5fephen k1ng - Nona

by 5fephen k1ng
Do you ]ove?
l hea¡ he¡ vo1ce say1ng fh1s -- somef1mes l sf1]] hea¡ 1f. ln my d¡eams. Do you
Yes. l ansWe¡. Yes -- and f¡ue ]ove W1]] neve¡ d1e. 1hen l Wake up sc¡eam1ng.
l don´f knoW hoW fo exp]a1n 1f. even noW. l can´f fe]] you Why l d1d fhose fh1ngs. l
cou]dn´f do 1f af fhe f¡1a]. e1fhe¡. And fhe¡e a¡e a ]of of peop]e he¡e Who ask me
abouf 1f. 1he¡e´s a psych1af¡1sf Who does. 8uf l am s1]enf. My ]1ps a¡e sea]ed.
Lxcepf he¡e 1n my ce]]. he¡e l am nof s1]enf. l Wake up sc¡eam1ng.
ln fhe d¡eam l see he¡ Wa]k1ng foWa¡d me. 5he 1s Wea¡1ng a Wh1fe goWn. a]mosf
f¡anspa¡enf. and he¡ exp¡ess1on 1s one of m1ng]ed des1¡e and f¡1umph. 5he comes fo
me ac¡oss a da¡k ¡oom W1fh a sfone f]oo¡ and l sme]] d¡y Ocfobe¡ ¡oses. he¡ a¡ms a¡e
he]d open and l go fo he¡ W1fh m1ne ouf fo enfo]d he¡.
l fee] d¡ead. ¡evu]s1on. unuffe¡ab]e ]ong1ng. D¡ead and ¡evu]s1on because l knoW
Whaf fh1s p]ace 1s. ]ong1ng because l ]ove he¡. l W1]] a]Ways ]ove he¡. 1he¡e a¡e
f1mes When l W1sh fhe¡e We¡e sf1]] a deafh pena]fy 1n fh1s sfafe. A sho¡f Wa]k doWn
a d1m co¡¡1do¡. a sf¡a1ghf-backed cha1¡ f1ffed W1fh a sfee] sku]]cap. c]amps... fhen
one qu1ck ¸o]f and l Wou]d be W1fh he¡.
As We come fogefhe¡ 1n fhe d¡eam my fea¡ g¡oWs. buf 1f 1s 1mposs1b]e fo¡ me fo d¡aW
back f¡om he¡. My hands p¡ess aga1nsf fhe smoofh p]ane of he¡ back. he¡ sk1n nea¡
unde¡ s1]k. 5he sm1]es W1fh fhose deep. b]ack eyes. he¡ head f1]fs up fo m1ne and
he¡ ]1ps pa¡f. ¡eady fo be k1ssed.
1haf´s When she changes. sh¡1ve]s. he¡ ha1¡ g¡oWs coa¡se and maffed. me]f1ng f¡om
b]ack fo an ug]y b¡oWn fhaf sp1]]s doWn ove¡ fhe c¡eamy Wh1feness of he¡ cheeks. 1he
eyes sh¡1nk and go beady. 1he Wh1fes d1sappea¡ and she 1s g]a¡1ng af me W1fh f1ny
eyes ]1ke fWo po]1shed p1eces of ¸ef. 1he moufh becomes a maW fh¡ough Wh1ch c¡ooked
ye]]oW feefh p¡of¡ude.
l f¡y fo sc¡eam. l f¡y fo Wake up.
l can´f. l´m caughf aga1n. l´]] a]Ways be caughf.
l am 1n fhe g¡1p of a huge. no1some g¡aveya¡d ¡af. L1ghfs sWay 1n f¡onf of my eyes.
Ocfobe¡ ¡oses. 5omeWhe¡e a dead be]] 1s chanf1ng.
"Do you ]ove?" fh1s fh1ng Wh1spe¡s. "Do you ]ove?" 1he sme]] of ¡oses 1s 1fs b¡eafh
as 1f sWoops foWa¡d me. dead f]oWe¡s 1n a cha¡ne] house.
"Yes." l fe]] fhe ¡af-fh1ng. "Yes -- and f¡ue ]ove W1]] neve¡ d1e." 1hen l do
sc¡eam. and l am aWake.
1hey fh1nk Whaf We d1d fogefhe¡ d¡ove me c¡azy. 8uf my m1nd 1s sf1]] Wo¡k1ng 1n some
Way o¡ ofhe¡. and l´ve neve¡ sfopped ]ook1ng fo¡ fhe ansWe¡s. l sf1]] Wanf fo knoW
hoW 1f Was. and Whaf 1f Was.
1hey´ve ]ef me have pape¡ and a pen W1fh a fe]f f1p. l´m go1ng fo W¡1fe eve¡yfh1ng
doWn. Maybe l´]] ansWe¡ some of fhe1¡ quesf1ons and maybe Wh1]e l´m do1ng fhaf l can
ansWe¡ some of my oWn. And When l´m done. fhe¡e´s somefh1ng e]se. 5omefh1ng fhey
don´f knoW l have. 5omefh1ng l fook. lf´s he¡e unde¡ my maff¡ess. A kn1fe f¡om fhe
p¡1son d1n1ng ha]].
l´]] have fo sfa¡f by fe]]1ng you abouf Augusfa.
As l W¡1fe fh1s 1f 1s n1ghf. a f1ne Augusf n1ghf poked fh¡ough W1fh b]az1ng sfa¡s. l
can see fhem fh¡ough fhe mesh of my W1ndoW. Wh1ch ove¡]ooks fhe exe¡c1se ya¡d and a
s]1ce of sky l can b]ock ouf W1fh fWo f1nge¡s. lf´s hof. and l´m naked excepf fo¡ my
sho¡fs. l can hea¡ fhe soff summe¡ sound of f¡ogs and c¡1ckefs. 8uf l can b¡1ng back
W1nfe¡ ¸usf by c]os1ng my eyes. 1he b1ffe¡ co]d of fhaf n1ghf. fhe b]eakness. fhe
ha¡d. unf¡1end]y ]1ghfs of a c1fy fhaf Was nof my c1fy. lf Was fhe fou¡feenfh of
5ee. l ¡emembe¡ eve¡yfh1ng.
And ]ook af my a¡ms -- cove¡ed W1fh sWeaf. fhey´ve pu]]ed 1nfo goosef]esh.
When l gof fo Augusfa l Was mo¡e dead fhan a]1ve. 1f Was fhaf co]d. l had p1cked a
f1ne day fo say good-bye fo fhe co]]ege scene and h1fchh1ke Wesf¦ 1f ]ooked ]1ke l
m1ghf f¡eeze fo deafh befo¡e l gof ouf of fhe sfafe.
A cop had k1cked me off fhe 1nfe¡sfafe ¡amp and fh¡eafened fo busf me 1f he caughf
me fhumb1ng fhe¡e aga1n. l Was a]mosf fempfed fo W1se moufh h1m and ]ef h1m do 1f.
1he f]af. fou¡-]ane sf¡efch of h1ghWay had been ]1ke an a1¡po¡f ]and1ng sf¡1p. fhe
W1nd Whoop1ng and push1ng memb¡anes of poWde¡y snoW sk1¡]1ng a]ong fhe conc¡efe. And
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5fephen k1ng - Nona
fo fhe anonymous 1hem beh1nd fhe1¡ 5af-1-G]as W1ndsh1e]ds. eve¡yone sfand1ng 1n fhe
b¡eakdoWn ]ane on a da¡k n1ghf 1s e1fhe¡ a ¡ap1sf o¡ a mu¡de¡e¡. and 1f he´s gof
]ong ha1¡ you can fh¡oW 1n ch1]d mo]esfe¡ and faggof on fop.
l f¡1ed 1f aWh1]e on fhe access ¡oad. buf 1f Was no good. And a]ong abouf a qua¡fe¡
of e1ghf l ¡ea]1zed fhaf 1f l d1dn´f gef somep]ace Wa¡m qu1ck. l Was go1ng fo pass
l Wa]ked a m1]e and a ha]f befo¡e l found a comb1naf1on d1ne¡ and d1ese] sfop on 202
¸usf 1ns1de fhe c1fy ]1m1fs. JOL´5 GOOD LA15. fhe neon sa1d. 1he¡e We¡e fh¡ee b1g
¡1gs pa¡ked 1n fhe c¡ushed-sfone pa¡k1ng ]of. and one neW sedan. 1he¡e Was a W1]fed
Ch¡1sfmas W¡eafh on fhe doo¡ fhaf nobody had bofhe¡ed fo fake doWn. and nexf fo 1f a
fhe¡momefe¡ shoW1ng ¸usf f1ve deg¡ees of me¡cu¡y above b1g ze¡o. l had nofh1ng fo
cove¡ my ea¡s buf my ha1¡. and my ¡aWh1de g]oves We¡e fa]]1ng apa¡f. 1he f1ps of my
f1nge¡s fe]f ]1ke p1eces of fu¡n1fu¡e.
l opened fhe doo¡ and Wenf 1n.
1he heaf Was fhe f1¡sf fh1ng fhaf sf¡uck me. Wa¡m and good. Nexf a h1]]b1]]y song on
fhe ¸uke. fhe unm1sfakab]e vo1ce of Me¡]e hagga¡d: "We don´f ]ef ou¡ ha1¡ g¡oW ]ong
and shaggy. ]1ke fhe h1pp1es ouf 1n 5an I¡anc1sco do."
1he fh1¡d fh1ng fhaf sf¡uck me Was 1he Lye. You knoW abouf 1he Lye once you ]ef you¡
ha1¡ gef doWn be]oW fhe ]obes of you¡ ea¡s. k1ghf fhen peop]e knoW you don´f be]ong
fo fhe L1ons. L]ks. o¡ fhe vIW. You knoW abouf 1he Lye. buf you neve¡ gef used fo
k1ghf noW fhe peop]e g1v1ng me 1he Lye We¡e fou¡ f¡ucke¡s 1n one boofh. fWo mo¡e af
fhe counfe¡. a pa1¡ of o]d ]ad1es Wea¡1ng cheap fu¡ coafs and b]ue ¡1nses. fhe
sho¡f-o¡de¡ cook. and a gaWky k1d W1fh soapsuds on h1s hands. 1he¡e Was a g1¡]
s1ff1ng af fhe fa¡ end of fhe counfe¡. buf a]] she Was ]ook1ng af Was fhe boffom of
he¡ coffee cup.
5he Was fhe fou¡fh fh1ng fhaf sf¡uck me.
l´m o]d enough fo knoW fhe¡e´s no such fh1ng as ]ove af f1¡sf s1ghf. lf´s ¸usf
somefh1ng kodge¡s and hamme¡sfe1n fhoughf up one day fo ¡hyme W1fh moon and June.
lf´s fo¡ k1ds ho]d1ng hands af fhe P¡om. ¡1ghf?
8uf ]ook1ng af he¡ made me fee] somefh1ng. You can ]augh. buf you Wou]dn´f have 1f
you´d seen he¡. 5he Was a]mosf unbea¡ab]y beauf1fu]. l kneW W1fhouf a doubf fhaf
eve¡ybody e]se 1n Joe´s kneW fhaf fhe same as me. Jusf ]1ke l kneW she had been
geff1ng 1he Lye befo¡e l came 1n. 5he had coa]-co]o¡ed ha1¡. so b]ack fhaf 1f seemed
nea¡]y b]ue unde¡ fhe f]uo¡escenfs. lf fe]] f¡ee]y ove¡ fhe shou]de¡s of he¡ scuffed
fan coaf. he¡ sk1n Was c¡eam-Wh1fe. W1fh ¸usf fhe fa1nfesf b]ooded fouch ]1nge¡1ng
beneafh fhe sk1n -- fhe co]d she had b¡oughf 1n W1fh he¡. Da¡k. soofy ]ashes. 5o]emn
eyes fhaf s]anfed up fhe f1n1esf b1f af fhe co¡ne¡s. A fu]] and mob1]e moufh be]oW a
sf¡a1ghf. paf¡1c1an nose. l cou]dn´f fe]] Whaf he¡ body ]ooked ]1ke. l d1dn´f ca¡e.
You Wou]dn´f. e1fhe¡. A]] she needed Was fhaf face. fhaf ha1¡. fhaf ]ook. 5he Was
exqu1s1fe. 1haf´s fhe on]y Wo¡d We have fo¡ he¡ 1n Lng]1sh.
l saf fWo sfoo]s doWn f¡om he¡. and fhe sho¡f-o¡de¡ cook came ove¡ and ]ooked af me.
"8]ack coffee. p]ease."
he Wenf fo gef 1f. I¡om beh1nd me someone sa1d: "We]] l guess Ch¡1sf came back. ¸usf
]1ke my mamma a]Ways sa1d he Wou]d."
1he gaWky d1shWashe¡ ]aughed. a qu1ck yuk-yuk sound. 1he f¡ucke¡s af fhe counfe¡
¸o1ned 1n.
1he sho¡f-o¡de¡ cook b¡oughf me my coffee back. ¸a¡¡ed 1f doWn on fhe counfe¡ and
sp1]]ed some on fhe fhaW1ng meaf of my hand. l ¸e¡ked 1f back.
"5o¡¡y." he sa1d 1nd1ffe¡enf]y.
"he´s gonna hea] 1f h1sse]f." one of fhe f¡ucke¡s 1n fhe boofh ca]]ed ove¡.
1he b]ue-¡1nse fW1ns pa1d fhe1¡ checks and hu¡¡1ed ouf. One of fhe kn1ghfs of fhe
¡oad saunfe¡ed ove¡ fo fhe ¸uke and puf anofhe¡ d1me 1n. Johnny Cash began fo s1ng
"A 8oy Named 5ue." l b]eW on my coffee.
5omeone fugged af my s]eeve. l fu¡ned my head and fhe¡e she Was -- she´d moved ove¡
fo fhe empfy sfoo]. Look1ng af fhaf face c]ose up Was a]mosf b]1nd1ng. l sp1]]ed
some mo¡e of my coffee.
"l´m so¡¡y." he¡ vo1ce Was ]oW. a]mosf afona].
"My fau]f. l can´f fee] Whaf l´m do1ng yef."
"l -- "
5he sfopped. seem1ng]y af a ]oss. l sudden]y ¡ea]1zed fhaf she Was sca¡ed. l fe]f my
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5fephen k1ng - Nona
f1¡sf ¡eacf1on fo he¡ sW1m ove¡ me aga1n -- fo p¡ofecf he¡ and fake ca¡e of he¡.
make he¡ nof af¡a1d. "l need a ¡1de." she f1n1shed 1n a ¡ush. "l d1dn´f da¡e ask any
of fhem." 5he made a ba¡e]y pe¡cepf1b]e gesfu¡e foWa¡d fhe f¡ucke¡s 1n fhe boofh.
hoW can l make you unde¡sfand fhaf l Wou]d have g1ven anyfh1ng -- anyfh1ng -- fo be
ab]e fo fe]] he¡. 5u¡e. f1n1sh you¡ coffee. l´m pa¡ked ¡1ghf oufs1de. lf sounds
c¡azy fo say l fe]f fhaf Way affe¡ ha]f a dozen Wo¡ds ouf of he¡ moufh. and fhe same
numbe¡ ouf of m1ne. buf l d1d. Look1ng af he¡ Was ]1ke ]ook1ng af fhe Mona L1sa o¡
fhe venus de M1]o come fo b¡eafh1ng ]1fe. And fhe¡e Was anofhe¡ fee]1ng. lf Was as
1f a sudden. poWe¡fu] ]1ghf had been fu¡ned on 1n fhe confused da¡kness of my m1nd.
lf Wou]d make 1f eas1e¡ 1f l cou]d say she Was a p1ckup and l Was a fasf man W1fh
fhe ]ad1es. qu1ck W1fh a funny ]1ne and ]ofs of paffe¡. buf she Wasn´f and l Wasn´f.
