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King Stephen. William G. Thompson, a man of wit and good sense. His contribution to this book has been large, and for it, my thanks S. Some of the most beautiful resort hotels in the world are located in Colorado, but the hotel in these pages is based on none of them. The Overlook and the people associated with it exist wholly within the author's imagination.

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.

Stephen King - The Shining

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.

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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.

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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. A hoarse voice, the voice of a madman, made the more terrible by its familiarity: Come out! Came out, you little shit! Take your medicine! Splintering wood. A bellow of rage and satisfaction. Drifting across the room. Pictures torn off the walls. A record player? Mommy's record player'! Broken into jagged black pie wedges. In the darkness the booming noises grew louder, louder still, echoing, file: And now he was crouched in a dark hallway, crouched on a blue rug with a riot of twisting black shapes woven into its pile, listening to the booming noises approach, and now a Shape turned the corner and began to come toward him, lurching, smelling of blood and doom.

It had a mallet in one hand and it was swinging it REDRUM from side to side in vicious arcs, slamming it into the walls, cutting the silk wallpaper and knocking out ghostly bursts of plasterdust: Come on and take your medicine!

Take it like a man! The Shape advancing on him, reeking of that sweet-sour odor, gigantic, the mallet head cutting across the air with a wicked hissing whisper, then the great hollow boom as it crashed into the wall, sending the dust out in a puff you could smell, dry and itchy.

Tiny red eyes glowed in the dark. The monster was upon him, it had discovered him, cowering here with a blank wall at his back. And the trapdoor in the ceiling was locked. In his ears he could still hear that huge, contrapuntal booming sound and smell his own urine as he voided himself in the extremity of his terror. He could see that limp hand dangling over the edge of the tub with blood running down one finger, the third, and that inexplicable word so much more horrible than any of the others: And now sunshine.

Real things. Except for Tony, now six blocks up, only a speck, standing on the corner, his voice faint and high and sweet. Danny was off the curb in a second, waving, jiving from one foot to the other, yelling: Hey, Dad!

Danny ran toward him and then froze, his eyes widening.

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His heart crawled up into the middle of his throat and froze solid. Beside his daddy, in the other front seat, was a short-handled mallet, its head clotted with blood and hair. Then it was just a bag of groceries. I'm okay. Jack hugged him back, slightly bewildered. You're drippin sweat.

I love you, Daddy. I been waiting. I brought home some stuff. Think you're big enough to carry it upstairs? They were glad to see each other. Love came out of them the way love had come out of the boy and girl walking up the street and holding hands. Danny was glad. The bag of groceries--just a bag of groceries--crackled in his arms. Everything was all right. Daddy was home. Mommy was loving him.

There were no bad things. And not everything Tony showed him always happened. But fear had settled around his heart, deep and dreadful, around his heart and around that indecipherable word he had seen in his spirit's mirror. He wondered again if he shouldn't go ahead and get the fuel pump replaced, and told himself again that they couldn't afford it. If the little car could keep running until November, it could retire with full honors anyway. By November the snow up there in the mountains would be higher than the beetle's roof.

I'll bring you a candy bar. It's private stuff. She had argued that with a small child--especially a boy like Danny, who sometimes suffered from fainting spells--they couldn't afford not to have one.

So Jack had forked over the thirty-dollar installation fee, bad enough, and a ninety-dollar security deposit, which really hurt. And so far the phone had been mute except for two wrong numbers. You sit still and don't play with the gearshift, right? I'll look at the maps. He loved road maps, loved to trace where the roads went with his finger. As far as he was concerned, new maps were the best part of moving West. Jack went to the drugstore counter, got Danny's candy bar, and newspaper, and a copy of the October Writer's Digest.

He gave the girl a five and asked for his change in quarters. With the silver in his hand he walked over to the telephone booth by the keymaking machine and slipped inside. From here he could see Danny in the bug through three sets of glass. The boy's head was bent studiously over his maps. Jack felt a wave of nearly desperate love for the boy. The emotion showed on his face as a stony grimness.

He supposed he could have made his obligatory thank-you call to Al from home; he certainly wasn't going to say anything Wendy would object to. It was his pride that said no.

These days he almost always listened to what his pride told him to do, because along with his wife and son, six hundred dollars in a checking account, and one weary Volkswagen, his pride was all that was left. The only thing that was his. Even the checking account was joint. A year ago he had been teaching English in one of the finest prep schools in New England.

