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He also told me about your last job. You were teaching English in a Vermont prep school. You lost your temper, I don't believe I need to be any more specific than that. But I do happen to believe that Grady's case has a bearing, and that is why I have brought the matter of your. During the winter of , after we had refurbished the Overlook but before our first season, I hired this. He moved into the quarters you and your wife and son will be sharing.
He had a wife and two daughters. I had reservations, the main ones being the harshness of the winter season and the fact that the Gradys would be cut off from the outside world for five to six months.
There are telephones here, and probably a citizen's band radio as well. And the Rocky Mountain National Park is within file: Watson will show you, along with a list of the correct frequencies to broadcast on if you need help.
The telephone lines between here and Sidewinder are still aboveground, and they go down almost every winter at some point or other and are apt to stay down for three weeks to a month and a half.
There is a snowmobile in the equipment shed also. Ullman looked pained. Would you think the place was cut off then? A snowmobile running at top speed could get you down to Sidewinder in an hour and a half.
A helicopter from the Parks Rescue Service could get up here in three hours. In a blizzard it would never even be able to lift off and you couldn't hope to run a snowmobile at top speed, even if you dared take a seriously injured person out into temperatures that might be twenty-five below-or forty-five below, if you added in the wind chill factor. Shockley seems to have done in your case. Solitude can be damaging in itself.
Better for the man to have his family with him. If there was trouble, I thought, the odds were very high that it would be something less urgent than a fractured skull or an accident with one of the power tools or some sort of convulsion. A serious case of the flu, pneumonia, a broken arm, even appendicitis. Any of those things would have left enough time. Do you know the term? The feeling of claustrophobia is externalized as dislike for the people you happen to be shut in with.
In extreme cases it can result in hallucinations and violence--murder has been done over such minor things as a burned meal or an argument about whose turn it is to do the dishes.
He decided to press a little further, but silently promised Wendy he would stay cool. Did he hurt them? Torrance, and then committed suicide. He murdered the little girls with a hatchet, his wife with a shotgun, and himself the same way. His leg was broken. Undoubtedly so drunk he fell downstairs.
He gets bored. When the snow comes, there's nothing to do but watch TV or play solitaire and cheat when he can't get all the aces out. Nothing to do but bitch at his wife and nag at the kids and drink. It gets hard to sleep because there's nothing to hear.
So he drinks himself to sleep and wakes up with a hangover. He gets edgy. And maybe the telephone goes out and the TV aerial blows down and there's nothing to do but think and cheat at solitaire and get edgier and edgier. I have a play to work on, as Al Shockley probably told you. Danny has his puzzles, his coloring books, and his crystal radio. I plan to teach him to read, and I also want to teach him to snowshoe.
Wendy would like to learn how, too. Oh yes, I think we can keep busy and out of each other's hair if the TV goes on the fritz. I did once, and it got to be serious. But I haven't had so much as a glass of beer in the last fourteen months. I don't intend to bring any alcohol up here, and I don't think there will be an opportunity to get arty after the snow flies.
I have told Mr. Shockley this, and he told me he would take the responsibility. Now I've told you, and apparently you are also willing to take the responsibility--" "I am.
I'll accept that, since I have little choice. But I would still rather have an unattached college boy taking a year off. Well, perhaps you'll do.
Now I'll turn you over to Mr. Watson, who will take you through the basement and around the grounds. Unless you have further questions? None at all. There is nothing personal in the things I have said to you. I only want what's best for the Overlook. It is a great hotel. I want it to stay that way. No hard feelings. There were hard feelings. All kinds of them. He was just sitting there, watching for their shopworn VW, his elbows planted on his thighs and his chin propped in his hands, a five-yearold kid waiting for his daddy.
Wendy suddenly felt bad, almost crying bad. She hung the dish towel over the bar by the sink and went downstairs, buttoning the top two buttons of her house dress.