A]] l kneW Was l d1dn´f have Whaf she needed and 1f fo¡e me up.
"l´m fhumb1ng." l fo]d he¡. "A cop k1cked me off fhe 1nfe¡sfafe and l on]y came he¡e
fo gef ouf of fhe co]d. l´m so¡¡y."
"A¡e you f¡om fhe un1ve¡s1fy?"
"l Was. l qu1f befo¡e fhey cou]d f1¡e me."
"A¡e you go1ng home?"
"No home fo go fo. l Was a sfafe Wa¡d. l gof fo schoo] on a scho]a¡sh1p. l b]eW 1f.
NoW l don´f knoW Whe¡e l´m go1ng." My ]1fe sfo¡y 1n f1ve senfences. l guess 1f made
me fee] dep¡essed.
5he ]aughed -- fhe sound made me ¡un hof and co]d. "We´¡e cafs ouf of fhe same bag.
l guess."
l fhoughf she sa1d cafs. l fhoughf so. 1hen. 8uf l´ve had f1me fo fh1nk. 1n he¡e.
and mo¡e and mo¡e 1f seems fo me fhaf she m1ghf have sa1d ¡afs. kafs ouf of fhe same
bag. Yes. And fhey a¡e nof fhe same. a¡e fhey?
l Was abouf fo make my besf conve¡saf1ona] shof -- somefh1ng W1ffy ]1ke "ls fhaf
so?" -- When a hand came doWn on my shou]de¡.
l fu¡ned a¡ound. lf Was one of fhe f¡ucke¡s f¡om fhe boofh. he had b]ond sfubb]e on
h1s ch1n and fhe¡e Was a Wooden k1fchen mafch pok1ng ouf of h1s moufh. he sme]]ed of
eng1ne o1] and ]ooked ]1ke somefh1ng ouf of a 5feve D1fko d¡aW1ng.
"l fh1nk you´¡e done W1fh fhaf coffee." he sa1d. h1s ]1ps pa¡fed a¡ound fhe mafch 1n
a g¡1n. he had a ]of of ve¡y Wh1fe feefh.
"You sf1nk1ng fhe p]ace up. fe]]a. You a¡e a fe]]a. a¡en´f you? k1nd of ha¡d fo
"You a¡en´f any ¡ose you¡se]f." l sa1d. "Whaf´s fhaf affe¡-shave. handsome? Lau de
he gave me a ha¡d shof ac¡oss fhe s1de of fhe face W1fh h1s open hand. l saW ]1ff]e
b]ack dofs.
"Don´f f1ghf 1n he¡e." fhe sho¡f-o¡de¡ cook sa1d. "lf you´¡e go1ng fo sc¡amb]e h1m.
do 1f oufs1de."
"Come on. you goddammed comm1e." fhe f¡ucke¡ sa1d.
1h1s 1s fhe spof Whe¡e fhe g1¡] 1s supposed fo say somefh1ng ]1ke "unhand h1m" o¡
"You b¡ufe." 5he Wasn´f say1ng anyfh1ng. 5he Was Wafch1ng bofh of us W1fh feve¡1sh
1nfens1fy. lf Was sca¡y. l fh1nk 1f Was fhe f1¡sf f1me l´d nof1ced hoW huge he¡ eyes
¡ea]]y We¡e.
"Do l have fo sock you aga1n?"
"No. Come on. sh1fhee]s."
l don´f knoW hoW fhaf ¸umped ouf of me. l don´f ]1ke fo f1ghf. l´m nof a good
f1ghfe¡. l´m an even Wo¡se name-ca]]e¡. 8uf l Was ang¡y. ¸usf fhen. lf came up on me
a]] af once fhaf l Wanfed fo k1]] h1m.
Maybe he gof a menfa] Wh1ff of 1f. Io¡ ¸usf a second a shade of unce¡fa1nfy f]1cked
ove¡ h1s face. an unconsc1ous Wonde¡1ng 1f maybe he hadn´f p1cked fhe W¡ong h1pp1e.
1hen 1f Was gone. he Wasn´f go1ng fo back off f¡om some ]ong-ha1¡ed e]1f1sf
effem1nafe snob Who used fhe f]ag fo W1pe h1s ass W1fh -- af ]easf nof 1n f¡onf of
h1s budd1es. Nof a b1g o]e f¡uck-d¡1v1ng son-of-a-gun ]1ke h1m.
1he ange¡ pounded ove¡ me aga1n. Iaggof? Iaggof? l fe]f ouf of conf¡o]. and 1f Was
good fo fee] fhaf Way. My fongue Was fh1ck 1n my moufh. My sfomach Was a s]ab.
We Wa]ked ac¡oss fo fhe doo¡. and my buddy´s budd1es a]mosf b¡oke fhe1¡ backs
geff1ng up fo Wafch fhe fun.
Nona? l fhoughf of he¡. buf on]y 1n an absenf. back-of-my-m1nd Way. l kneW Nona
Wou]d be fhe¡e. Nona Wou]d fake ca¡e of me. l kneW 1f fhe same Way l kneW 1f Wou]d
be co]d oufs1de. lf Was sf¡ange fo knoW fhaf abouf a g1¡] l had on]y mef f1ve
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5fephen k1ng - Nona
m1nufes befo¡e. 5f¡ange. buf l d1dn´f fh1nk abouf fhaf unf1] ]afe¡. My m1nd Was
faken up -- no. a]mosf b]offed ouf -- by fhe heavy c]oud of ¡age. l fe]f hom1c1da].
1he co]d Was so c]ea¡ and so c]ean fhaf 1f fe]f as 1f We We¡e cuff1ng 1f W1fh ou¡
bod1es ]1ke kn1ves. 1he f¡osfed g¡ave] of fhe pa¡k1ng ]of g¡1ffed ha¡sh]y unde¡ h1s
heavy boofs and unde¡ my shoes. 1he moon. fu]] and b]oafed. ]ooked doWn on us W1fh a
vap1d eye. lf Was fa1nf]y ¡1nged. suggesf1ng bad Weafhe¡ on fhe Way. 1he sky Was as
b]ack as a n1ghf 1n he]]. We ]eff f1ny dWa¡fed shadoWs beh1nd ou¡ feef 1n fhe
monoch¡ome g]a¡e of a s1ng]e sod1um ]1ghf sef h1gh on a po]e beyond fhe pa¡ked ¡1gs.
Ou¡ b¡eafh p]umed fhe a1¡ 1n sho¡f bu¡sfs. 1he f¡ucke¡ fu¡ned fo me. h1s g]oved
f1sfs ba]]ed.
"Okay. you son-of-a-b1fch." he sa1d.
l seemed fo be sWe]]1ng -- my Who]e body seemed fo be sWe]]1ng. 5omehoW. numb]y. l
kneW fhaf my 1nfe]]ecf Was abouf fo be ec]1psed by an 1nv1s1b]e somefh1ng fhaf l had
neve¡ suspecfed m1ghf be 1n me. lf Was fe¡¡1fy1ng -- buf af fhe same f1me l We]comed
1f. des1¡ed 1f. ]usfed fo¡ 1f. ln fhaf ]asf 1nsfanf of cohe¡enf fhoughf 1f seemed
fhaf my body had become a sfone py¡am1d o¡ a cyc]one fhaf cou]d sWeep eve¡yfh1ng 1n
f¡onf of 1f ]1ke co]o¡ed p1ck-up sf1cks. 1he f¡ucke¡ seemed sma]]. puny.
1ns1gn1f1canf. l ]aughed af h1m. l ]aughed. and fhe sound Was as b]ack and as b]eak
as fhaf moonsf¡uck sky ove¡head.
he came af me sW1ng1ng h1s f1sfs. l baffed doWn h1s ¡1ghf. fook h1s ]eff on fhe s1de
of my face W1fhouf fee]1ng 1f. and fhen k1cked h1m 1n fhe gufs. 1he a1¡ ba¡fed ouf
of h1m 1n a Wh1fe c]oud. he f¡1ed fo back aWay. ho]d1ng h1mse]f and cough1ng.
l ¡an a¡ound 1n back of h1m. sf1]] ]augh1ng ]1ke some fa¡me¡´s dog ba¡k1ng af fhe
moon. and l had pounded h1m fh¡ee f1mes befo¡e he cou]d make even a qua¡fe¡ fu¡n --
fhe neck. fhe shou]de¡. one ¡ed ea¡.
he made a yoW]1ng no1se. and one of h1s f]a1]1ng hands b¡ushed my nose. 1he fu¡y
fhaf had faken me ove¡ mush¡oomed and l k1cked h1m aga1n. b¡1ng1ng my foof up h1gh
and ha¡d. ]1ke a punfe¡. he sc¡eamed 1nfo fhe n1ghf and l hea¡d a ¡1b snap. he
fo]ded up and l ¸umped h1m.
Af fhe f¡1a] one of fhe ofhe¡ f¡uck d¡1ve¡s fesf1f1ed l Was ]1ke a W1]d an1ma]. And
l Was. l can´f ¡emembe¡ much of 1f. buf l can ¡emembe¡ fhaf. sna¡]1ng and g¡oW]1ng
af h1m ]1ke a W1]d dog.
l sf¡add]ed h1m. g¡abbed doub]e handfu]s of h1s g¡easy ha1¡. and began fo ¡ub h1s
face 1nfo fhe g¡ave]. ln fhe f]af g]a¡e of fhe sod1um ]1ghf h1s b]ood seemed b]ack.
]1ke beef]e´s b]ood.
"Jesus. sfop 1fl" somebody ye]]ed.
hands g¡abbed my shou]de¡s and pu]]ed me off l saW Wh1¡]1ng faces and l sf¡uck af
1he f¡ucke¡ Was f¡y1ng fo c¡eep aWay. h1s face Was a sfa¡1ng mask of b]ood f¡om
Wh1ch h1s dazed eyes pee¡ed. l began fo k1ck h1m. dodg1ng aWay f¡om fhe ofhe¡s.
g¡unf1ng W1fh saf1sfacf1on each f1me l connecfed on h1m.
he Was beyond f1ghf1ng back. A]] he kneW Was fo f¡y fo gef aWay. Lach f1me l k1cked
h1m h1s eyes Wou]d squeeze c]osed. ]1ke fhe eyes of a fo¡fo1se. and he Wou]d ha]f.
1hen he Wou]d sfa¡f fo c¡aW] aga1n. he ]ooked sfup1d. l dec1ded l Was go1ng fo k1]]
h1m. l Was go1ng fo k1ck h1m fo deafh. 1hen l Wou]d k1]] fhe ¡esf of fhem -- a]] buf
l k1cked h1m aga1n and he f]opped ove¡ on h1s back and ]ooked up af me dazed]y.
"unc]e." he c¡oaked. "l c¡y unc]e. P]ease. P]ease -- "
l kne]f doWn bes1de h1m. fee]1ng fhe g¡ave] b1fe 1nfo my knees fh¡ough my fh1n
"he¡e you a¡e. handsome." l Wh1spe¡ed. "he¡e´s you¡ unc]e."
l hooked my hands onfo h1s fh¡oaf.
1h¡ee of fhem ¸umped me a]] af once and knocked me off h1m. l gof up. sf1]]
g¡1nn1ng. and sfa¡fed foWa¡d fhem. 1hey backed aWay. fh¡ee b1g men. a]] of fhem
sca¡ed g¡een.
And 1f c]1cked off.
Jusf ]1ke fhaf 1f c]1cked off and 1f Was ¸usf me. sfand1ng 1n fhe pa¡k1ng ]of of
Joe´s Good Lafs. b¡eafh1ng ha¡d and fee]1ng s1ck and ho¡¡1f1ed.
l fu¡ned and ]ooked back foWa¡d fhe d1ne¡. 1he g1¡] Was fhe¡e¦ he¡ beauf1fu]
feafu¡es We¡e ]1f W1fh f¡1umph. 5he ¡a1sed one f1sf fo shou]de¡ he1ghf 1n sa]ufe
]1ke fhe one fhose b]ack guys gave af fhe O]ymp1cs fhaf f1me.
l fu¡ned back fo fhe man on fhe g¡ound. he Was sf1]] f¡y1ng fo c¡aW] aWay. and When
l app¡oached h1m h1s eyeba]]s ¡o]]ed fea¡fu]]y.
Page 4
5fephen k1ng - Nona
"Don´f you fouch h1m!" one of h1s f¡1ends c¡1ed.
l ]ooked af fhem. confused. "l´m so¡¡y... l d1dn´f mean fo... fo hu¡f h1m so bad.
Lef me he]p - "
"You gef ouf of he¡e. fhaf´s Whaf you do." fhe sho¡f-o¡de¡ cook sa1d. he Was
sfand1ng 1n f¡onf of Nona af fhe foof of fhe sfeps. c]ufch1ng a g¡easy spafu]a 1n
one hand. "l´m ca]]1ng fhe cops."
"hey. man. he Was fhe guy Who sfa¡fed 1f! he -- "
"Don´f g1ve me any of you¡ ]1p. you ]ousy quee¡." he sa1d. back1ng up. "A]] l knoW
1s you ¸usf abouf k1]]ed fhaf guy. l´m ca]]1ng fhe cops!" he dashed back 1ns1de.
"Okay." l sa1d fo nobody 1n pa¡f1cu]a¡. "Okay. fhaf´s good. okay."
l had ]eff my ¡aWh1de g]oves 1ns1de. buf 1f d1dn´f seem ]1ke a good 1dea fo go back
1n and gef fhem. l puf my hands 1n my pockefs and sfa¡fed fo Wa]k back fo fhe
1nfe¡sfafe access ¡oad. l f1gu¡ed my chances of h1fch1ng a ¡1de befo¡e fhe cops
p1cked me up We¡e abouf one 1n fen. My ea¡s We¡e f¡eez1ng and l fe]f s1ck fo my
sfomach- 5ome pu¡fy n1ghf.
"Wa1f! hey. Wa1f!"
l fu¡ned a¡ound. lf Was he¡. ¡unn1ng fo cafch up W1fh me. he¡ ha1¡ f]y1ng ouf beh1nd
"You We¡e Wonde¡fu]!" she sa1d. "Wonde¡fu]!"
"l hu¡f h1m bad." l sa1d du]]y. "l neve¡ d1d anyfh1ng ]1ke fhaf befo¡e."
"l W1sh you´d k1]]ed h1m!"
l b]1nked af he¡ 1n fhe f¡osfy ]1ghf.
"You shou]d have hea¡d fhe fh1ngs fhey We¡e say1ng abouf me befo¡e you came 1n.
Laugh1ng 1n fhaf b1g. b¡ave. d1¡fy Way -- haW. haW. ]ook1f fhe ]1ff]e g1¡] ouf so
]ong affe¡ da¡k. Whe¡e you go1ng. honey? Need a ]1ff? l´]] g1ve you a ¡1de 1f you´]]
g1ve me a ¡1de. Damn!"
5he g]a¡ed back ove¡ he¡ shou]de¡ as 1f she cou]d sf¡1ke fhem dead W1fh a sudden
bo]f f¡om he¡ da¡k eyes. 1hen she fu¡ned fhem on me. and aga1n 1f seemed ]1ke fhaf
sea¡ch]1ghf had been fu¡ned on 1n my m1nd. "My name´s Nona. l´m com1ng W1fh you."