There had been friends--although not exactly the same ones he'd had before going on the wagon--some laughs, fellow faculty members who admired his deft touch in the classroom and his private dedication to writing. Things had been very good six months ago. All at once there was enough money left over at the end of each two-week pay period to start a little savings account.

In his drinking days there had never been a penny left over, even though Al Shockley had stood a great many of the rounds. He and Wendy had begun to talk cautiously about finding a house and making a down payment in a year or so.

A farmhouse in the country, take six or eight years to renovate it completely, what the hell, they were young, they had time. Then he had lost his temper. George Hatfield. The smell of hope had turned to the smell of old leather in Crommert's office, the whole thing like some scene from his own play: April ivy had been rustling outside Crommert's slit window and the drowsy sound of steam heat came from the radiator.

It was no set, he remembered thinking. It was real. His life.

How could he have fucked it up so badly? Terribly serious. The Board has asked me to convey its decision to you. Under file: What had followed that interview in Crommert's office had been the darkest, most dreadful night of his life.

The wanting, the needing to get drunk had never been so bad. His hands shook. He knocked things over. And he kept wanting to take it out on Wendy and Danny. His temper was like a vicious animal on a frayed leash. He had left the house in terror that he might strike them. Had ended up outside a bar, and the only thing that had kept him from going in was the knowledge that if he did, Wendy would leave him at last, and take Danny with her.

He would be dead from the day they left. Instead of going into the bar, where dark shadows sat sampling the tasty waters of oblivion, he had gone to Al Shockley's house. The Board's vote had been six to one. Al had been the one. Now he dialed the operator and she told him that for a dollar eighty-five he could be put in touch with Al two thousand miles away for three minutes.

Time is relative, baby, he thought, and stuck in eight quarters. Faintly he could hear the electronic boops and beeps of his connection sniffing its way eastward. Al's father had been Arthur Longley Shockley, the steel baron.

He had left his only son, Albert, a fortune and a huge range of investments and directorships and chairs on various boards. One of these had been on the Board of Directors for Stovington Preparatory Academy, the old man's favorite charity.

Both Arthur and Albert Shockley were alumni and Al lived in Barre, close enough to take a personal interest in the school's affairs. For several years Al had been Stovington's tennis coach. Jack and Al had become friends in a completely natural and uncoincidental way: Shockley was separated from his wife, and Jack's own marriage was skidding slowly downhill, although he still loved Wendy and had promised sincerely and frequently to reform, for her sake and for baby Danny's.

The two of them went on from many faculty parties, hitting the bars until they closed, then stopping at some mom 'n' pot store for a case of beer they would drink parked at the end of some back road. There were mornings when Jack would stumble into their leased house with dawn seeping into the sky and find Wendy and the baby asleep on the couch, Danny always on the inside, a tiny fist curled under the shelf of Wendy's jaw. He would look at them and the self-loathing would back up his throat in a bitter wave, even stronger than the taste of beer and cigarettes and martinis--martians, as Al called them.

Those were the times that his mind would turn thoughtfully and sanely to the gun or the rope or the razor blade. If the bender had occurred on a weeknight, he would sleep for three hours, get up, dress, chew four Excedrins, and go off to teach his nine o'clock American Poets still drunk.

Good morning, kids, today the Red-Eyed Wonder is going to tell you about how Longfellow lost his wife in the big fire. The classes he had missed or taught unshaven, still reeking of last night's martians.

Not me, I can stop anytime. The nights he and Wendy had passed in separate beds. Listen, I'm fine. Mashed fenders. Sure I'm okay to drive. The tears she always shed in the bathroom. Cautious looks from his colleagues at any party where alcohol was served, even wine. The slowly dawning realization that he was being talked about. The knowledge that he was producing nothing at his Underwood but balls of mostly blank paper that ended up in the wastebasket. He had been something of a catch for Stovington, a slowly blooming American writer perhaps, and certainly a man well qualified to teach that great mystery, creative writing.

He had published two dozen short stories. He was working on a play, and thought there might be a novel incubating in some mental back room. But now he was not producing and his teaching had become erratic. It had finally ended one night less than a month after Jack had broken his son's arm. That, it seemed to him, had ended his marriage. All that remained was for Wendy to gather her will.

