Master storyteller Stephen King presents the “powerful” (Time) #1 New York Times bestselling classic thriller about a housekeeper with a long-hidden secret from her past—one that tests her own will to survive.
When Vera Donovan, one of the wealthiest and most ill-natured residents of Maine’s Little Tall Island, dies suddenly in her home, suspicion is immediately cast on her housekeeper and caretaker, Dolores Claiborne. Dolores herself is no stranger to such mistrust, thanks to the local chatter and mysterious circumstances surrounding her abusive husband’s death twenty-nine years earlier.
But if this is truly to be the day of Dolores Claiborne’s reckoning, she has a few things of her own that she’d like to get off her chest...and begins to confess a spirited, intimate, and harrowing tale of the darkest secrets hidden within her hardscrabble existence, revealing above all one woman’s unwavering determination to weather the storm of her life with grace and protect the one she loves, no matter what the cost...
She was just like me when I was her age, in other words, n look how I turned out—just another cleanin-witch with a permanent stoop in her walk and a bottle of pain-pills in the medicine cabinet for my back. Selena didn’t see nothing wrong with that, but she’d just turned fifteen, and at fifteen a girl don’t know what the hell she’s seein even when she’s lookin spang at it. I read that note over n over and I thought, Frig it—she ain’t gonna end up like me, old n damn near used up at thirty-five. She ain’t gonna do that even if I have to die to keep her from it. But you know something, Andy? I didn’t think things’d have to go that far. I thought maybe Joe was gonna do all the dyin that needed to be done around our place.
I put her note back on the table, did up the snaps on my slicker again, and pulled on my gumrubber boots. Then I walked around back n stood by the big white stone where me’n Selena sat the night I told her she didn’t have to be afraid of Joe anymore, that he’d promised to let her alone. The rain’d stopped, but I could still hear the water drippin deep in the blackberry tangle behind the house, and see drops of water hangin off the bare branches. They looked like Vera Donovan’s diamond-drop earrings, only not so big.
That patch covered better’n half an acre, and by the time I’d pushed my way in, I was damned glad I had on my slicker and tall boots. The wet was the least of it; those thorns were murder. In the late forties, that patch had been flowers and fieldgrass, with the wellhead sittin on the shed side of it, but about six years after me n Joe were married and moved onto the place—which his Uncle Freddy left him when he died—the well went dry. Joe got Peter Doyon to come over and dowse us a new one, on the west side of the house. We’ve never had a spot of water-trouble since.
Once we stopped usin the old well, the half-acre behind the shed grew up in those chest-high snarls of scrub blackberry, and the thorns tore and pulled at my slicker as I walked back n forth, lookin for the board cap on the old well. After my hands got cut in three or four places, I pulled the sleeves down over em.
In the end, I almost found the damned thing by fallin into it. I took a step onto somethin that was both loose and kinda spongy, there was a cracklin noise under my foot, and I drew back just before the board I’d stepped on gave way. If I’d been unlucky, I’d’ve fallen forward, and the whole cap would most likely have collapsed. Ding-dong-bell, pussy’s in the well.
I got down on my knees, keepin one hand up in front of my face so the blackberry thorns wouldn’t scratch my cheeks or maybe put out one of my eyes, and took a good close look.
The cap was about four feet wide n five feet long; the boards were all white n warped n rotted. I pushed on one of em with my hand, and it was like pushin down on a licorice stick. The board I’d put my foot on was all bowed down, and I could see fresh splinters stickin up from it. I woulda fallen in, all right, and in those days I went about one-twenty. Joe weighed at least fifty pounds more’n that.
I had a handkerchief in my pocket. I tied it around the top of a bush on the shed side of the cap so I could find it again in a hurry. Then I went back into the house. That night I slept like a lamb, and I had no bad dreams for the first time since I’d found out from Selena what her Prince Charmin of a Dad had been up to with her.
