Stephen King’s Holiday Newsletter

Written last year, but re-blogging because I can!

Oh, and happy holidays, everyone!


 

Dear Constant Reader family,

I hope that you are doing well, and that your year has been happy and productive.  I know mine certainly has!

SK give me what I won

So proud of my boy here, he has a new book coming out in May of 2016…he is on fire!

Joe Hill 2

And Molly is quite well, too.  Although the evil grows stronger, day by day…

Molly 1

But enough about my blood family members.  I love them to death (ha!) but let’s talk about my “other” family…

Yes, my “other” family…

I consider my characters to be my babies, so that makes them family, right?

Sutter and Martin

And if killing off your main characters is a sign of love, well then, I love them to death as well!

So, where to start?  Since so much is happening with these guys, it’s a little hard to keep track, but here goes nothing…

Let’s talk about my childe, Roland.  With Roland, it begins and ends with him chasing an unknown male in dark clothing across an arid region.  Gotta love Roland, although he can be a bit repetitive at times…

Roland 24

And then there are Roland’s friends

Roland and tet 1

In fact, I have trouble keeping track of them, it seems like he has a different group of friends each time…

Ka_tet_by_Cordania

Speaking of friends, those kids who live in Derry!

Losers club 1

Poor Pennywise, always getting tripped up by those meddling kids!

balloon2

But when I get tired of Derry, I take vacations to other scenic towns…

Salem's lot 2

Well, actually ‘Salem’s Lot wasn’t much fun…seemed kind of dead, actually!  Personally, I prefer visiting Castle Rock, the shopping there is fantastic!

Needful things 2

But I don’t get out nearly as often as I would like…I seem to be prone to car trouble!

Christine 3

Although the Plymouth Fury is a bit more reliable than, say, a Buick.  In fact, I think that Buick is trying to trick me into thinking it is a actually a car, for all the good that it’s done me…

From_a_Buick_8_by_nosprings

Now, I love to travel, but some family members certainly have me beat in that department

morgan sloat

Jack gets around, or so I hear.  I don’t envy him though, especially when it comes to the houses he has to visit!

black house 1

Although he does encounter some interesting folks along the way, I suppose.

wolf and jack

Really interesting…

sunlight_gardener_by_nekomell-d5hncx8

Sometimes my children take it one step further and do some really crazy things…

Like traveling back in time, for instance.  I hear November in 1963 is really nice, for instance, especially in the Dallas, TX area.

Jake Epping 1

Every now and then I need to take a break.  So I just stay in a remote hotel, because sometimes I need to get away from it all.  Although I would advise against drinking anything suggested by the management at the hotel (and if Lloyd or Delbert offers to help you, my suggestion would be to run).  I hear the red rum is a house specialty, though, so try it if you dare.

the-overlook-hotel

All in all, most of the family is doing quite well, health-wise at least.  Well, except for Brady…I can never wake him up!

And then there is the matter of Annie

She is a bit spoiled, always thinking she comes first.  I don’t want to hobble her growth in any way, but I did have to take away the sharp objects from her, especially the axes. Cockadoodie children, I tell ya…what can you do but love them, right, Mr. Man?

Annie Wilkes 1

I take care of my health too, so I can be in good shape to watch out for my family. I see my doctor on a regular basis (he is a little bald doctor, actually).  I watch out for speeding vans now, when I am out walking.  I avoid eating too much pie, especially if it’s a strawberry pie given to me by the white man from town.  Most importantly, I get my flu shot every year!  M- O- O- N, that spells good health, I’m told.

Captain Trips 2

So, Constant Reader, I enjoyed this recap of my year, and I hope that yours has been a bloody good one as well.  It is time for me to make my final Christmas preparations, I hear the bazaar will be closing soon, so I hope I don’t miss any good sales!  I wish you a Happy Holidays, and may you get a bunch of my books good books under the Christmas tree!

Christmasland 1

My life for you,

The Wordslinger

RoaldDahl

P.S.,

Little disclaimer:  This letter was not actually written by The Master.  It just comes from the imagination of one crazy nerd with too much time on her hands.  But you knew that!

P.P.S.,

Happy Holidays both  all of my readers.  Thanks for stopping by, and you guys are awesome, every single one of you.  Peace out, and I hope your year has been a bloody good one!

SK christmas 1

 

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The Final Concert: My Review of End of Watch

So, the month of June is upon us.

And we all know what that means…

Yes, it’s my birthday month.  Yes, I really will be 38 years old (ugh.)  And yes, I accept donations of any kind.  I prefer cash, but checks are ok too…haha!

But, that’s not actually why this month is special (even if my birthday is pretty special…duh.)

No, the month of June is special because of Stephen King.

Stephen King

(Don’t forget, it is this blog, after all.  The Master trumps everything, even the birthday month of yours truly.)

And it’s not because of the book The Dark Half, which could be construed to be a book written about Thad Beaumont, the ultimate Gemini…but I digress.

dark half 5

June is special, or has been special the past couple of years, because The Master has been releasing his Mercedes trilogy books the first week of June.

The fact that he releases these books right before my birthday (back to that again, yes) is a nice courtesy, don’t you think?

And June of 2016 is extra special, because we have the release of End of Watch, the third and final (maybe) book of this series.

So finally, we find out what will happen to good old Bill Hodges, along with his friends Jerome and Holly.

Finally, Hodges gets to square off one more time against his nemesis, Brady.  And quite possibly put this obsession to bed, one way or another.

So, without further ado, here is my recap and review of End of Watch.

As always:

Homer spoiler


Synopsis

The book begins with a flashback to the Mercedes Massacre, which had occurred in 2009.  The flashback is told from the perspective of Rob and Jason, two paramedics who are called to the scene after a then unknown killer uses a stolen Mercedes as a weapon to kill and injure several people at a job fair.  One of the victims is Martine Stover, who is unconscious when Rob and Jason arrive at the scene.  Rob and Jason manage to save Martine from death, but it appears that Martine’s injuries have made her a quadriplegic.  Rob and Jason are saddened by the deaths and injuries, and hope that the perpetrator faces justice.

The book then flashes forward to January 2016.  Bill Hodges is awaiting an appointment with his doctor, when he receives a call from his soon to be retired former partner, Pete Huntley.  Huntley tells Hodges about his final case, which looks to be a murder-suicide.  One of the victims is Martine Stover, who was rendered a quadriplegic after the Mercedes Massacare.  Huntley tells Hodges that Martine appears to have been murdered by her mother, and that her mother then committed suicide.

Hodges picks up Holly Gibney, the woman who is his partner in the private investigation firm that he started after his retirement.  He then meets with Huntley and his partner, Izzy, at the crime scene.  It is confirmed that Martine’s mother used oxycontin and vodka to kill her daughter and herself.  Hodges thinks there is nothing special about the case, but Huntley believes otherwise.