Jack and his pride! Hey no, Al, I don't need an advance. I'm okay for a while. The hallway walls were gouged and marked with crayons, grease pencil, spray paint. The stairs were steep and splintery. The whole building smelled of sour age, and what sort of place was this for Danny after the small neat brick house in Stovington? The people living above them on the third floor weren't married, and while that didn't bother her, their constant, rancorous fighting did.
It scared her. The guy up there was Tom, and after the bars had closed and they had returned home, the fights would start in earnest--the rest of the week was just a prelim in comparison. The Friday Night Fights, Jack called them, but it wasn't funny. The woman--her name was Elaine--would at last be reduced to tears and to repeating over and over again: Please don't. Once they had even awakened Danny, and Danny slept like a corpse.
The next morning Jack caught Tom going out and had spoken to him on the sidewalk at some length. Tom started to bluster and Jack had said something else to him, too quietly for Wendy to hear, and Tom had only shaken his head sullenly and walked away.
That had been a week ago and for a few days things had been better, but since the weekend things had been working back to normal--excuse me, abnormal. It was bad for the boy. Her sense of grief washed over her again but she was on the walk now and she smothered it. Sweeping her dress under her and sitting down on the curb beside him, she said: Dad will fix it.
It's a long drive up into those mountains. Thanks, Danny. I needed that. She sighed. Nice people don't say it. Do you practice? And he's very careful not to say things like that in front of people who wouldn't understand. He flexed a little, as if to rise, but the beetle coming was much newer, and much brighter red.
He relaxed again. She wondered just how hard this move to Colorado had been on Danny. He was closemouthed about it, but it bothered her to see him spending so much time by himself. In Vermont three of Jack's fellow faculty members had had children about Danny's age--and there bad been the preschool--but in this neighborhood there was no one for him to play with.
Most of the apartments were occupied by students attending CU, and of the few married couples here on Arapahoe Street, only a tiny percentage had children. She had spotted perhaps a dozen of high school or junior high school age, three infants, and that was all.
She and Jack had discussed ways they might handle just such a question from Danny, ways that had varied from evasion to the plain truth with no varnish on it.
But Danny had never asked. Not until now, when she was feeling low and least prepared for such file: Yet he was looking at her, maybe reading the confusion on her face and forming his own ideas about that.
She thought that to children adult motives and actions must seem as bulking and ominous as dangerous animals seen in the shadows of a dark forest. They were jerked about like puppets, having only the vaguest notions why. The thought brought her dangerously close to tears again, and while she fought them off she leaned over, picked up the disabled glider, and turned it over in her hands.
Do you remember that? That means he wasn't as good as some of the others. George said your daddy cut him because he didn't like him and not because he wasn't good enough. Then George did a bad thing. I think you know about that. It was after school and your daddy caught him doing it.
Sometimes he doesn't think the way he should. That doesn't happen very often, but sometimes it does. Wendy blinked her eyes savagely hard, driving her tears all the way back. Your daddy hit George to make him stop cutting the tires and George hit his head. Then the men who are in charge of the school said that George couldn't go there anymore and your daddy couldn't teach there anymore.
Apparently the subject was closed. If only it could be closed that easily for her-She stood up. Want a couple of cookies and a glass of milk? The way she had felt yesterday or last night or this morning? They were all different, they crossed the spectrum from rosy pink to dead black. She said: That's about all. He was such a solemn little boy, and sometimes she wondered just how he was supposed to survive with her and Jack for parents. The high hopes they had begun with came down to this unpleasant apartment building in a city they didn't know.
The image of Danny in his cast rose up before her again. Somebody in the Divine Placement Service had made a mistake, one she sometimes feared could never be corrected and which only the most innocent bystander could pay for. She put on the teapot and laid a couple of Oreos on a plate for Danny in case he decided to come up while she was lying down.
Sitting at the table with her big pottery cup in front of her, she looked out the window at him, still sitting on the curb in his bluejeans and his over-sized dark green Stovington Prep sweatshirt, the glider now lying beside him.