That was in late November, and I didn’t intend to do anythin more for quite awhile. I doubt if I need to tell you why, but I will, anyway: if anythin happened to him too soon after our talk on the ferry, Selena’s eyes might turn to me. I didn’t want that to happen, because there was a part of her that still loved him and prob’ly always would, and because I was afraid of how she’d feel if she even suspected what happened. Of how she’d feel about me, accourse—I guess that goes without sayin—but I was even more afraid of how she might feel about herself. As to how that turned out . . . well, never mind now. I’ll get there, I guess.
So I let time go by, although that’s always been the hardest thing for me to do once I’ve made up my mind about a thing. Still, the days piled up into weeks, like they always do. Every now n then I’d ask Selena about him. “Is your Dad bein good?” is what I asked, and we both understood what I was really askin. She always said yes, which was a relief, because if Joe started up again, I’d have to get rid of him right away, and damn the risks. Or the consequences.
I had other things to worry about as Christmas passed and 1963 got started. One was the money—every day I’d wake up thinkin that this might be the day he’d start spendin it. Why wouldn’t I worry about that? He’d got through the first three hundred right smart, and I had no way of keepin him from pissin away the rest while I was waitin for time to take time, as they like to say in his A.A. meetins. I can’t tell you how many times I hunted for the goddam savins passbook they had to have given him when he opened his own account with that dough, but I never found it. So all I could do was watch for him to come home with a new chainsaw or an expensive watch on his wrist, and hope he hadn’t already lost some of it or even all of it in one of the high-stakes poker games he claimed went on every weekend in Ellsworth n Bangor. I never felt s’helpless in my whole life.
Then there was the questions of when and how I was gonna do it . . . if I ended up havin the nerve to do it at all, that was. The idear of usin the old well as a pit-trap was all right as far as it went; the trouble was, it didn’t go anywheres near far enough. If he died neat n clean, like people do on TV, everythin would be fine. But even thirty years ago I’d seen enough of life to know that things hardly ever go the way they do on TV.
Suppose he fell down in there and started screamin, for instance? The island wasn’t built up then the way it is now, but we still had three neighbors along that stretch of East Lane—the Carons, the Langills, and the Jolanders. They might not hear screams comin from the blackberry patch behind our house, but then again they might . . . especially if the wind was high and blowin the right way. Nor was that all. Runnin between the village and the Head like it does, East Lane could be pretty busy. There was trucks n cars goin past our place all the time, not as many of them back then, either, but enough to worry a woman who was thinkin about what I was thinkin about.
I’d about decided I couldn’t use the well to settle his hash after all, that it was just too risky, when the answer came. It was Vera who gave it to me that time, too, although I don’t think she knew it.
She was fascinated by the eclipse, you see. She was on the island most of that season, and as winter started to wear thin, there’d be a new clippin about it pinned to the kitchen bulletin board every week. When spring began with the usual high winds n cold slops, she was here even more, and those clippins showed up just about every other day. There were pieces from the local papers, from away papers like the Globe and the New York Times, and from magazines like Scientific American.
She was excited because she was sure the eclipse would finally lure Donald n Helga back to Pinewood—she told me that again n again—but she was excited on her own account, too. By the middle of May, when the weather finally started to warm up, she had pretty well settled in completely—she never even talked about Baltimore. That friggin eclipse was the only thing she talked about. She had four cameras—I ain’t talkin about Brownie Starflashes, either—in the entry closet, three of em already mounted on tripods. She had eight or nine pairs of special sunglasses, specially made open boxes she called “eclipse-viewers,” periscopes with special tinted mirrors inside em, and I dunno what else.
Then, near the end of May, I came in and saw the article pinned to the bulletin board was from our own little paper—The Weekly Tide. HARBORSIDE TO BE “ECLIPSE CENTRAL” FOR RESIDENTS, SUMMER VISITORS, the headline said. The picture showed Jimmy Gagnon and Harley Fox doin some sort of carpentry on the hotel roof, which was as flat n broad then as it is now. And do you know what? I felt somethin turn over in me again, just like I’d felt when I saw that first article about the eclipse pinned up in the very same place.
