All my life, I have been a loner. A Loser, some might say.
Making friends has never been my strong suit. Although I do have one good one now. And she knows who she is, and how much I love her. And how proud I am to call her my friend.
But throughout much of my life, its just been me, myself and I. I like being alone, but sometimes it gets a little old.
So what do I did I do (and still do)?
What any sensible person does? Grab a good book…duh! A good book is a cure for almost anything, including the flu, being dumped by your ass hat ex and yes…loneliness!
I was able to lose myself in the adventures in these books (everything from Anne McAffrey to David Eddings to Madeleine L’Engle to almost any other category that you could think of). Another trip to Pern? Sure, sign me up stat!
But perhaps the biggest part of these books were the characters. I identified so much with these characters. My spirit Losers, much of the time. And how I wished I could have a cup of coffee with some of these guys, and just chew the fat with them for a few hours.
And some of my most memorable book friendships (not to be confused with my book boyfriends, thank you very much) came from stories by Stephen King.
Believe it or not, the man known for rabid dogs, killer clowns that live in the sewers and shit weasels has also created some memorable friendships. Really, is there anything he can’t write about?
Stephen King is just great at creating memorable characters. And he can also portray relationships very well. This combination makes for some great friendships between his characters. Sometimes these relationships end in tragedy and sometimes at least one party makes some kind of noble sacrifice for the good of the other. Or sometimes what was once a beautiful relationship turns toxic. However, these relationships are rich and woven seamlessly into the tapestry we call a Stephen King book. In other words, they are never dull.
With that being said, here are my top 10 friendships in all of Stephen King’s books.
10) Charles Jacobs and Jamie Morton (Revival)
Some friendships withstand the test of time and just endear. Normally, this is a good thing…
However, what is good in our world is not always good in a Stephen King novel. In other words, there are some friendships that just should not be, and this includes the one between Charles Jacobs and Jamie Morton in Revival.
Sure, the relationship between the two main characters in Revival starts off innocuously enough. A young preacher with a beautiful family, who just happens to have an unusual hobby (electrifying, you might say). And a five year old boy who is impressionable, and eager to please. And he also gets caught up in the preacher’s new hobby and becomes an eager assistant to his new friend…kind of sweet, actually.
Well, the friendship between young Jamie Morton and Charles Jacobson does start off as sweet and even a little touching. But like most things in the King universe, all good things must come to an end. And the relationship between Charles and Jamie does seem to come to an end, when a tragedy strikes. Charles flees town, but Jamie is never quite able to forget the dynamic preacher.
A chance meeting years later re-kindles the friendship between the two. At first, it seems that this is a good thing, as Charles is able to help Jamie kick his heroin habit. However, the friendship soon becomes dangerous, as Charles persuades Jamie to assist him him in one final experiment that should not have taken place. The results are tragic, and the consequences for Jamie, Charles and several other people are simply horrible. Throughout the book, Jamie refers to Charles as his fifth business, and feels that he owes the man a favor. However, the relationship between Jamie and Charles is proof that some debts are best left unpaid.
9) Dolores Claiborne and Vera Donovan (Dolores Claiborne)
Vera Donovan reminds her friends Dolores Claiborne (in the book of the same name) that sometimes an accident is a woman’s best friend (especially when it comes to husbands who abuse their daughters in unspeakable ways).
While it is true that the accident that befalls Joe St. George winds up being a very good friend to poor Dolores, Vera Donovan ends up being the best friend that Dolores ever had. Vera is able to offer some sage advice to her employee that helps save the well being of her employee’s family. However, more importantly, Vera provides a listening ear for Dolores and acts as a sounding board of sorts, allowing Dolores to vent in relative safety. Dolores is poor and lives in a hard world. The treatment she endures from her husband and society in general is a constant reminder of how hard the world is for a woman like Dolores. Vera’s situation is not as difficult (due to her wealth), but is still actually not much better than Dolores’ situation (it is implied that Vera may have been great friends with an accident that befell her husband). However, Vera suffers from extreme loneliness, and that loneliness is only abated by the presence of her housekeeper (and later full-time caregiver). Each woman provides what the other is unable to provide for herself, and is a complement to the other.
The relationship between Dolores and Vera can almost be considered symbiotic, as there is mutual benefit enjoyed by each party.
8) Jack Sawyer and Henry Leyden (Black House)
Like I said before, making friends has never been a strength of mine. I was an awkward kid. Now I’m an awkward adult. And not cute awkward either. More like what the fuck is wrong with you kind of awkward…
So my social calendar is still almost as empty as it was during my childhood, except for a few special people. And finding those special people is just even more awesome, since making friends becomes harder as you age (one of the few benefits of government sponsored babysitting er school is that you do get to be around your peer group. Adulthood is not so cut and dry).