The tears which had threatened all day now came in a cloudburst and she leaned into the fragrant, curling steam of the tea and wept. In grief and loss for the past, and terror of the future. He was a beefy man with fluffy popcorn hair, white shirt, and dark green chinos. He swung open a small square grating in the furnace's belly and he and Jack peered in together. Lost your temper. Danny, are you all right? The furnace filled the entire room, by far the biggest and oldest Jack had ever seen.
If the heat falls below a certain point, it sets off a buzzer in your quarters. Boiler's on the other side of the wall. I'll take you around. The iron radiated a stuporous heat at them, and for some reason Jack thought of a large, dozing cat. Watson jingled his keys and whistled. Lost your- When he went back into his study and saw Danny standing there, wearing nothing but his training pants and a grin, a slow, red cloud of rage had eclipsed Jack's reason.
It had seemed slow subjectively, inside his head, but it must have all happened in less than a minute. It only seemed slow the way some dreams seem slow.
The bad ones. Every door and drawer in his study seemed to have been ransacked in the time he had been gone. Closet, cupboards, the sliding bookcase. Every desk drawer yanked out to the stop. His manuscript, the threeact play he had been slowly developing from a novelette he had written seven years ago as an under-graduate, was scattered all over the floor.
He had been drinking a beer and doing the Act II corrections when Wendy said the phone was for him, and Danny had poured the can of beer all over the pages. Probably to see it foam. See it foam, see it foam, the words played over and over in his mind like a single sick chord on an out-of-tune piano, completing the circuit of his rage. He stepped deliberately toward his threeyear-old son, who was looking up at him with that pleased grin, his pleasure at the job of work so successfully and recently completed in Daddy's study; Danny began to say something and that was when he had grabbed Danny's hand and bent it to make him drop the typewriter eraser and the mechanical pencil he was clenching in it.
Danny had cried out a little. It was all hard to remember through the fog of anger, the sick single thump of that one Spike Jones chord. Wendy somewhere, asking what was wrong. Her voice faint, damped by the inner mist. This was between the two of them. He had whirled Danny around to spank him, his big adult fingers digging into the scant meat of the boy's forearm, meeting around it in a closed fist, and the snap of the breaking bone had not been loud, not loud but it had been very loud, HUGE, but not loud.
Just enough of a sound to slit through the red fog like an arrow-but instead of letting in sunlight, that sound let in the dark clouds of shame and remorse, the terror, the agonizing convulsion of the spirit. A clean sound with the past on one side of it and all the future on the other, a sound like a breaking pencil lead or a small piece of kindling when you brought it down over file: A moment of utter silence on the other side, in respect to the beginning future maybe, all the rest of his life.
Seeing Danny's face drain of color until it was like cheese, seeing his eyes, always large, grow larger still, and glassy, Jack sure the boy was going to faint dead away into the puddle of beer and papers; his own voice, weak and drunk, slurry, trying to take it all back, to find a way around that not too loud sound of bone cracking and into the past--is there a status quo in the house?
Danny's answering shriek, then Wendy's shocked gasp as she came around them and saw the peculiar angle Danny's forearm had to his elbow; no arm was meant to hang quite that way in a world of normal families.
Her own scream as she swept him into her arms, and a nonsense babble: Oh God Danny oh dear God oh sweet God your poor sweet arm; and Jack was standing there, stunned and stupid, trying to understand how a thing like this could have happened. He was standing there and his eyes met the eyes of his wife and he saw that Wendy hated him.
It did not occur to him what the hate might mean in practical terms; it was only later that he realized she might have left him that night, gone to a motel, gotten a divorce lawyer in the morning; or called the police. He saw only that his wife hated him and he felt staggered by it, all alone. He felt awful.
This was what oncoming death felt like. Then she fled for the telephone and dialed the hospital with their screaming boy wedged in the crook of her arm and Jack did not go after her, he only stood in the ruins of his office, smelling beer and thinking-- You lost your temper. He rubbed his hand harshly across his lips and followed Watson into the boiler room. It was humid in here, but it was more than the humidity that brought the sick and slimy sweat onto his brow and stomach and legs.