The story said that the owners of The Harborside were plannin to turn the roof into a kind of open-air observatory on the day of the eclipse . . . except it sounded like the same old business-as-usual with a brand-new label on it to me. They said the roof was bein “specially renovated” for the occasion (the idear of Jimmy Gagnon n Harley Fox renovatin anythin is pretty funny, when you stop to think of it), and they expected to sell three hundred n fifty special “eclipse tickets.” Summer residents would get the first pick, then year-round residents. The price was actually pretty reasonable—two bucks a throw—but accourse they were plannin on servin food n havin a bar, and those are the places where hotels have always clipped folks. Especially the bar.
I was still readin the article when Vera come in. I didn’t hear her, and when she spoke I went just about two feet into the air.
“Well, Dolores,” she says, “which’ll it be? The roof of The Harborside or the Island Princess?”
“What about the Island Princess?” I asked her.
“I’ve chartered it for the afternoon of the eclipse,” she says.
“You never!” I says, but I knew the second after it was out of my mouth that she had; Vera had no use for idle talk, nor idle boastin, neither. Still, the thought of her charterin a ferry as big as the Princess kinda took my breath away.
“I did,” she said. “It’s costing me an arm and a leg, Dolores, most of it for the replacement ferry that will run the Princess’s regular routes that day, but I certainly did do it. And if you come on my excursion, you’ll ride free with all drinks on the house.” Then, kinda peekin at me from underneath her eyelids, she says, “That last part should appeal to your husband, wouldn’t you agree?”
“My God,” I says, “why’d you charter the damned ferry, Vera?” Her first name still sounded strange to me every time it came out of my mouth, but by then she’d made it clear she hadn’t been jokin—she didn’t mean to let me go back to Mrs. Donovan even if I wanted to, which I sometimes did. “I mean, I know you’re excited about the eclipse and all, but you coulda got an excursion boat almost as big down to Vinalhaven, and prob’ly at half the expense.”
She gave a little shrug and shook her long hair back at the same time—it was her Kiss-My-Back-Cheeks look if I ever seen it. “I chartered it because I love that tubby old whore,” she says. “Little Tall Island is my favorite place in all the world, Dolores—do you know that?”
As a matter of fact I did know it, so I nodded my head.
“Of course you do. And it’s the Princess which has almost always brought me here—the funny, fat, waddling old Princess. I’m told it will hold four hundred comfortably and safely, fifty more than the roof of the hotel, and I’m going to take anyone who wants to go with me and the kids.” Then she grinned, and that grin was all right; it was the grin of a girl who’s glad just to be alive. “And do you know something else, Dolores?” she asked me.
“Nope,” I says. “I’m flummoxed.”
“You won’t need to bow and scrape to anyone if you—” Then she stopped, and give me the queerest look. “Dolores? Are you all right?”
But I couldn’t say anything. The most awful, most wonderful pitcher had filled my mind. In it I seen the big flat roof of The Harborside Hotel filled with people standin around with their necks craned back, and I seen the Princess stopped dead in the middle of the reach between the mainland and the island, her decks also chockablock with people lookin up, and above it all hung a big black circle surrounded by fire in a sky filled with daytime stars. It was a spooky pitcher, enough to raise the hackles on a dead man, but that wasn’t what had gut-punched me. It was thinkin about the rest of the island that done that.
“Dolores?” she ast, and put a hand on my shoulder. “Do you have a cramp? Feel faint? Come over and sit down at the table, I’ll get you a glass of water.”
