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Your Eyelids Are Growing Heavy

Your Eyelids Are Growing Heavy

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Your Eyelids Are Growing Heavy

valoraciones:
4/5 (1 clasificación)
Longitud:
250 página
4 horas
Publicado:
Mar 15, 2016
ISBN:
9781504032407
Formato:
Libro

Descripción

Suffering from amnesia, a young pharmaceutical executive discovers she’s the victim of a hypnotist

Megan Phillips wakes up on the fourteenth hole. Her clothes are grass-stained, her back is aching, and the last two days are a total blank. She’s not hungover—she doesn’t drink—her mind has simply been erased. Desperate for answers, she turns to her puzzle-addicted neighbor, Gus Bilinski, a frustrated genius who spends his time learning Persian for fun. He refers her to an unorthodox psychiatrist, Dr. Henrietta Snooks, who believes the symptoms are unmistakable: Megan has been hypnotized.

But who would want to hypnotize her? How has the hypnotist taken control of her, and what does he want her to do next? And most importantly, just what fun did she miss during her two days of amnesia? The answers, Megan fears, may cause her to lose what’s left of her mind.
Publicado:
Mar 15, 2016
ISBN:
9781504032407
Formato:
Libro

Sobre el autor

Barbara Paul is the author of numerous short stories and novels in both the detective and science fiction genres. Born in Maysville, Kentucky, she went on to attend Bowling Green State University and the University of Pittsburgh, earning a PhD in theater history and criticism. She has been nominated for the Shamus Award for Best PI Short Story, and two of her novels, In-Laws and Outlaws and Kill Fee, have been adapted into television movies. After teaching at the University of Pittsburgh for a number of years, she retired to write full-time. Paul currently resides in Sacramento.

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Your Eyelids Are Growing Heavy - Barbara Paul

CHAPTER 1

Hey, lady! Whaddaya doing here? What the hell you think you’re doing?

Megan Phillips opened one eye and saw what looked like a pair of trousers with a man inside.

What’s the matter with you? the voice insisted. What’re you doing here?

Megan opened her other eye and forced herself to look upward. A man, all right—one she’d never seen before. She cleared her throat. Where exactly is ‘here’?

The fourteenth-hole fairway, that’s where. You ain’t got no business bein’ here. Come on, get up. Go sleep it off somewheres else.

Easier said than done. The ground was damp beneath her; she was stiff as an old lady. How about giving me a hand?

The man muttered something under his breath and pulled her none too gently to her feet. She tottered and almost fell; a rough hand held her arm until she got her balance. Can you walk?

I guess so. She put her hands to her head and tried to think. The fourteenth-hole fairway, he’d said. What golf course?

Jesus, the man said in disgust. Schenley Park.

Schenley Park? How’d I get to Schenley Park?

You’re asking me? Come on, lady, I got work to do. There’s a phone in the clubhouse. Go call somebody to come get you.

Which way’s the clubhouse? she asked weakly.

The man, a groundskeeper, pointed. Megan nodded and started to stumble off in the direction he’d indicated. Hey, wait a minute, he called after her. This your purse?

Her purse! She went back for the brown shoulder bag the man was holding out to her and quickly checked inside. My money’s all here, she said wonderingly.

The man grunted. You’re lucky. He turned his back and walked away, finished with her.

At first Megan concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other, tottering her way toward the clubhouse. She was stiff from sleeping on the damp ground, but other than that she seemed to be all right. No blinding headache, no double vision, no uncontrollable shakes. She wanted a shower, a toothbrush, and a pot of coffee—in that order.

As her sense of balance returned, she began to feel up to grappling with the problem of how she’d happened to wake up on the Schenley Park golf course. She looked down at her grass-stained skirt. Same clothes she’d put on to wear to work yesterday. She must have been there all night. Thank god it was Saturday; she’d hate to have to face the office today.

She remembered leaving the office late Friday afternoon. Did she stop off somewhere on her way home? She couldn’t remember. That was the scary part: she simply could not remember. Or maybe she’d headed straight home and then gone out again. Unlikely; Megan always showered and changed the minute she got home and she was still wearing the clothes she’d put on yesterday morning.