Jack Sawyer is a King character that seems to have the same problem: he has trouble connecting with people, and is therefore very isolated. However, his friendship with his blind neighbor Henry Leyden helps to bring him out of that isolation. Jack begins to realize, through his conversations with Henry, that he is part of a higher purpose, and that he cannot continue to ignore his calling. Jack also realizes that he must open up in regards to his childhood experiences in The Territories, because his knowledge may save someone’s (or several someone’s, for that matter) life.
Henry and Jack’s friendship is another example of a King relationship that ends in tragedy. The fact that Henry passes away shortly after Jack finally makes the decision to remove some his walls just makes this particular friendship even more bittersweet.
7) Roland and Sheemie (The Dark Tower series)
One of the reasons why I love King’s work is his portrayal of the disenfranchised (i.e. the underdogs). The disenfranchised (or underdogs) often play major roles in King’s work. Oftentimes, these characters are among King’s most memorable, and they are portrayed in a loving (as opposed to pitiful) light, causing the reader to emphasize with the character, as opposed to pitying the character.
Sheemie Ruiz is one of these underdogs. Sheemie is a mildly mentally handicapped young man who is first encountered by Roland Deschain and his friends during a fateful few months spent in the town of Meijis. Roland and his friends stand up for Sheemie when he is wronged, and a friendship is born. Sheemie soon becomes part of the ka-tet, and an integral member, to boot. Sheemie’s contribution to Roland’s quest is a large one, and the gunslinger is never able to forget the young man he met during those fateful months in Meijis.
The friendship between Roland and Sheemie is another example of a bittersweet relationship. Even though the two are reunited many years later (and Sheemie once again becomes a contributor to Roland’s quest), Sheemie also becomes yet another casualty in Roland’s quest.
6) Danny Torrance and Dick Halloran (The Shining, Dr. Sleep)
Some of the best friendships are ones that span a wide gulf, whether that gulf be age, social class or any number of other factors. After all, variety is the spice of life!
Danny Torrance and Dick Halloran are a perfect example of this type of friendship. On the outside, the two could not be more different: when they first meet, Dick and Danny are nearly 50 years apart in age. Danny is the only child of two loving parents, and Dick is a confirmed life-long bachelor. However, there is more that meets the eye for both Dick and Danny, as both possess PSI abilities that Dick refers to “the shining.” In other words, both possess paranormal talents that render them outsiders, especially Danny. However, Danny is able to receive some comfort from Dick, as he begins to realize that he is no longer alone. And Dick is able come through for Danny in a way that most of the adults in Danny’s life (especially his father) are unable to do, when Danny uses his abilities to call on Dick to rescue him and his family from a haunted hotel that wishes to use Danny as a sort of human generator.
Although the two fall out of touch, Dick is still able to come through for Danny yet again when needed, this time when Danny is forced to become an adult and help another psychically gifted child who has become endangered. However, there is an added twist: Dick is able to reach out from beyond the grave and offer his assistance. The fact that Dick is able to assist Danny from beyond the grave makes this friendship even more endearing and powerful.
5) Wolf and Jack Sawyer (The Talisman)
Move over, Seth Rogen and James Franco. You guys may be seen as the quintessential bromance, but someone has you beat on that front!
Yes, Wolf and Jack Sawyer are actually the quintessential bromance (at least in this blogger’s humble opinion that worth at least 2 pesos, dammit). And werewolves and 12 year old boys nicknamed Traveling Jack make much better couples, anyway.
In all seriousness, Wolf and Jack are another example of a friendship that spans a great divide. And the great divide is literal, since Wolf and Jack are actually from different worlds. And not of the same species, as Wolf is a werewolf. However, that does not matter to either Wolf or Jack, as they draw together in Jack’s quest to save his mother from dying of cancer (and save her Territories Twinner in the process). Wolf becomes Jack’s guide in a world he does not understand, and Jack returns that favor to Wolf when the two are forced to continue their question in Jack’s world. This friendship is truly complementary, as Wolf and Jack are able to provide each other with what the other needs.
And Wolf and Jack also fight together, to the very end. This is yet another example of one of King’s tragic friendships, as Wolf sacrifices his life doing what he does best: protecting the herd.
4) Nick Andros and Tom Cullen (The Stand)
Again, the underdogs and disenfranchised. I cannot emphasize enough that these guys are some of King’s most well rounded and well written characters. And Tom Cullen and Nick Andros definitely fall into the underdog category. And both also fall into the well rounded and well written category.
Nick Andros is a deaf mute, while Tom Cullen is a mildly mentally handicapped man. Both are survivors of Captain Trips, aka the super flu that has killed off 99.999% of the population. Nick communicates through writing, and Tom cannot read. But somehow, these two manage to save each other, both from actual physical dangers and from loneliness. Even though they cannot communicate at first (due to their handicaps), a deep lasting bond develops between the two. The two men are able to eventually communicate when they meet Ralph Brenter, and all three become integral members of the Boulder Free Zone. However, this friendship ends in tragedy when Nick is killed by a bomb placed in house that he is in while meeting with other members of the Free Zone. Tom never forgets his friend, and thinks of him fondly.