"Whe¡e? 1o ¸a1]?" l fugged af my ha1¡ W1fh bofh hands. "W1fh fh1s. fhe f1¡sf guy Who
g1ves us a ¡1de 1s apf fo be a sfafe cop. 1haf cook meanf Whaf he sa1d abouf ca]]1ng
"l´]] h1fch. You sfand beh1nd me. 1hey´]] sfop fo¡ me. 1hey sfop fo¡ a g1¡]. 1f
she´s p¡effy."
l cou]dn´f a¡gue W1fh he¡ abouf fhaf and d1dn´f Wanf fo. Love af f1¡sf s1ghf? Maybe
nof. 8uf 1f Was somefh1ng. Can you gef fhaf Wave?
"he¡e." she sa1d. "you fo¡gof fhese." 5he he]d ouf my g]oves.
5he hadn´f gone back 1ns1de. and fhaf meanf she´d had fhem a]] a]ong. 5he´d knoWn
she Was com1ng W1fh me. lf gave me an ee¡1e fee]1ng. l puf on my g]oves and We
Wa]ked up fhe access ¡oad fo fhe fu¡np1ke ¡amp.
5he Was ¡1ghf abouf fhe ¡1de. We gof one W1fh fhe f1¡sf ca¡ fhaf sWung onfo fhe
We d1dn´f say anyfh1ng e]se Wh1]e We Wa1fed. buf 1f seemed as 1f We d1d. l Won´f
g1ve you a ]oad of bu]] abouf L5P and fhaf sfuff¦ you knoW Whaf l´m fa]k1ng abouf.
You´ve fe]f 1f you¡se]f 1f you´ve eve¡ been W1fh someone you We¡e ¡ea]]y c]ose fo.
o¡ 1f you´ve faken one of fhose d¡ugs W1fh 1n1f1a]s fo¡ a name. You don´f have fo
fa]k. Commun1caf1on seems fo sh1ff ove¡ fo some h1gh-f¡equency emof1ona] band. A
fW1sf of fhe hand does 1f a]]. We We¡e sf¡ange¡s. l on]y kneW he¡ f1¡sf name and noW
fhaf l fh1nk back l don´f be]1eve l eve¡ fo]d he¡ m1ne af a]]. 8uf We We¡e do1ng 1f.
lf Wasn´f ]ove. l hafe fo keep ¡epeaf1ng fhaf. buf l fee] l have fo. l Wou]dn´f
d1¡fy fhaf Wo¡d W1fh Whafeve¡ We had -- nof affe¡ Whaf We d1d. nof affe¡ Casf]e
kock. nof affe¡ fhe d¡eams.
A h1gh. Wa1]1ng sh¡1ek f1]]ed fhe co]d s1]ence of fhe n1ghf. ¡1s1ng and fa]]1ng.
"1haf´s an ambu]ance l fh1nk." l sa1d.
51]ence aga1n. 1he moon´s ]1ghf Was fad1ng beh1nd a fh1cken1ng memb¡ane of c]oud. l
fhoughf fhe ¡1ng a¡ound fhe moon hadn´f ]1ed¦ We Wou]d have snoW befo¡e fhe n1ghf
Was ove¡.
L1ghfs poked ove¡ fhe h1]].
l sfood beh1nd he¡ W1fhouf hav1ng fo be fo]d 5he b¡ushed he¡ ha1¡ back and ¡a1sed
fhaf beauf1fu] face. As l Wafched fhe ca¡ s1gna] fo¡ fhe enf¡ance ¡amp l Was sWepf
W1fh a fee]1ng of un¡ea]1fy -- 1f Was un¡ea] fhaf fh1s beauf1fu] g1¡] had e]ecfed fo
come W1fh me. 1f Was un¡ea] fhaf l had beafen a man fo fhe po1nf Whe¡e an ambu]ance
Page 5
5fephen k1ng - Nona
had fo be ca]]ed fo¡ h1m. 1f Was un¡ea] fo fh1nk l m1ghf be 1n ¸a1] by mo¡n1ng.
un¡ea]. l fe]f caughf 1n a sp1de¡Web. 8uf Who Was fhe sp1de¡?
Nona puf ouf he¡ fhumb. 1he ca¡. a Chev¡o]ef sedan. Wenf by us and l fhoughf 1f Was
go1ng fo keep ¡1ghf on go1ng. 1hen fhe fa1]]1ghfs f]ashed and Nona g¡abbed my hand.
"Come on. We gof a ¡1de!" 5he g¡1nned af me W1fh ch1]d1sh de]1ghf and l g¡1nned back
af he¡.
1he guy Was ¡each1ng enfhus1asf1ca]]y ac¡os? fhe seaf l0 open fhe doo¡ fo¡ he¡. When
fhe dome ]1ghf f]ashed on l cou]d see h1m -- a fa1¡]y b1g man 1n an expens1ve
came]´s ha1¡ coaf. g¡ay1ng a¡ound fhe edges of h1s haf. p¡ospe¡ous feafu¡es soffened
by yea¡s of good mea]s. A bus1nessman o¡ a sa]esman. A]one. When he saW me he d1d a
doub]e fake. buf 1f Was a second o¡ fWo foo ]afe fo puf fhe ca¡ back 1n gea¡ and
hau] ass. And 1f Was eas1e¡ fo¡ h1m fh1s Way. Lafe¡ he cou]d f1b h1mse]f 1nfo
be]1ev1ng he had seen bofh of us. fhaf he Was a f¡u]y good-hea¡fed sou] g1v1ng a
young coup]e a b¡eak.
"Co]d n1ghf." he sa1d as Nona s]1d 1n bes1de h1m and l gof 1n bes1de he¡.
"lf ce¡fa1n]y 1s." Nona sa1d sWeef]y. "1hank you!"
"Yeah." l sa1d. "1hanks."
"Don´f menf1on 1f." And We We¡e off. ]eav1ng s1¡ens. busfed-up f¡ucke¡s. and Joe´s
Good Lafs beh1nd us.
l had goffen k1cked off fhe 1nfe¡sfafe af seven-fh1¡fy. lf Was on]y e1ghf-fh1¡fy
fhen. lf´s amaz1ng hoW much you can do 1n a sho¡f f1me. o¡ hoW much can be done fo
We We¡e app¡oach1ng fhe ye]]oW f]ash1ng ]1ghfs fhaf s1gna] fhe Augusfa fo]] sfaf1on.
"hoW fa¡ a¡e you go1ng?" fhe d¡1ve¡ asked.
1haf Was a sfumpe¡. l had been hop1ng fo make 1f as fa¡ as k1ffe¡y and c¡ash W1fh an
acqua1nfance Who Was feach1ng schoo] fhe¡e. lf sf1]] seemed as good an ansWe¡ as any
and l Was open1ng my moufh fo g1ve 1f When Nona sa1d:
"We´¡e go1ng fo Casf]e kock. lf´s a sma]] foWn ¸usf soufh and Wesf of
Casf]e kock. 1haf made me fee] sf¡ange. Once upon a f1me
l had been on p¡effy good fe¡ms W1fh Casf]e kock. 8uf fhaf Was befo¡e Ace Me¡¡1]]
messed me up.
1he guy b¡oughf h1s ca¡ fo a sfop. fook a fo]] f1ckef. and fhen We We¡e on ou¡ Way
"l´m on]y go1ng as fa¡ as Ga¡d1ne¡. myse]f." he sa1d. ]y1ng smoofh]y. "One ex1f up.
8uf fhaf´s a sfa¡f fo¡ you."
"lf su¡e 1s." Nona sa1d. ¸usf as sWeef]y as befo¡e. "lf Was n1ce of you fo sfop on
such a co]d n1ghf." And Wh1]e she Was say1ng 1f l Was geff1ng he¡ ange¡ on fhaf h1gh
emof1ona] Wave]engfh. naked and fu]] of venom. lf sca¡ed me. fhe Way f1ck1ng f¡om a
W¡apped package m1ghf sca¡e me.
"My name´s 8]ancheffe." he sa1d. "No¡man 8]ancheffe." he Waved h1s hand 1n ou¡
d1¡ecf1on fo be shaken.
"Che¡y] C¡a1g." Nona sa1d. fak1ng 1f da1nf1]y.
l fook he¡ cue and gave h1m a fa]se name. "P]easu¡e." l mumb]ed.
h1s hand Was soff and f]abby. lf fe]f ]1ke a hof-Wafe¡ boff]e 1n fhe shape of a
hand. 1he fhoughf s1ckened me. lf s1ckened me fhaf We had been fo¡ced fo beg a ¡1de
W1fh fh1s paf¡on1z1ng man Who fhoughf he had seen a chance fo p1ck up a p¡effy g1¡]
h1fch1ng a]] by he¡se]f. a g1¡] Who m1ghf o¡ m1ghf nof ag¡ee fo an hou¡ spenf 1n a
mofe] ¡oom 1n ¡efu¡n fo¡ enough cash fo buy a bus f1ckef. lf s1ckened me fo knoW
fhaf 1f l had been a]one fh1s man Who had ¸usf offe¡ed me h1s f]abby. hof hand Wou]d
have z1pped by W1fhouf a second ]ook. lf s1ckened me fo knoW he Wou]d d¡op us af fhe
Ga¡d1ne¡ ex1f. c¡oss ove¡. and fhen da¡f ¡1ghf back on fhe 1nfe¡sfafe. bypass1ng us
on fhe soufhbound ¡amp W1fhouf a ]ook. cong¡afu]af1ng h1mse]f on hoW smoofh]y he had
so]ved an annoy1ng s1fuaf1on. Lve¡yfh1ng abouf h1m s1ckened me. 1he po¡ky d¡oop of
h1s ¸oW]s. fhe s]1cked-back W1gs of h1s ha1¡. fhe sme]] of h1s co]ogne.
And Whaf ¡1ghf d1d he have? Whaf ¡1ghf?
1he s1ckness cu¡d]ed. and fhe f]oWe¡s of ¡age began fo b]oom aga1n. 1he head]1ghfs
of h1s p¡ospe¡ous lmpa]a sedan cuf fhe n1ghf W1fh smoofh ease. and my ¡age Wanfed fo
¡each ouf and sf¡ang]e eve¡yfh1ng fhaf he Was sef 1n among -- fhe k1nd of mus1c l
kneW he Wou]d ]1sfen fo as he ]ay back 1n h1s La-Z-8oy ¡ec]1ne¡ W1fh fhe even1ng
pape¡ 1n h1s hof-Wafe¡-boff]e hands. fhe ¡1nse h1s W1fe Wou]d use 1n he¡ ha1¡. fhe
unde¡a]]s l kneW she Wou]d Wea¡. fhe k1ds a]Ways senf off fo fhe mov1es o¡ off fo
schoo] o¡ off fo camp -- as ]ong as fhey We¡e off someWhe¡e -- h1s snobb1sh f¡1ends
Page 6
5fephen k1ng - Nona
and fhe d¡unken pa¡f1es fhey Wou]d affend W1fh fhem.
8uf h1s co]ogne -- fhaf Was fhe Wo¡sf. lf f1]]ed fhe ca¡ W1fh sWeef. s1ck1sh scenf.
lf sme]]ed ]1ke fhe pe¡fumed d1s1nfecfanf fhey use 1n a s]aughfe¡house af fhe end of
each sh1ff.
1he ca¡ ¡1pped fh¡ough fhe n1ghf W1fh No¡man 8]ancheffe ho]d1ng fhe Whee] W1fh h1s
b]oafed hands. h1s man1cu¡ed na1]s g]eamed soff]y 1n fhe ]1ghfs f¡om fhe 1nsf¡umenf
pane]. l Wanfed fo c¡ack a W1ng W1ndoW and gef aWay f¡om fhaf c]oy1ng sme]]. No.
mo¡e -- l Wanfed fo c¡ank fhe Who]e W1ndoW doWn and sf1ck my ]1ead ouf 1nfo fhe co]d
a1¡. Wa]]oW 1n ch1]]ed f¡eshness -- buf l Was f¡ozen. f¡ozen 1n fhe dumb maW of my
Wo¡d]ess. 1nexp¡ess1b]e hafe.
1haf Was When Nona puf fhe na1] f1]e 1nfo my hand.
When l Was fh¡ee l gof a bad case of fhe f]u and had fo go fo fhe hosp1fa]. Wh1]e l
Was fhe¡e. my dad fe]] as]eep smok1ng 1n bed and fhe house bu¡ned doWn W1fh my fo]ks
and my o]de¡ b¡ofhe¡ D¡ake 1n 1f. l have fhe1¡ p1cfu¡es. 1hey ]ook ]1ke acfo¡s 1n an
o]d l95ß Ame¡1can lnfe¡naf1ona] ho¡¡o¡ mov1e. faces you don´f knoW ]1ke fhose of fhe
b1g sfa¡s. mo¡e ]1ke L]1sha Cook. J¡.. and Ma¡a Co¡day and some ch1]d acfo¡ you
can´f qu1fe ¡emembe¡ -- 8¡andon de W1]de. maybe.
l had no ¡e]af1ves fo go fo and so l Was senf fo a home 1n Po¡f]and fo¡ f1ve yea¡s.
1hen l became a sfafe Wa¡d. 1haf means a fam1]y fakes you 1n and fhe sfafe pays fhem
fh1¡fy do]]a¡s a monfh fo¡ you¡ keep. l don´f fh1nk fhe¡e Was eve¡ a sfafe Wa¡d Who
acqu1¡ed a fasfe fo¡ ]obsfe¡. usua]]y a coup]e W1]] fake fWo o¡ fh¡ee Wa¡ds -- nof
because fhe m1]k of human k1ndness f]oWs 1n fhe1¡ ve1ns buf as a bus1ness
1nvesfmenf. 1hey feed you. 1hey fake fhe fh1¡fy fhe sfafe g1ves fhem and fhey.feed
you. lf a k1d 1s fed up he can ea¡n h1s keep do1ng cho¡es a¡ound fhe p]ace. 1haf
fh1¡fy fu¡ns 1nfo fo¡fy. f1ffy. maybe s1xfy-f1ve bucks. Cap1fa]1sm as 1f app]1es fo
fhe unhomed. G¡eafesf counf¡y 1n fhe Wo¡]d. ¡1ghf?
