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MISERY

and made it seem sone for awhile. These things.all cime at widely spaced intervals, but _. then, as the pain itself began notio iecede but to erode (as that Revere Beach.pilIng itself have eroded, he -must

Paul Sheldon, who wrote novels of two kinds, good ones agd best-sellers. He had been married and div6ried trriee. He smoked too much (or had before all this, whatever "all this" was). Somethiirg very bad had happened to him but he was still alive. That dark-gray cloLd began to dissipate fast'er and faster. It would"bi'V"f ,*nU "U"tor" his nurnber-one fan brought him the ofd ctackins Roval with th ganni-ng glpped mouth and the Ducky 6"Adi"i voice, but Paul understood long before then that he was in a hell of a jam.

!hogg[t, because nothiirg iiforever-although the iirild he had been would have-scoffed at such h"r"ly), ooisiOi things began tg lmpingl-more rapidly untit ttr6'tiU;ictivi wor.ld, with all its freight of m6mo-ry, experienc6, and preiudlce, had pretty m-uch re-establiilied itseU. }16 wai

$#rE

&,

her unsoen bedroom.to prt on jeans befbre doing hii outside chores). Her boily _was "big but not gene-rous.

before he knew he was understanding her-why else did he associate such durr, ominous i*udrr with he?? Wd;: ever she came into the room. he th6ught of the gravn images ryo-ryhipped by superstitious Aflican tribes"in tbe novels of H. Rider Haggard, and stones, and doom. image of Annie Wilkes as an African idol out of -_The She or King Solomon's Mines was both ludicrous and queerly apt. She was a big woman who, other than the large but unwelcoming swe'il of her bosom under the srav gar$S.an sweater she always wore, seemed to have- n6 fe-minine curves at all-there was no defined roundniss of hip or buttoct or even calf below the endless suc""*sion of wool skirts she wore in the house (she retired to

That prescient part of his mind saw her before he.knew he was seeing her, and must surely have understood her

lnere was a teelmg about her of clots and roadblocks

Stebben

Kiw

MISERY
him. It was a pain-killer with a heavy coderle base called Novril. The riason she had to bring him the bedpan so infreouentlv was not only because he was on a diet con' sistini entiielv of iiquidi and gelatines (earlier, when he was ii the cloird, snd had fed h-im intravenously), but also because Novril had a tendency to cause constipation in Datients takine it. Another side-effect, a rather more ierious one, ias respiratory depression in sensitive- Patients. Paul was not particulirly Sensitive, even though-he had been a heavy siroker for nearly eighteen y-ears, but his breathing had stopped nonetheless on -at least one occasion (th6re mieht have been others, in the haze, that he did noi remem6er). That was the time she gave him mouth-to-mouth. It riright have just been one of those thines which happened, but he later came to suspect she had"nearlv kilbtf him with an accidental overdose. She didn't kn6w as much about what she was doing as she believed she did. That was only one of the things about Annie that scared him.

rather than welcoming orifices or even open spaoes, areas

of hiatus.
Most of all she gave him a disturbing sense of solidity, if she might not have any blood vessels or even internal organs; as if she might be only solid Annie Wilkes from side to side and top to bottom. He felt more and more convinced that her eyes, which appeared to move, were actually just painted on, and they moved no more than the eyes of portraits which appear to follow you to wherever you move in the room where they hang. It seemed to him that if he made the first two fingers of his hand into a V and attempted to poke them up her nostrils, they might go less than an eighth of an inch before encountering a solid (if slightly yielding) obstmctionfhat even her gray cardigan and frumpy house skirts and faded outside-work jeans were part of that solid fibrous unchannelled body. So his feeling that she was like an idol in a perfervid novel was not really surprising at all. Like an idol, she gave only one thing: a feeling of unease deepening steadily toward terror. Like an idol, she took everything else. No, wait, that wasn't quite fair. She did give something eIse. She gave him the pills that brought the tide in over
as

the pilings.

The pills were the tide; Annie Wilkes was the lunar

ten davs after havins emeiged from the dark cloud' The fust whs that Annid Wilkds had a great deal of Novril (she had, in fact, a great many drugs of all kinds)' The iecond #as that lie vias hooked on Nowil. The third was that Annie Wilkes was dangerously crazy.