The remembering did that, it was a total thing that made that night two years ago seem like two hours ago. There was no lag. It brought the shame and revulsion back, the sense of having no worth at all, and that feeling always made him want to have a drink, and the wanting of a drink brought still blacker despair--would he ever have an hour, not a week or even a day, mind you, but just one waking hour when the craving for a drink wouldn't surprise him like this?
He pulled a red and blue bandanna from his back pocket, blew his nose with a decisive honk, and thrust it back out of sight after a short peek into it to see if he had gotten anything interesting.
The boiler stood on four cement blocks, a long and cylindrical metal tank, copper-jacketed and often patched. It squatted beneath a confusion of pipes and ducts which zigzagged upward into the high, cobweb-festooned basement ceiling.
To Jack's right, two large heating pipes came through the wall from the furnace in the adjoining room. I guess you'd know that. I got her up to a hundred now, and the rooms get a little chilly at night. Few guests complain, what the fuck.
They're crazy to come up file: Besides, this is an old baby. Got more patches on her than a pair of welfare overalls. A honk. A peek. Back it went. I be tinkering down here with this old whore, then I be out cuttin the grass or rakin that rogue court. Get a chill and catch a cold, my old mum used to say. God bless her, she been dead six year. The cancer got her. Once the cancer gets you, you might as well make your will. Ullman, be says to heat the west wing one day, central wing the next, east wing the day after that.
Ain't he a crazyman? I hate that little fucker. Yap-yap-yap all the livelong day, he's just like one a those little dogs that bites you on the ankle then run around an pee all over the rug.
If brains was black powder he couldn't blow his own nose. It's a pity the things you see when you ain't got a gun.
You open an close these ducks by pullin these rings. I got em all marked for you. The blue tags all go to the rooms in the east wing.
Red tags is the middle. Yellow is the west wing. When you go to heat the west wing, you got to remember that's the side of the hotel that really catches the weather.
When it whoops, those rooms get as cold as a frigid woman with an ice cube up her works. You can run your press all the way to eighty on west wing days.
I would, anyway. Watson shook his bead vehemently, making his fluffy hair bounce on his skull. They're just there for show. Some of these people from California, they don't think things is right unless they got it hot enough to grow a palm tree in their fuckin bedroom. All the heat comes from down here. Got to watch the press, though. See her creep? Jack felt a sudden shiver cross his back in a hurry and thought: The goose just walked over my grave. Then Watson gave the pressure wheel a spin and dumped the boiler off: There was a great hissing, and the needle dropped back to ninety-one.
Watson twisted the valve shut and the hissing died reluctantly. I tell you, this whole place is gonna go sky-high someday, and I just hope that fat fuck's here to ride the rocket.
God, I wish I could be as charitable as my mother was. She could see the good in everyone. Me, I'm just as mean as a snake with the shingles. What the fuck, a man can't help his nature.
You got to check the press. If you forget, it'll just creep file: You just dump her off a little and you'll have no trouble. You couldn't get me to come down an stand next to her when that dial was up to one hundred and eighty. This was built before such things were required. Federal government's into everything these days, ain't it? Wasn't that a sorry sight? An remember to switch those ducks around like he wants. Won't none of the rooms get much above forty-five unless we have an amazin warm winter.
And you'll have your own apartment just as warm as you like it. Over here through this arch. Watson pulled a cord and a single seventyfive-watt bulb cast a sickish, swinging glow over the area they were standing in. Straight ahead was the bottom of the elevator shaft, heavy greased cables descending to pulleys twenty feet in diameter and a huge, grease-clogged motor. Newspapers were everywhere, bundled and banded and boxed. Some of the cartons were falling apart, spilling yellow flimsy sheets that might have been twenty years old out onto the floor.