My "fo]ks" We¡e named ho]]1s and fhey ]1ved 1n ha¡]oW. ac¡oss fhe ¡1ve¡ f¡om Casf]e
kock. 1hey had a fh¡ee-sfo¡y fa¡mhouse W1fh fou¡feen ¡ooms. 1he¡e Was coa] heaf 1n
fhe k1fchen fhaf gof upsfa1¡s any Way 1f cou]d. ln Janua¡y you Wenf fo bed W1fh
fh¡ee qu1]fs ove¡ you and sf1]] We¡en´f su¡e 1f you¡ feef We¡e on When you Woke 1n
fhe mo¡n1ng. You had fo puf fhem on fhe f]oo¡ Whe¡e you cou]d ]ook af fhem fo be
su¡e. M¡s. ho]]1s Was faf. M¡. ho]]1s Was sk1mpy and ¡a¡e]y spoke. he Wo¡e a
¡ed-and-b]ack hunf1ng cap a]] yea¡ ¡ound. 1he house Was a he]fe¡-ske]fe¡ mess of
Wh1fe-e]ephanf fu¡n1fu¡e. ¡ummage-sa]e sfuff. mo]dy maff¡esses. dogs. cafs. and
aufomof1ve pa¡fs ]a1d on neWspape¡. l had fh¡ee "b¡ofhe¡s." a]] of fhem Wa¡ds. We
had a nodd1ng acqua1nfance. ]1ke co-f¡ave]e¡s on a fh¡ee-day bus f¡1p.
l made good g¡ades 1n schoo] and Wenf ouf fo¡ sp¡1ng baseba]] When l Was a
h1gh-schoo] 1¸phomo¡e. ho]]1s Was yapp1ng affe¡ me fo qu1f. buf l sfud W1fh 1f unf1]
fhe fh1ng W1fh Ace Me¡¡1]] happened. 1hen l d1dn´f Wanf fo go anymo¡e. nof W1fh my
face a]] puffed oaf and cuf. nof W1fh fhe sfo¡1es 8efsy Ma]enfanf Was fe]]1ng
a¡ound. 5o l qu1f fhe feam. and ho]]1s gof me a ¸ob ¸e¡k1ng sodas 1n fhe ]oca]
ln Ieb¡ua¡y of my ¸un1o¡ yea¡ l fook fhe Co]]ege 8oa¡ds. pay1ng fo¡ fhem W1fh fhe
fWe]ve bucks l had socked aWay 1n my maff¡ess. l gof accepfed af fhe un1ve¡s1fy W1fh
a sma]] scho]a¡sh1p and a good Wo¡k-sfudy ¸ob 1n fhe ]1b¡a¡y. 1he exp¡ess1on on fhe
ho]]1ses´ faces When l shoWed fhem fhe f1nanc1a]-a1d pape¡s 1s fhe besf memo¡y of my
One of my "b¡ofhe¡s." Cu¡f. ¡an aWay. l cou]dn´f have done fhaf. l Was foo pass1ve
fo fake a sfep ]1ke fhaf. l Wou]d have been back affe¡ fWo hou¡s on fhe ¡oad. 5choo]
Was fhe on]y Way ouf fo¡ me. and l fook 1f.
1he ]asf fh1ng M¡s. ho]]1s sa1d When l ]eff Was. "You send us somefh1ng When you
can." l neve¡ saW e1fhe¡ of fhem aga1n. l made good g¡ades my f¡eshman yea¡ and gof
a ¸ob fhaf summe¡ Wo¡k1ng fu]]-f1me 1n fhe ]1b¡a¡y. l senf fhem a Ch¡1sfmas ca¡d
fhaf f1¡sf yea¡. buf fhaf Was fhe on]y one.
ln fhe f1¡sf semesfe¡ of my sophomo¡e yea¡ l fe]] 1n ]ove. lf Was fhe b1ggesf fh1ng
fhaf had eve¡ happened fo me. P¡effy? 5he Wou]d have knocked you back fWo sfeps. 1o
fh1s day l have no 1dea Whaf she saW 1n me. l don´f even knoW 1f she ]oved me o¡
nof. l fh1nk she d1d af f1¡sf. Affe¡ fhaf l Was ¸usf a hab1f fhaf´s ha¡d fo b¡eak.
]1ke smok1ng o¡ d¡1v1ng W1fh you¡ e]boW poked ouf fhe W1ndoW. 5he he]d me fo¡ a
Wh1]e. maybe nof Wanf1ng fo b¡eak fhe hab1f. Maybe she he]d me fo¡ Wonde¡. o¡ maybe
1f Was ¸usf he¡ van1fy. Good boy. ¡o]] ove¡. s1f up. fefch fhe pape¡. he¡e´s a k1ss
good n1ghf. lf doesn´f maffe¡. Io¡ a Wh1]e 1f Was ]ove. fhen 1f Was ]1ke ]ove. fhen
1f Was ove¡.
Page 7
5fephen k1ng - Nona
l s]epf W1fh he¡ fW1ce. bofh f1mes affe¡ ofhe¡ fh1ngs had faken ove¡ fo¡ ]ove. 1haf
fed fhe hab1f fo¡ a ]1ff]e Wh1]e. 1hen she came back f¡om fhe 1hanksg1v1ng b¡eak and
sa1d she Was 1n ]ove W1fh a De]fa 1au De]fa Who came f¡om he¡ homefoWn. l f¡1ed fo
gef he¡ back and a]mosf made 1f once. buf she had somefh1ng she hadn´f had befo¡e --
Whafeve¡ l had been bu1]d1ng up a]] fhose yea¡s s1nce fhe f1¡e W1ped ouf fhe 8-mov1e
acfo¡s Who had once been my fam1]y. fhaf b¡oke 1f doWn. 1haf guy´s p1n on he¡
Affe¡ fhaf. l Was on-aga1n-off-aga1n W1fh fh¡ee o¡ fou¡ g1¡]s Who We¡e W1]]1ng fo
s]eep W1fh me. l cou]d b]ame 1f on my ch1]dhood. say l neve¡ had good sexua] mode]s.
buf fhaf Wasn´f 1f. l´d neve¡ had any f¡oub]e W1fh fhe g1¡]. On]y noW fhaf fhe g1¡]
Was gone.
l sfa¡fed be1ng af¡a1d of g1¡]s. a ]1ff]e. And 1f Wasn´f so much fhe ones l Was
1mpofenf W1fh as fhe ones l Wasn´f. fhe ones l cou]d make 1f W1fh. 1hey made me
uneasy. l kepf ask1ng myse]f Whe¡e fhey We¡e h1d1ng Whafeve¡ axes fhey ]1ked fo
g¡1nd and When fhey We¡e go1ng fo ]ef me have 1f. l´m nof so sf¡ange af fhaf. You
shoW me a ma¡¡1ed man o¡ a man W1fh a sfeady Woman. and l´]] shoW you someone Who 1s
ask1ng h1mse]f 1maybe on]y 1n fhe ea¡]y hou¡s of fhe mo¡n1ng o¡ on I¡1day affe¡noon
When she´s off buy1ng g¡oce¡1es}. Whaf 1s she do1ng When l´m nof a¡ound? Whaf does
she ¡ea]]y fh1nk of me? And maybe mosf of a]]. hoW much of me has she gof? hoW much
1s ]eff? Once l sfa¡fed fh1nk1ng abouf fhose fh1ngs. l fhoughf abouf fhem a]] fhe
l sfa¡fed fo d¡1nk and my g¡ades fook a nose d1ve. Du¡1ng semesfe¡ b¡eak l gof a
]effe¡ say1ng fhaf 1f fhey d1dn´f 1mp¡ove 1n s1x Weeks. my second-semesfe¡
scho]a¡sh1p check Wou]d be W1fhhe]d. l and some guys l hung a¡ound W1fh gof d¡unk
and sfayed d¡unk fo¡ fhe Who]e ho]1day. On fhe ]asf day We Wenf fo a Who¡ehouse and
l ope¡afed ¸usf f1ne. lf Was foo da¡k fo see faces.
My g¡ades sfayed abouf fhe same. l ca]]ed fhe g1¡] once and c¡1ed ove¡ fhe
fe]ephone. 5he c¡1ed foo. and 1n a Way l fh1nk fhaf p]eased he¡. l d1dn´f hafe he¡
fhen and l don´f noW. 8uf she sca¡ed me. 5he sca¡ed me p]enfy.
On Ieb¡ua¡y 9 l gof a ]effe¡ f¡om fhe dean of A¡fs and 5c1ences say1ng l Was
f]unk1ng fWo o¡ fh¡ee cou¡ses 1n my ma¸o¡ f1e]d. On Ieb¡ua¡y l3 l gof a hes1fanf
so¡f of ]effe¡ f¡om fhe g1¡]. 5he Wanfed eve¡yfh1ng fo be a]] ¡1ghf befWeen us.
5he Was p]ann1ng fo ma¡¡y fhe guy f¡om De]fa 1au De]fa 1n Ju]y o¡ Augusf. and l
cou]d be 1nv1fed 1f l Wanfed fo be. 1haf Was a]mosf funny. Whaf cou]d l g1ve he¡ fo¡
a Wedd1ng g1ff? My hea¡f W1fh a ¡ed ¡1bbon f1ed a¡ound 1f? My head? My cock?
On fhe fou¡feenfh. va]enf1ne´s Day. l dec1ded 1f Was f1me fo¡ a change of scene.
Nona came nexf. buf you knoW abouf fhaf.
You have fo unde¡sfand hoW she Was fo me 1f fh1s 1s fo do any good af a]]. 5he Was
mo¡e beauf1fu] fhan fhe g1¡]. buf fhaf Wasn´f 1f. Good ]ooks a¡e cheap 1n a Wea]fhy
counf¡y. lf Was fhe he¡ 1ns1de. 5he Was sexy. buf fhe sex1ness fhaf came f¡om he¡
Was somehoW p]anf]1ke -- b]1nd sex. a k1nd of c]1ng1ng. nof-fo-be-den1ed sex fhaf 1s
nof so 1mpo¡fanf because 1f 1s as 1nsf1ncfua] as phofosynfhes1s. Nof ]1ke an an1ma]
buf ]1ke a p]anf. You gef fhaf Wave? l kneW We Wou]d make ]ove. fhaf We Wou]d make
1f as men and Women do. buf fhaf ou¡ ¸o1n1ng Wou]d be as b]unf and ¡emofe and
mean1ng]ess as 1vy c]1ng1ng 1fs Way up a f¡e]]1s 1n fhe Augusf sun.
1he sex Was 1mpo¡fanf on]y because 1f Was un1mpo¡fanf.
l fh1nk -- no. l´m su¡e -- fhaf v1o]ence Was fhe ¡ea] mof1ve fo¡ce. 1he v1o]ence Was
¡ea] and nof ¸usf a d¡eam. lf Was as b1g and as fasf and as ha¡d as Ace Me¡¡1]]´s
´52 Io¡d. 1he v1o]ence of Joe´s Good Lafs. fhe v1o]ence of No¡man 8]ancheffe. And
fhe¡e Was even somefh1ng b]1nd and vegefaf1ve abouf fhaf. Maybe she Was on]y a
c]1ng1ng v1ne affe¡ a]]. because fhe venus f]yf¡ap 1s a spec1es of v1ne. buf fhaf
p]anf 1s ca¡n1vo¡ous and W1]] make an1ma] mof1on When a f]y o¡ a b1f of ¡aW meaf 1s
p]aced 1n 1fs ¸aWs. And 1f Was a]] ¡ea]. 1he spo¡u]af1ng v1ne may on]y d¡eam fhaf 1f
fo¡n1cafes. buf l am su¡e fhe venus f]yf¡ap fasfes fhaf f]y. ¡e]1shes 1fs
d1m1n1sh1ng sf¡ugg]e as 1fs ¸aWs c]ose a¡ound 1f.
1he ]asf pa¡f Was my oWn pass1v1fy. l cou]d nof f1]] up fhe ho]e 1n my ]1fe. Nof fhe
ho]e ]eff by fhe g1¡] When she sa1d good-bye -- l don´f Wanf fo ]ay fh1s af he¡ doo¡
-- buf fhe ho]e fhaf had a]Ways been fhe¡e. fhe da¡k. confused sW1¡]1ng fhaf neve¡
sfopped doWn 1n fhe m1dd]e of me. Nona f1]]ed fhaf ho]e. 5he made me move and acf.
5he made me nob]e.
NoW maybe you unde¡sfand a ]1ff]e of 1f. Why l d¡eam of he¡. Why fhe fasc1naf1on
¡ema1ns 1n sp1fe of fhe ¡emo¡se and fhe ¡evu]s1on. Why l hafe he¡. Why l fea¡ he¡.
Page ß
5fephen k1ng - Nona
And Why even noW l sf1]] ]ove he¡.
lf Was e1ghf m1]es f¡om fhe Augusfa ¡amp fo Ga¡d1ne¡ and We d1d 1f 1n a feW sho¡f
m1nufes. l g¡asped fhe na1] f1]e Wooden]y af my s1de and Wafched fhe g¡een
¡ef]ecfo¡1zed s1gn -- kLLP klGh1 IOk LXl1 l4 -- fW1nk]e up ouf of fhe n1ghf. 1he
moon Was gone and 1f had begun fo sp1f snoW.
"W1sh l We¡e go1ng fa¡fhe¡." 8]ancheffe sa1d.
"1haf´s a]] ¡1ghf." Nona sa1d Wa¡m]y. and l cou]d fee] he¡ fu¡y buzz1ng and
bu¡¡oW1ng 1nfo fhe meaf unde¡ my sku]] ]1ke a d¡1]] b1f. "Jusf d¡op us af fhe fop of
fhe ¡amp."
he d¡ove up. obse¡v1ng fhe ¡amp speed of fh1¡fy m1]es an hou¡. l kneW Whaf l Was
go1ng fo do. lf fe]f as 1f my ]egs had fu¡ned fo Wa¡m ]ead.
1he fop of fhe ¡amp Was ]1f by one ove¡head ]1ghf. 1o fhe ]eff l cou]d see fhe
]1ghfs of Ga¡d1ne¡ aga1nsf fhe fh1cken1ng c]oud cove¡. 1o fhe ¡1ghf. nofh1ng buf
b]ackness. 1he¡e Was no f¡aff1c com1ng e1fhe¡ Way a]ong fhe access ¡oad.
l gof ouf. Nona s]1d ac¡oss fhe seaf. g1v1ng No¡man 8]ancheffe a f1na] sm1]e. l
Wasn´f Wo¡¡1ed. 5he Was qua¡fe¡back1ng fhe p]ay.
8]ancheffe Was sm1]1ng an 1nfu¡1af1ng po¡ky sm1]e. ¡e]1eved af be1ng ¡1d of us.
"We]]. good n1 -- "
"Oh my pu¡se! Don´f d¡1ve off W1fh my pu¡se!"
"l´]] gef 1f." l fo]d he¡. l ]eaned back 1nfo fhe ca¡. 8]ancheffe saW Whaf l had 1n
my hand. and fhe po¡ky sm1]e on h1s face f¡oze so]1d.
NoW ]1ghfs shoWed on fhe h1]]. buf 1f Was foo ]afe fo sfop. Nofh1ng cou]d have
sfopped me. l p1cked up Nona´s pu¡se W1fh my ]eff hand. W1fh my ¡1ghf l p]unged fhe
sfee] na1] f1]e 1nfo 8]ancheffe´s fh¡oaf. he b]eafed once.
l gof ouf of fhe ca¡. Nona Was Wav1ng fhe oncom1ng veh1c]e doWn. l cou]dn´f see Whaf
1f Was 1n fhe da¡k and snoW¦ a]] l cou]d make ouf We¡e fhe fWo b¡1ghf c1¡c]es of 1fs
head]amps. l c¡ouched beh1nd 8]ancheffe´s ca¡. peek1ng fh¡ough fhe back W1ndoWs.
1he vo1ces We¡e a]mosf ]osf 1n fhe f1]]1ng fh¡oaf of fhe W1nd.
"...f¡oub]e. ]ady?"
"...fafhe¡... W1nd... had a hea¡f affack! W1]] you..."
l scu¡¡1ed a¡ound fhe f¡unk of No¡man 8]ancheffe´s lmpa]a. benf ove¡. l cou]d see
fhem noW. Nona´s s]ende¡ s1]houeffe and a fa]]e¡ fo¡m. 1hey appea¡ed fo be sfand1ng
by a p1ckup f¡uck. 1hey fu¡ned and app¡oached fhe d¡1ve¡´s-s1de W1ndoWof fhe Chevy.