He dismvered three things almost simultaneously, about

presence which pulled them into his rnouth like jetsam on a wave. She brought him two every six hours, first an-

nouncing her presence only as a pair of fingers poking into his mouth (and soon enough he leamed to suck

eagerly at those poking fingers in spite of the bitter taste), later appearing in her cardigan sweater and one of her half-dozen skirts, usually with a paperback copy of one of his novels tucked under her arm- At night she appeared to Um in afuz,zy pink robe, her face shiny with some sort of cream (he could have named the main
ingredient easily enough even though he had never seen the bottle from which she tipped it; the sheepy smell of the lanolin was strong and proclamatory), shaking him out of his frowzy, dream-thick sleep with the pills nestled in her hand and the poxy moon nestled in the window over one of her solid shoulders. After awhile-after his alarm had become too great to be iporefhe was able to find out what she was feeding

The darkness had prologued the pain and the stormcloud; he began to'remJmber whai had prologued the

darkness as sf,e told him what had happened to him. This

was shortly after he had asked the traditional when-thesleeoer-wakes ouestion and she had told him he was in

the'little town of Sidewinder, Colorado. In addition she told him that she had read each of his eight novels at least twice, and had read her very favoites, the Misery novels, four, five, maybe six times. She only wished he would write them fasier. She said she had hardly been
able to believe that her patient was really that Paul Shcldon

even after checking the

ID in his wallet.

MISERY

17

mium lens. He could remember the champagne beginning to wear off, He could remember leaning forward to get his cigarettes off the dashboard and that was when the last skid began and he tried to ride it out but it kept getting worse; he could remember a heavy dull thump and then the world's up and down had swapped places.

He ha&"-s67ss7nsf,l And when I heard you screaming, I knew that you would iive. Dying men rarely scream. They havei't the energy. I know. I decided I would make yoa live. So I got some of my pain medication and made you take it. Thtn you went to sleep. When you woke up aud started to scream again, I gave you some more. You ran a fever for awhile, but I knocked that out, too. I gave you Keflex. You had one or two close calls, but that's all bver now. I promise." She got up. "And now it's time you rested, Paul. You've got to get your strength back."
legs

-"|\{y "Yes, I'm sure they do. In an hour you can have some
medication."

hurt."

"Now. Please." It shamed him to beg, but he could not help it. The tide had gone out and the splintered pilings stood bare, jaggedly real, things which could neither be avoided nor dealt with. "In an hour." Firmly. She moved toward the door with
the spoon and the soup-bowl in one hand. She turned back, l,ooking at him with an expression both stern and loving. He did not like the expression. f,lirh't ltke it at all. *Two weeks since you pulled me out?"

"Wait!"

i
'I

She looked vague again, and annoyed. He would come that her grasp of time was not good. "Something

ib'
;T

f,te that." *I was unconscious?" *Almost all the time." 'What did I eat?"
She considered him. 'fV," she said briefly.

hw

iporance. br*I fed you intravenously," she said. "Through

'cIY?" he said, and she mistook his stunned surprise


tubes.

That's what those marks on your auns are." She looked

MISERY
that. I hope you'll keep
Then she left-

19

with eyes that-w^ere_suddenly flat and considering. ll,!i* "You owe me your life, paul. I liope remernbEr vorr,ll that in mind." '-

7
hgur.prysed. Somehow and finally, the hour passed. _ He lay in bed, sweating and shiveririg at the same time. liom the other room came first the sounds of Hawkeve arl.d.Hot Lips and then the disc jockeys o, Wfnp,-if,lrt wild and crazy Cincinnati radio ltatioi. An announcer,s
Th-e_

Better! The best!" "Thank you," he managed. He could feel the sweat standing out on his forehead. ,,please . . . my legs . . .

volce came on, extolled Ginsu knives, Aave an g00 num_ ber, and informed those Colorado witctrers who had s-lmply been panting for a good set of Ginsu knives th6 Oaerato_{s Were Standing By. Paul Sheldon was also-stahdine Bv. She reappeared promptly whei tlie clock in the other room struck eight, with two capsules and a glass of water. He hoisted himself eagerly on his elbows'as she sat on the bed. got your new book two days ago,,, she told - ."1 frnal$ him. Ice tinkled in the glass. It was a madd-ening sound. *Misery s Child.I love i-i. . . . It,s as good as a[Ihe rest.

clicking sound.

ttrat." She looked at him with faint disafproval-but, as it was mixed with love. It was i'maternal laoi. "No cars in the nineteenth century, fast or otherwise!,, She tittered at this small joke. .,I aiso tcok the liberty of glqlcjng thlgugh it. . . . You don,t mind, do you?,, ' "Please," he moaned. "No, but please-,, Her left hand tilted. The capsules rolled, hesitated, and then fell back into her rifnt nanA witir a minute
before,

he was. "f see there is a manuscript in there,,' she said. She held the capsules in her right hand, whicli she now slowlv tilted. They fell into hef left hand. His eves followe& them. "It's called Fast Cars. Not a Mkery n-ovel, I know

tlvrsted, Iumpy- shapes outlined in the bedclothes, and that was enough. "Please? Miss Wilkes? The oain-,' "Call me Annie. All my friehds do.', SIe gave him the glasJ. It was cool and beaded with moisture. She kept the capsules. The capsules in her hand were the tide. She was the moon,'and she had brought the tide which would cover the pilinis. She broushi them toward his mouth, he imhreOiatety diopff -w-h!ch open . . . and then she withdrew them. liberty"I.took.the of looking in your little bag. you . don't mind, do you?i' "No. No, of course not. The medicine-,, The beads of sweat on his forehead felt alternately hot and cold. Was he going to scream? He thought peitraps

verypainful .