Jack stared around, fascinated. The Overlook's entire history might be here, buried in these rotting cartons. Watson pointed to a cobwebby shelf beside the utility shaft. There were a number of greasy rags on it, and a looseleaf binder. Only way to stop that is to run the faucets a little bit durin the nights, but there's over four hundred taps in this fuckin palace. That fat fairy upstairs would scream all the way to Denver when he saw the water bill. Ain't that right? Talk just like a book.
I admire that, as long as the fella ain't one of file: Lots of em are. You know who stirred up all those college riots a few years ago? The hommasexshuls, that's who. They get frustrated an have to cut loose. Comin out of the closet, they call it. Holy shit, I don't know what the world's comin to. No heat, you see.
If it happens, use this. Get it? But what if a pipe freezes outside the utility core? You can't get to the other pipes anyway. Don't you fret about it. You'll have no trouble. Beastly place down here. Gives me the horrors, it does. He was a bad actor, I knew that the minute I saw him.
Always grinnin like an egg-suck dog. That was when they were just startin out here and that fat fuck Ullman, he woulda hired the Boston Strangler if he'd've worked for minimum wage. Was a ranger from the National Park that found em; the phone was out.
All of em up in the west wing on the third floor, froze solid. Too bad about the little girls. Eight and six, they was. Cute as cut-buttons. Oh, that was a hell of a mess. That Ullman, he manages some honky-tonky resort place down in Florida in the off-season, and he caught a plane up to Denver and hired a sleigh to take him up here from Sidewinder because the roads were closed--a sleigh, can you believe that?
He about split a gut tryin to keep it out of the papers. Did pretty well, I got to give him that. There was an item in the Denver Post, and of course the bituary in that pissant little rag they have down in Estes Park, but that was just about all.
Pretty good, considerin the reputation this place has got. I expected some reporter would dig it all up again and just sorta put Grady in it as an excuse to rake over the scandals.
Hell, people come and go. Sometimes one of em will pop off in his room, heart attack or stroke or something like that. Hotels are superstitious places. No thirteenth floor or room thirteen, no mirrors on the back of the door you come in through, stuff like that. Why, we lost a lady just this last July. Ullman had to take care of that, and you can bet your ass he did. That's what they pay him twenty-two thousand bucks a season for, and as much as I dislike the little prick, he earns it.
It's like some people just come here to throw up and they hire a guy like Ullman to clean up the messes. Here's this woman, must be sixty fuckin years old--my age! And she's got this kid with her, he can't be no more than seventeen, with hair down to his asshole and his crotch bulgin 'like he stuffed it with the funnypages. So they're here a week, ten days maybe, and every night it's the same drill.
Down in the Colorado Lounge from five to seven, her suckin up singapore slings like they're gonna outlaw em tomorrow and him with just the one bottle of Olympia, suckin it, makin it last. And she'd be makin jokes and sayin all these witty things, and every time she said one he'd grin just like a fuckin ape, like she had strings tied to the corners of his mouth. Only after a few days you could see it was gettin harder an harder for him to grin, and God knows what he had to think about to get his pump primed by bedtime.
Well, they'd go in for dinner, him walkin and her staggerin, drunk as a coot, you know, and he'd be pinchin the waitresses and grinnin at em when she wasn't lookin. Hell, we even had bets on how long he'd last. So off he goes in the little Porsche they come in, and that's the last we see of him. Next morning she comes down and tries to put on this big act, but all day she's gettin paler an paler, and Mr.
Ullman asks her, sorta diplomatic-like, would she like him to notify the state cops, just in case maybe he had a little accident or something.
She's on him like a cat. No-no-no, he's a fine driver, she isn't worried, everything's under control, he'll be back for dinner. So that afternoon she steps into the Colorado around three and never has no dinner at all. She goes up to her room around tenthirty, and that's the last time anybody saw her alive. Her husband showed up the next day, some big-shot lawyer from New York.
He gave old Ullman four different shades of holy hell. I'll sue this an I'll sue that an when I'm through you won't even be able to find a clean pair of underwear, stuff like that. But Ullman's good, the sucker. Ullman got him quieted down. Probably asked that bigshot how he'd like to see his wife splashed all over the New York papers: After playing hide-the-salami with a kid young enough to be her grandson. Then both of them ganged up on old Archer Houghton, which is the county coroner, and got him to change the verdict to accidental death.