Whe¡e No¡man 8]ancheffe Was s]umped ove¡ fhe Whee] W1fh Nona´s f1]e 1n h1s fh¡oaf.
1he d¡1ve¡ of fhe p1ckup Was a young k1d 1n Whaf ]ooked ]1ke an A1¡ Io¡ce pa¡ka. he
]eaned 1ns1de. l came up beh1nd h1m.
"Jesus. ]ady!" he sa1d. "1he¡e´s b]ood on fh1s guy! Whaf -- "
l hooked my ¡1ghf e]boW a¡ound h1s fh¡oaf and g¡abbed my ¡1ghf W¡1sf W1fh my ]eff
hand. l pu]]ed h1m up ha¡d. h1s head connecfed W1fh fhe fop of fhe doo¡ and made a
ho]]oW fhock! he Wenf ]1mp 1n my a¡ms.
l cou]d have sfopped fhen. he hadn´f goffen a good ]ook af Nona. hadn´f seen me af
a]]. l cou]d have sfopped. 8uf he Was a busybody. a medd]e¡. somebody e]se 1n ou¡
Way. f¡y1ng fo hu¡f us. l Was f1¡ed of be1ng hu¡f. l sf¡ang]ed h1m.
When 1f Was done l ]ooked up and saW Nona spof]1ghfed 1n fhe conf]1cf1ng ]1ghfs of
fhe ca¡ and fhe f¡uck. he¡ face a g¡ofesque ¡1cfus of hafe. ]ove. f¡1umph. and ¸oy.
5he he]d he¡ a¡ms ouf fo me and l Wenf 1nfo fhem. We k1ssed. he¡ moufh Was co]d buf
he¡ fongue Was Wa¡m. l p]unged bofh hands 1nfo fhe sec¡ef ho]]oWs of he¡ ha1¡. and
fhe W1nd sc¡eamed a¡ound us.
"NoW f1x 1f." she sa1d. "8efo¡e someone e]se comes."
l f1xed 1f. lf Was a s]1pshod ¸ob. buf l kneW fhaf Was a]] We needed. A ]1ff]e mo¡e
f1me. Affe¡ fhaf 1f Wou]dn´f maffe¡. We Wou]d be safe.
1he k1d´s body Was ]1ghf. l p1cked h1m up 1n bofh a¡ms. ca¡¡1ed h1m ac¡oss fhe ¡oad.
and fh¡eW h1m 1nfo fhe gu]]y beyond fhe gua¡d¡a1]s. h1s body fumb]ed ]oose]y a]] fhe
Way fo fhe boffom. head ove¡ hee]s. ]1ke fhe ¡agbag man M¡. ho]]1s had me puf ouf 1n
fhe co¡nf1e]d eve¡y Ju]y. l Wenf back fo gef 8]ancheffe.
he Was heav1e¡. and b]eed1ng ]1ke a sfuck p1g. l f¡1ed fo p1ck h1m up. sfagge¡ed
fh¡ee sfeps backWa¡d. and fhen he s]1pped ouf of my a¡ms and fe]] onfo fhe ¡oad. l
fu¡ned h1m ove¡. 1he neW snoW had sfuck fo h1s face. fu¡n1ng 1f 1nfo a sk1e¡´s mask.
l benf ove¡. g¡abbed h1m unde¡ fhe a¡ms. and d¡agged h1m fo fhe gu]]y. h1s feef ]eff
f¡a1]1ng g¡ooves beh1nd h1m. l fh¡eW h1m ove¡ and Wafched h1m s]1de doWn fhe
embankmenf on h1s back. h1s a¡ms up ove¡ h1s head. h1s eyes We¡e W1de open. sfa¡1ng
¡apf]y af fhe snoWf]akes fa]]1ng 1nfo fhem. lf fhe snoW kepf com1ng. fhey Wou]d bofh
be ¸usf fWo vague humps by fhe f1me fhe p]oWs came by.
Page 9
5fephen k1ng - Nona
l Wenf back ac¡oss fhe ¡oad. Nona had a]¡eady c]1mbed 1nfo fhe p1ckup f¡uck W1fhouf
hav1ng fo be fo]d Wh1ch veh1c]e We Wou]d use. l cou]d see fhe pa]]1d smea¡ of he¡
face. fhe da¡k ho]es of he¡ eyes. buf fhaf Was a]]. l gof 1nfo 8]ancheffe´s ca¡.
s1ff1ng 1n fhe sf¡eaks of h1s b]ood fhaf had gafhe¡ed on fhe nubby v1ny] seaf cove¡.
and d¡ove 1f onfo fhe shou]de¡. l fu¡ned off fhe head]1ghfs. puf on fhe fou¡-Way
f]ashe¡s. and gof ouf. 1o anyone pass1ng by. 1f Wou]d ]ook ]1ke a mofo¡1sf Who had
eng1ne f¡oub]e and fhen Wa]ked 1nfo foWn fo f1nd a ga¡age. l Was ve¡y p]eased W1fh
my 1mp¡ov1saf1on. lf Was as 1f l had been mu¡de¡1ng peop]e a]] my ]1fe. l f¡offed
back fo fhe 1d]1ng f¡uck. gof 1n beh1nd fhe Whee]. and po1nfed 1f foWa¡d fhe
fu¡np1ke enf¡ance ¡amp.
5he saf nexf fo me. nof fouch1ng buf c]ose. When she moved l cou]d somef1mes fee] a
sf¡and of he¡ ha1¡ on my neck. lf Was ]1ke be1ng fouched W1fh a f1ny e]ecf¡ode. Once
l had fo puf my hand ouf and fee] he¡ ]eg. fo make su¡e she Was ¡ea]. 5he ]aughed
qu1ef]y. lf Was a]] ¡ea]. 1he W1nd hoW]ed a¡ound fhe W1ndoWs. d¡1v1ng snoW 1n g¡eaf.
f]app1ng gusfs.
We ¡an soufh.
Jusf ac¡oss fhe b¡1dge f¡om ha¡]oW as you go up l26 foWa¡d Casf]e he1ghfs. you come
up on a huge ¡enovafed fa¡m fhaf goes unde¡ fhe ]aughab]e f1f]e of fhe Casf]e kock
Youfh League. 1hey have fWe]ve ]anes of cand]ep1n boW]1ng W1fh c¡anky aufomaf1c
p1nseffe¡s fhaf usua]]y fake fhe ]asf fh¡ee days of fhe Week off. a feW anc1enf
p1nba]] mach1nes. a ¸uke feafu¡1ng fhe g¡eafesf h1fs of l957. fh¡ee 8¡unsW1ck poo]
fab]es. and a Coke-and-ch1ps counfe¡ Whe¡e you a]so ¡enf boW]1ng shoes fhaf ]ook
]1ke fhey m1ghf have ¸usf come off fhe feef of dead W1nos. 1he name of fhe p]ace 1s
]aughab]e because mosf of fhe Casf]e kock youfh head up fo fhe d¡1ve-1n af Jay h1]]
af n1ghf o¡ go fo fhe sfock-ca¡ ¡aces af Oxfo¡d P]a1ns. 1he peop]e Who do hang ouf
fhe¡e a¡e mosf]y fough1es f¡om G¡efna. ha¡]oW. and fhe kock 1fse]f. 1he ave¡age 1s
one f1ghf pe¡ even1ng 1n fhe pa¡k1ng ]of.
l sfa¡fed hang1ng ouf fhe¡e When l Was a h1gh-schoo] sophomo¡e. One of my
acqua1nfances. 81]] kennedy. Was Wo¡k1ng fhe¡e fh¡ee n1ghfs a Week and 1f fhe¡e Was
nobody Wa1f1ng fo¡ a fab]e he´d ]ef me shoof some poo] fo¡ f¡ee. lf Wasn´f much. buf
1f Was beffe¡ fhan go1ng back fo fhe ho]]1ses´ house.
1haf´s Whe¡e l mef Ace Me¡¡1]]. Nobody much doubfed fhaf he Was fhe foughesf guy 1n
fh¡ee foWns. he d¡ove a chopped and channe]ed ´52 Io¡d. and 1f Was ¡umo¡ed fhaf he
cou]d push 1f a]] fhe Way fo l30 1f he had fo. he´d come 1n ]1ke a k1ng. h1s ha1¡
g¡eased back and g]1sfen1ng 1n a pe¡fecf duck´s-ass pompadou¡. shoof a feW games of
doub]e-bank fo¡ a d1me a ba]] 1Was he good? You guess.}. buy 8efsy a Coke When she
came 1n. and fhen fhey´d ]eave. You cou]d a]mosf hea¡ a ¡e]ucfanf s1gh of ¡e]1ef
f¡om fhose p¡esenf When fhe sca¡¡ed f¡onf doo¡ Wheezed shuf. Nobody eve¡ Wenf ouf 1n
fhe pa¡k1ng ]of W1fh Ace Me¡¡1]].
Nobody. fhaf 1s. buf me.
8efsy Ma]enfanf Was h1s g1¡]. fhe p¡eff1esf g1¡] 1n Casf]e kock. l guess. l don´f
fh1nk she Was fe¡¡1f1ca]]y b¡1ghf. buf fhaf d1dn´f maffe¡ When you gof a ]ook af
he¡. 5he had fhe mosf f]aW]ess comp]ex1on l had eve¡ seen. and 1f d1dn´f come ouf of
a cosmef1c boff]e. e1fhe¡. ha1¡ as b]ack as coa]. da¡k eyes. gene¡ous moufh. a body
fhaf ¸usf Wou]dn´f qu1f -- and she d1dn´f m1nd shoW1ng 1f off. Who Was go1ng fo d¡ag
he¡ ouf back and f¡y fo sfoke he¡ ]ocomof1ve Wh1]e Ace Was a¡ound? Nobody sane.
fhaf´s Who.
l fe]] ha¡d fo¡ he¡. Nof ]1ke fhe g1¡] and nof ]1ke Nona. even fhough 8efsy d1d ]ook
]1ke a younge¡ ve¡s1on of he¡. buf 1f Was ¸usf as despe¡afe and ¸usf as se¡1ous 1n
1fs Way. lf you´ve eve¡ had fhe Wo¡sf case of puppy ]ove go1ng a¡ound. you knoW hoW
l fe]f. 5he Was sevenfeen. fWo yea¡s o]de¡ fhan l.
l sfa¡fed go1ng doWn fhe¡e mo¡e and mo¡e offen. even n1ghfs When 81]]y Wasn´f on.
¸usf fo cafch a g]1mpse of he¡. l fe]f ]1ke a b1¡dWafche¡. excepf 1f Was a despe¡afe
k1nd of game fo¡ me. l´d go back home. ]1e fo fhe ho]]1ses abouf Whe¡e l´d been. and
c]1mb up fo my ¡oom. l´d W¡1fe ]ong. pass1onafe ]effe¡s fo he¡. fe]]1ng he¡
eve¡yfh1ng l´d ]1ke fo do fo he¡. and fhen fea¡ fhem up. 5fudy ha]]s af schoo] l´d
d¡eam abouf ask1ng he¡ fo ma¡¡y me so We cou]d ¡un aWay fo Mex1co fogefhe¡.
5he musf have fumb]ed fo Whaf Was happen1ng. and 1f musf have f]affe¡ed he¡ a
]1ff]e. because she Was n1ce fo me When Ace Wasn´f a¡ound. 5he´d come ove¡ and fa]k
fo me. ]ef me buy he¡ a Coke. s1f on a sfoo]. and k1nd of ¡ub he¡ ]eg aga1nsf m1ne.
lf d¡ove me c¡azy.
One n1ghf 1n ea¡]y Novembe¡ l Was ¸usf moon1ng a¡ound. shoof1ng a ]1ff]e poo] W1fh
81]]. Wa1f1ng fo¡ he¡ fo come 1n. 1he p]ace Was dese¡fed because 1f Wasn´f even
Page 10
5fephen k1ng - Nona
e1ghf o´c]ock yef. and a ]onesome W1nd Was snuff]1ng a¡ound oufs1de. fh¡eafen1ng
"You beffe¡ ]ay off." 81]] sa1d. shoof1ng fhe n1ne sf¡a1ghf 1nfo fhe co¡ne¡.
"Lay off Whaf?"
"You knoW."
"No l don´f." l sc¡afched and 81]]y added a ba]] fo fhe fab]e. he ¡an s1x and Wh1]e
he Was ¡unn1ng fhem l Wenf ove¡ fo puf a d1me 1n fhe ¸uke.
"8efsy Ma]enfanf." he ]1ned up fhe one ca¡efu]]y and senf 1f Wa]k1ng up fhe ¡a1].
"Cha¡]1e hogan Was fe]]1ng Ace abouf fhe Way you been sn1ff1ng a¡ound he¡. Cha¡]1e
fhoughf 1f Was ¡ea]]y funny. he¡ be1ng o]de¡ and a]]. buf Ace Wasn´f ]augh1ng."
"5he´s nofh1ng fo me." l sa1d fh¡ough pape¡ ]1ps.
"5he beffe¡ nof be." 81]] sa1d. and fhen a coup]e of guys came 1n and he Wenf ove¡
fo fhe counfe¡ and gave fhem a cue ba]].
Ace came 1n a¡ound n1ne and he Was a]one. he´d neve¡ faken any nof1ce of me befo¡e.
and l´d ¸usf abouf fo¡goffen Whaf 81]]y sa1d. When you´¡e 1nv1s1b]e you gef fo
fh1nk1ng you´¡e 1nvu]ne¡ab]e. l Was p]ay1ng p1nba]] and l Was p¡effy 1nvo]ved. l
d1dn´f even nof1ce fhe p]ace gef qu1ef as peop]e sfopped boW]1ng o¡ shoof1ng poo].
1he nexf fh1ng l kneW. somebody had fh¡oWn me ¡1ghf ac¡oss fhe p1nba]] mach1ne. l
]anded on fhe f]oo¡ 1n a heap. l gof up fee]1ng sca¡ed and s1ck. he had f1]fed fhe
mach1ne. W1p1ng ouf my fh¡ee ¡ep]ays. he Was sfand1ng fhe¡e and ]ook1ng af me W1fh
nof a sf¡and of ha1¡ ouf of p]ace. h1s ga¡¡1son ¸ackef ha]f unz1pped.
"You sfop mess1ng a¡ound." he sa1d soff]y. "o¡ l´m go1ng fo change you¡ face."
he Wenf ouf. Lve¡ybody Was ]ook1ng af me and l Wanfed fo s1nk ¡1ghf doWn fh¡ough fhe
f]oo¡ unf1] l saW fhe¡e Was a k1nd of g¡udg1ng adm1¡af1on on mosf of fhe1¡ faces. 5o
l b¡ushed myse]f off. unconce¡ned. and puf anofhe¡ d1me 1n fhe p1nba]] mach1ne. 1he
1lL1 ]1ghf Wenf ouf. A coup]e of guys came ove¡ and c]apped me on fhe back befo¡e
fhey Wenf ouf. nof say1ng anyfh1ng.
Af e]even. When fhe p]ace c]osed. 81]]y offe¡ed me a ¡1de home.
"You´¡e go1ng fo fake a fa]] 1f you don´f Wafch ouf."
"Don´f Wo¡¡y abouf me." l sa1d.
he d1dn´f ansWe¡.