Huntley tells of another murder-suicide that occurred the previous year.  Keith Frias and Krista Countryman were also victims of the Mercedes Massacre.  The two had met in a therapy group, and had planned to get married.  However, they committed suicide by overdosing on pills one day, and died in each other’s arms.  Holly notices a mysterious letter Z in the bathtub where Martine died.  Hodges and Holly are reminded of Brady Hartsfield, the man responsible for the Mercedes Massacre.  Hartsfield was stopped by Holly and Hodges, but not before he was able to manipulate several people into committing suicide.  One of these victims was Olivia Trelawney, Holly’s cousin and the owner of the Mercedes used in the murders.  Hartsfield was able to steal the vehicle and use it to murder several people, and was also able to manipulate Olivia into committing suicide.

On the drive back to the office, Holly voices her suspicions to Hodges.  She tells him that she investigated the upstairs room to the house, and discovered a computer.  The computer contained no indication that either Martine or her mother had ever researched suicide.  Holly also finds a Zappit, which is an electronic device used for playing games.  She and Hodges both feel that this is odd, as neither woman was an expert on gadgets.  Holly says that she will be tracking down Nancy Alderson, the housekeeper employed by Martine Stover and her mother, in the hopes that the housekeeper can shed some light on the mystery.

Hodges is able to speak to Nancy Alderson, the housekeeper for Martine and her mother.  Nancy is extremely surprised by the deaths of Martine and her mother, telling Hodges that Martine had accepted her condition, and that she also got along well with her mother.  Nancy also sheds light on the mystery of the Zappit, telling Hodges that the gadget was a gift for filling out a questionnaire.  It is also revealed that a mysterious man in a parka had been seen around the house, and that he would look into the windows of the house.

Holly and Hodges have lunch that day.  Hodges points out that the Zappit is actually an outdated piece of technology, and that Martine may have fallen victim to a scam.  Hodges also checks out the house across the street from Martine Stover, and discovers the casings to a pair of binoculars, indicating that someone may have been watching Martine and her mother.  Hodges also finds a letter Z carved into the wall of the garage.  Someone driving down the street in a Chevrolet Malibu is also spying on Hodges, but Hodges is distracted by a terrible pain in his knee and his stomach, and is reminded of his doctor’s appointment that he has rescheduled for the next day.

That night, Hodges speaks to Holly and schedules a meeting with her and Huntley, before his doctor’s appointment.  Hodges’ health also appears to worsen, as he vomits blood later that night.  Hodges becomes extremely worried about his future.

Meanwhile, something strange occurs at the hospital where Brady Hartsfield is a patient.  Brady is thought to be comatose, but speaks to Nurse Valdez, badly startling her.

Earlier that day, a nurse named Ruth Scapelli had paid a visit to Brady Hartsfield.  Nurse Scapelli had expressed her disdain for Brady by twisting his nipples, as she believed that Brady had given her an obscene gesture earlier.  Nurse Scapelli is paid a visit that night by Dr. Barbineau, Brady’s doctor.  Barbineau tells Nurse Scapelli that he knows of her earlier actions, and that she will face consequences for them.  After Dr. Barbineau leaves, Nurse Scapelli receives a visit from what appears to be Brady Hartsfield.  Brady appears to flicker in and out of existence, but starts to convince Nurse Scapelli that she is worthless, and that no one will help her now that she caught breaking the rules.

Later that night, Hodges is unable to sleep, so he gets up and turns on his computer.  He discovers he has a message on program called Debbie’s Blue Umbrella, which is the program that he had used to talk to Brady Hartsfield.  The message is from someone named Z-Boy, and simply states;  He’s not done with you yet.

Hodges and Holly meet with Huntley and Izzy the next morning.  The meeting does not go well, as Izzy is upset that Holly took the Zappit from the scene, possibly compromising evidence.  Huntley and Izzy also feel that the investigation should be closed as a murder suicide.  This upsets Holly, but Hodges comforts her, telling her that they are done with the case yet, as he hurries to his doctor appointment.

At his doctor appointment, Hodges receives some terrible news:  he has been diagnosed with late stage pancreatic cancer, and learns that he may only live for another year.  His doctor urges him to see a specialist right away, but Hodges declines, saying that he needs to think things through first.

The body of Ruth Scapelli is discovered later that day.  Nurse Scapelli’s daughter had contacted the police earlier, after receiving a strange email from her mother.  The cause appears to be suicide, but there is a letter Z written in blood on the floor.

We also learn that Brady Hartsfield has been given experimental drugs by Dr. Babineau, in the hopes that Brady will regain consciousness at some point.  Dr. Babineau does not have much hope for his patient, and eventually stops giving him the medication, as it appears that Brady is still in a vegetative state.

However, Brady has regained some form of consciousness, and is aware of the actions of the doctors and nurses in his hospital room.  Brady has also gained some form of telekinesis, as he is able to move objects without touching them.

One day, Brady discovers another PSI ability:  he has the ability to switch consciences with other people.  In other words, he can momentarily take over the minds of other people, in certain instances.  Brady realizes that he needs to practice using his new abilities, and alerts the doctors and nurses that his head hurts, along with asking for his mother.

After Hodges discovers the message on his computer, he returns to work and hides his cancer diagnosis from Holly.  Hodges and Holly discuss Brady Hartsfield.  Hodges believes that Brady is not actually unconscious, and may have somehow convinced a nurse to commit suicide.  Hodges decides that he will pay another visit to Brady, and Holly urges him to be careful, as she believes that Brady may now be gifted with PSI abilities.

While Hodges riding the bus to the hospital where Brady is a patient, he is preoccupied with thoughts of his health, and does not notice the Chevrolet Malibu, or the old man in a parka who appears to be watching him.

Holly suspects that Hodges is not telling the truth about his health, and sneaks a peek at his computer files while he is gone.  She finds out that he has terminal cancer, and becomes very upset.

Hodges also receives a call from his former partner Huntley, who informs him that the Zappit may have a virus on it, as it is not functional, and there is no way that Martine Stover or her mother could have used it.  Huntley also tells Hodges to stop badgering him and his partner Izzy, as his input is no longer wanted.

While Hodges is on his way to the hospital, his neighbor, 16 year old Barbara Robinson (sister of Jerome) has made her way into a dangerous part of town.  Barbara is African American, but feels she has very little understanding of her culture, due to her family’s relative wealth and success.  Barbara is also in possession of a Zappit device.  The apparition of a young man appears in a store window, and convinces Barbara to commit suicide.  Barbara steps in front of a bus, ready to do just that.

Back at the hospital, Dr. Babineau, who is actually under the control of Brady, informs Brady that Hodges has figured out what he is doing.  Brady becomes furious, but is still trying to convince Barbara Robinson to commit suicide, as she is associated with Hodges.

Barbara’s attempt at suicide is interrupted by the arrival of a young man who takes her Zappit.  Barbara becomes furious and tries to get the gadget back from him.  Barbara grabs her device back, and runs right into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

Brady orders Dr. Babineau to keep Hodges out of his room, as he is flushed and does not actually appear comatose.  Dr. Babineau agrees to do what he can.

In the meantime, Tanya Robinson, Barbara’s mother, receives a call from the police, letting her know that something has happened to her daughter.

