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MISERY

was a row

@ these

ki"l"i rn"t"
"It's
uD

dripping--driflping fast. Each-drop sparkled as it fell onto a narrlw cainlat of ice which lay at the base

of icicles along the eave. The tips of

d the barn's side.

o'clock!"^Annie whs going on gaily

to fortv-five degrees and it's not even nine


as Paui imagined the

g
P

rear bumper of his Camaro surfacing through the rotted mow for the sun to twinkle on 'Of course it won't lasFwe've got a hard snap or three ahead of us yet, and uobablv an6ther bis stor:m as well-but spring is comfu. f",it, and my irother always used to say that the hide of sirrine is like the hope of heaven." ite put his-fork back dolin on the plate with the egg oll on it. 'Don't want that last bite? All done?" *All done," he agreed, and in his mind he saw the Bsrdmans Oiivine ub from Sidewinder, saw a bright arher roi of heht strifte'Mrs. Roydman's face, making .iro *dput a shielding hand :uVWha{s -down there, mrrZ . . ,' Don't tell ie I'm ciazy, there's sonnething d thcrel Refection darnn near buined m'eye out! Back I want to tike another look! ---Then I'll just take the tray," -she said, "and you can She favored him with a glance that was very =t $arted." "I iust can't tell you how excittd I am, Paul'" =;. St *iii out, leaving him to sit in the wheelchair and H al the water runni-ng from the icicles which clung to

cdge of tbe barn.

l-T

la

29
'Td like some
different paper,
she came

I S"rt
V

w
Ef,

rt-T

E.

E&

h
EIC

--.f" r fu board. -nirerent from this?" she asked, tapping the cellophaqethis is the rcd oackage of Corrasabie Bond. "But the Paper into I went when l asked atV iveif. e#n E H!" 'T)ih't vour mother ever tell you that the most expeni no alwaYs the best?" -

it you couJd get it," he backio'put the typewriter and paper

MISERY
follow-

7l

Annie's brow darkened. Her initial defensiveness hd been replaced bv indipation. raul guesr"O6;ffi*;

fg*ity. pd !9rd them into tne storm cEU*-. rt", brow wa top white. Her nostrils flared regularli, titi thE nostrih of an animal scenting fire. Her ffidiffiltG;un to sDrins

she did not. y{hat sne taid-ie, Mister Smat ^ "N9, Guy, is that when-y_ou buy cheap, yoolJ.-n""n.,, rne clrmate msrde he_r,-he had come to discbver, wr like sp.ringtime. in the Miilwest. SnJ*a, ,-rooro- tull of tornadoes waiting- to happen, and if he ["a U""n a farner o.Dlgrvrng a sky which looked the way Annie,s face looked r-rght- now, he would have at oncd gone to co[ect hir

a trick," she said. "You don't want to write my and so you're making up tricks not to start. I knew :muld. Oh boy. But it's not going to rvork.

fr

E4's

silly," he said. "Did

say

wasn't going to

It-"

RIo...no,but-"

*e a look at something, I'll show you what the problem L Bring that Webster Pot with you, ploase."
-fhe what?" 'Little jar of pens and pencils," he said. "On
news-

-That's right. Becauselam. And if you come here and

wants, this part b-t nin iiaso"i, ,ii'*outd have yKen ryl tu the. hospital right away or killed you lster on the Roydrnans4ecauie y,!:?::ir,?:r::!{ for Annie tlrlyqrtd 6 SU g/ Roydnwrx, for Annie theyrre tu;iin, And if you don,t beil thii bitch nsit ?T:."X?.fi! .bush. now., rawrc-my_ boy, you may nevcr be able to. tou:, ryglnning-to breathe more rapidly, aknost to

rrur rnere was another part of him, more calcuiitins and lgss cowed, which reiinaea nim'tnai h"-;;fi';? of Scheherazade if he grew frightened and liil^llll"T pracarory whenever shr stormed. If-he didl she would storm all the more. If l9!r didn't have-iim;ii@-;i;

ti-.lg P*t 9ff, to placate ner wtitilfi'ere was still mcteed there still waHs a tribe in one of those .Ylf f:sslJalorielwould.haviprJ.at"o-tn"i.;ila;; *T.ltlf-y*_1nerY, by making s_a91fice to her * umts{t
ePfigy.