This is another relationship that extends beyond the grave, as Nick’s ghost helps Tom save Stu Redman from certain death after the defeat of Randall Flagg.
3) Jake and Oy (The Dark Tower series)
Ah, a boy and his dog…does it get any sweeter than that?
Well, actually, make that a boy and his bumbler. But its still the same in principle.
Animals are often major players in King’s works. Cujo, Kojak and even the unfortunate cat Church all played major roles in the lives of the human beings around them. Oftentimes, King’s animals are better people than the people in his stories, and Oy is no exception to that rule.
Oy and Jake are another pair who manage to save each other. Oy was an outcast from his pack and rescued by Jake, and joins Roland and the tet in their quest to save the Dark Tower. Oy repays that favor in spades when he helps Roland save Jake from Gasher, a psychotic pedophile who seeks to rob Jake of his innocence. This is just one of many times when Oy proves his worth as a four-legged gunslinger. Oy is also the final piece of the puzzle for Jake, in that it is Oy who finally helps Jake feel at home in Mid-World, after his violent exit from his own world. Oy becomes the glue that holds Jake to the quest, and to his new home in a strange place.
Truer words could not be said by a billy bumbler (or anyone else), in expressing his feelings after what is one of the saddest deaths in any piece of literature I have ever read.
2) Duddits, Pete, Henry, Beaver and Jonesy (Dreamcatcher)
Childhood and all the joys and traumas associated with it is a major theme in many King books, and these books are among some of his best works. Dreamcatcher is a novel that deals with childhood, especially the friendships that are formed between children.
Pete, Henry, Beaver and Jonesy are a foursome. They are the quintessential best friends, and are seemingly average children. However, when they stand up for child with Down syndrome (Douglas “Duddits” Cavell), that changes. Not only do the boys do something courageous and even noble, they make a new friend who will change their lives forever. Duddits is able to open the boys’ eyes, making them see the world in a new light. Duddits also gives the boys a gift of telepathy, as Duddits is no ordinary child. This gift (and Duddits’ powers) will come in handy in adulthood, when the boys (who are now men) must face another adversary, one that is far worse than the bully they confronted as children. Once again, Duddits brings the men together, and allows them to defeat the enemy before it has a chance to endanger our planet. The ending is bittersweet, as Duddits, Pete and Jonesy sacrifice their lives in the fight.
Oh, and shit weasels. Perhaps one of the most delight creatures in any Stephen King book (or any book, for that matter).
And now, I present to you my favorite Stephen King friendship of all time…
*drum roll please*
1) The Losers Club (It)
Well, what can I say, I’m not sure how else I can put it…
So I will just come out and say it.
Childhood is hell. Really, I can’t think of a better way to say it. And its so so true.
Matt Groening even wrote a book about it…
However, the rabbit-like creatures (or whatever the heck they are, jury is still out on that one) in Matt Groening’s work have nothing on Ben, Beverly, Bill, Richie, Eddie, Stan and Mike.
These guys really did have one hell of a childhood (see what I did there). And that’s not necessarily a good thing…
Well, shape-shifting clowns that live in the sewers cannot possibly ever be a good thing. And when the clown employs local bullies to do its dirty work, that is also not a good thing.
So what’s a kid living in scenic Derry, Maine to do?
Somehow survive the encounters with that evil clown, and find other survivors to help fight that motherfucker! And bonus points in giving that group of friends a cool name, aka The Losers Club!
It was the book that popped my Stephen King cherry, and unlike certain other “first times”, I enjoyed this cherry popping immensely. And my favorite part of It was the friendship between the kids. I identified with all of them in one way or another, as I was bullied, and the notion of a clown living in the sewers of my hometown wasn’t really THAT far-fetched.
I actually would have gladly fought alongside the Losers Club, risking my neck to defeat that bad, nasty old clown who had a horrible habit of killing the local kids (although he wasn’t picky, adults would do if times were lean). I often felt invisible as a child, and I saw so many parallels to Derry in my own small, hometown, as it seemed everyone overlooked the wrong, and chose not to see what was really going on right underneath their noses. I especially identified with Beverly Marsh, the lone female of the group (gingers of above average height, unite!) and longed for a love such as the one Ben had for Beverly.
At one point in the book, one of the characters states that the other members of The Losers Club were the best friends he/she ever had. And I agreed: the members of The Losers Club were the best (book) friends I ever had. And that is still true today.
So there it is: my top 10 friendships in Stephen King’s books. Well, some of these friendships may not exactly be healthy ones, but all of them are certainly memorable. And they are just one part of the amazing tapestry that we call a Stephen King book, adding layers of richness and color to an already elaborate, complex design.
So do you really want to be a friend to someone? Well, here’s an idea: introduce them to a Stephen King book, if he/she has never had the pleasure of experiencing one. And I will guarantee you that you will make a friend for life!