When Hodges arrives at the hospital, he is refused visitation of Brady, by Dr. Babineau.  Hodges brides an intern to take a message to Nurse Norma Wilmer, who has helped him the past.

Jerome Robinson, who is in Arizona volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, receives a call from Holly, who tearfully informs him of Hodges’ cancer diagnosis.  Jerome also receives a call from his mother, who tells him that something has happened to his sister Barbara.

Hodges meets with Nurse Wilmer, and agrees to meet her for a drink.  Hodges then receives a call from Tanya Robinson, and rushes back to the hospital.

At the hospital, Hodges finds that Barbara has a broken leg, but is not otherwise severely injured.  She also tells Bill that the young man pushed her out of the way of the oncoming vehicle, preventing a much worse injury, maybe even saving her life.  Hodges makes contact with the police station where the young man is being held, so that he may question him about the incident.

Hodges receives a call from Holly, who is upset and confesses to her snooping regarding his health.  Holly picks up Hodges, and together they head to the police station to talk to the young man who may have saved Barbara Robinson’s life.

Holly and Hodges learn the name of the young man who was responsible for saving Barbara’s life:  Dereece Neville.  Dereece is also a star athlete and a good student, and will likely go to college on a scholarship.  The police have told him that he is free to leave, but he has elected to stay at the police station until he finds out that Barbara is all right.

When Hodges speaks to Dereece, he confirms that Barbara was carrying a Zappit device.  Dereece though that Barbara was under the influence of some substance, but tells Hodges that Barbara appeared to return to her normal self once the Zappit device was taken away from her.

Later on, Hodges meets Nurse Wilmer for a drink.  The nurse agrees to see if she can find Brady’s so-called visitor list for Hodges, and tells Hodges that she thinks that Dr. Babineau may be experimenting on Brady.  She also confesses that she and some of the other nurses believe that Brady can move objects with his mind.

Holly visits Barbara at the hospital.  Barbara confesses to Holly that she has been feeling depressed, as she has experienced harassment at school and other places due to the fact that she is African American.  She also tells Holly that a strange man gave her the Zappit for filling out a questionnaire.  Barbara tells Holly that she has heard of the voice of a young, who convinced her to commit suicide.  Barbara also tells Holly that one of her friends may also have a Zappit, which could be dangerous.

At the hospital, Brady switches consciousness with one of the orderlies, named Brooks.  It appears that Brady is using Brooks’ body to hand out Zappits and spy on Hodges.

We also learn how Brady used the Zappit device to control the body and mind of others.  Once Brady discovered his ability to take over the minds of certain other people, he also discovered a game on the Zappit that had an hypnotic effect on certain people.  Brady was able to use this device to take over the body of Brooks and Dr. Babineau, along with other people.

Brady takes over the body of Brooks, and shows up on the doorstep of Dr. Babineau.  He attacks the doctor’s wife, and takes over Babineau’s body, which is younger and stronger than Brooks’ body.

Hodges visits Dinah Scott, one of Barbara’s friends, who also owns a Zappit device.  Hodges learns that Dinah obtained the device as a consolation prize for a missed concert.  The concert was cancelled due to Brady Hartsfield attempting to set off a bomb.  Brady was stopped by Holly, Jerome and Hodges.  Hodges takes the device from Dinah, so that he can possibly use it to track down more clues.  Hodges brings up the fishing game (the game that is being used by Brady to hypnotize people) and confirms that it does indeed have a hypnotic effect.

We also learn that Brady has bribed a woman named Freddi, one of his former coworkers, to accept questionable packages at a condo that has been set up for this purpose.  Freddi begins to suspect that Dr. Babineau is actually her former coworker.  Brady has Freddi execute a computer program that he needs for his future plans.  When he determines that the computer program works, Brady attacks Freddi so that she will remain quiet.

That night, Hodges receives a call from Holly.  Sunrise Solutions, the company that was giving away the Zappit, was not actually a sponsor of the cancelled concert.  Holly also advises to see Barbara, as Barbara is still suffering the effects of Brady’s invasion of her mind.  Hodges also receives a call from Huntley, telling him that Nurse Scapelli, Brady’s nurse who committed suicide the day before, also owned a Zappit.  Huntley also tells Hodges that Martine Stover’s mother had purchased a computer for her daughter, which is not the act of someone planning to commit a murder-suicide.

In the meantime, Brady has completely abandoned his own body and taken oven Dr. Babineau’s mind.  He heads back to Dr. Babineau’s house and speaks to Brooks, telling Brooks that he murdered Babineau’s wife.  Brooks is upset, but Brady tells him that he was hypnotized and unable to help himself.

Freddi regains consciousness.  It turns out that she is not dead, as her pack of cigarettes protected her from Brady’s bullet.  Freddi is hesitant to call 911, she is involved in some illegal activities.  She wants to leave town, but is afraid that Brady will track her down.

Early the next morning, Hodges receives a call from Huntley informing him that Brady has died.  The cause appears to be a suicide, via an overdose of prescription medication.  However, both Hodges and Holly are skeptical that this is the last of Brady Hartsfield.

Hodges places a call to the bankruptcy trustee who had represented Sunrise Solutions.  The attorney tells Bill that he received a call from someone calling himself Myron Zakim, who had bought several Zappit units when the companies assets were liquidated.  Hodges also speaks to Nurse Wilmer, who is skeptical that Brady committed suicide, and tells Hodges that besides himself, the only other person to ever visit Brady was an unrelated woman.

Holly returns to the office with Jerome, and she and Hodges bring Jerome up to speed on what has been going on.  Holly conducts some research, and finds out that there has been some concern over the fishing game on the Zappit, which seems to have a hypnotic effect on some people.

Hodges then receives a call from Huntley, informing him of the murder of Dr. Babineau’s wife.  Huntley also tells Hodges that Brooks has confessed to the murder, and appears to be under the influence of someone or something.  Huntley confirms that the pills found in Brady’s mouth were not ones that he was prescribed, and that there are questions as to how he was able to obtain them.

While inspecting the Zappit, Jerome falls under a trance, and tells Holly and Hodges that he is viewing his own funeral, which is beautiful.

We learn that Brady is using his newfound abilities, along with the program created by Freddi, in order to induce mass suicide.  He tries to invade the mind of a young woman named Ellen, but she is unsuccessful in her suicide attempt, which frustrates Brady.

Holly is able to bring Jerome out of his trance state.  Hodges deduces that Brady is behind it somehow, and that he distributed the devices to the young girls who attended the concert as a form of revenge.  Holly also discovers that there is a new program on the devices that has just become active, and it appears to be a program that encourages people to commit suicide.  Hodges then attempts to trace the source of the program, so that it can be destroyed.

Brady reminisces about how he came to control Dr. Babineau, by blackmailing him (after he had taken over Brooks’ consciousness) in regards to the experimental drugs that were being given to Brady.  Brady uses Dr. Babineau’s body, along with his money, to carry out his plan to induce mass suicide.

Freddi attempts to crash Brady’s mass suicide program but is unsuccessful.  Brady figures out that she is still alive, and becomes furious.