I didn’t have a cramp, but all at once I did feel a little faint, so I went where she wanted and sat down . . . except my knees were so rubbery I almost fell into the chair. I watched her gettin me the water and thought about somethin she’d said the last November—that even a mathematical dunderhead like her could add n subtract. Well, even one like me could add three hundred and fifty on the hotel roof and four hundred more on the Island Princess and come out with seven hundred and fifty. That wasn’t everybody that’d be on the island in the middle of July, but it was an almighty slug of em, by the Jesus. I had a good idear that the rest would either be out haulin their traps or watchin the eclipse from the shingle and the town docks.
Vera brought me the water and I drank it down all at once. She sat down across from me, lookin concerned. “Are you all right, Dolores?” she ast. “Do you need to lie down?”
“No,” I says, “I just come over funny for a few seconds there.”
I had, too. All at once knowin what day you plan to kill your husband on, I guess that’d be apt to bring anyone over funny.
Three hours or so later, with the warsh done and the marketin done and the groceries put away and the carpets vacuumed and a tiny casserole put away in the refrigerator for her solitary supper (she mighta shared her bed with the hunky from time to time, but I never saw her share her dinner-table with him), I was gatherin up my things to leave. Vera was sittin at the kitchen table, doin the newspaper crossword puzzle.
“Think about coming with us on the boat July twentieth, Dolores,” she says. “It will be ever so much more pleasant out on the reach than on that hot roof, believe me.”
“Thank you, Vera,” I says, “but if I’ve got that day off, I doubt I’ll go either place—I’ll probably just stay home.”
“Would you be offended if I said that sounds very dull?” she ast, lookin up at me.
When did you ever worry about offendin me or anyone else, you snooty bitch? I thought, but accourse I didn’t say it. And besides, she really did look concerned when she thought I might be gonna faint, although that coulda been because she was afraid I’d go down on my nose n bleed all over her kitchen floor, which I’d waxed just the day before.
“Nope,” I says. “That’s me, Vera—dull as dishwater.”
She gave me a funny look then. “Are you?” she says back. “Sometimes I think so . . . and sometimes I wonder.”
I said goodbye n went on home, turnin the idear I’d had over n over as I went, lookin for holes. I didn’t find none—only maybes, and maybes are a part of life, ain’t they? Bad luck can always happen, but if people worried about that too much, nothin would ever get done. Besides, I thought, if things go wrong, I c’n always cry it off. I c’n do that almost right up to the very end.
May passed, Memorial Day came n went, and school vacation rolled around. I got all ready to hold Selena off if she came pesterin about workin at The Harborside, but before we even had our first argument about it, the most wonderful thing happened. Reverend Huff, who was the Methodist minister back then, came around to talk to me n Joe. He said that the Methodist Church Camp in Winthrop had openins for two girl counsellors who had advanced-swimmin qualifications. Well, both Selena and Tanya Caron could swim like fish, Huffy knew it, and to make a long story at least a little shorter, me n Melissa Caron saw our daughters off on the ferry the week after school let out, them wavin from the boat and us wavin from the dock and all four of us crying like fools. Selena was dressed in a pretty pink suit for the trip, and it was the first time I got a clear look at the woman she was gonna be. It almost broke my heart, and does still. Does one of you happen to have a tissue?
Thank you, Nancy. So much. Now where was I?
Selena was taken care of; that left the boys. I got Joe to call his sister in New Gloucester and ask if she and her husband would mind havin em for the last three weeks or so of July and the first week of August, as we’d had their two little hellions for a month or so in the summer a couple of times when they were younger. I thought Joe might balk at sendin Little Pete away, but he didn’t—I s’pose he thought of how quiet the place’d be with all three gone and liked the idear.
Alicia Forbert—that was his sister’s married name—said they’d be glad to have the boys. I got an idear Jack Forbert was prob’ly a little less glad than she was, but Alicia wagged the tail on that dog, so there wasn’t no problem—at least not there.