It was over. It had been a little past midnight. Jack and Al were coming into Barre on U. They were both very drunk; the martians had landed that night in force. They came around the last curve before the bridge at seventy, and there was a kid's bike in the road, and then the sharp, hurt squealing as rubber shredded from the Jag's tires, and Jack remembered seeing Al's face looming over the steering wheel like a round white moon.

Then the jingling crashing sound as they hit the bike at forty, and it had flown up like a bent and twisted bird, the handlebars striking the windshield, and then it was in the air again, leaving the starred safety glass in front of Jack's bulging eyes.

A moment later he heard the final dreadful smash as it landed on the road behind them. Something thumped underneath them as the tires passed over it. The Jag drifted around broadside, Al still jockeying the wheel, and from far away Jack heard himself saying: We ran him down.

I felt it. Come on, Al. Be home. Let me get this over with. Al had brought the car to a smoking halt not more than three feet from a bridge stanchion. Two of the Jag's tires were flat. They had left zigzagging loops of burned rubber for a hundred and thirty feet. They looked at each other for a moment and then ran back in the cold darkness.

The bike was completely ruined. One wheel was gone, and looking back over his shoulder Al had seen it lying in the middle of the road, half a dozen spokes sticking up like piano wire. Al had said hesitantly: It had all happened with such crazy speed. Coming around the corner. The bike looming in the Jag's headlights. Al yelling something. Then the collision and the long skid. They moved the bike to one shoulder of the road. Al went back to the Jag and put on its four-way flashers. For the next two hours they searched the sides of the road, using a powerful four-cell flashlight.

Although it was late, several cars passed the beached Jaguar and the two men with the bobbing flashlight. None of them stopped. Jack thought later that some queer providence, bent on giving them both a last chance, had kept the cops away, had kept any of the passersby from calling them. At quarter past two they returned to the Jag, sober but queasy.

Do you mind? Come on, Al! Al had hiked across the bridge to the nearest pay phone, called a bachelor friend and told him it would be worth fifty dollars if the friend would get the Jag's snow tires out of the garage and bring them down to the Highway 31 bridge outside of Barre. The friend showed up twenty minutes later, wearing a pair of jeans and his pajama top. He surveyed the scene. Al was already jacking up the back of the car and Jack was loosening lug nuts.

Pay me in the morning. The two of them had gotten the tires on without incident, and together they drove back to AI Shockley's house. Al put the Jag in the garage and killed the motor. In the dark quiet he said: It's all over. I've slain my last martian.

He had driven back to his own house in the VW with the radio turned up, and some disco group chanted over and over again, talismanic in the house before dawn: Do it anyway. No matter how loud he heard the squealing tires, the crash. When he blinked his eyes shut, he saw that single crushed wheel with its broken spokes pointing at the sky. When he got in, Wendy was asleep on the couch. He looked in Danny's room and file: In the softly filtered glow from the streetlight outside he could see the dark lines on its plastered whiteness where all the doctors and nurses in pediatrics had signed it.

It was an accident. He fell down the stairs. It didn't matter that Al had been driving. There had been other nights when he had been driving.

He pulled the covers up over Danny, went into their bedroom, and took the Spanish Llama. It was in a shoe box. He sat on the bed with it for nearly an hour, looking at it, fascinated by its deadly shine. It was dawn when he put it back in the box and put the box back in the closet. That morning he had called Bruckner, the department head, and told him to please post his classes.

He had the flu. Bruckner agreed, with less good grace than was common. Jack Torrance had been extremely susceptible to the flu in the last year.

Wendy made him scrambled eggs and coffee. They ate in silence. The only sound came from the back yard, where Danny was gleefully running his trucks across the sand pile with his good hand. She went to do the dishes. Her back to him, she said: I've been thinking. No hangover this morning, oddly enough. Only the shakes. He blinked. In the instant's darkness the bike flew up against the windshield, starring the glass. The tires shrieked. The flashlight bobbed. For you too, maybe. I don't know.

We should have talked about it before, I guess. He looked at her back. If you still want to.. You just go right on with--" She stopped, looking in his eyes, fascinated, suddenly uncertain.

His voice had lost all its strength and dropped to a whisper. I'm not promising anything. If you still want to talk then, file: About anything you want. God, he needed a drink. Just a little pick-me-up to put things in their true perspective-"Danny said he dreamed you had a car accident," she said abruptly.