Hodges, Holly and Jerome connect Freddi to Brady, as they spoke to her when they were previously investigating the Mercedes Massacre.  They track Freddi to her apartment, where she is packing her bags, in an attempt to leave town. Jerome discovers the device that is sending the signals to the Zappit devices that Brady purchased, and destroys the device.  Freddi also tells Hodges and his friends that Brady is not dead, and they learn the story of how Freddi came to be involved with Brady and his plan.

In the meantime, a young gay man commits suicide in front of his father, while he is under the influence of Brady Hartsfield.

Holly begs Hodges to shut down the suicide website that has now infected several Zappit devices.  Hodges places some phone calls to the police department, and finds out that Huntley has officially retired from his duties as a police officer.  Hodges is only able to speak to Izzy, who reluctantly agrees to help.  Hodges deduces that Dr. Babineau/Brady may have headed to Dr. Babineau’s vacation home, and makes plans to head there too.

An overweight young woman commits suicide by overdosing on pills, while she is under the influence of Brady.

Hodges and Holly head to Babineau’s cabin, leaving Jerome behind, as they do not want him to be involved in what could potentially be a messy situation.  Hodges and Holly learn of three more suicides that Brady likely had a hand in.

Holly and Hodges arrive on the property and are almost immediately accosted by Brady.  Brady forces Hodges to play the fishing game on the Zappit, telling him that if he scores a certain number of points, he will allow Holly to live.  As Hodges plays the game, he feels Brady invading his mind.

Hodges fights Brady, hitting his face with a ceramic pen holder.  Brady then fires his gun, and shoots Hodges in the shoulder.  Holly regains consciousness, and begins shooting at Brady with her gun.  However, she is unable to get a clear shot, and Brady gets away from her.

However, Brady is not able to run far, as Jerome comes to the resuce in a Sno-Cat.  He tells Holly and Hodges that Barbara told him to come help them, as she thought Brady would kill them.  Jerome runs over Brady with the vehicle, but that does not kill him.  Brady begs for mercy, and Jerome shoots him.  Hodges receives a text message from his daughter wishing him a happy birthday, and passes out.

A few days later, Hodges, Holly, Huntley, Barbara and Jerome celebrate Hodges birthday at the hospital.  Huntley tells of several more suicides and suicide attempts that have occurred due to Brady’s program, but thinks that the situation will be under control soon.  Hodges has begun his cancer treatments, although the prognosis is not good.  However, his friends still have hope for him.

Eight months later, Hodges loses his battle with cancer.  A funeral is held.  Hodges’ company was left to Holly, who hires Huntley so that the detective work can continue.  Jerome and Holly decide to attend a movie, and leave an empty seat between them, so that they may remember their friend.


My Thoughts

Oh, so much to say, and so few words to say it in, unless I want the word count to be sky high in this post…the struggle is real, yo!

In the past, I have thought of the books in the Mercedes trilogy as Bachman books.

As we all know, Bachman faked his death from cancer of the pseudonym, and really works as a guy who drives a funny looking motorcycle and helps out Jax and his friends on the Sons of Anarchy level of the Tower.  Oh, and he likes to take macabre souvenirs…

Cleaner 3

And I still think of these books as Bachman books, make no mistake about it.

However, End of Watch had much more of a Stephen King flavor, if you will.

For one thing, there was the supernatural element.

Typically, most of Bachman’s work does not contain anything supernatural. Books like Rage, Roadwork, The Long Walk and so forth are about human fuckery, as opposed to haunted hotels, sewer dwelling clowns, evil shop owners and the long list of other supernatural pests that haunt the King universe.  Human fuckery does play a part in most if not all of King’s work, but there is usually a supernatural backdrop.  Not so in the Bachman universe, as most of his stories can be considered “real world” stories.

Long Walk 1

End of Watch still had a “Bachman flavor.”  In other words, we had the real world:  a murderer at large, who posed a threat to a lot of people.

However, enter the supernatural.  The murderer (Brady) now possesses supernatural powers, which make him even harder to stop.  And no, this is not King taking the easy way out, and writing what he knows.  The fact that Brady acquired PSI abilities made the story that much more interesting, and provided that much more suspense, as Hodges and everyone else needed to figure out what was going on in order to put a stop to Brady.

In other words, we have King doing what he does best:  writing a damn good story that we don’t want to put down, until we finish it.

For the record, I should stop being surprised by Sai King.  He may write about the supernatural or the fantastic, but he constantly weaves “real world” issues into his stories, even if they are horror stories.  In The Drawing of the Three, we get a discussion on mental illness, along with racism.  In Insomnia, we discuss aging and how our society treats it (not kindly, for the most part.)  In Misery, we glimpse how fiction can have a huge impact on the reader, and the writer as well.  A novel like The Gunslinger could be considered a good metaphor for addiction.  I could go on.  And on…

Roland 2

End of Watch is no different.  I was pleasantly surprised at the glimpse I got into Barbara Robinson’s life.  Barbara may have looked like she had everything under control, and had everything a person (or a teenage girl, at any rate.)  But appearances are deceiving, and Barbara is no different.  I understand the pain of not having a peer group quite well, as I don’t find too many other nerds I can relate to (although the internet is wonderful.)  Now, this is not the same a Barbara’s pain, as she is the only African American in her school.  But my heart broke for her when she described how she was treated when she went out on a date with a white boy, and I understood the feeling of disconnect quite well.  Often, we don’t really know what a person may be going through at any one moment, and that someone can appear outwardly happy, but that person is really experiencing a great deal of pain inside.  And this is probably the case more often than not.

King’s description of Barbara Robinson and her inner battles was probably not “necessary” to the story, but it sure did add a great deal of depth to the story.  And that is why King is The Master.

Stephen King 1

And we have the character of Holly, who has turned out to be one of King’s most fascinating characters, in this little old blogger’s humble opinion.

With Holly, King has created a strong female character.  And one who we can relate too, as Holly is not perfect.  I would guess that Holly is somewhere on the autism spectrum, given her quirks.  Holly has also suffered her share mental health issues, as she candidly talks about her suicide attempts.

I love how Holly, over the three books, has broken free from her prison.  In Mr. Mercedes, she is almost a minor character, at least at first.  However, she becomes a major player in the chase for Brady, and saves the day at the end, by hitting him on the end.  This allows Holly to stand up to her non-supportive family, and start living life on her terms.

In Finders Keepers, Holly continues to be an integral part of Hodge’s team and life.  She uses her smarts and computer skills to help track down the bad guys, and also keeps Hodges at least somewhat grounded, as she looks after him, in almost the same way that spouse would.

FK 3

And in End of Watch, Holly continues to shine.  She talks to Barbara after her suicide attempt, and is the only able to get Barbara to open up (this really was one of the most beautiful moments in the book.)  She fights Brady again.  And she will be responsible for the continuation of Hodges’ legacy, as she the business has been left in her (more than) capable hands after his death.

Will Holly continue to be a presence in the Stephen King universe?  Hopefully, us Constant Readers will be so lucky as to catch another glimpse of her.  But only time will tell.