rm.Deily open and then snatch closed again, catchin^g afi and squashing it. His need for her and his vulnerability to her screamed

lElrers, they sometimes call them lVebster Pots. After Daniel Webster." This was a lie he had made up on the aur of the moment, but it had the desired effect-che boked more confused than ever, lost in a specialists' *orld of which she had not the slightest knowledge. The

onfusion had diffused (and thus defused) her rage even mre; he saw she now didn't even know if she had any rightto be angry. She brought over the jar of pens and pencils and
dammed them down on the board and he thought: Godfufii! I worl No-that wasn't nght. Misery had won. But that isn't right, either. It was Scheherezade. Schehcrazade won.

lSlt

tr:f

"lVhat," she said grumpily. "Watch." I{e opened the package of Corrasable and took out a
sheet. He took a freshly sharpened pencil and drew a line on the paper. Then hi: took a ballpoint pen and drew another line parallel to thc first. Then he slid his thumb across tle slightly waffled surface of the paper. Both

,_!!i nyperventrtate; the rhythm of her

thing."

tte rieht note of sliar; aqo. yet almost casual irritability, ht said: ,,And vol mrghr as well
stoD that. Getting mad won,t changl a
She-froze as

;:ryjt"'t;:11f ffi.*o up the little courage he had left, trvins , Gathering-to qesperatety summon exactly

clenchinf hands was he knew that in a-moment she

lines blurred smudgily in the direction his thumb was travelling, the pencil-line slightly more than the one he had drawn with the pen.
"See?" "So what?"

wounded.

if he had slapped her and looked at him,

"Ribbon-ink will blur, tooo" he said. "It doesn't blur as much as that pencil-line, but it's worse than the ballpoint-ink line." "'Were you going to sit and rub every page with your
thumb?"

"Annie," he said patienfly, ..this is no big deal.,,

"Just the shift of the pages against each other will accomplish plenty of bluning over a period of weeks or

72

Ste?hen

firrc

MISBRY

it sets shifted

around a lot. You're,alxafshunting'back thiough to find a narne or a date. My God, Annie, one of the fiist things you find out in this business is that editors hate readingfrianuseripts typed on Corrasable Bond almost as muih as they hate hhnd'written manuscriptq," "Don't call it that. I hate it when you call it that." He looked at her, honestly puzded. "Call what what?" "When you pervert the talent God gave you by calling it a business.l hate that."

even days," he said, "and when a manuscripl is in ry,ori,

'thl w6rtd oi

the book's side. You spoke of binding it. I assume that you meant binding the manuscript? The typed pages?" - "Of course that's what I meant." Yes, you bet. Because if yau took the manuscript to a orinter.'it m.isht raise oucifibns, You may be naive about
boot<s ahd. publishing,

bui not that naive.

ttl'm sorry." "You oultt to be," she said stonily' "You might as well call vourself a whore." No, Ahnie, he thought, suddenly filled wilh fury.-I'ry no w-hore. Fast Cars ias about not be@ a whore. Thaf s

what killins that goddamned biteh Misery was about, now that I think about tt. I was driving to the West Coast to celebrate mv liberation frorn a state of whoredom. Wha iou did. wis to pult mi out of the wrbck when I croshed h, ca, and stiik me back in- the crib again. Two d'ollar stioi*t up, four dollar I take you aroin the worl. And oid thrn I see a flick;r in your eyes thnt tells me *iri of yii iiy iack niidc knois it tob. A iirv.misht i iin "oi lei youbff Uy reason of ircanity, but not me, Annie' Not this kid. "A good point," he said. "Now, going back to the
subject of the cockadoodie PoPof," she said sullenly. "iust'tell me what to get and I'll get it-."