Heart attack. Now ole Archer's driving a Chrysler. I don't begrudge him. A man's got to take it where he finds it, especially when he starts gettin along in years. Out of sight. About a week later this stupid cunt of a chambermaid, Delores Vickery by name, she gives out with a helluva shriek while she's makin up the room where those two stayed, and she faints dead away.
When she comes to she says she seen the dead woman in the bathroom, layin naked in the tub. I figure there's maybe forty-fifty people died in this hotel since my grandfather opened it for business in Heart attack or stroke, while they're bangin the lady they're with.
That's what these resorts get a lot of, old types that want one last fling. They come up here to the mountains to pretend they're twenty again.
Sometimes somethin gives, and not all the guys who ran this place was as good as Ullman is at keepin it out of the papers. So the Overlook's got a reputation, yeah. I'll bet the fuckin Biltmore in New York City has got a reputation, if you ask the right people. Torrance, I've worked here all my life. I played here when I was a kid no older'n your boy in that wallet snapshot you showed me. I never seen a ghost yet. You want to come out back with me, I'll show you the equipment shed.
Seems like they go back a thousand years. Newspapers and old invoices and bills of lading and Christ knows what else. My dad used to keep up with them pretty good when we had the old wood-burning furnace, but now they've got all out of hand. Some year I got to get a boy to haul them down to Sidewinder and burn em. If Ullman will stand the expense. I got the traps and the poison Mr. Ullman wants you to use up in the attic and down here.
You keep a good eye on your boy, Mr. You wouldn't want nothing to happen to him. They went to the stairs and paused there for a moment while Watson blew his nose again. And there's the shingles.
Did Ullman tell you about that? I told him once right to his face, I said. He thought of Grady, locked in by the soft, implacable snow, going quietly berserk and committing his atrocity. Did they scream? Poor Grady, feeling it close in on him more every day, and knowing at last that for him spring would never come.
He shouldn't have been here. And he shouldn't have lost his temper. As he followed Watson through the door, the words echoed back to him like a knell, accompanied by a sharp snap-like a breaking pencil lead. Dear God, he could use a drink. Or a thousand of them. He gobbled them while looking out the window, then went in to kiss his mother, who was lying down. She suggested that he stay in and watch "Sesame Street"--the time would pass faster--but he shook his head firmly and went back to his place on the curb.
Now it was five o'clock, and although he didn't have a watch and couldn't tell time too well yet anyway, he was aware of passing time by the lengthening of the shadows, and by the golden cast that now tinged the afternoon light.
Turning the glider over in his hands, he sang under his breath: Lou, Lou, skip to In Lou He didn't go to nursery school out here because Daddy couldn't afford to send him anymore. He knew his mother and father worried about that, worried that it was adding to his loneliness and even more deeply, unspoken between them, that Danny blamed them , but he didn't really want to go to that old Jack and Jill anymore.
It was for babies. He wasn't quite a big kid yet, but he wasn't a baby anymore. Big kids went to the big school and got a hot lunch. First grade. Next year. This year was someplace between being a baby and a real kid. It was all right. He did miss Scott and Andy-mostly Scott-but it was still all right.
It seemed best to wait alone for whatever might happen next. He understood a great many things about his parents, and he knew that many times they didn't like his understandings and many other times refused to file: But someday they would have to believe.
He was content to wait. It was too bad they couldn't believe more, though, especially at times like now. Mommy was lying on her bed in the apartment, just about crying she was so worried about Daddy. Some of the things she was worried about were too grown-up for Danny to understand-vague things that had to do with security, with Daddy's selfimage feelings of guilt and anger and the fear of what was to become of them-but the two main things on her mind right now were that Daddy had had a breakdown in the mountains then why doesn't he call?