Then, there is the ending, along with the build-up to said ending.

So let’s talk about that.

Now, when I first heard the title of the final novel in the Mercedes trilogy (which I had to look up the meaning of…gotta love Google!), I cautioned myself not to take anything too literally.

“End of watch” is police-speak for the death of an officer, but this is Stephen King.  He is always full of surprises, right?  The title could mean anything, so don’t read too much into it, right?

Well, sometimes we need to take things literally.  The title to the final book in this trilogy is meant to be taken literally: it is the end of watch for our beloved Bill Hodges.

I was somewhat reminded of this season of Arrow, in fact.  At the beginning of the season, Damian Darhk tells Lance that he will kill his daughter if Lance does not comply.

arrow

And the show teased a funeral of a major character, from the first episode of the season.

But I told myself not to take things too literally.  After all, anything could happen, right?

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Well, it turned out that Darhk’s threat could in fact be taken at face value.  Laurel Lance, aka the Black Canary, was killed, and Damian Darhk was in fact responsible for her death.  In other words, he carried through on his threat.

black canary 1

And Stephen King also carried through on his threat, with the death of Hodges.  Seriously, the man likes to kill off main characters.  Maybe the tears of his readers provide seasoning for his food?  Well, I guess that’s one way of making sure that chicken turns out right…kill off a major character, and use the tears from your readers as seasoning.  Works every time!

Sutter and Martin

The second I found out that Hodges had pancreatic cancer (and you know you had to read up until that point to find out what was the matter with him, because, like Holly, you didn’t buy the whole ulcer theory), it felt like I found out that a friend or family member had terminal cancer.

Because that is what Stephen King characters do:  they become friends, or maybe even family.  And finding out that your friend or family member has terminal cancer is hard.  In fact, my heart felt heavy the day I finished reading that part of the book.  And I thought to myself that maybe the title can be taken literally, even though I still held on to a thin thread of hope that somehow Hodges would conquer his cancer.

killing characters SK

Finding out that Hodges had cancer also made the story that much more tense and suspenseful.  I knew that Hodges was ill, but I still wanted him to have the satisfaction of defeating Brady.  Ka is a wheel, as some other King character stated.  It started out with Brady, and it ended with Brady.  And if anyone deserved some closure, it would be Hodges.

I also feared that Hodges would die in his attempt to take down Brady.  And that ending would not have worked for, as that would have meant that Brady would have still won, even if Brady himself died.

But my man did not let me down.  Even while in the grip of terminal cancer, Hodges (and his friends) still managed to kick some major ass.  So Hodges won, and Brady lost.

The last chapter in the book made my eyes just a little bit leaky (seriously, what is wrong with my plumbing these days?)

I had hope that Hodges could beat cancer as well, but deep down, I knew that hope was futile.  But still, there was that tiny glimmer.

So I was saddened at the end, although not too surprised.  Hodges passed on to the clearing at the end of the path.

Holly and Jerome did something beautiful to remember their friend, by placing a popcorn box in an empty seat at the movie theater.

In other words, they saved him a seat.  And that’s what you always do for your friends, as they will always be there, right by your side.  In life and death.

empty theater seat 1


So this concludes The Mercedes trilogy.  To paraphrase a certain famous King character, ka is a wheel that comes back to where it started.  And that was the case for William Kermit Hodges.  He came back to where he started.  And he ended it in grand fashion.  A true gunslinger, right to the end.

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RIP, Hodges.  You will live in my memory forever.

That’s the great thing about Stephen King characters.  Somewhere out there, there is a Constant Reader discovering his characters for the first time.  And since they are always being discovered, they can never die.

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Join me next week as I review and dissect the underrated gem otherwise known as The Dark Half.

Tune in next week…same bat time, same bat channel!

batman and robin


Connections

Just for fun, here are some of the connections to King’s other work that I found in End of Watch:

-Brady’s hospital room is room 217.  Room 217 is a room that has significance in the novel The Shining.

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-Brady awakens from his coma with PSI abilities.  This is similar to what happens to Johnny Smith in the book The Dead Zone.

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-There is a character named Brooks in the novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, which is a part of the collection Different Seasons.

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-Brady’s abilities are similar to the abilities of several other characters, including Carrie White, from the novel Carrie.

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-A pink Zappit device is mentioned.  In the short story UR (part of the collection The Bazaar of Bad Dreams), there is a pink Kindle device that is able to access stories and books from alternate realities, along with newspaper articles from the future.

bazaar of bad dreams 1

-The song Don’t Fear the Reaper, by Blue Oyster Cult, is mentioned.  This song is also mentioned in the book The Stand.

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Stephen King’s Holiday Newsletter

Dear Constant Reader family,

I hope that you are doing well, and that your year has been happy and productive.  I know mine certainly has!

SK give me what I won

So proud of my boy here, he has a new book coming out in May of 2016…he is on fire!

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And Molly is quite well, too.  Although the evil grows stronger, day by day…

Molly 1

But enough about my blood family members.  I love them to death (ha!) but let’s talk about my “other” family…

Yes, my “other” family…

I consider my characters to be my babies, so that makes them family, right?

Sutter and Martin

And if killing off your main characters is a sign of love, well then, I love them to death as well!

So, where to start?  Since so much is happening with these guys, it’s a little hard to keep track, but here goes nothing…

Let’s talk about my childe, Roland.  With Roland, it begins and ends with him chasing an unknown male in dark clothing across an arid region.  Gotta love Roland, although he can be a bit repetitive at times…

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And then there are Roland’s friends

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In fact, I have trouble keeping track of them, it seems like he has a different group of friends each time…

Ka_tet_by_Cordania

Speaking of friends, those kids who live in Derry!

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Poor Pennywise, always getting tripped up by those meddling kids!

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But when I get tired of Derry, I take vacations to other scenic towns…

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Well, actually ‘Salem’s Lot wasn’t much fun…seemed kind of dead, actually!  Personally, I prefer visiting Castle Rock, the shopping there is fantastic!

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But I don’t get out nearly as often as I would like…I seem to be prone to car trouble!

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Although the Plymouth Fury is a bit more reliable than, say, a Buick.  In fact, I think that Buick is trying to trick me into thinking it is a actually a car, for all the good that it’s done me…

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Now, I love to travel, but some family members certainly have me beat in that department

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Jack gets around, or so I hear.  I don’t envy him though, especially when it comes to the houses he has to visit!

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Although he does encounter some interesting folks along the way, I suppose.

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Really interesting…

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Sometimes my children take it one step further and do some really crazy things…

Like traveling back in time, for instance.  I hear November in 1963 is really nice, for instance, especially in the Dallas, TX area.

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Every now and then I need to take a break.  So I just stay in a remote hotel, because sometimes I need to get away from it all.  Although I would advise against drinking anything suggested by the management at the hotel (and if Lloyd or Delbert offers to help you, my suggestion would be to run).  I hear the red rum is a house specialty, though, so try it if you dare.

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All in all, most of the family is doing quite well, health-wise at least.  Well, except for Brady…I can never wake him up!