He said it this morning, when I got him dressed. Did you, Jack? Did you have an accident? He went to Al's. Al looked horrible. You look like Lon Chaney in Phantom of the Opera. They didn't drink. A week passed. He and Wendy didn't speak much. But he knew she was watching, not believing. He drank coffee black and endless cans of Coca-Cola. One night he drank a whole six-pack of Coke and then ran into the bathroom and vomited it up.

The level of the bottles in the liquor cabinet did not go down. After his classes he went over to Al Shockley's-she hated Al Shockley worse than she had ever hated anyone-and when he came home she would swear she smelled scotch or gin on his breath, but he would talk lucidly to her before supper, drink coffee, play with Danny after supper, sharing a Coke with him, read him a bedtime story, then sit and correct themes with cup after cup of black coffee by his hand, and she would have to admit to herself that she had been wrong.

Weeks passed and the unspoken word retreated further from the back of her lips. Jack sensed its retirement but knew it would never retire completely. Things began to get a little easier. Then George Hatfield. He had lost his temper again, this time stone sober. I just called to say thanks. I got the job. It's perfect. If I can't finish that goddam play snowed in all winter, I'll never finish it.

But I don't know how you stayed dry after that Hatfield thing, Jack. That was above and beyond. I'll have the Board around by spring.

Effinger's already saying they might have been too hasty. And if that play comes to something--" "Yes. Listen, my boy's out in the car, Al. He looks like he might be getting restless--" "Sure. You have a good winter up there, Jack. Glad to help. There had been a squib in the paper the next day, no more than a space-filler really, but the owner had not been named.

Why it had been out there in the night would always be a mystery to them, and perhaps that was as it should be. He went back out to the car and gave Danny his slightly melted Baby Ruth. Do you remember? When I fell asleep? Daddy's mind was someplace else, not with him. Thinking about the Bad Thing again. I dreamed that you hurt me, Daddy "What was the dream, doc? He put the maps back into the glove compartment.

Her man. She smiled a little in the darkness, his seed still trickling with slow warmth from between her slightly parted thighs, and her smile was both rueful and pleased, because the phrase her man summoned up a hundred feelings. Each feeling file: Together, in this darkness floating to sleep, they were like a distant blues tune heard in an almost deserted night club, melancholy but pleasing.

Lovin' you baby, is just like rollin' off a log, But if I can't be your woman, I sure ain't goin' to be your dog.

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Had that been Billie Holiday? Or someone more prosaic like Peggy Lee? Didn't matter. It was low and torchy, and in the silence of her head it played mellowly, as if issuing from one of those old-fashioned jukeboxes, a Wurlitzer, perhaps, half an hour before closing. Now, moving away from her consciousness, she wondered how many beds she had slept in with this man beside her. They had met in college and had first made love in his apartment.

That bad been in So long ago? A semester later they had moved in together, had found jobs for the summer, and had kept the apartment when their senior year began. She remembered that bed the most clearly, a big double that sagged in the middle. When they made love, the rusty box spring had counted the beats. That fall she had finally managed to break from her mother.

Jack had helped her. She wants to keep beating you, Jack had said. The more times you phone her, the more times you crawl back begging forgiveness, the more she can beat you with your father. It's good for her, Wendy, because she can go on making believe it was your fault. But it's not good for you. They had talked it over again and again in that bed, that year. Jack sitting up with the covers pooled around his waist, a cigarette burning between his fingers, looking her in the eye--he had a half-humorous, halfscowling way of doing that--telling her: She told you never to come back, right?

Never to darken her door again, right? Then why doesn't she hang up the phone when she knows it's you? Why does she only tell you that you can't come in if I'm with you? Because she thinks I might cramp her style a little bit. She wants to keep putting the thumbscrews right to you, baby. You're a fool if you keep letting her do it. She told you never to come back, so why don't you take her at her word?

Give it a rest. And at last she'd seen it his way. It had been Jack's idea to separate for a while--to get perspective on the relationship, he said.

She had been afraid he had become interested in someone else. Later she found it wasn't so. They were together again in the spring and he asked her if she had been to see her father. She had jumped as if he'd struck her with a quirt. How did you know that? The Shadow knows. Have you been spying on me? You needed time, Wendy.