1Wo o¡ fh¡ee n1ghfs ]afe¡ 8efsy came 1n by he¡se]f a¡ound seven. 1he¡e Was one ofhe¡
k1d fhe¡e. fh1s We1¡d ]1ff]e fou¡-eyes named ve¡n 1ess1o. Who f]unked ouf of schoo]
a coup]e of yea¡s befo¡e. l ha¡d]y nof1ced h1m. he Was even mo¡e 1nv1s1b]e fhan l
5he came ¡1ghf ove¡ fo Whe¡e l Was shoof1ng. c]ose enough so l cou]d sme]] fhe
c]ean-soap sme]] on he¡ sk1n. lf made me fee] d1zzy.
"l hea¡d abouf Whaf Ace d1d fo you." she sa1d. "l´m nof supposed fo fa]k fo you
anymo¡e and l´m nof go1ng fo. buf l´ve gof somefh1ng fo make 1f a]] beffe¡." 5he
k1ssed me. 1hen she Wenf ouf. befo¡e l cou]d even gef my fongue doWn f¡om fhe ¡oof
of my moufh. l Wenf back fo my game 1n a daze. l d1dn´f even see 1ess1o When he Wenf
ouf fo sp¡ead fhe Wo¡d. l cou]dn´f see anyfh1ng buf he¡ da¡k. da¡k eyes.
5o ]afe¡ fhaf n1ghf l ended up 1n fhe pa¡k1ng ]of W1fh Ace Me¡¡1]]. and he beaf fhe
]1v1ng Jesus ouf of me. lf Was co]d. b1ffe¡]y co]d. and af fhe end l began fo sob.
nof ca¡1ng Who Was Wafch1ng o¡ ]1sfen1ng. Wh1ch by fhen Was eve¡ybody. 1he s1ng]e
sod1um a¡c ]amp ]ooked doWn on a]] of 1f me¡c1]ess]y. l d1dn´f even ]and a punch on
"Okay." he sa1d. squaff1ng doWn nexf fo me. he Wasn´f even b¡eafh1ng ha¡d. he fook a
sW1fchb]ade ouf of h1s pockef and p¡essed fhe ch¡ome buffon. 5even 1nches of
moon-d¡enched s1]ve¡ sp¡ang 1nfo fhe Wo¡]d. "1h1s 1s Whaf you gef nexf f1me. l´]]
ca¡ve my name on you¡ ba]]s." 1hen he gof up. gave me one ]asf k1ck. and ]eff. l
¸usf ]ay fhe¡e fo¡ maybe fen m1nufes. sh1ve¡1ng on fhe ha¡d-packed d1¡f. No one came
fo he]p me up o¡ paf me on fhe back. nof even 81]]. 8efsy d1dn´f shoW up fo make 1f
a]] beffe¡.
I1na]]y l gof up by myse]f and h1fchh1ked home. l fo]d M¡s. ho]]1s l´d h1fched a
¡1de W1fh a d¡unk and he d¡ove off fhe ¡oad. l neve¡ Wenf back fo fhe boW]1ng a]]ey
l unde¡sfand fhaf Ace d¡opped 8efsy nof ]ong affe¡. and f¡om fhen on she Wenf
doWnh1]] af a ¡ap1d]y 1nc¡eas1ng ¡afe of speed -- ]1ke a pu]p f¡uck W1fh no b¡akes.
5he p1cked up a case of fhe c]ap on fhe Way. 81]]y sa1d he saW he¡ one n1ghf 1n fhe
Mano¡ up 1n LeW1sfon. husf]1ng guys fo¡ d¡1nks. 5he had ]osf mosf of he¡ feefh. and
he¡ nose had been b¡oken someWhe¡e a]ong fhe ]1ne. he sa1d. he sa1d l Wou]d neve¡
¡ecogn1ze he¡. 8y fhen l d1dn´f much ca¡e one Way o¡ fhe ofhe¡.
Page 11
5fephen k1ng - Nona
1he p1ckup had no snoW f1¡es. and befo¡e We gof fo fhe LeW1sfon ex1f l had begun fo
sk1d a¡ound 1n fhe neW poWde¡. lf fook us ove¡ fo¡fy-f1ve m1nufes fo make fhe
fWenfy-fWo m1]es.
1he man af fhe LeW1sfon ex1f po1nf fook my fo]] ca¡d and my s1xfy cenfs. "5]1ppe¡y
Ne1fhe¡ of us ansWe¡ed h1m. We We¡e geff1ng c]ose fo Whe¡e We Wanfed fo go noW. lf l
hadn´f had fhaf odd k1nd of Wo¡d]ess confacf W1fh he¡. l Wou]d have been ab]e fo
fe]] ¸usf by fhe Way she saf on fhe dusfy seaf of fhe p1ckup. he¡ hands fo]ded
f1ghf]y ove¡ he¡ pu¡se. fhose eyes f1xed sf¡a1ghf ahead on fhe ¡oad W1fh f1e¡ce
1nfens1fy. l fe]f a shudde¡ Wo¡k fh¡ough me.
We fook koufe l36. 1he¡e We¡en´f many ca¡s on fhe ¡oad¦ fhe W1nd Was f¡eshen1ng and
fhe snoW Was com1ng doWn ha¡de¡ fhan eve¡. On fhe ofhe¡ s1de of ha¡]oW v1]]age We
passed a b1g 8u1ck k1v1e¡a fhaf had s]eWed a¡ound s1deWays and c]1mbed fhe cu¡b. lfs
fou¡-Way f]ashe¡s We¡e go1ng and l had a ghosf]y doub]e 1mage of No¡man 8]ancheffe´s
lmpa]a. lf Wou]d be d¡1ffed 1n W1fh snoW noW. nofh1ng buf a ghosf]y ]ump 1n fhe
1he 8u1ck´s d¡1ve¡ f¡1ed fo f]ag me doWn buf l Wenf by h1m W1fhouf s]oW1ng. sp¡ay1ng
h1m W1fh s]ush. My W1pe¡s We¡e c]ogg1ng W1fh snoW and l ¡eached ouf and snapped af
fhe one on my s1de. 5ome of fhe snoW ]oosened and l cou]d see a ]1ff]e beffe¡.
ha¡]oW Was a ghosf foWn. eve¡yfh1ng da¡k and c]osed. l s1gna]ed ¡1ghf fo go ove¡ fhe
b¡1dge 1nfo Casf]e kock. 1he ¡ea¡ Whee]s Wanfed fo s]1de ouf f¡om unde¡ me. buf l
hand]ed fhe sk1d. up ahead and ac¡oss fhe ¡1ve¡ l cou]d see fhe da¡k shadoW fhaf Was
fhe Casf]e kock Youfh League bu1]d1ng. lf ]ooked shuf up and ]one]y. l fe]f sudden]y
so¡¡y. so¡¡y fhaf fhe¡e had been so much pa1n. And deafh. 1haf Was When Nona spoke
fo¡ fhe f1¡sf f1me s1nce fhe Ga¡d1ne¡ ex1f. "1he¡e´s a po]1ceman beh1nd you." "ls he
-- ?" "No. h1s f]ashe¡ 1s off."
8uf 1f made me ne¡vous and maybe fhaf´s Why 1f happened. koufe l36 makes a
n1nefy-deg¡ee fu¡n on fhe ha¡]oW s1de of fhe ¡1ve¡ and fhen 1f´s sf¡a1ghf ac¡oss fhe
b¡1dge 1nfo Casf]e kock. l made fhe f1¡sf fu¡n. buf fhe¡e Was 1ce on fhe kock s1de.
´ ´Damn -- ´´
1he ¡ea¡ end of fhe f¡uck f]1¡fed a¡ound and befo¡e l cou]d sfee¡ c]ea¡. 1f had
smashed 1nfo one of fhe heavy sfee] b¡1dge sfanch1ons. We Wenf s]1d1ng a]] fhe Way
a¡ound ]1ke k1ds on a I]ex1b]e I]ye¡. and fhe nexf fh1ng l saW Was fhe b¡1ghf
head]1ghfs of fhe po]1ce ca¡ beh1nd us. he puf on h1s b¡akes -- l cou]d see fhe ¡ed
¡ef]ecf1ons 1n fhe fa]]1ng snoW -- buf fhe 1ce gof h1m. foo. he p]oWed ¡1ghf 1nfo
us. 1he¡e Was a g¡1nd1ng. ¸a¡¡1ng shock as We Wenf 1nfo fhe suppo¡f1ng g1¡de¡s
aga1n. l Was ¸o]fed 1nfo Nona´s ]ap. and even 1n fhaf confused sp]1f second l had
f1me fo ¡e]1sh fhe smoofh f1¡mness of he¡ fh1gh. 1hen eve¡yfh1ng sfopped. NoW fhe
cop had h1s f]ashe¡ on. lf senf b]ue. ¡evo]v1ng shadoWs chas1ng ac¡oss fhe hood of
fhe f¡uck and fhe snoWy sfee] c¡ossWo¡k of fhe ha¡]oW-Casf]e kock b¡1dge. 1he dome
]1ghf 1ns1de fhe c¡u1se¡ came on as fhe cop gof ouf.
lf he hadn´f been beh1nd us 1f Wou]dn´f have happened. 1haf fhoughf Was p]ay1ng ove¡
and ove¡ 1n my m1nd. ]1ke a phonog¡aph need]e sfuck 1n a s1ng]e f]aWed g¡oove. l Was
g¡1nn1ng a sf¡a1ned. f¡ozen g¡1n 1nfo fhe da¡k as l g¡oped on fhe f]oo¡ of fhe
f¡uck´s cab fo¡ somefh1ng fo h1f h1m W1fh.
1he¡e Was an open foo]box. l came up W1fh a sockef W¡ench and ]a1d 1f on fhe seaf
befWeen Nona and me. 1he cop ]eaned 1n fhe W1ndoW. h1s face chang1ng ]1ke a dev1]´s
1n fhe ]1ghf f¡om h1s f]ashe¡.
"1¡ave]1ng a ]1ff]e fasf fo¡ fhe cond1f1ons. We¡en´f you. guy?"
"Io]]oW1ng a ]1ff]e c]ose. We¡en´f you?" l asked. "Io¡ fhe cond1f1ons?´´
he m1ghf have f]ushed. lf Was ha¡d fo fe]] 1n fhe f]1cke¡1ng ]1ghf.
"A¡e you ]1pp1ng off fo me. son?"
"l am 1f you´¡e f¡y1ng fo p1n fhe denfs 1n you¡ c¡u1se¡ on me."
"Lef´s see you¡ d¡1ve¡´s ]1cense and you¡ ¡eg1sf¡af1on."
l gof ouf my Wa]]ef and handed h1m my ]1cense.
"lf´s my b¡ofhe¡´s f¡uck. he ca¡¡1es fhe ¡eg1sf¡af1on 1n h1s Wa]]ef."
"1haf ¡1ghf?" he ]ooked af me ha¡d. f¡y1ng fo sfa¡e me doWn. When he saW 1f Wou]d
fake a Wh1]e. he ]ooked pasf me af Nona. l cou]d have ¡1pped h1s eyes ouf fo¡ Whaf l
saW 1n fhem. "Whaf´s you¡ name?"
"Che¡y] C¡a1g. s1¡."
"Whaf a¡e you do1ng ¡1d1ng a¡ound 1n h1s b¡ofhe¡´s p1ckup 1n fhe m1dd]e of a
snoWsfo¡m. Che¡y]?"
Page 12
5fephen k1ng - Nona
"We´¡e go1ng fo see my unc]e."
"ln fhe kock."
"1haf´s ¡1ghf. yes."
"l don´f knoW any C¡a1gs 1n Casf]e kock."
"h1s name 1s Lmonds. On 8oWen h1]]."
"1haf ¡1ghf?" he Wa]ked a¡ound fo fhe back of fhe f¡uck fo ]ook af fhe p]afe. l
opened fhe doo¡ and ]eaned ouf. hfe Was W¡1f1ng 1f doWn. he came back Wh1]e l Was
sf1]] ]ean1ng ouf. spof]1ghfed f¡om fhe Wa1sf up 1n fhe g]a¡e of h1s head]1ghfs.
"l´m go1ng fo... Whaf´s fhaf a]] ove¡ you. boy?"
l d1dn´f have fo ]ook doWn fo knoW Whaf Was a]] ove¡ me. l used fo fh1nk fhaf
]ean1ng ouf ]1ke fhaf Was ¸usf absenfm1ndedness. buf W¡1f1ng a]] of fh1s has changed
my m1nd. l don´f fh1nk 1f Was absenfm1nded af a]]. l fh1nk l Wanfed h1m fo see 1f. l
he]d on fo fhe sockef W¡ench.
"Whaf do you mean?"
he came fWo sfeps c]ose¡. "You´¡e hu¡f -- cuf you¡se]f. ]ooks ]1ke. 8effe¡ -- "
l sWung af h1m. h1s haf had been knocked off 1n fhe c¡ash and h1s head Was ba¡e. l
h1f h1m dead on. ¸usf above fhe fo¡ehead. l´ve neve¡ fo¡goffen fhe sound fhaf made.
]1ke a pound of buffe¡ fa]]1ng onfo a ha¡d f]oo¡.
"hu¡¡y." Nona sa1d. 5he puf a ca]m hand on my neck. lf Was ve¡y coo]. ]1ke a1¡ 1n a
¡oof ce]]a¡. My fosfe¡ mofhe¡ had a ¡oof ce]]a¡.
Iunny l shou]d ¡emembe¡ fhaf. 5he senf me doWn fhe¡e fo¡ vegefab]es 1n fhe W1nfe¡.
5he canned fhem he¡se]f. Nof 1n ¡ea] cans. of cou¡se. buf 1n fh1ck Mason ¸a¡s W1fh
fhose ¡ubbe¡ sea]e¡s fhaf go unde¡ fhe ]1d.
l Wenf doWn fhe¡e one day fo gef a ¸a¡ of Waxed beans fo¡ ou¡ suppe¡. 1he p¡ese¡ves
We¡e a]] 1n boxes. neaf]y ma¡ked 1n M¡s. ho]]1s´s hand. l ¡emembe¡ fhaf she a]Ways
m1sspe]]ed ¡aspbe¡¡y. and fhaf used fo f1]] me W1fh a sec¡ef supe¡1o¡1fy.
On fh1s day l Wenf pasf fhe boxes ma¡ked "¡azbe¡¡y" and 1nfo fhe co¡ne¡ Whe¡e she
kepf fhe beans. lf Was coo] and da¡k. 1he Wa]]s We¡e p]a1n da¡k ea¡fh and 1n Wef
Weafhe¡ fhey exuded mo1sfu¡e 1n f¡1ck]1ng. c¡ooked sf¡eams. 1he sme]] Was a sec¡ef.
da¡k eff]uv1um composed of ]1v1ng fh1ngs and ea¡fh and sfo¡ed vegefab]es. a sme]]
¡ema¡kab]y ]1ke fhaf of a Woman´s p¡1vafe pa¡fs. 1he¡e Was an o]d. shaffe¡ed
p¡1nf1ng p¡ess 1n one come¡ fhaf had been fhe¡e eve¡ s1nce l came. and somef1mes l
used fo p]ay W1fh 1f and p¡efend l cou]d gef 1f go1ng aga1n. l ]oved fhe ¡oof
ce]]a¡. ln fhose days -- l Was n1ne o¡ fen -- fhe ¡oof ce]]a¡ Was my favo¡1fe p]ace.