And then there is the matter of Annie

She is a bit spoiled, always thinking she comes first.  I don’t want to hobble her growth in any way, but I did have to take away the sharp objects from her, especially the axes. Cockadoodie children, I tell ya…what can you do but love them, right, Mr. Man?

Annie Wilkes 1

I take care of my health too, so I can be in good shape to watch out for my family. I see my doctor on a regular basis (he is a little bald doctor, actually).  I watch out for speeding vans now, when I am out walking.  I avoid eating too much pie, especially if it’s a strawberry pie given to me by the white man from town.  Most importantly, I get my flu shot every year!  M- O- O- N, that spells good health, I’m told.

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So, Constant Reader, I enjoyed this recap of my year, and I hope that yours has been a bloody good one as well.  It is time for me to make my final Christmas preparations, I hear the bazaar will be closing soon, so I hope I don’t miss any good sales!  I wish you a Happy Holidays, and may you get a bunch of my books good books under the Christmas tree!

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My life for you,

The Wordslinger

RoaldDahl

P.S.,

Little disclaimer:  This letter was not actually written by The Master.  It just comes from the imagination of one crazy nerd with too much time on her hands.  But you knew that!

P.P.S.,

Happy Holidays both  all of my readers.  Thanks for stopping by, and you guys are awesome, every single one of you.  Peace out, and I hope your year has been a bloody good one!

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Kisses in the Dark: My Review of the Bad Little Kid

SK short story

As a child, I was a victim of bullying.  I was tormented pretty often.  I must say, I think there are some kids that are just born bad…

But luckily, I was able to escape my small town and the bullying, and I have become the happy, health well-adjusted adult who spends way too much time blogging about Stephen King.

Stephen King 1

Although that is probably why I was lucky…I am not a character in a Stephen King novel, so I was able to escape my tormentors!

King has written extensively about childhood and bullying.  Works such as It, Sometimes They Come Back, Low Men in Yellow Coats and Dreamcatcher all deal with characters who are bullies, and characters who must fight off the bullies, as their survival literally depends on it.

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Well, King has added another story to his canon on childhood and bullies: Bad Little Kid, which is one of the stories in King’s latest collection, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams.  And this story is proof, that yes, childhood is hell, and that some people literally do not ever escape their demons.

childhood is hell


 

Synopsis

Bad Little Kid begins with a man named Leonard Bradley, who is visiting someone who is in prison.  That person is a man named George Hallas, who has been jailed for some unnamed crime and will soon be executed for the unnamed crime.  Bradley is actually Hallas’ attorney, and is fighting so that Hallas’ life may be spared.  We then learn that Hallas is on death row for killing a child, but that Bradley has some major questions as to why this crime was committed.  Hallas then proceeds to tell Bradley the events that led him to commit the most awful crime of all:  the murder of a child.

Hallas grew up without a mother, who died shortly after his birth.  Hallas was raised by his father and housekeeper, Nona McCarthy.  The family moved several times during his childhood.  One of the towns that the family lived in was Talbot, Alabama, where Hallas befriends a mentally handicapped young girl named Marlee Jacobs.

Marlee and Hallas would walk to school together every day.  One day, Marlee was upset because she could not find her lunchbox.  Hallas comforts her, and Marlee temporarily forgets about her lunchbox.

However, when the children are walking home from school, they hear someone tormenting them.  Hallas sees a young boy who is short and chubby with red hair, and who also wears a beanie on his head with a plastic propeller.  Hallas does not recognize him from either his neighborhood or his school.  The boy torments Hallas and Marlee, who try to ignore him and head home.  However, the little boy has Marlee’s lunchbox, and continues to torment her.

The little boy throws the lunchbox out into the street, and tells Hallas that it is his fault.  Marlee runs out into the street and is hit by a car driven by one of the teachers who works for the school that she attends with Hallas.  The accident proves fatal for Marlee, who dies almost immediately.

Bradley listens to the story, but is skeptical that there even was a little kid, and thinks that Hallas may have imagined his tormentor.  Hallas says that he spent the next several years dreaming about that kid, but passes it off as a childhood tragedy.

Hallas attends college, where he majors in drama.  He finds some success, and also begins dating a young woman named Vicky.  Vicky is high-strung and ambitious, and also has a tendency to abuse prescription drugs.

Vicky and Hallas both try out for roles in a production of The Music Man.  Hallas gets a lead role, but Vicky becomes nervous and her audition is a disaster.  Hallas tries to comfort Vicky, and they walk down the sidewalk.  Hallas then hears someone tormenting him, and it is the same little kid he saw as a child.  The little kid has not aged a day.  Hallas starts to chase him, but Vicky stops him and tells him that the boy is not worth it.

Hallas then drops Vicky off at her apartment.  This is the last time he sees Vicky alive, as Vicky commits suicide by hanging herself.  Hallas finds out from Vicky’s distraught roommate Carla that Vicky believed that he put the little kid up to tormenting her.  Hallas assures Carla that the little kid was indeed real, and that Carla is not at fault for Vicky’s suicide.

Carla and Hallas later marry, and Hallas turns to accounting for a career, rather than the theater.  We also learn the little continues to torment Hallas’ loved ones, including his former housekeeper, Nonie.  Hallas’ father had died in a mining accident, and the little boy tries to convince Nonie that the boots she had given Hallas’ father were responsible for the accident.  Nonie also passes away from a heart attack, and Hallas believes the little boy to be responsible,  After Nonie’s funeral, Hallas receives a package in the mail that contains the little boy’s hat.  He then burns the hat, believing it to be cursed.

Carla becomes pregnant, and she and Hallas begin attending church on Sundays again.  One Sunday, Hallas sees his tormentor on the church steps.  A firecracker is thrown in Carla’s direction, and she falls down the steps, suffering a miscarriage and losing the baby.

Hallas’ marriage suffers after the loss of their child, and he throws himself into volunteering at his church.  He pays special attention to young boys who need a mentor.  He is able to raise funds for a boy named Ronnie to have the surgery needed to correct his vision.  Hallas then uses Ronnie as bait to trap the little boy who has been tormenting him.

He is successful in trapping the little boy, and chases him out into the street.  Hallas then shoots the little in the back, as revenge for the all deaths he has caused.  He almost believes that he has killed an ordinary child, but sees a dark presence in the little boy’s eyes before he passes away.  Hallas is arrested immediately, and found guilty of murdering.  He also receives the death penalty.

Bradley lets Hallas finish his story, but he is still skeptical.  He asks Hallas why the creature picked him, but Hallas cannot answer that question.  Hallas also points out that no one has been able to identify the little boy, and no family members ever claimed the body.  Bradley promises Hallas that he will attend his execution.

Six days later, Hallas is executed.  Bradley is attendance, along with Hallas’ priest.  Before his death, Hallas warns Bradley that evil will disguise itself as a child.

Bradley leaves the prison after Hallas is executed.  He sees movement from the corner of his eye.  He also notices that his car has been vandalized.  Bradley opens his car door, and finds a beanie with a propeller on top of it.  There is a note stating:  Keep it, I have another one.  The note also states that Bradley is next.  In the distance, Bradley hears a child’s laughter.