Danny knew perfectly well what the Bad Thing was since Scotty Aaronson, who was six months older, had explained it to him. Scotty knew because his daddy did the Bad Thing, too.
Once, Scotty told him, his daddy had punched his mom right in the eye and knocked her down. The greatest terror of Danny's life was DIVORCE, a word that always appeared in his mind as a sign painted in red letters which were covered with hissing, poisonous snakes. They had a tug of war over you in a court tennis court? Danny wasn't sure which or if it was some other, but Mommy and Daddy had played both tennis and badminton at Stovington, so he assumed it could be either and you had to go with one of them and you practically never saw the other one, and the one you were with could marry somebody you didn't even know if the urge came on them.
The most terrifying thing about DIVORCE was that he had sensed the word-or concept, or whatever it was that came to him in his understandings-floating around in his own parents' heads, sometimes diffuse and relatively distant, sometimes as thick and obscuring and frightening as thunderheads. It had been that way after Daddy punished him for messing the papers up in his study and the doctor had to put his arm in a cast. It had mostly been around his mommy that time, and he had been in constant terror that she would pluck the word from her brain and drag it out of her mouth, making it real.
It was a constant undercurrent in their thoughts, one of the few he could always pick up, like the beat of simple music.
But like a beat, the central thought formed only the spine of more complex thoughts, thoughts he could not as yet even begin to interpret. They came to him only as colors and moods. That boy. That George Hatfield who got pissed off at Daddy and put the holes in their bug's feet.
He seemed to think they would be better off if he left. That things would stop hurting. His daddy- hurt almost all the time, mostly about the Bad Thing.
Danny could almost always pick that up too: Daddy's constant craving to go into a dark place and watch a color TV and eat peanuts out of a bowl and do the Bad file: But this afternoon his mother had no need to worry and he wished he could go to her and tell her that. The bug had not broken down.
Daddy was not off somewhere doing the Bad Thing. He was almost home now, put-putting along the highway between Lyons and Boulder. For the moment his daddy wasn't even thinking about the Bad Thing. He was thinking about Danny looked furtively behind him at the kitchen window. Sometimes thinking very hard made something happen to him. It made things--real things--go away, and then he saw things that weren't there.
Once, not long after they put the cast on his arm, this had happened at the supper table. They weren't talking much to each other then. But they were thinking. Oh yes. It was so bad he couldn't eat. And because it had seemed desperately important, he had thrown himself fully into concentration and something had happened. When he came back to real things, he was lying on the floor with beans and mashed potatoes in his lap and his mommy was holding him and crying and Daddy had been on the phone.
He had been frightened, had tried to explain to them that there was nothing wrong. He tried to explain about Tony, who they called his "invisible playmate. He seems okay, but I want the doctor to look at him anyway. He was frightened himself. Because when he bad concentrated his mind, it had flown out to his daddy, and for just a moment, before Tony had appeared far away, as be always did, calling distantly and the strange things had blotted out their kitchen and the carved roast on the blue plate, for just a moment his own consciousness had plunged through his daddy's darkness to an incomprehensible word much more frightening than DIVORCE, and that word was SUICIDE.
Danny had never come across it again in his daddy's mind, and he had certainly not gone looking for it. He didn't care if he never found out exactly what that word meant. But he did like to concentrate, because sometimes Tony would come.
Not every time. Sometimes things just got woozy and swimmy for a minute and then cleared-most times, in fact--but at other times Tony would appear at the very limit of his vision, calling distantly and beckoning.
It had happened twice since they moved to Boulder, and he remembered how surprised and pleased he had been to find Tony had followed him all the way from Vermont. So all his friends hadn't been left behind after all. The first time he had been out in the back yard and nothing much had happened. Just Tony beckoning and then darkness and a few minutes later he had come back to real things with a few vague fragments of memory, like a jumbled dream.
The file: Tony, beckoning, calling from four yards over: Then he had been in the basement of the apartment house and Tony had been beside him, pointing into the shadows at the trunk his daddy carried all his important papers in, especially "THE PLAY. Right under the stairs. The movers put it right. He had gotten the wind knocked out of himself, too.