The groundskeeper had assumed she was sleeping off a drunk. But she couldn’t have gone off someplace last night and gotten so roaring drunk she didn’t remember a thing that happened to her. She couldn’t have. Because she didn’t drink.

It was all too much for her just then. She shook her head and put the problem aside. Take care of the body first, then worry about this sudden deficiency of recall. She walked into the clubhouse feeling grungy and uncomfortable. Only one person was there, a fiftyish man reading the Pittsburgh Press while he waited for his golfing partners to show up.

The pay phone was near the door. Megan dropped in a dime and started to dial her own number before she remembered Rich was no longer there. Damn. She hung up and got her dime back while she tried to decide whom to call. Somebody in her apartment building would probably be best. Andrea or the Fraziers or that funny-looking kid in the basement apartment—what was his name? Well, she couldn’t very well call him if she didn’t remember his name. While she was trying to decide, a feeling of uneasiness crept over her. She didn’t really want any of those people knowing about her absurd night on the golf course, at least not until she’d had a chance to figure out what had happened. She felt too exposed. In the end she called a cab.

The man with the paper was now reading the colored comics section, concentrating with an intentness more suitable to solving the world energy crisis. Megan drifted toward the door to wait for the cab.

The colored comics section?

Megan whirled toward him. Excuse me—what day is today?

The man looked up. What?

What day is it?

Uh, the thirtieth.

No, I mean the day of the week.

He looked at her as if she had a screw loose. Sunday.

Chilled, Megan moved out of the clubhouse. Sunday. So she hadn’t lost just a night—she’d lost two nights and a day. She felt her stomach knot up and the hairs rise on her arms. Megan was scared.

The cab finally showed up and she climbed in. Megan was wondering where her car might be and the driver had to ask her twice where she wanted to go. I want to go home, she said abstractedly.

So do I, lady, but I gotta drive this cab until three o’clock. You wanna give me an address or should I just guess?

Megan sighed. Fifty-four-forty Howe Street. In Shadyside.

The driver took her home without another word.

Gus Bilinski closed his book and sat concentrating for a moment. Then he picked up a pen and carefully wrote:

He checked it over; that looked right. Then he opened his book again, a paperback titled Teach Yourself Persian. Hah—he’d got it right. Now he could write Everybody comes to town on horseback in Persian.

Except that he wasn’t really writing it yet; he was still drawing the symbols. Gus looked out the window above his desk. When he was sitting down, the ground level was about even with his chin. Gus liked his basement apartment, in spite of the sometimes musty smell. It was the first place he’d ever lived all by himself; everything here was a part of him. He turned his attention back to the book and puzzled out the next sentence. It looked like On the left hand is my mother and on the right hand is my father.

Persian was a peculiar language. Short vowels simply were not written. Not at all. That meant you couldn’t look at an unfamiliar word and figure it out—because you had no idea what short vowel was supposed to be in there. But they did have a symbol for indicating glottal stops, of all things. That funny sound a cockney makes when he says a word like bottle. Bo’l. They had a letter for that.

Gus made a sudden movement and knocked the Sunday edition of The New York Times to the floor, all fifty pounds of it. He glared at the paper and left it where it was. The price of the out-of-town edition kept going up and up and up, but Gus couldn’t live without the Sunday Times. Even with its small disappointments.

Like today: no acrostic puzzle. Instead, two diagramless puzzles at the bottom of the page beneath the crossword. The diagramless kind was no fun; too easy. The occasional cryptic puzzle was okay and the crossword itself was always a goodie. But Gus wanted to see a gen-you-wine Thomas H. Middleton acrostic puzzle printed every Sunday. In fact, he’d like a new one every day. Gus Bilinski was a hopeless puzzle addict.

Which was one reason he kept picking up books like Teach Yourself Persian. Gus had no intention of visiting Iran, ever. He was horrified by everything he’d ever learned about the country, from the eleventh-century Assassins roaring down from the Elburz Mountains to slaughter the helpless right up to the latest outrages committed in the name of God. As far as Gus was concerned, Iran was for the Iranians. But the language—ah, there was a challenge. One he couldn’t resist.

