Saturday, January 19, 2008

And this is why I love Stephen King

I'll write a longer King post later, but suffice it to say, he's one of my favorite all-time authors. He's definitely my favorite fiction author, which isn't an uncommon thing to say, at least in New England, where about 99 out of every 100 people could honestly say the same thing. I'm re-reading The Tommyknockers, which I consider to be his best work (The Stand is admittedly more 'complete' a story, but The Tommyknockers is my personal favorite). Stephen King's character development abilities are seemingly endless, and whilst in the middle of reading a backstory on one minor character in The Tommyknockers, Ruth McCausland, I happened upon this tidbit which is a perfect example of why I love Stephen King.

Warning - bad language below. In Signet's paperback edition of the book, dated 1988, this starts on page 292. The immediate backstory is that Ruth, calm and collected town servant, doing her annual Cancer Society rounds to the worst the town of Haven had to offer (and was usually successful at it), came across a nasty dog and was bit three times. She took out her .30-06 and blew it's head off. She took it to the vet and asked the vet to ensure she didn't catch the rabies. Here's what transpired when she finally called the dog's owner, Mr. Moran.

Ruth told him his dog had bitten her three times and that was one time too many so she had shot and killed it and that she had left his pledge card in his mailbox and the American Cancer Society would be very grateful for any donation he felt he could make. There was a brief silence. Then Mr. Moran began to speak. Soon Mr. Moran began to shout. Finally Mr. Moran began to scream. Mr. Moran was so enraged, he attained a vulgar fluency of expression that neared not just poetry, but Homeric verse. He would never equal it again in his life, although when he sometimes tried and failed, he would remember that conversation with a sad, almost fond nostalgia. She'd brought out the best in him, no denying that. Mr. Moran said she could expect to get sued for every town dollar she had, and a few county ones in the bargain. Mr. Moran said he was going to law, and he was poker-buddies with the best lawyer in the county. Mr. Moran opined that Ruth was going to find the cartridge she had used to kill his good old dog the most expensive one she had ever jacked into a breech. Mr. Moran said when he got done with her, she would curse her mother for ever having opened her legs to her father. Mr. Moran said that even though her mother had been stupid enough to do that, he could tell, just talking to her, that the best part of her had squirted out'n her father's unquestionably substandard pecker and run down the chunk of lard her mother called a thigh. Mr. Moran informed her that, while Mrs. High and Mighty Ruth McCausland might currently feel she was Queen Turd of Shit Hill, she would shortly find out that she was just another little turd floating in the Great Toilet Bowl of Life. Mr. Moran added that, in this particular case, he had his hand on the lever of that great disposal unit and fully intended to push it. Mr. Moran said a great deal more. Mr. Moran did more than speak; Mr. Moran sermonized.. Preacher Colson (or was it Cooder?) at the height of his powers could not have equaled Moran on that day.

Completely random, excellent story, entire page in a paperback of 700+ pages dedicated to two characters, one of whom I'll never hear from again in this book, and another who just provides a pleasant backdrop amongst stories of the rest of the townspeople of Haven. Classic.

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