Three or four days later his daddy had been stomping around, telling Mommy furiously that he had been all over the goddam basement and the trunk wasn't there and he was going to sue the goddam movers who had left it somewhere between Vermont and Colorado. Danny said, "No, Daddy. It's under the stairs. The movers put it right under the stairs. The trunk had been there, just where Tony had shown him. Daddy had taken him aside, had sat him on his lap, and had asked Danny who let him down cellar.
Had it been Tom from upstairs? The cellar was dangerous, Daddy said. That was why the landlord kept it locked. If someone was leaving it unlocked, Daddy wanted to know. He was glad to have his papers and his "PLAY" but it wouldn't be worth it to him, he said, if Danny fell down the stairs and broke his. Danny told his father earnestly that he hadn't been down in the cellar.
That door was always locked. And Mommy agreed. Danny never went down in the back hall, she said, because it was damp and dark and spidery. And he didn't tell lies. This had happened before, from time to time. Because it was frightening, they swept it quickly from their minds.
But be knew they worried about Tony, Mommy especially, and he was careful about thinking the way that could make Tony come where she might see. But now he thought she was lying down, not moving about in the kitchen yet, and so he concentrated hard to see if he could understand what Daddy was thinking about.
His brow furrowed and his slightly grimy hands clenched into tight fists on his jeans. He did not close his eyes-that wasn't necessary-but he squinched them down to slits and imagined Daddy's voice, Jack's voice, John Daniel Torrance's voice, deep and steady, sometimes quirking up with amusement or deepening even more with anger or just staying steady because he was thinking. Thinking of. Thinking about. He was fully conscious; he saw the street and the girl and boy walking up the sidewalk on the other side, holding hands because they were?
He saw autumn leaves blowing along the gutter, yellow cartwheels of irregular shape. He saw the house they were passing and noticed how the roof was covered with shingles.
So that's what he was thinking about. He had gotten the job and was thinking about shingles. Danny didn't know who Watson was, but everything else seemed clear enough.
And he might get to see a wasps' nest. Just as sure as his name was "Danny. Danny, as always, felt a warm burst of pleasure at seeing his old friend, but this time he seemed to feel a prick of fear, too, as if Tony had come with some darkness hidden behind his back. A jar-of wasps which when released would sting deeply. But there was no question of not going.
He slumped further down on the curb, his hands sliding laxly from his thighs and dangling below the fork of his crotch. His chin sank onto his chest. Then there was a dim, painless tug as part of him got up and ran after Tony into funneling darkness. A coughing, whooping sound and bending, tortured shadows that resolved themselves into fir trees at night, being pushed by a screaming gale. Snow swirled and danced. Snow everywhere. Huge and rectangular.
A sloping roof. Whiteness that was blurred in the stormy darkness. Many windows. A long building with a shingled roof. Some of the shingles were greener, newer. His daddy put them on. With nails from the Sidewinder hardware store. Now the snow was covering the shingles. It was covering everything. A green witchlight glowed into being on the front of the building, flickered, and became a giant, grinning skull over two crossed bones: He understood none of them completely--he couldn't read!
They faded. Now he was in a room filled with strange furniture, a room that was dark. Snow spattered against the windows like thrown sand.
His mouth was dry, his eyes like hot marbles, his heart triphammering in his chest. Outside there was a hollow booming noise, like a dreadful door being thrown wide. Across the room was a mirror, and deep down in its silver bubble a single word appeared in green fire and that word was: The room faded.
Another room. He knew would know this one. An overturned chair. A broken window with snow swirling in; already it had frosted the edge of the rug. The drapes had been pulled free and hung on their broken rod at an angle.
A low cabinet lying on its face. More hollow booming noises, steady, rhythmic, horrible. Smashing glass. Approaching destruction. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Art and Cover by Alex Maleev. Multi-part graphic video series. Art by comic artist Dennis Calero. Interested in videos created exclusively for bookworms?
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