On the left hand is my mother. Gus made a few practice strokes when a car pulling up outside his window distracted him. It was a cab. Gus stood up so he could see better—oh, it was Queen Megan from the third floor. Getting home the morning after, now that King Richard was gone. But Megan-baby wasn’t looking quite so regal this morning, Gus thought with a flash of glee. That hair so black it had blue highlights—it was a mess. Her clothes were wrinkled and dirty. Looked as if someone had taken Superwoman down a peg or two.

Gus admired Megan’s style and resented it at the same time. She wasn’t exactly haughty with him; she always spoke pleasantly whenever they ran into each other in the lobby or the laundry. But so far she hadn’t shown any noticeable inclination to extend the acquaintance. He’d initiated a couple of conversations and had gotten in as much bragging as he could in the time she allowed him. But she always looked as if she really would rather be somewhere else.

She might be thinking I want to go to bed with her, Gus thought gloomily, vaguely aware that he was probably flattering himself. Gus knew he was not attractive physically; he had to count on people’s recognizing what he thought of as his sterling character if he was to make friends. (Which didn’t happen as often as he would have liked.) When Gus was out with a girl, there was always that sexual climate that got in the way of merely being friends. A feeling of expectation on the girl’s part and a similar one of obligation on his, even though they both might prefer to skip the whole thing. Gus had made a few passes out of a sense of duty; a few had even been accepted in the same spirit. It was hard for men and women to be simply friends when they were both so conscious of their mating roles.

Gus just wanted to know Megan Phillips a little better; she looked like an interesting person. She moved with ease through the world of business and industry, a world Gus had only read about. That made her slightly exotic in Gus’s eyes; he couldn’t even begin to imagine himself in such an environment. Gus was curious about her.

Through the thin walls he could hear Megan come into the lobby and stop at the mailboxes. The last delivery had been at ten o’clock Saturday morning, yesterday—she hadn’t been home then either? Ha, that must have been some weekend.

With one ear he listened for Megan’s footsteps on the stair as he turned back to his book. A few minutes later he realized he hadn’t yet heard her go up.

He closed the book. She really had looked pretty rotten.

Gus opened his front door and looked up the six steps into the lobby; couldn’t see anything. He took the steps in three strides—and there she was. Sitting on the stairway to the next floor, head lowered, body drooping.

What’s the matter? Are you all right? he said in a rush, concerned.

She jumped. Oh, hello, ah, I didn’t see you.

Didn’t mean to startle you. Are you all right?

Yes, I’m all right. The thought of climbing those stairs just got to me for a moment. She stood up. But thanks for asking, ah.

She doesn’t remember my name, Gus thought. The building contained four apartments on each of its three floors plus the one in the basement, not enough to justify installing an elevator. If you don’t feel like walking up, how about walking down six steps? I’ll make you a cup of tea. He squinted his eyes at her. Or maybe a drink?

That made her smile. I’m not hung over, ah. But thanks anyway.

I wish she’d stop calling me ah. Tea, then?

Megan’s eyes slid to the left and read the name on the first mailbox. Thanks, Gus, I appreciate the offer. But what I want right now is a hot shower. Then I think I’ll just crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head.

A most un-Meganlike thing to say. That bad, huh? he asked sympathetically.

She hesitated; but she merely smiled again and reached out and lightly touched his shoulder. Then she turned and went up the stairs. She’d rejected his offer of help, but she’d done it so nicely he didn’t mind being turned down.

Most of the people Gus knew wouldn’t have bothered being nice at all.

The corporate headquarters of Glickman Pharmaceuticals occupied the top four floors of the Sprague Building in downtown Pittsburgh. Eleven Glickman laboratories were dotted across the country; the Pittsburgh laboratory wasn’t in metropolitan Pittsburgh at all but in an outlying district called Bethel Park, south of town. The distribution of all Glickman products was controlled from corporate headquarters, from the office of Megan Phillips.

