took the time to do that.'Don't let it worry you, Brennie. It's programmed to do that in a general power outage. It'll stop in three minutes. Or four. I forget which.'

'I know, but I still hate it. That idiot Andy Sanders blew it on nine-eleven, do you remember? As if they were going to suicide-bomb us next.'

Duke nodded. Andy Sanders was an idiot. Unfortunately, he was also First Selectman, the cheery Mortimer Snerd dummy that sat on Big Jim Rennie's lap.

'Honey, I have to go.'

'I know.' But she followed him to the car. 'What is it? Do you know yet?'

'Stacey said a truck and an airplane collided out on 119.'

Brenda smiled tentatively. 'That's a joke, right?'

'Not if the plane had engine trouble and was trying to and on the highway,' Duke said. Her little smile faded and her fisted right hand came to rest just between her br**sts, body language he knew well. He climbed behind the wheel, and although the Chief's cruiser was relatively new, he still settled into the shape of his own butt. Duke Perkins was no lightweight.

'On your day off!' she cried. 'Really, it's a shame! And when you could retire on a full P!'

'They'll just have to take me in my Saturday slops,' he said, and grinned at her. It was work, that grin. This felt like it was going to be a long day. 'Just as I am, Lord, just as I am. Stick me a sandwich or two in the fridge, will you?'

'Just one. You're getting too heavy. Even Dr Haskell said so and he never scolds anybody!

'One, then.' He put the shift in reverse... then put it Dack in park. He leaned out the window, and she realized he wanted a kiss. She gave him a good one with the town whistle blowing across the crisp October air, and he caressed the side of her throat while their mouths were together, a thing that always gave her the shivers and he hardly ever did anymore.

His touch there in the sunshine: she never forgot that, either.

As he rolled down the driveway, she called something after him. He caught part of it but not all. He really was going to have to get his ears checked. Let them fit him with a hearing aid if necessary. Although that would probably be the final thing Randolph and Big Jim needed to kick him out on his aging ass.

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