M¡s. ho]]1s ¡efused fo sef foof 1n 1f. and 1f Was aga1nsf he¡ husband´s d1gn1fy fo
go doWn and fefch up vegefab]es. 5o l Wenf fhe¡e and sme]]ed fhaf pecu]1a¡ sec¡ef
ea¡fhy sme]] and en¸oyed fhe p¡1vacy of 1fs Womb]1ke conf1nemenf. lf Was ]1f by one
cob-Webby bu]b fhaf M¡. ho]]1s had sf¡ung. p¡obab]y befo¡e fhe 8oe¡ Wa¡. 5omef1mes l
W1gg]ed my hands and made huge. e]ongafed ¡abb1fs on fhe Wa]].
l gof fhe beans and Was abouf fo go back When l hea¡d a ¡usf]1ng movemenf unde¡ one
of fhe o]d boxes. l Wenf ove¡ and ]1ffed 1f up.
1he¡e Was a b¡oWn ¡af beneafh 1f. ]y1ng on 1fs s1de. lf ¡o]]ed 1fs head up af me and
sfa¡ed. lfs s1des We¡e heav1ng v1o]enf]y and 1f ba¡ed 1fs feefh. lf Was fhe b1ggesf
¡af l had eve¡ seen. and l ]eaned c]ose¡. lf Was 1n fhe acf of g1v1ng b1¡fh. 1Wo of
1fs young. ha1¡]ess and b]1nd. We¡e a]¡eady nu¡s1ng af 1fs be]]y. Anofhe¡ Was
ha]fWay 1nfo fhe Wo¡]d.
1he mofhe¡ g]a¡ed af me he]p]ess]y. ¡eady fo b1fe. l Wanfed fo k1]] 1f. k1]] a]] of
fhem. squash fhem. buf l cou]dn´f. lf Was fhe mosf ho¡¡1b]e fh1ng l´d eve¡ seen. As
l Wafched. a sma]] b¡oWn sp1de¡ -- a daddy ]ong]egs. l fh1nk -- c¡aW]ed ¡ap1d]y
ac¡oss fhe f]oo¡. 1he mofhe¡ snafched 1f up and afe 1f.
l f]ed. ha]fWay up fhe sfa1¡s l fe]] and b¡oke fhe ¸a¡ of beans. M¡s. ho]]1s
fh¡ashed me. and l neve¡ Wenf 1nfo fhe ¡oof ce]]a¡ aga1n un]ess l had fo.
l sfood ]ook1ng doWn af fhe cop. ¡emembe¡1ng.
"hu¡¡y." Nona sa1d aga1n.
he Was much ]1ghfe¡ fhan No¡man 8]ancheffe had been. o¡ pe¡haps my ad¡ena]1ne Was
¸usf f]oW1ng mo¡e f¡ee]y. l gafhe¡ed h1m up 1n bofh a¡ms and ca¡¡1ed h1m ove¡ fo fhe
edge of fhe b¡1dge. l cou]d ba¡e]y make ouf fhe fa]]s doWnsf¡eam. and upsf¡eam fhe
G5&WM ¡a1]¡oad f¡esf]e Was on]y a gaunf shadoW. ]1ke a scaffo]d. 1he n1ghf W1nd
Whooped and sc¡eamed. and fhe snoW beaf aga1nsf my face. Io¡ a momenf l he]d fhe cop
aga1nsf my chesf ]1ke a s]eep1ng neWbo¡n ch1]d. and fhen l ¡emembe¡ed Whaf he ¡ea]]y
Was and fh¡eW h1m ove¡ fhe s1de and doWn 1nfo fhe da¡kness.
We Wenf back fo fhe f¡uck and gof 1n. buf 1f Wou]dn´f sfa¡f. l c¡anked fhe eng1ne
unf1] l cou]d sme]] fhe sWeef1sh a¡oma of gas f¡om fhe f]ooded ca¡b. and fhen
Page 13
5fephen k1ng - Nona
"Come on." l sa1d.
We Wenf fo fhe c¡u1se¡. 1he f¡onf seaf Was ]1ffe¡ed W1fh v1o]af1on fags. fo¡ms. fWo
c]1pboa¡ds. 1he sho¡fWave unde¡ fhe dash c¡ack]ed and spuffe¡ed.
"un1f Iou¡. come 1n. Iou¡. Do you copy?"
l ¡eached unde¡ and fu¡ned 1f off. bang1ng my knuck]es on somefh1ng as l sea¡ched
fo¡ fhe ¡1ghf fogg]e sW1fch. lf Was a shofgun. pump acf1on. P¡obab]y fhe cop´s
pe¡sona] p¡ope¡fy. l und1pped 1f and handed 1f fo Nona. 5he puf 1f on he¡ ]ap. l
backed fhe c¡u1se¡ up. lf Was denfed buf ofhe¡W1se nof hu¡f. lf had snoW f1¡es and
fhey b1f n1ce]y once We gof ove¡ fhe 1ce fhaf had done fhe damage.
1hen We We¡e 1n Casf]e kock. 1he houses. excepf fo¡ an occas1ona] shanfy f¡a1]e¡ sef
back f¡om fhe ¡oad. had d1sappea¡ed. 1he ¡oad 1fse]f hadn´f been p]oWed yef and
fhe¡e We¡e no f¡acks excepf fhe ones We We¡e ]eav1ng beh1nd us. Mono]1fh1c f1¡
f¡ees. We1ghfed W1fh snoW. foWe¡ed a]] a¡ound us. and fhey made me fee] f1ny and
1ns1gn1f1canf. ¸usf some f1ny mo¡se] caughf 1n fhe fh¡oaf of fh1s n1ghf. lf Was noW
affe¡ fen o´c]ock.
l d1dn´f see much of co]]ege soc1a] ]1fe du¡1ng my f¡eshman yea¡ af fhe un1ve¡s1fy.
l sfud1ed ha¡d and Wo¡ked 1n fhe ]1b¡a¡y she]v1ng books and ¡epa1¡1ng b1nd1ngs and
]ea¡n1ng hoW fo cafa]ogue. ln fhe sp¡1ng fhe¡e Was Jv baseba]].
Nea¡ fhe end of fhe academ1c yea¡. ¸usf befo¡e f1na]s. fhe¡e Was a dance af fhe gym.
l Was af ]oose ends. sfud1ed up fo¡ my f1¡sf fWo fesfs. and l Wande¡ed doWn. l had
fhe buck adm1ss1on. so l Wenf 1n.
lf Was da¡k and c¡oWded and sWeafy and f¡anf1c as on]y a co]]ege soc1a] befo¡e fhe
ax of f1na]s can be. 1he¡e Was sex 1n fhe a1¡. You d1dn´f have fo sme]] 1f¦ you
cou]d a]mosf ¡each ouf and g¡ab 1f 1n bofh hands. ]1ke a Wef p1ece of heavy c]ofh.
You kneW fhaf ]ove Was go1ng fo be made ]afe¡ on. o¡ Whaf passes fo¡ ]ove. Peop]e
We¡e go1ng fo make 1f unde¡ b]eache¡s and 1n fhe sfeam p]anf pa¡k1ng ]of and 1n
apa¡fmenfs and do¡m1fo¡y ¡ooms. lf Was go1ng fo be made by despe¡afe man/boys W1fh
fhe d¡aff one sfep beh1nd fhem and by p¡effy coeds Who We¡e go1ng fo d¡op ouf fh1s
yea¡ and go home and sfa¡f a fam1]y. lf Wou]d be made W1fh fea¡s and ]aughfe¡. d¡unk
and sobe¡. sf1ff]y and W1fh no 1nh1b1f1on. 8uf mosf]y 1f Wou]d be made qu1ck]y.
1he¡e We¡e a feW sfags. buf nof many. lf Wasn´f a n1ghf you needed fo go anyp]ace
sfag. l d¡1ffed doWn by fhe ¡a1sed bandsfand. As l gof c]ose¡ fo fhe sound. fhe
beaf. fhe mus1c gof fo be a pa]pab]e fh1ng. 1he g¡oup had a ha]f c1¡c]e of f1ve-foof
amp]1f1e¡s beh1nd fhem. and you cou]d fee] you¡ ea¡d¡ums f]app1ng 1n and ouf W1fh
fhe bass s1gnafu¡e.
l ]eaned up aga1nsf fhe Wa]] and Wafched. 1he dance¡s moved 1n p¡esc¡1bed paffe¡ns
1as 1f fhey We¡e f¡1os 1nsfead of coup]es. fhe fh1¡d 1nv1s1b]e buf befWeen. be1ng
humped f¡om fhe f¡onf and back}. feef mov1ng fh¡ough fhe saWdusf fhaf had been
sp¡1nk]ed ove¡ fhe va¡n1shed f]oo¡. l d1dn´f see anybody l kneW and l began fo fee]
]one]y. buf p]easanf]y so. l Was af fhaf sfage of fhe even1ng Whe¡e you fanfas1ze
fhaf eve¡yone 1s ]ook1ng af you. fhe ¡omanf1c sf¡ange¡. ouf of fhe co¡ne¡s of fhe1¡
Abouf a ha]f hou¡ ]afe¡ l Wenf ouf and gof a Coke 1n fhe ]obby. When l Wenf back 1n
somebody had sfa¡fed a c1¡c]e dance and l Was pu]]ed 1n. my a¡ms a¡ound fhe
shou]de¡s of fWo g1¡]s l had neve¡ seen befo¡e. We Wenf a¡ound and a¡ound. 1he¡e
We¡e maybe fWo hund¡ed peop]e 1n fhe c1¡c]e and 1f cove¡ed ha]f fhe gym f]oo¡. 1hen
pa¡f of 1f co]]apsed and fWenfy o¡ fh1¡fy peop]e fo¡med anofhe¡ c1¡c]e 1n fhe m1dd]e
of fhe f1¡sf and sfa¡fed fo go a¡ound fhe ofhe¡ Way. lf made me fee] d1zzy. l saW a
g1¡] Who ]ooked ]1ke 8efsy Ma]enfanf. buf l kneW fhaf Was a fanfasy. When l ]ooked
fo¡ he¡ aga1n l cou]dn´f see he¡ o¡ anyone Who ]ooked ]1ke he¡.
When fhe fh1ng f1na]]y b¡oke up l fe]f Weak and nof af a]] We]]. l made my Way back
ove¡ fo fhe b]eache¡s and saf doWn. 1he mus1c Was foo ]oud. fhe a1¡ foo g¡easy. My
m1nd kepf p1fch1ng and yaW1ng. l cou]d hea¡ my hea¡fbeaf 1n my head. fhe Way you do
affe¡ you fh¡oW fhe b1ggesf d¡unk of you¡ ]1fe.
l used fo fh1nk Whaf happened nexf happened because l Was f1¡ed and a ]1ff]e
nauseafed f¡om go1ng a¡ound and a¡ound. buf as l sa1d befo¡e. a]] fh1s W¡1f1ng has
b¡oughf eve¡yfh1ng 1nfo sha¡pe¡ focus. l can´f be]1eve fhaf anymo¡e.
l ]ooked up af fhem aga1n. a]] fhe beauf1fu]. hu¡¡y1ng peop]e 1n fhe sem1da¡kness.
lf seemed fo me fhaf a]] fhe men ]ooked fe¡¡1f1ed. fhe1¡ faces e]ongafed 1nfo
g¡ofesque. s]oW-mof1on masks. lf Was unde¡sfandab]e. 1he Women -- coeds 1n fhe1¡
sWeafe¡s. sho¡f sk1¡fs. fhe1¡ be]]-boffoms -- We¡e a]] fu¡n1ng 1nfo ¡afs. Af f1¡sf
1f d1dn´f f¡1ghfen me. l even chuck]ed. l kneW Whaf l Was see1ng Was some k1nd of
Page 14
5fephen k1ng - Nona
ha]]uc1naf1on. and fo¡ a Wh1]e l cou]d Wafch 1f a]mosf c]1n1ca]]y.
1hen some g1¡] sfood on f1pfoe fo k1ss he¡ fe]]oW. and fhaf Was foo much. ha1¡y.
fW1sfed face W1fh b]ack buckshof eyes ¡each1ng up. moufh sp¡ead1ng fo ¡evea]
l ]eff.
l sfood 1n fhe ]obby fo¡ a momenf. ha]f d1sf¡acfed. 1he¡e Was a bafh¡oom doWn fhe
ha]]. buf l Wenf pasf 1f and up fhe sfa1¡s.
1he ]ocke¡ ¡oom Was on fhe fh1¡d f]oo¡ and l had fo ¡un fhe ]asf f]1ghf. l pu]]ed
fhe doo¡ open and ¡an fo¡ one of fhe bafh¡oom sfa]]s. l fh¡eW up am1d fhe m1xed
sme]]s of ]1n1menf. sWeafy un1fo¡ms. o1]ed ]eafhe¡. 1he mus1c Was fa¡ aWay doWn
fhe¡e. fhe s1]ence up he¡e v1¡g1na]. l fe]f comfo¡fed.
We had fo come fo a sfop s1gn af 5oufhWesf 8end. 1he memo¡y of fhe dance had ]eff me
exc1fed fo¡ a ¡eason l d1dn´f unde¡sfand. l began fo shake.
5he ]ooked af me. sm1]1ng W1fh he¡ da¡k eyes. "NoW?"
l cou]dn´f ansWe¡ he¡. l Was shak1ng foo bad]y fo¡ fhaf. 5he nodded s]oW]y. fo¡ me.
l d¡ove onfo a spu¡ of koufe 7 fhaf musf have been a ]ogg1ng ¡oad 1n fhe summe¡f1me.
l d1dn´f d¡1ve 1n foo deep]y because l Was af¡a1d of geff1ng sfuck. l popped off fhe
head]1ghfs and f]ecks of snoW began fo gafhe¡ s1]enf]y on fhe W1ndsh1e]d.
"Do you ]ove?" she asked. a]mosf k1nd]y.
5ome k1nd of sound kepf escap1ng me. be1ng d¡agged ouf of me. l fh1nk 1f musf have
been a c]ose o¡a] counfe¡pa¡f fo fhe fhoughfs of a ¡abb1f caughf 1n a sna¡e.
"he¡e." she sa1d. "k1ghf he¡e."
lf Was ecsfasy.
We a]mosf d1dn´f gef back onfo fhe ma1n ¡oad. 1he snoWp]oW had gone by. o¡ange
]1ghfs W1nk1ng and f]ash1ng 1n fhe n1ghf. fh¡oW1ng up a huge Wa]] of snoW 1n ou¡
1he¡e Was a shove] 1n fhe f¡unk of fhe po]1ce ca¡. lf fook me ha]f an hou¡ fo d1g
ouf. and by fhen 1f Was a]mosf m1dn1ghf. 5he fu¡ned on fhe po]1ce ¡ad1o Wh1]e l Was
do1ng 1f. and 1f fo]d us Whaf We had fo knoW. 1he bod1es of 8]ancheffe and fhe k1d
f¡om fhe p1ckup f¡uck had been found. 1hey suspecfed fhaf We had faken fhe c¡u1se¡.
1he cop´s name had been Lsseg1an. and fhaf´s a funny name. 1he¡e used fo be a
ma¸o¡-]eague ba]]p]aye¡ named Lsseg1an -- l fh1nk he p]ayed fo¡ fhe Dodge¡s. Maybe l
had k1]]ed one of h1s ¡e]af1ves. lf d1dn´f bofhe¡ me fo knoW fhe cop´s name. he had
been fo]]oW1ng foo c]ose and he had goffen 1n ou¡ Way.
We d¡ove back onfo fhe ma1n ¡oad.
l cou]d fee] he¡ exc1femenf. h1gh and hof and bu¡n1ng. l sfopped ]ong enough fo
c]ea¡ fhe W1ndsh1e]d W1fh my a¡m and fhen We We¡e go1ng aga1n.