For what? I guess. Jack, what are you saying? I think I'm proposing marriage. The wedding. Her father had been there, her mother had not been. She discovered she could live with that, if she had Jack. Then Danny had come, her fine son. That had been the best year, the best bed. After Danny was born, Jack had gotten her a job typing for half a dozen English Department profs--quizzes, exams, class syllabi, study notes, reading lists. She ended up tvping a novel for one of them, a novel that never got published.

The job was good for forty a week, and skyrocketed all the way up to sixty during the two months she spent typing the unsuccessful novel. They had their first car, a five-year-old Buick with a baby seat in the middle. Bright, upwardly mobile young marrieds. Danny forced a reconciliation between her and her mother, a reconciliation that was always tense and never happy, but a reconciliation all the same. When she took Danny to the house, she went without Jack. And she didn't tell Jack that her mother always remade Danny's diapers, frowned over his formula, could always spot the accusatory first signs of a rash on the baby's bottom or privates.

Her mother never said anything overtly, but the message came through anyway: It was her mother's way of keeping the thumbscrews handy. During the days Wendy would stay home and housewife, feeding Danny his bottles in the sunwashed kitchen of the four-room second-story apartment, playing her records on the battered portable stereo she had had since high school.

Jack would come home at three or at two if he felt he could cut his last class , and while Danny slept he would lead her into the bedroom and fears of inadequacy would be erased. At night while she typed, he would do his writing and his assignments. In those days she sometimes came out of the bedroom where the typewriter was to find both of them asleep on the studio couch, Jack wearing nothing but his underpants, Danny sprawled comfortably on her husband's chest with his thumb in his mouth.

She would put Danny in his crib, then read whatever Jack had written that night before waking him up enough to come to bed.

The best bed, the best year. Sun gonna shine in my backyard someday. On Saturday nights a bunch of his fellow students would drop over and there would be a case of beer and discussions in which she seldom took part because her field had been sociology and his was English: Those and a hundred others.

No, a thousand. She felt no real urge to take part; it was enough to sit in her rocking chair beside Jack, who sat cross-legged on the floor, one hand holding a beer, the other gently cupping her calf or braceleting her ankle. The competition at UNH had been fierce, and Jack carried an extra burden in his writing. He put in at least an hour at it every night. It was his routine. The Saturday sessions were necessary therapy. They let something out of him that might otherwise have swelled and swelled until he burst.

At the end of his grad work he had landed the job at Stovington, mostly on the strength of his stories--four of them published at that time, one of them in Esquire. She remembered that day clearly enough; it would take more than three years to forget it. She had almost thrown the envelope away, thinking it was a subscription offer.

Opening it, she had found instead that it was a letter saying that Esquire would like to use Jack's story "Concerning the Black Holes" early the following year.

They would pay nine hundred dollars, not on publication but on acceptance. That was nearly half a year's take typing papers and she had flown to the telephone, leaving Danny in his high chair to goggle comically after her, his face lathered with creamed peas and beef puree.

Jack had arrived from the university forty-five minutes later, the Buick weighted down with seven friends and a keg of beer. After a ceremonial toast Wendy also had a glass, although she ordinarily had no taste for beer , Jack had signed the acceptance letter, put it in the return envelope, and went down the block to drop it in the letter box. When he came back he stood gravely in the door and said, "Veni, vidi, vici. When the keg was empty at eleven that night, Jack and the only two others who were still ambulatory went on to hit a few bars.

She had gotten him aside in the downstairs hallway. The other two were already out in the car, drunkenly singing the New Hampshire fight song. Jack was down on one knee, owlishly fumbling with the lacings of his moccasins. You can't even tie your shoes, let alone drive. He had tried to soothe the baby and dropped him on the floor. Wendy had rushed out, thinking of what her file: She had been thinking of her mother for most of the five hours Jack had been gone, her mother's prophecy that Jack would never come to anything.

Big ideas, her mother had said. The welfare lines are full of educated fools with big ideas. Did the Esquire story make her mother wrong or right? Sign in using the email address you used when you purchased your subscription and your Irish Times password. Yes, you can purchase a single edition through the App Store or the Google play store. Please download the app from the relevant store. Yes, just download the full edition through The Irish Times ePaper mobile app on WiFi or your Telecoms network and you can read offline at any time.

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