.."

"I knew she would marr5l Ian,', she said, smiling dreamily,-"and I believe Geofhi:y and Ian will'becomE friends 1g3in,.evgntr',llly. Do they-?,] But immediately she said: "No, don't telM want to find ou! for myself. I'm making it last. It always seems so long before'there is anothei one." .T-he pain tlrrobbed il t! t"gr and made a deep sreel circlet around his crotch. He tiad touched himself down there, ,and he thought his pelvis was intact, but it felt twisted and weird. Below his knees it felt as tt nothing was intact. HE didn't want to look. He could see thE

"And if I read it? You wouldn,t mind if I read it?,, His bones were shattered, his legs filled with festenng shards of broken glass. ..No . . j, He made something he hoped was a smile. ..No, of course not." "Because I would never presume to do such a thing without your- permission," she said earnestly. ,.I respeci yoy_tog much. In fact, Paul, I love you.', Slie crimsoned suddenly and alarmingly. One of tLe capsules dropped ftom her fiand to the coverlet. paul snafched at it, but rl." *u..gycke-r. He moaned, but she did not noti"e;

"No-"

creativity. That is all

toward the window. "Your mind,',-sbe

after grabbing the capsule she went vague again, looking

meant.,,

iaia. ..youi

you . . . so nnuch I want to know.', The springs creaked as she got up. be very fiuppy here,', she said, and ^,.,Y_.-pt".go,Lng.tg almough a bott of horror ripped into his heart, paui still did not open his eyes.

Detween them and swallowed even before he'could fumble the spilling glass of water to his "Just like a baby,', she said, but he couldn,t see her Decause hls eye_s were still closed and now he felt the stmg ot tears. "pt1t good. Tlrcre is so much I want to ask

if I read^itin that spirit, wouldyou? i{rrt .pirit of . ran-rove/ Even though Idon,t like your oiher books -of as well as the Misery stories?,, closed his eyes. No, turn the pages ^,".I-o{-l-"_:1i9,.ry9 paper hw if you want, jrui .". . !^t:"^*o"ycript.into prcase . . . I'm dying in here. . . . ,,1 "You're good," sf,e said gently. knew you would be. . Jusr readmg.your b-ooks, I knew you wouid be. A man wno ccutd think of Misery Chastain, first think of her an!,1\e2_bryathe tife int9.h"er, coula Ub no*ing etse.,;--in his mouth suddenlv, ihockinslv . .fier rrnqgry- were l1rp1E,-drrtrty welcome. He sucked the iapsules frdd

it!"

. fq de-sqeration, because it was the only thing he could think of, he said: ,'I know. you,re myn,i.Uir:one fan.,, She did not iust wann up this timq it e lrr up. ,,That,s
she cried. i,Thar,s

ii iiaittytAil'r;;;uldn,t

mind

ilrrtl.'-

8
H-e drifted. The tide came in and he drifted. The TV played. in tb9 other room for awtrile aiar,t. Sometirnes the clock chimed "nO'it"" to count the " chimes -!ut he_kept getting tost U"t*""n. ru. through tubes! Thafs what those marla on your arrfls arc.

*d h;lriJ --

9ge got.lt tgrned on. He looked at his arms and in the "-}f .g*y3n Hlly roros ot ms elbows he saw fading, overlapped shades of and ocher,. a hote fiilea fiiittr ui""fuiooo ;i td; !_r_ryJ" cenrer ot each bruise,

elb.oy.and pawed.for the lamp and

M I S E RY e could
?

2t

fan."

'That's t mind

...of t...

oks as
pages

d be.

man

He lay back, looking at the ceiling, listening to the wind. He was near the top of the Great Divide in the heart of winter, he was with a woman who was not right in her head, a woman who had fed hinn with IV drips when he was unconscious, a woman who had an apparently never-ending supply of dope, a woman who had told no one he was here. These things were important, but he began to realize that something else was more important: the tide was going out pgain. He began to wait for the sound of her alarm clock upstairs. [t would not go off for some long n'hile yet, but it was time for him to statt waiting for it to
be time.

,,h"'
ngly rom

Oh I am in so much trouble he thought, and stared blindly up at the ceiling as the droplets of sweat began to
garher on his forehead again.

She was crazy but he needed her.

Imher
the
rsk

9
Tbe next morning she brought him more soup and told him she had read forty pages of what she called his -manuscript-book." She told him she didn't think it was
as sood as his others.

rd

ilt

''It's hard to follow. It keeps jumping back and forth in

dme."