The problem was that neither Joe Junior nor Little Pete much wanted to go. I didn’t really blame em; the Forbert boys were both teenagers, and wouldn’t have so much as the time of day for a couple of squirts like them. I wasn’t about to let that stop me, though—I couldn’t let it stop me. In the end I just put down my head n bulldozed em into it. Of the two, Joe Junior turned out to be the tougher nut. Finally I took him aside and said, “Just think of it as a vacation from your father.” That convinced him where nothin else would, and that’s a pretty sad thing when you think about it, wouldn’t you say?
Once I had the boys’ midsummer trip settled, there was nothin to do but wait for em to be gone, and I think that in the end they were glad enough to go. Joe’d been drinkin a lot ever since the Fourth of July, and I don’t think even Little Pete found him very pleasant to be around.
His drinkin wasn’t no surprise to me; I’d been helpin him do it. The first time he opened the cupboard under the sink and saw a brand-new fifth of whiskey sittin in there, it struck him as odd—I remember him askin me if I’d fallen on my head or somethin. After that, though, he didn’t ask any questions. Why would he? From the Fourth til the day he died, Joe St. George was all in the bag some of the time and half in the bag most of the time, and a man in that condition don’t take long to start seein his good fortune as one of his Constitutional rights . . . especially a man like Joe.
That was fine as paint with me, but the time after the Fourth—the week before the boys left and the week or so after—wasn’t exactly pleasant, just the same. I’d go off to Vera’s at seven with him layin in bed beside me like a lump of sour cheese, snorin away with his hair all stickin up n wild. I’d come home at two or three and he’d be plunked down out on the porch (he’d dragged that nasty old rocker of his out there), with his American in one hand and his second or third drink of the day in the other. He never had any comp’ny to help him with his whiskey; my Joe didn’t have what you’d call a sharin heart.
There was a story about the eclipse on the front page of the American just about every day that July, but I think that, for all his newspaper-readin, Joe had only the fuzziest idear anything out of the ordinary was gonna happen later in the month. He didn’t care squat about such things, you see. What Joe cared about were the Commies and the freedom-riders (only he called em “the Greyhound niggers”) and that goddam Catholic kike-lover in the White House. If he’d known what was gonna happen to Kennedy four months later, I think he almost coulda died happy, that’s how nasty he was.
I’d sit beside him just the same, though, and listen to him rant about whatever he’d found in that day’s paper to put his fur up. I wanted him to get used to me bein around him when I come home, but if I was to tell you the work was easy, I’d be a goddamned liar. I wouldn’t have minded his drinkin half as much, you know, if he’d had a more cheerful disposition when he did it. Some men do, I know, but Joe wasn’t one of em. Drinkin brought out the woman in him, and for the woman in Joe, it was always about two days before one godawful gusher of a period.
As the big day drew closer, though, leavin Vera’s started to be a relief even though it was only a drunk smelly husband I was goin home to. She’d spent all of June bustlin around, jabberin away about this n that, checkin and recheckin her eclipse-gear, and callin people on the phone—she must have called the comp’ny caterin her ferry expedition at least twice a day durin the last week of June, and they was just one stop on her daily list.
I had six girls workin under me in June and eight after the Fourth of July; it was the most help Vera ever had, either before or after her husband died. The house was scrubbed from top to bottom—scrubbed until it shone—and every bed was made up. Hell, we added temporary beds in the solarium and on the second-floor porch as well. She was expectin at least a dozen overnight guests on the weekend of the eclipse, and maybe as many as twenty. There wasn’t enough hours in the day for her and she went racin around like Moses on a motorcycle, but she was happy.
Then, right around the time I packed the boys off to their Aunt Alicia and Uncle Jack’s—around the tenth or eleventh of July, that would be, and still over a week before the eclipse—her good mood collapsed.
Collapsed? Frig, no. That ain’t right. It popped, like a balloon that’s been stuck with a pin. One day she was zoomin like a jet plane; the next she was steppin on the corners of her mouth and her eyes had taken on the mean, haunted look I’d seen a lot since she started spendin so much time on the island alone. She fired two girls that day, one for standin on a hassock to warsh the windows in the parlor, and the other for laughin in the kitchen with one of the caterers. That second one was especially nasty, cause the girl started to cry. She told Vera she’d known the young man in high school n hadn’t seen him since n wanted to catch up a little on old times. She said she was sorry and begged not to be let go—she said her mother would be madder than a wet hen if that happened.