Paul Sheldon is missing, and your printer might remember receiving a book-leng{h manuscript conceming itself with Paul Sicldon's mosi farwus character right around the time the man himself disappeared, mightn't hc? And he'd cerninly remember the instructions-instructions so queer any printer would remember them. One printed copy of a nov el-length marutscipt. Just one. "What did she look like, offtcer? Well, she was a big wotnan. Looked sort of like d stone idol in an II. Rider Hag.Aard story. lwt a- minute, I've got her name and

addiess here'in the files. . .


carbons of the invoices. .

paPer-"

'T'll get vori iour

"As long as you understand I'm op your side-" "Don't irak6 me laugfu. No one has been on my side

since my mother died twenty years -ago'':

"Belilve what you want, ihen," he said' "If -you're.so recure you vou can't cani believe I'm grateful to you for saving insecure problem." mv life. that's your Your Problem." again saw a {icke-r aro agarn ui^ watching her shrewdly, and he He was in her eyes. 9oo9' h9r to believe, ivanting wanting of uncertainty, of Very good. iie looked at her with all the sincerity.he couid iruster, and again in his mind he imagined shoving a chunk of glass into her throat, once-and forever letting
out the blood that serviced her crazy brain. "At least you should be able to believe that

.---

bound manuscripican be damned handsome. Looks like a good folio ediiion. But a book should last a long time, a,inie, and if I write this one on Corrasable, you're going to have nothing but a bunch of blank.pages_in ten-years or so. Unless, 6f course, you just put it on the shelf." But she wouldn't wani that, would she? Christ, no' She'd want to take it down every day, maybe every few hours. Take it down and gloat over it. An odd stony look hadiome onto her face. He did not like this mulisliness, this almost ostentatious look of obduration. It made him nervous. He could calculate her rage, but there was something _S-_t-his new expression

.'lust lit me look up the . ." "Nofhing wrong with the idea, either," he said. "A

am on

w[ich was as opaque as it was childish. "You don't f,ave to talk anymore," she said. "I already told you I'll get you your paper. What kind?" "Iir this busin6ss-supply store you go tr" "The Paper Patch." "Yes, tde Paper Patch. You _tell -them you'd like two reams--a ream is a package of five hundred sheets-" "I know that. I'm not stuPid, Paul." "I know you're not," he said, becoming more nervous still. The piin had begun to mutter up and dorvn his le-gs again, ani it was speating even more loudly from the

74

Stephen

KiW

MISERY
bad.

75

area of his petvis.-he had been sitting up tor neqr\ an hour, and ihe dislocation down there was complaining ,,,,,'about Keep cool, for God's sake-don't lose everything you've gcined! B.F b.:" t gaitred clcything? Or is it on$ wish$r( thinkkq? "Ask for two reams of white long-srain niimeo. Ham. mermill Bond is a good brand; so iI TriaA Modern. Two reams of mimeo will cost less than this one package of Corrasable, and it should be enough to do the whole-job, write and rewrite." "I'll-goright now," she said, getting up suddenly.

it.

I had champagne chilling in the fridge. I'll have to put it back in the shed." - *Annie, really, I can start if you'll just-" "No, Paul." She moved to the door and then turned, looking at him with that stony face. Only her !Y!!, those Edshed dimes, were fully dlive under the'shelf of her bmw. "There ii one thoulut I would like to leave yoq rith. You may think yotican fool me, or trick me; I lnow I look sl6w and dtupid. But I am not stupid, Paul,

He looked at- !er, alarmed, understanding that she meant to leave him without his medication igain, and sitt{g }p this time, qs w9ll. -sitting already hurtJ the pain would be monstrous by the time she got b-ack, even if she hurried. "You don't have to do that," he said, speakins fast. "The Corrasable is good enoug! to start'wilh-afier all, I'll have to rewrite anyway-" "Only a silly person would try to start a good wort

md I am not slow." Suddenly her face broke apart. The stony obduracy Sattered ind what shone through was the countenance of an insanely angry ctild. For a 4ome1t- P-aul thought tte extremitv"of his ierror mieht kill him. Had he thought he had gaiied the upper hand? Had he? Could one
oossiblv i'lav Scheheraidde when one's captor was insane? She irished across the room at him, thick legs pump-

'

with a bad tool." She took the package of Corrasable Bond, then snatched the sheet with the two smudged lines and crumpled it into a ball. She tossed both into the wastebasket and turned back to him. That stony, obdurate look covered her face like a mask. Her eyes glittered like tarnished dimes.