'Technique," he said. He was somewhere between hurting and not hurting, and so was able to think a little better about what she was saying. "Technique, that's all il is" The subject . . . the subject dictates the form." In sorDe vague way he supposed that such tricks of the trade ffight interest, even fascinate her. God kriew they had rrscinated the attendees of the writers' workshops to rrom he had sometimes lectured when he was younger. 'The boy's mind, you see, is confused, and sG-" -Yes! He's very confused, and that makes him less irreresting. Not aninteresting-I'm sure you couldn't crei@ an aainteresting character-but less interesting. And 6e profanity! Every other word is that effword! It ha-" She nrminated, feeding him the soup automaticaily, wip-

MISERY

23

idlv6d;;h; #iii; nurse. Not a doctor, of no; doctAt il;H ;akn;; when the, dribbles would come,,i U" rUiL i fG;d;A; collsg o! each with such a nice exactiiuOi.If lhe f.o.regafter in charge ,ftn"iirritad been hatf os tooa u nB loo as Annic Wilkes is at hers, I would noi ti in tlis fucking jam, he tnouehiUiuiiiv.'-' '
"It
has no

Tg his mouth when he ddbbled almost without lookinpthe way an experienced typist i""".il* ne came to understand, effortlessly, that she had

She roused a little at a time, and suddenly she tittered. "I have such a tempeF," she said.

boked moodily at the wall. He thought she was going to blank out agaiir, but instead she fetcfied a sigh ai'd liited her bulk from the bed. *Iisery books, because they didn't use such words at all hck then. They weren't even invented. Animal times demand animal words, I suppose, but that wx a better rime. You ought to stick to'iour'Misery stories, Paul. I say that sincerely. As your number-one fan." She went to the door and looked back at him. "I'll put that manuscript.book back in your bag and finish Mlsery's Child. ! may go back to the other one later, when

"I'm sorry," he said out of a dry throdt. "You shoald be." Her face went slack again and she

"You don't have any need to dse such words in the

flf:" tace.

nobilint, she'cried su.lrtenly, jumping and spilring beeflbartey so"ton h,i'ilfrit", upturned

"Yes," he said natiently._l,I understand wh4t you mean, Annie. It's true tnut ron!,n"n*a* iiJnliobitity. a slum kid- trying to get out of i UaA enrironment- He,s vclrr see, aag thosc *erCs . . . everybody uses ttrose ri,<irds

in--"

qrre-qlirliii] #*o* don's

into the c!rner,_ where it striiiereal'sriii #ii'.n"o wall. He sasoedShe. tuied off then. She just sat there . for
heart did irot seem to Ueat

l$s:.Bouinger, you better give me fifty.effing-doitars "lffik as you can'? Do vou -think lhat wheh tlev put me up there on the stand-in Dur-,,--.A sg_eam of muddy-colored beef soup fell on the covgrlt. St g looked at ii, then _"i hi-; uoa'n"i-tu." twisted. ^ '"There! Look what you made "I'm sorry'." . "St1re! You! Are!,'she screamed, and threw the bowl
!g-

looked at him, her face'now like a sky which mieht ^_She tornadoes spawn at a{y. instant. He lay Uu.t, Aigiit"oEj. The soup-bowl was tilting d h;-[;es:tlre, then two drops felrl on the coverhtl *And then do I go down the street to the bank and say THere's

Annie, coming risht the dff un,?,i

jg.Iarf,she said,Fving him a forbidding look. .,*r*." wnar_oo you thml( I do when I go to the feed siore in town? What do vou think I sgZ-.:ttow f;;y, gi* ;;i bag of that effin! pigteeA ano'a-d;i ffi'bit"hlo co-rn and some of that Christing earlmite medicinet ".,*_ And what do you think hg .uy-r^ to-me? ,yo"G;ffi;l'righ;

I'm done." "Don't do that if it makes you mad," he said. He tried to smile. "I'd rather not have you mad. I sort of depend on you, you know." She did not return his smile! "Yes," she said. "You do. You do, don't you, Paul?"
She left.

l0
The tide went out. The pilings were back. He began to wait for the clock to chime. Ttvo chimes. The Chimes came. 4e lay propped up on the pillows, watching the door. She came in. She was wearing arr apron ovei her cardigan and one of her skirts. In one hand she held a floor$ucket. "I suppose you want your cockadoodie medication,"
she said.

oilbig-#il';i"
r"a;C --

lusi;;trid;"i"t

;e

6 ;h;

Dunng ,n",
a:t

m"H?itiltjil *-

and felt that shame again*he felt grotesque to himself; a stranger. "I have it," she said, "but first I have to clean up the mess in the corner. The mess you made. You'll have to

'lteg, please." He tried to smile at her ingratiatingly

"i:-

wait until

do that."

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