It didn’t cut no ice with Vera. “Look on the bright side, dear,” she says in her bitchiest voice. “Your mother may be angry, but you’ll have so much time to talk about all the fun you had at good old Jonesport High.”
The girl—it was Sandra Mulcahey—went down the driveway with her head dropped, sobbin like her heart was gonna break. Vera stood in the hall, bent over a little so she could watch her out the window by the front door. My foot itched to kick her ass when I seen her standin that way . . . but I felt a little sad for her, too. It wasn’t hard to figure out what had changed her mood, and before much longer I knew for sure. Her kids weren’t comin to watch the eclipse with her after all, chartered ferry or no chartered ferry. Maybe it was just that they’d made other plans, as kids will do with never a thought for any feelins their parents might have, but my guess was that whatever had gone wrong between her and them was still wrong.
Vera’s mood improved as the first of her other guests started to show up on the sixteenth n seventeenth, but I was still glad to get away each day, and on Thursday the eighteenth she fired another girl—Karen Jolander, that one was. Her big crime was droppin a plate that had been cracked to begin with. Karen wasn’t cryin when she went down the driveway, but you could tell she was just holdin on until she was over the first hill to let loose.
Well, I went and did somethin stupid—but you have to remember I was pretty strung-up myself by then. I managed to wait until Karen was out of sight, at least, but then I went lookin for Vera. I found her in the back garden. She’d yanked her straw sunhat on so hard the brim touched her ears, and she was takin such snaps with those garden-shears of hers that you’d’a thought she was Madam Dufarge choppin off heads instead of Vera Donovan cuttin roses for the parlor n dinin room.
I walked right up to her and said, “That was a boogery thing you done, firin that girl like that.”
She stood up and give me her haughtiest lady-of-the-manor look. “Do you think so? I’m so glad to have your opinion, Dolores. I crave it, you know; each night when I go to bed, I lie there in the dark, reviewing the day and asking the same question as each event passes before my eyes: ‘What would Dolores St. George have done?’?”
Well, that made me madder’n ever. “I’ll tell you one thing Dolores Claiborne don’t do,” I says, “and that’s take it out on someone else when she’s pissed off and disappointed about somethin. I guess I ain’t enough of a high-riding bitch to do that.”
Her mouth dropped open like somebody’d pulled the bolts that held her jaw shut. I’m pretty sure that was the first time I really surprised her, and I marched away in a hurry, before she could see how scared I was. My legs were shakin so bad by the time I got into the kitchen that I had to sit down and I thought, You’re crazy, Dolores, tweakin her tail like that. I stood up enough to peek out the window over the sink, but her back was to me and she was workin her shears again for all she was worth; roses were fallin into her basket like dead soldiers with bloody heads.
I was gettin ready to go home that afternoon when she come up behind me and told me to wait a minute, she wanted to talk to me. I felt my heart sink all the way into my shoes. I hadn’t no doubt at all that my time’d come—she’d tell me my services wouldn’t be required anymore, give me one last Kiss-My-Back-Cheeks stare, and then down the road I’d go, this time for good. You’d think it’d been a relief to get shut of her, and I s’pose in some ways it woulda been, but I felt a pain around my heart just the same. I was thirty-six, I’d been workin hard since I was sixteen, and hadn’t never been fired from a job. Just the same, there’s some kinds of buggery-bullshit a person has to stand up to, and I was tryin with all my might to get ready to do that when I turned around to look at her.
When I saw her face, though, I knew it wasn’t firin she’d come to do. All the makeup she’d had on that mornin was scrubbed off, and the way her eyelids were swole up gave me the idear she’d either been takin a nap or cryin in her room. She had a brown paper grocery sack in her arms, and she kinda shoved it at me. “Here,” she says.