 

My Thoughts

So.  Wow.

Uncle Stevie is known for his creepy stories, and Bad Little Kid did not disappoint in that department.  Uncle Stevie is also good at taking what should be innocent, and corrupting it.  Again, this story did not disappoint in that department, either.

Take the title character for instance…

First, my mind went here:

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Yeah, if Opie Taylor went bad, and somehow all the lessons from his dad didn’t stick…

Maybe this creature is some evil Twinner to Opie Taylor, then…

But of course, my mind went here too:

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Ah, yes.  Danny Bonaduce.  And I don’t think this is a case of an evil Twinner.  Mr. Bonaduce is capable of being bad all on his own, thank you!  Now I will never look at a partridge in a pear tree the same way again!

So yes, this was one seriously creepy story.  Some people literally can never escape their demons.  Hallas is one of those people.  His demon followed him everywhere and he was only able to get away from it by dying.  The demon takes away everything that matters to Hallas:  his childhood friend. his first love, his family, his marriage and eventually his life.  The only way that Hallas was able to escape the creature that was tormenting him was through death.  And no reason was ever give why Hallas was chosen, he just was.  Often, the lottery of life will throw you some bad stuff, and there is nothing you can do but take what is dealt to you, and hope that you can somehow survive it.

And the ending to this one…oh boy..

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King has some endings that are bleak (Revival and Pet Sematary immediately come to mind), and Bad Little Kid was no different.

Nobody really won at the end of the story.  Hallas died at the hands of the state.  Most of Hallas’ family and friends were dead.  And then there was Bradley.

I would say the Bradley was the biggest loser at the end.  Not only did his client die, Bradley inherited the sin of client.  Of course, evil does not die.  It will continue to live on, even if in a different form.  So now Bradley is condemned to live with the evil, and the question is not will the evil win, but when it will win.  For it will win, as the scales are tipped in its favor for eternity.

 

Kisses in the Dark: My Review of Summer Thunder

SK short story

For some reason, I just love books, short stories, movies, television show, you name it, that make me cry.  And the uglier the cry, the better.  And don’t ask me why this is the case, although my monthly Netflix subscription fee that allowed me to binge-watch Sons of Anarchy over several weeks could be argued (well, actually it is) to be much cheaper than a therapist’s hourly bill.

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And along with Kurt Sutter, Stephen King has been one of my therapists over the years.  He is probably the doc I have spent the most time with…

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Divorce got you down?  Uncle Stevie to the rescue!  Job sucks?  Uncle Stevie has the best cure for that!  You just need to shut out the world for a bit and ignore all other living beings?  You guessed, Stephen King has a cure for that!

And his short story, Summer Thunder, part of the collection The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, provides exactly the kind of cathartic release I needed (I didn’t know I needed it actually, but who am I to question The Master):  it is short and sweet, but still packs a power punch.  In other words, the ugly cry you have been looking for is right here in this story.

 


Synopsis

Summer Thunder centers around a man named Robinson, who is a survivor in a post-nuclear war.  Robinson has lost his wife and only child to the nuclear disaster, and has only a stray dog named Gandalf for company.  Robinson rescued Gandalf sometime after the great disaster, and caring for another living creature has given him something to live for, even though he knows that he will eventually die from radiation sickness, like the rest of the population.

Periodically, Robinson and his dog visit a man named Howard Timlin, the only man who chose to stay in lakeside cottage that he lives in.  The rest of inhabitants fled for Canada, and are presumably dead or will die soon from radiation sickness.  Robinson notices that animals in the surrounding woods are dying off, likely victims of the radiation.

On Robinson’s visits to Timlin, Timlin would pull at Gandalf’s fur, and marvel that the dog did not seem to be affected by radiation sickness.  Robinson and Timlin also talk about a motorcycle that is still in Timlin’s possession, that he was supposed to give up the next summer, on his 50th birthday.

Finally, on one of his visits, Timlin notices that Gandalf is beginning to lose his fur.  Robinson denies that his dog is ill, although he has to carry Gandalf back to his house.  However, Gandalf’s symptoms worsen, and it is clear that he is a victim of radiation sickness.

Robinson drives into the nearby town of Bennington to pick up a battery for his motorcycle.  Robinson then visits his neighbor Timlin, who has become very ill with radiation sickness.  He tells Robinson that he plans to end his own life so that he does not have to experience the pain of radiation sickness, and gives Robinson a hypodermic needle so that he may end Gandalf’s life humanely.  Robinson also realizes that he himself is beginning to suffer from radiation sickness.

After Robinson returns home, he struggles with the decision to euthanize Gandalf, but follows through in the end, so that his friend will not suffer.  Robinson hears a gunshot in the distance, and knows that Timlin has ended his life as well.  When he awakens the next day, Robinson notices more symptoms of radiation poisoning on himself.

The next day turns out to be a beautiful one.  Robinson gears up his motorcycle for his final ride and remembers better times before the nuclear holocaust.  Robinson shakes his fist at the sky, in a moment of final exultation, and travels to a sign marked Dead Man’s curve at a deadly speed.  He is able to just hit fifth gear on his bike before he perishes.


 

My Thoughts

Whew…

Three days later and this story is still stuck with me.  And that is a sign of some good writing right there!

This story really got to me, so let me try to talk about why it did.

First of all, the subject matter.

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I am not a child of the 1950’s like my parents.  My parents (and probably King, as well) grew up in the shadow of the Cold War.  My parents recall the drills, and the propaganda films that they were subjected too as children.  I, myself, grew up at the tail end of that era, and was a mere child when the United States boycotted the Olympics.

So, as you can imagine, I heard a lot about nuclear war as a child.  It was the subject of more than a few popular movies, and it seemed that almost every YA book I read as a kid dealt with the subject in some manner (Judy Blume in particular stands out, and there was also the book Z for Zachariah, which frightened me more than anything Stephen King ever wrote).

As you can imagine, I had (and still have) a horrified fascination with the subject.  In fact, when reading about the symptoms of radiation poisoning in this story, my stomach did a little flip-flop (gee, thanks, Uncle Stevie) and I felt compelled to make sure that I didn’t have any funny rashes on my person…and here I was thinking that only Web MD, and not The Master, was responsible for hypochondria!

And yes, Gandalf

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No, not that Gandalf.  I am talking about the dog in the story…

Yeah…

Remember that ugly cry that I didn’t know I needed?  Well, the story of Gandalf life with Robinson, and his death gave me that, and then some.

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I really had hope, at the beginning at any rate, that Gandalf would make it.  But then his fur fell out.  And the tears fell out of my eyes.

And Robinson having to do that final act of compassion for his friend…don’t even get me started.  I had to do a final act of compassion on my friend, Igloo, earlier this year.  Like Robinson, I knew it was right thing.  I knew it was the best thing.  And I was glad that she was no longer suffering, as Gandalf was suffering.

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But it hurt.  Did it ever hurt.  I knew that it would, don’t get me wrong.  But you can know something in an academic sense.  That does not prepare you for the actual experience.  Like Robinson, I was unprepared.  And like, Robinson, I felt my life was being ripped from me, and that I was truly alone now.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Sons of Anarchy.