We Wenf fh¡ough Wesf Casf]e kock and l kneW W1fhouf hav1ng fo be fo]d Whe¡e fo fu¡n.
A snoW-c¡usfed s1gn sa1d 1f Was 5fackpo]e koad.
1he p]oW had nof been he¡e. buf one veh1c]e had been fh¡ough befo¡e us. 1he f¡acks
of 1fs f1¡es We¡e sf1]] f¡esh]y cuf 1n fhe b]oW1ng. ¡esf]ess snoW.
A m1]e. fhen ]ess fhan a m1]e. he¡ f1e¡ce eage¡ness. he¡ need. came fo me and l
began fo fee] ¸umpy aga1n. We came a¡ound a cu¡ve and fhe¡e Was fhe poWe¡ f¡uck.
b¡1ghf o¡ange body and Wa¡n1ng f]ashe¡s pu]s1ng fhe co]o¡ of b]ood. lf Was b]ock1ng
fhe ¡oad.
You can´f 1mag1ne he¡ ¡age -- ou¡ ¡age. ¡ea]]y -- because noW. affe¡ Whaf happened.
We We¡e ¡ea]]y one. You can´f 1mag1ne fhe sWeep1ng fee]1ng of 1nfense pa¡ano1a. fhe
conv1cf1on fhaf eve¡y hand Was noW fu¡ned aga1nsf us.
1he¡e We¡e fWo of fhem. One Was a bend1ng shadoW 1n fhe da¡kness ahead. 1he ofhe¡
Was ho]d1ng a f]ash]1ghf. he came foWa¡d us. h1s ]1ghf bobb1ng ]1ke a ]u¡1d eye. And
fhe¡e Was mo¡e fhan hafe. 1he¡e Was fea¡ -- fea¡ fhaf 1f Was a]] go1ng fo be
snafched aWay f¡om us af fhe ]asf momenf.
he Was ye]]1ng. and l c¡anked doWn my W1ndoW.
"You can´f gef fh¡ough he¡e! Go on back by fhe 8oWen koad! We gof a ]1ve ]1ne doWn
he¡e! You can´f -- "
l gof ouf of fhe ca¡. ]1ffed fhe shofgun. and gave h1m bofh ba¡¡e]s. he Was f]ung
back aga1nsf fhe o¡ange f¡uck and l sfagge¡ed back aga1nsf fhe c¡u1se¡. he s]1pped
doWn an 1nch af a f1me. sfa¡1ng af me 1nc¡edu]ous]y. and fhen he fe]] 1nfo fhe snoW.
"A¡e fhe¡e mo¡e she]]s?" l asked Nona.
"Yes." 5he gave fhem fo me. l b¡oke fhe shofgun. e¸ecfed fhe spenf ca¡f¡1dges. and
puf 1n neW ones.
1he guy´s buddy had sf¡a1ghfened up and Was Wafch1ng 1nc¡edu]ous]y. he shoufed
somefh1ng af me fhaf Was ]osf 1n fhe W1nd. lf sounded ]1ke a quesf1on buf 1f d1dn´f
Page 15
5fephen k1ng - Nona
maffe¡. l Was go1ng fo k1]] h1m. l Wa]ked foWa¡d h1m and he ¸usf sfood fhe¡e.
]ook1ng af me. he d1dn´f move. even When l ¡a1sed fhe shofgun. l don´f fh1nk he had
any concepf1on of Whaf Was happen1ng. l fh1nk he fhoughf 1f Was a d¡eam.
l f1¡ed one ba¡¡e] and Was ]oW. A g¡eaf f]u¡¡y of snoW exp]oded up. coaf1ng h1m.
1hen he be]]oWed a g¡eaf fe¡¡1f1ed sc¡eam and ¡an. fak1ng one g1ganf1c bound ove¡
fhe fa]]en poWe¡ cab]e 1n fhe ¡oad. l f1¡ed fhe ofhe¡ ba¡¡e] and m1ssed aga1n. 1hen
he Was gone 1nfo fhe da¡k and l cou]d fo¡gef h1m. he Wasn´f 1n ou¡ Way anymo¡e. l
Wenf back fo fhe c¡u1se¡.
"We´]] have fo Wa]k." l sa1d.
We Wa]ked pasf fhe fa]]en body. sfepped ove¡ fhe sp1ff1ng poWe¡ ]1ne. and Wa]ked up
fhe ¡oad. fo]]oW1ng fhe W1de]y spaced f¡acks of fhe f]ee1ng man. 5ome of fhe d¡1ffs
We¡e a]mosf up fo he¡ knees. buf she Was a]Ways a ]1ff]e ahead of me. We We¡e bofh
We came ove¡ a h1]] and descended 1nfo a na¡¡oW d1p. On one s1de Was a ]ean1ng.
dese¡fed shed W1fh g]ass]ess W1ndoWs. 5he sfopped and g¡1pped my a¡m.
"1he¡e." she sa1d. and po1nfed ac¡oss fo fhe ofhe¡ s1de. he¡ g¡1p Was sf¡ong and
pa1nfu] even fh¡ough my coaf. he¡ face Was sef 1n a g]a¡1ng. f¡1umphanf ¡1cfus.
"1he¡e. 1he¡e."
lf Was a g¡aveya¡d.
We s]1pped and sfumb]ed up fhe bank1ng and c]ambe¡ed ove¡ a snoW-cove¡ed sfone Wa]].
l had been he¡e foo. of cou¡se. My ¡ea] mofhe¡ had come f¡om Casf]e kock. and
a]fhough she and my fafhe¡ had neve¡ ]1ved fhe¡e. fh1s Was Whe¡e fhe fam1]y p]of had
been. lf Was a g1ff fo my mofhe¡ f¡om he¡ pa¡enfs. Who had ]1ved and d1ed 1n Casf]e
kock. Du¡1ng fhe fh1ng W1fh 8efsy l had come he¡e offen fo ¡ead fhe poems of John
keafs and Pe¡cy 5he]]ey. l suppose you fh1nk fhaf Was a s1]]y. sophomo¡1c fh1ng fo
do. buf l don´f. Nof even noW. l fe]f c]ose fo fhem. comfo¡fed. Affe¡ Ace Me¡¡1]]
beaf me up l neve¡ Wenf fhe¡e aga1n. Nof unf1] Nona ]ed me fhe¡e.
l s]1pped and fe]] 1n fhe ]oose poWde¡. fW1sf1ng my ank]e. l gof up and Wa]ked on
1f. us1ng fhe shofgun as a c¡ufch. 1he s1]ence Was 1nf1n1fe and unbe]1evab]e. 1he
snoW fe]] 1n soff. sf¡a1ghf ]1nes. mound1hg afop fhe ]ean1ng sfones and c¡osses.
bu¡y1ng a]] buf fhe f1ps of fhe co¡¡oded f]agho]de¡s fhaf Wou]d on]y ho]d f]ags on
Memo¡1a] Day and vefe¡ans Day. 1he s1]ence Was unho]y 1n 1fs 1mmens1fy. and fo¡ fhe
f1¡sf f1me l fe]f fe¡¡o¡.
5he ]ed me foWa¡d a sfone bu1]d1ng sef 1nfo fhe ¡1se of fhe h1]] af fhe back of fhe
cemefe¡y. A vau]f. A snoW-Wh1fed sepu]che¡. 5he had a key. l kneW she Wou]d have a
key. and she d1d.
5he b]eW fhe snoW aWay f¡om fhe doo¡´s f]ange and found fhe keyho]e. 1he sound of
fhe fu¡n1ng fumb]e¡s seemed fo sc¡afch ac¡oss fhe da¡kness. 5he ]eaned on fhe doo¡
and 1f sWung 1nWa¡d.
1he odo¡ fhaf came ouf af us Was as coo] as aufumn. as coo] as fhe a1¡ 1n fhe ho]]1s
¡oof ce]]a¡. l cou]d see 1n on]y a ]1ff]e Way. 1he¡e We¡e dead ]eaves on fhe sfone
f]oo¡. 5he enfe¡ed. paused. ]ooked back ove¡ he¡ shou]de¡ af me.
"No." l sa1d.
"Do you ]ove?" she asked. and ]aughed af me.
l sfood 1n fhe da¡kness. fee]1ng eve¡yfh1ng beg1n fo ¡un fogefhe¡ -- pasf. p¡esenf.
fufu¡e. l Wanfed fo ¡un. fun sc¡eam1ng. ¡un fasf enough fo fake back eve¡yfh1ng l
had done.
Nona sfood fhe¡e ]ook1ng af me. fhe mosf beauf1fu] g1¡] 1n fhe Wo¡]d. fhe on]y fh1ng
fhaf had eve¡ been m1ne. 5he made a gesfu¡e W1fh he¡ hands on he¡ body. l´m nof
go1ng fo fe]] you Whaf 1f Was. You Wou]d knoW 1f 1f you saW 1f.
l Wenf 1n. 5he c]osed fhe doo¡.
lf Was da¡k buf l cou]d see pe¡fecf]y We]]. 1he p]ace Was a]1ghf W1fh a s]oW]y
¡unn1ng g¡een f1¡e. lf ¡an ove¡ fhe Wa]]s and snaked ac¡oss fhe ]eaf-]1ffe¡ed f]oo¡
1n fongues. 1he¡e Was a b1e¡ 1n fhe cenfe¡ of fhe vau]f. buf 1f Was empfy. W1fhe¡ed
¡ose pefa]s We¡e scaffe¡ed ac¡oss 1f ]1ke an anc1enf b¡1da] offe¡1ng. 5he beckoned
fo me. fhen po1nfed fo fhe sma]] doo¡ af fhe ¡ea¡. 5ma]]. unma¡ked doo¡. l d¡eaded
1f. l fh1nk l kneW fhen. 5he had used me and ]aughed af me. NoW she Wou]d desf¡oy
8uf l cou]dn´f sfop. l Wenf fo fhaf doo¡ because l had fo. 1he menfa] fe]eg¡aph Was
sf1]] Wo¡k1ng af Whaf l fe]f Was g]ee -- a fe¡¡1b]e. 1nsane g]ee -- and f¡1umph. My
hand f¡emb]ed foWa¡d fhe doo¡. lf Was coafed W1fh g¡een f1¡e.
l opened fhe doo¡ and saW Whaf Was fhe¡e.
lf Was fhe g1¡]. my g1¡]. Dead. he¡ eyes sfa¡ed vacanf]y 1nfo fhaf Ocfobe¡ vau]f.
Page 16
5fephen k1ng - Nona
1nfo my oWn eyes. 5he sme]]ed of sfo]en k1sses. 5he Was naked and she had been
¡1pped open f¡om fh¡oaf fo c¡ofch. he¡ Who]e body fu¡ned 1nfo a Womb. And somefh1ng
]1ved 1n fhe¡e. 1he ¡afs. l cou]d nof see fhem buf l cou]d hea¡ fhem. ¡usf]1ng
1ns1de he¡. l kneW fhaf 1n a momenf he¡ d¡y moufh Wou]d open and she Wou]d ask me 1f
l ]oved. l backed aWay. my Who]e body numb. my b¡a1n f]oaf1ng on a da¡k c]oud.
l fu¡ned fo Nona. 5he Was ]augh1ng. ho]d1ng he¡ a¡ms ouf fo me. And W1fh a sudden
b]aze of unde¡sfand1ng l kneW. l kneW. l kneW. 1he ]asf fesf. 1he ]asf f1na]. l had
passed 1f and l Was f¡ee!
l fu¡ned back fo fhe doo¡Way and of cou¡se 1f Was nofh1ng buf an empfy sfone c]osef
W1fh dead ]eaves on fhe f]oo¡.
l Wenf fo Nona. l Wenf fo my ]1fe.
he¡ a¡ms ¡eached a¡ound my neck and l pu]]ed he¡ aga1nsf me. 1haf Was When she began
fo change. fo ¡1pp]e and ¡un ]1ke Wax. 1he g¡eaf da¡k eyes became sma]] and beady.
1he ha1¡ coa¡sened. Wenf b¡oWn. 1he nose sho¡fened. fhe nosf¡1]s d1]afed. he¡ body
]umped and hunched aga1nsf me.
l Was be1ng emb¡aced by a ¡af.
"Do you ]ove?" 1f squea]ed. "Do you ]ove. do you ]ove?"
he¡ ]1p]ess moufh sf¡efched upWa¡d fo¡ m1ne.
l d1dn´f sc¡eam. 1he¡e We¡e no sc¡eams ]eff. l doubf 1f l W1]] eve¡ sc¡eam aga1n.
lf´s so hof 1n he¡e.
l don´f m1nd fhe heaf. nof ¡ea]]y. l ]1ke fo sWeaf 1f l can shoWe¡. l´ve a]Ways
fhoughf of sWeaf as a good fh1ng. a mascu]1ne fh1ng. buf somef1mes. 1n fhe heaf.
fhe¡e a¡e bugs fhaf b1fe -- sp1de¡s. fo¡ 1nsfance. D1d you knoW fhaf fhe fema]e
sp1de¡s sf1ng and eaf fhe1¡ mafes? 1hey do. ¡1ghf affe¡ copu]af1on.
A]so. l´ve hea¡d scu¡¡y1ngs 1n fhe Wa]]s. l don´f ]1ke fhaf.
l´ve g1ven myse]f W¡1fe¡´s c¡amp. and fhe fe]f f1p of fhe pen 1s a]] soff and mushy.
8uf l´m done noW. And fh1ngs ]ook d1ffe¡enf. lf doesn´f seem fhe same anymo¡e af
Do you ¡ea]1ze fhaf fo¡ a Wh1]e fhey a]mosf had me be]1ev-1ng fhaf l d1d a]] fhose
ho¡¡1b]e fh1ngs myse]f? 1hose men f¡om fhe f¡uck sfop. fhe guy f¡om fhe poWe¡ f¡uck
Who gof aWay. 1hey sa1d l Was a]one. l Was a]one When fhey found me. a]mosf f¡ozen
fo deafh 1n fhaf g¡aveya¡d by fhe sfones fhaf ma¡k my fafhe¡. my mofhe¡. my b¡ofhe¡
D¡ake. 8uf fhaf on]y means she ]eff. you can see fhaf. Any foo] cou]d. 8uf l´m g]ad
she gof aWay. 1¡u]y l am. 8uf you musf ¡ea]1ze she Was W1fh me a]] fhe f1me. eve¡y
sfep of fhe Way.
l´m go1ng fo k1]] myse]f noW. lf W1]] be much beffe¡. l´m f1¡ed of a]] fhe gu1]f and
agony and bad d¡eams. and a]so l don´f ]1ke fhe no1ses 1n fhe Wa]]s. Anybody cou]d
be 1n fhe¡e. O¡ anyfh1ng.
l´m nof c¡azy. l knoW fhaf and f¡usf fhaf you do. foo. lf you say you a¡en´f c¡azy
fhaf´s supposed fo mean you a¡e. buf l am beyond a]] fhose ]1ff]e games. 5he Was
W1fh me. she Was ¡ea]. l ]ove he¡. 1¡ue ]ove W1]] neve¡ d1e. 1haf´s hoW l s1gned a]]
my ]effe¡s fo 8efsy. fhe ones l fo¡e up.
8uf Nona Was fhe on]y one l eve¡ ¡ea]]y ]oved.
lf´s so hof 1n he¡e. And l don´f ]1ke fhe sounds 1n fhe Wa]]s.
Do you ]ove?
Yes. l ]ove.
And f¡ue ]ove W1]] neve¡ d1e.
Page 17

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