“What’s this?” I ast her.
“Two eclipse-viewers and two reflector-boxes,” she says. “I thought you and Joe might like them. I happened to have—” She stopped then, and coughed into her curled-up fist before lookin me square in the eye again. One thing I admired about her, Andy—no matter what she was sayin or how hard it was for her, she’d look at you when she said it. “I happened to have two extras of each,” she said.
“Oh?” I says. “I’m sorry to hear that.”
She waved it away like it was a fly, then ast me if I’d changed my mind about goin on the ferry with her n her comp’ny.
“No,” I says, “I guess I’ll put up m’dogs on my own porch rail n watch it with Joe from there. Or, if he’s actin out the Tartar, I’ll go down to East Head.”
“Speaking of acting out the Tartar,” she says, still lookin right at me, “I want to apologize for this morning . . . and ask if you’d call Mabel Jolander and tell her I’ve changed my mind.”
It took a lot of guts for her to say that, Andy—you didn’t know her the way I did, so I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it, but it took an awful lot of guts. When it came to apologizin, Vera Donovan was pretty much of a teetotaler.
“Sure I will,” I said, speakin kind of gentle. I almost reached out n touched her hand, but in the end I didn’t. “Only it’s Karen, not Mabel. Mabel worked here six or seven years ago. She’s in New Hampshire these days, her mother says—workin for the telephone comp’ny and doin real well.”
“Karen, then,” she says. “Ask her back. Just say I’ve changed my mind, Dolores, not one word more than that. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” I says. “And thanks for the eclipse-things. They’ll come in handy, I’m sure.”
“You’re very welcome,” she says. I opened the door to go out and she says, “Dolores?”
I looked back over my shoulder, and she give me a funny little nod, as if she knew things she had no business knowin.
“Sometimes you have to be a high-riding bitch to survive,” she says. “Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman has to hold onto.” And then she closed the door in my face . . . but gentle. She didn’t slam it.
All right; here comes the day of the eclipse, and if I’m going to tell you what happened—everything that happened—I ain’t going to do it dry. I been talkin for damn near two hours straight by my watch, long enough to burn the oil offa anyone’s bearins, and I’m still a long way from bein done. So I tell you what, Andy—either you part with an inch of the Jim Beam you got in your desk drawer, or we hang it up for tonight. What do you say?
There—thank you. Boy, don’t that just hit the spot! No; put it away. One’s enough to prime the pump; two might not do anythin but clog the pipes.
All right—here we go again.
On the night of the nineteenth I went to bed so worried I was almost sick to my stomach with it, because the radio said there was a good chance it was gonna rain. I’d been so goddam busy plannin what I was gonna do and workin my nerve up to do it that the thought of rain’d never even crossed my mind. I’m gonna toss n turn all night, I thought as I laid down, and then I thought, No you ain’t, Dolores, and I’ll tell you why—you can’t do a damn thing about the weather, and it don’t matter, anyway. You know you mean to do for him even if it rains like a bastard all day long. You’ve gone too far to back out now. And I did know that, so I closed my eyes n went out like a light.
Stephen King is the author of more than sixty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes the short story collection You Like It Darker, Holly, Fairy Tale, Billy Summers, If It Bleeds, The Institute, Elevation, The Outsider, Sleeping Beauties (cowritten with his son Owen King), and the Bill Hodges trilogy: End of Watch, Finders Keepers, and Mr. Mercedes (an Edgar Award winner for Best Novel and a television series streaming on Peacock). His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller. His epic works The Dark Tower, It, Pet Sematary, Doctor Sleep, and Firestarter are the basis for major motion pictures, with It now the highest-grossing horror film of all time. He is the recipient of the 2020 Audio Publishers Association Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2018 PEN America Literary Service Award, the 2014 National Medal of Arts, and the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.