Yes, Sons of Anarchy.  It is a well known secret that Kurt Sutter and Stephen King are fans of one another, and it shows in this story.  I loved it.

Some would say to go out with a bang.  Pull out all the stops.  And all that.  Robinson certainly did pull out all the stops, just like my hero, Jax Teller.  I can’t say that I blamed him…after all, like Jax, what did he have to lose?

Sometimes, the finale can be a bit sad.  But it can also be glorious.  It can be beautiful, as there is often beauty in pain.  And if it absolutely must end, then it should end gloriously, so that we forget the pain of it ending, at least momentarily.

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Kisses in the Dark: My Review of the Little Green God of Agony

SK short story

As I have stated before, I like to be scared.  I like to be creeped out.  I like to read a story that makes me shudder, close the book for a minute and then still open it back up, because I JUST HAVE to find out what happens next…will the monster be bested somehow, or will it feed?

And what better way to be scared…than…you guessed it…read a Stephen King book (hey, it’s this blog, don’t act surprised)?

Stephen King

Stephen King is scary.  Water is wet and the sun sets in the west.  So duh, in other words.  Stephen King is a great writer, creates great characters and is able to hook his Constant Reader to his tale.  And one of the ways he hooks someone into a story is by scaring them into a change of pants (or is that just me?)

And more than a few of the stories in King’s latest collection, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, are exactly that:  scary.  Frightening.  May make one leave the lights on at night.  Disturbing and terrifying, even.

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In other words, just what the (creepy) doc ordered.

The short story The Little Green God of Agony would be part of that creepy doctor’s prescription.  It may be a quick read, but it is definitely packed with lots of vitamin F (vitamin Fear, for the uninitiated).  And there is nothing like a good dose of vitamin F to get you up and going in the morning (although this guy yapping in your face will also do the trick, but I digress).

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I know, how frightening!


 

Synopsis

The Little Green God of Agony tells of a woman named Katherine McDonald, who is an in-home nurse for a man named Newsome.  About two years ago, Newsome was involved in an accident that injured him horribly, leaving him in a massive amount of pain.  Katherine cares for Newsome and attempts to involve him physical therapy that she believes will help him recover and manage his pain.  However, Newsome is not cooperative in these efforts, which leads Katherine to think that he is weak.  Newsome is also very rich and compensating his staff very well (including Katherine), so Katherine stays silent on the subject, and also stays silent when Newsome tries alternative forms of therapy, which Katherine believes to be fake therapies.

Newsome has invited a preacher named Reverend Rideout to help him deal with his pain, in his latest attempt to cope with his injuries.  Rideout tells Newsome that he is actually possessed by a demon, and that is what is actually causing him the pain.  Katherine believes that this is another charlatan, but Newsome offers the reverend $10 million to cure his of his injuries.  The reverend refuses the $10 million and tells Newsome that he will take $750,000 so that he may rebuild his church, which was destroyed by a fire.  Rideout then tells Newsome that he will perform an expulsion of sorts, right then and there.

The reverend begins the ritual, and tells Newsome to describe his pain.  Newsome begins to do so, telling Katherine, Rideout and his other staff that his pain is a green ball of agony.  Katherine interrupts the ritual, and tells Newsome that he is weak and that the reverend is a charlatan.  Newsome tries to tells Katherine that she is fired, but Rideout intervenes, telling Katherine that she had become jaded, and therefore no longer able to recognize which patients are faking their pain, and which are not (with Newsome falling into the latter category).

Rideout then proceeds with the ritual, giving Katherine a can of pepper spray to fend the “demon” off with.  He also tells Newsome’s cook, Tonya, to grab a broom she that she may use it as a weapon.

The reverend cajoles the demon to leave the body of Newsome.  A bulge appears in Newsome’s throat, and the electricity powers off.  A window shatters, and the electricity powers back on.  A creature that resembles a tennis ball with green spikes for legs emerges from the body of Newsome.  Katherine swipes at the creature with a broom, and misses.  The creature then attempts to possess the body of Melissa, Newsome’s housekeeper.  However, Katherine hits Melissa in the face with a broom, and the creature leaves Melissa’s body.  Katherine and the rest of Newsome’s staff believe that they have defeated the creature.

Newsome tells Katherine that he feels better, but it appears that the reverend has died in the struggle.  The electricity then powers off again, and Katherine feels something crawl onto the back of her hand.


 

My Thoughts

So, yeah…

Um, shudder?  Or ick?  Maybe shudder ick (to coin a new term)?

In other words, this was one creepy ass story…let me count the ways!

And, in the style of Stephen King, it was creepy in more ways than one…

First of all, chronic pain.  I know that’s not a supernatural horror, but it is a “human” horror.  King writes very well about the horrors of the everyday world.  Pain is one of those horrors.  And it is one that I understand.  I am sure that King understands it much better than I do, given the horrific accident he suffered on June 19th, 1999.

19 1

So I could understand where Newsome was coming from, to a point.  Living with pain is not fun, and it can really feel like a non stop horror movie.  And it will make a person desperate, willing to try almost anything to get relief from it.

But I could also understand how Katherine felt.  Caring for someone who suffers from chronic pain is not an easy task (my husband would testify to this, I am sure).  Chronic pain often affects more than one person, and is indeed an every day horror.

But of course, this is Stephen King.  So let’s talk about the supernatural horror already…after all, this is Stephen King!

First of all, the description of the demon, or whatever it was…

green kooshball 1

So, thanks to Stephen King, I will never look at green koosh balls in the same way again.  Thanks, Uncle Stevie, and maybe I should thank Obama for good measure, while I am at it!

Yep, first it was St. Bernards and clowns…now we can add green kooshballs to the list!

Cujo

The build-up before the demon revealed itself was also terrifying.  King’s description of it being flushed out of Newsome and looking like a a goiter (ew much?) was just…nasty.  I can think of no other word for it.  The reverend cajoling the creature out of Newsome also created some terrifying imagery, making me think of movies like The Exorcist, although we were (thankfully) spared of green vomit coming out of people.

The ending of this story was unsettling as well.

First of all, the “good” guy, Reverend Rideout, lost his life in the fight.  I do believe that he was one of the good guys, because of his refusal to accept an excessive amount of money from Newsome, and the fact that he did give his life in the fight.  So that part was a downer.

And the ending!  The creature, whatever it was, was not defeated.  And it went on to claim its next victim in Katherine, who, ironically, was skeptical of the ritual to flush it out, and also skeptical of Newsome’s complaints.  However, I did not consider Katherine to be “bad”.  Her skepticism was understandable, and so was her impatience with her employer.  So seeing her (ostensibly) become the next victim was disturbing.  It was just further proof that monsters do not care who their victims are, only that they victims are there for the taking.

The ending reminds us that often, the monsters live.  And they continue to commit evil deeds.  And sometimes, the only thing standing between someone, and whether or not that person is victimized by the evil, is simply pure, dumb luck.