rlil,e sickroom iii tit<e pistoid. Eer hair bounced and ipled around her face is it carre loose from the bobbyit ffi t"t held it uD. Now her passage was not silent; of iras tite the tread'of Goliath s-triaing into the Valley fmes. The picture of the Arc de Triomphe clacked &ishtedlv on the wall. "Geeeei-vahhh!" she screamed, and brought her fist
down on the bunched salt-dome that had been Paul Sheldon's left knee. He threw his head back and howled, veins standing out ia his neck and on his forehead. Pain burst out from his Gee anO shrouded him, whitely radiant, in the center of a nova. She tore the typewriter off the board and slammed it &wn on the maritbl, fifting its weight of dead metal as he misht have lifted an emptY cardboard box.

ins. knees flexine. elbows chopping back and forth in the

"I'm goingto town now," she said. "I know you want to get started as soon as you can, since you're on my side"-she spoke these last words witlr intense, smoking sarcasm (and, Paul believed, more self-hate than she would ever knowF'and so I'm not even going to take
time to put you back in your bed." She smiled, a pulling of the lips that was grotesquely puppetlike, and slipped to his side in her silent white nurse's shoes. Her fingers touched his hair. He flinched. He tried not to but couldn't help it. Her dead-alive smile
widened.

"Altlough I suspect we may have to put off the actual start of Misery's Returnfor a day. . . ortwo . . . perhaps even three. Yes, it may be as long as three days before you are able to sit up again. Because of the pain. Too

':'So vou iust sit theri,i' she said, lips pulled back in that srinnfuie rictus. "and You think about who is in chareE here.-and all ihe thinis I can do to hurt you if you behive badiy or try to tricli me' You sit there and y-gu scream if voir want-to, because no one can hear you. No one stops"here because they all know Anni'e Wilkes is crazy, they all know what she did, even if they did find

me innocent."

She walked back to the door and turned again, and he

76

UISBRY

77

force of an.angry drunk hammering on an oak bar, agir and again he was swallowed in tfi'at terrible blud-cfiiE nova of pain. "Please, God, pleaser" he moaned as the Cherokec started outside with a pang and a roar. ,,please, God, pleas*let me out of this or kill me . . . let me'out oi this or kill me." The roar of the engine faded off down the road and God did neither and he was left with his tears and the pain, which was now {{ly qwake and raving through hb

not to shake because it hurt, riot ableio tretp it. f# streamed down his cheeks. Again and again he saw h flying across.the room, again aid agqig hE saw her brfoE1ng her fist down on the-remains of his knee with all &

paper." .. She left, slamming the bedroom door enough to the house. Then there was the click of the locl. He leaned back in the chair, shakine all over. trrh

screamed again when she did, in anticipation of bull-like charge, and that made her giri more wir tell you sometling e_1s9,,, sh-b said softly. _, :'lIL t"hirk I BQt iway q1th ,!, ;nd they are rignt. n iiri that, Paul. Paul, while I'm in town getting oettino your virrr crr"t o,

today!" the sportscaster in Paul Sheldon's head sing.-"I don'f believe anyone in Annie Wilkes r-in the home viewing audience, for that nght he had the sly-test chance of getting that moving after the blow he took, but I believe f:* it is! It's moving! Let's look at the replay!" iead ran down his f6rehead and stung hii efes. He J r nixture of salt and tears off his lips. The shudr muld rould not stoD. The oain was like the eud of the He thought: There iomes a point whcn tl* very ion of pain becames redundmt. No one knqys b @n-tile size of this in the worW. No one. It is like

body.

f^A

f-ft only the-thought of the pills, the Nowil that she H mewhere in the house, which got him moving. Dlocte0 bedroom door ... the possibility the dope riF asf be in the downstairs bathroom as he had sur4O tut hidden somewhere . . . the chance she might c back and catch him . . . these things mattered not r {, ttese things were onlyshadows-behind the paip. -D roild deal with each problem as it came up or he mld die. That was all. toving caused the band of frre below his waist and in E legs io sink in deeper, cinching his legs like belts
hot, -d&)d with Very slowly f,move.