Megan was the distribution manager, but on her rare dark days she thought of herself as a drug dispatcher. She didn’t have a secretary. What she had was a computer terminal. Most of her correspondence was in-company business that the computer’s mailbox system handled. If she ever needed to dictate a letter or a memo, she called for someone from the secretarial pool. But the computer did most of the work.

Monday morning Megan sat staring at the display screen without seeing it. She was having trouble getting started. She’d even come in early, counting on work to act as an antidote to her blank weekend. Megan was still frightened by what had happened to her and unsure of what to do about it. She knew she had to do something. You don’t lose thirty-eight hours of your life and just shrug it off.

Megan liked to think of herself as reasonably self-sufficient, but she was realistic enough to recognize her own limitations. She was not one of those people who needed to talk about everything that happened to them, but Monday morning Megan felt the unfamiliar urge to talk to somebody and do it right then. But there wasn’t one person at Glickman she cared to go to with her strange story.

At thirty-two, Megan Phillips was the wrong age to be working at Glickman. All the other women employees fell naturally into two groups. Older women made up one group, women in their late forties and fifties. Women who’d been at Glickman for years, some of them all their adult lives, working their way up through yearly increments and small promotions. They were occasionally sharp-tongued, often opinionated, but not unfriendly: they would welcome Megan pleasantly whenever she joined one or more of them for lunch. But there was no sense of connectedness; Megan tried to attune herself to their rhythms but never quite managed to bring it off. Their talk was always the same: shop, family, television. Whenever Megan tried to talk about something else, they’d nod and smile vaguely at her and change the subject.

The other group was made up of what Megan had come to think of as the girl graduates. Fresh out of college, incredibly naïve, still thinking life was one big long rap session. Nice girls, most of them, but still schoolgirls. Rather lazy. Most of the girls were in the advertising department, and Megan had been attracted by their talk of books and music. But when she learned their awareness of music was limited to that week’s pop favorite and their literary perceptions went no farther than I liked it or I didn’t like it, she lost interest. The girls enjoyed making verbal lists of things, especially of books they planned on reading—all of Thomas Hardy, the rest of Jane Austen. But the paperbacks in their purses were written by John Jakes and Victoria Holt. Megan was closer in age to the girl graduates than to the older ladies, but she felt even less connection with the younger group.

So what it came down to was that Megan Phillips had no woman friend at Glickman. She missed having a woman friend at work. Not that her job allowed all that much time for palling around—lunch, coffee breaks. But still, a little companionship would have been welcome.

The men—well, they were just men. On the make, jockeying for position, obsessed with their status within the company and concerned only secondarily with the welfare of the company itself. Showing off for each other by loading their speech with sexual innuendo: doin’ the macho strut. No chance for companionship there. In fact, most men approached Megan either professionally or sexually; they simply didn’t know how to be just plain friends with women.

Her reverie was interrupted, rudely. A computer printout slapped down on her desk and a voice said, I’ve changed this shipment. I’ve told you a dozen times one large truck is easier to guard than two small ones.

A wave of nausea passed through Megan. It had actually come to that: all she had to do was hear Bogert’s voice and she got sick to her stomach. She looked up at the big man lounging arrogantly against her desk. Waiting to make sure the dumb broad understood what he was saying.

She picked up the printout. It’s a shipment of polio vaccine, Bogert. Who’s going to hijack polio vaccine?

I’m in charge of security, not you. I checked with Bethel Park. There’s a big truck available you could have used. I ordered the switch.

Speak calmly. I have asked you numerous times not to interfere with my shipping arrangements without checking with me first.

"I have the authority to override any arrangement you make if I think the shipment’s not secure. And I’ve told you that a dozen times too. Something wrong with your memory?"

Your authority is not the point. The point is that sometimes there are other factors you don’t know about—

"Don’t bullshit me, lady. You blew it again, and I corrected your mistake. ‘Largest vehicle available in lieu of two or more small ones for the same shipment,’

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  • (4/5)
    Not quite what I expected. This mystery does not revolve around murder, but instead around corporate shenanigans. As always Barbara Paul's writing is breezy and enjoyable.