pssessed by demons.

inward-pointing spikes. But the chair the chair began to move. He had managed about four feet before realizing he rl going to do nothing more useful than roll the wheel&ir- past the door and into the far corner unless he

He thought later ihat the world, in its unfailing perversity, would probabty construe those things wtricl'tre did nxt as acts of heroism. And he woul-d probably let them-but in fact what he did was nothing'more tdan a finel. stasgering grab for self-preservation. caster-Howard Cosel! or Warner Wolf or perhaps that all+i*e crazy Johnny Most-describing the^scend, as if nN eilort to get at her drug.supply before the pain killed
tor, Monday..Night Football, -perhaps. What would you call a sport like that, anywayi Runior the Dope? "I just cannot believe the guts this Shelhon kid is Dimly he seeqre! to hear some madly enthusiastic sports-

mH

turn it.

lrm

_w-as

s-ome strange sporting

event-a trial substitution

He grasped the right wheel, shuddering, (think of the pills, think of tlw relief of the pills) and bore down on it as hard as he could' Rubber queaked minutely on the wooden floor, the cries of dbe. tte bore down, once strong and now flabby musdes quivering like jelly, hps peeling back from his gdtted @th, and the wheelchair slowly pivoted. He grasped both wheels and got the chair moving again. This time he rolled five feet before stopping to sraighten himself out. Once he'd done it, he grayed ou1. He swam back to reality five minutes later, hearing the dim, goading voice of that sportscaster in his head: "IIe's

94

MISERY

But the piece of alien,metal musf;Have falld .I way to the bottom of the lock,"because her key wu perfectly. He sat in his chair, chair. eyes,half-closed, eves,half-closed. h madly that he had gotten the chair back where il been (or at least close enough enough ,to to it so she she wm notice), hoping that she would take his sweat face and quivering body simply as reactions to nril
his medication, hoping most of all that he hadn"t
a

open that he looked and saw that by looking for individual tracks with agonized concentration, he had ignored a whole run: the boxes of Novril were still in his lap.

trackIt was as the the door swung

35
She had two packages of paper, and she held one up each hand, smiling. "Just what you asked fol, isat Triad Modern. Tlvo reams here, and I have two more the kitchen, just in case. So you see-"

:haods like that?"

lTki"s {}1p: , isvaT "You're dripping withsweat. . . andyourcolor , *What hectic." She paused. have you

!!9

b1oke.

9tr, frow.njlgl

And although that set the panicky little voice of hL lesser self to squealing again that he was caught anil might as well give it up, might as well confess and hope fo1 her mercy, he managed to meet her suspicious gwith an ironic wearinese. _"I think you know what I've been doing," he said.

been

doing?"

ffffik"dfi;-h";; last card_rn fi*__l^1lo;r^ {owq tplayed the absolute r t'*a urinal' r I y"rl the ,,*-^, +Ti iff;ilc;il;.*id, I uul Annie, li i "ti ;h; ?m6 you were -go1e,want 91]! to wet mvself ii;"th ffig"i-;di-din1
-$" Er;trEi
,-il"d

he tEnuo-io crv' It was guilt he cried from' .and that else everthing to ioiition i" i fii-r"it .ii "ui tua doo".to. \im, she.-had made ;#fit;;ffi E'i"zu]fi it.'iiit. So he cried from guilt ' ' ' but ftrom-simfle childish weariness.. i - L:-L^^r-^ his cheeks' iiut -no*i"e

"I've been suffering." From the pocket of her skirt she took a Kleenex

wiped his brow. The Kleenex came away wet. She smiled at him with that terrible bogus maternity. "Has it been very bad?" it has. Now can I-" "Yes. *ItuA Yes, you about making me mad. Live and learn, isn't that what they say? Well, if you live, I guess you'[

ad

G"6
pt

softly, radiantly, and pushed his tumbled brow.-'iYou poor dear' Annie u'ioi, tu.n't shef Too much! MeanTt,uo1lllti it rignt awaY."

learn," "Can I have my pills now?" "In a minute," she said. Her eyes never left his sweaty