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Stephen King


  Part 1: Bool Hunt

  I. Lisey and Amanda

  (Everything the Same)

  II. Lisey and The Madman

  (Darkness Loves Him)

  III. Lisey and The Silver Spade

  (Wait for the Wind to Change)

  IV. Lisey and The Blood-Bool

  (All the Bad-Gunky)

  Part 2: Sowisa

  V. Lisey and The Long, Long Thursday

  (Stations of the Bool)

  VI. Lisey and The Professor

  (This Is What It Gets You)

  VII. Lisey and The Law

  (Obsession and The Exhausted Mind)

  VIII. Lisey and Scott

  (Under the Yum-Yum Tree)

  IX. Lisey and The Black Prince of The Incunks

  (The Duty of Love)

  X. Lisey and The Arguments Against Insanity

  (The Good Brother)

  XI. Lisey and The Pool

  (Shhhh—Now You Must Be Still)

  XII. Lisey at Greenlawn

  (The Hollyhocks)

  XIII. Lisey and Amanda

  (The Sister Thing)

  XIV. Lisey and Scott


  XV. Lisey and The Long Boy

  (Pafko at the Wall)

  Part 3: Lisey’s Story

  XVI. Lisey and The Story Tree

  (Scott Has His Say)

  Author’s Statement


  1230 Avenue of the Americas

  New York, NY 10020

  This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

  Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  Copyright © 2006 by Stephen King

  All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

  SCRIBNER and design are trademarks of Macmillan Library Reference USA, Inc., used under license by Simon & Schuster, the publisher of this work.


  Library of Congress Control Number: 2006044382

  ISBN: 0-7432-9373-8

  “Jambalaya”: Words and music by Hank Williams © 1952 Sony /ATV Songs LLC and Hiriam Music.

  All rights on behalf of Sony/ATV Songs LLC administered by Sony/ATV Music Publishing.

  All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.

  “Why Don’t You Love Me”: Words and music by Hank Williams © 1950 Sony/ATV Songs LLC and Hiriam Music. All rights on behalf of Sony/ATV Songs LLC administered by Sony/ATV Music Publishing. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.

  “When the Stars Go Blue”: Written by Ryan Adams © 2001 Barland Music (BMI)/Administered by BUG. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.

  Under the title “Lisey and the Madman,” an excerpt from the opening of Lisey’s Story appeared in McSweeney’s Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories, edited by Michael Chabon (Vintage, 2004).

  “Bei Hennef” by D. H. Lawrence, reproduced with kind permission of Pollinger Limited for the Estate of Frieda Lawrence Ravagli.

  Visit us on the World Wide Web:

  For Tabby

  Where do you go when you’re lonely?

  Where do you go when you’re blue?

  Where do you go when you’re lonely?

  I’ll follow you

  When the stars go blue.




  Part 1: Bool Hunt

  “If I were the moon, I know where I would fall down.”

  —D. H. Lawrence, The Rainbow

  I. Lisey and Amanda

  (Everything the Same)


  To the public eye, the spouses of well-known writers are all but invisible, and no one knew it better than Lisey Landon. Her husband had won the Pulitzer and the National Book Award, but Lisey had given only one interview in her life. This was for the well-known women’s magazine that publishes the column “Yes, I’m Married to Him!” She spent roughly half of its five-hundred-word length explaining that her nickname rhymed with “CeeCee.” Most of the other half had to do with her recipe for slow-cooked roast beef. Lisey’s sister Amanda said that the picture accompanying the interview made Lisey look fat.

  None of Lisey’s sisters was immune to the pleasures of setting the cat among the pigeons (“stirring up a stink” had been their father’s phrase for it), or having a good natter about someone else’s dirty laundry, but the only one Lisey had a hard time liking was this same Amanda. Eldest (and oddest) of the onetime Debusher girls of Lisbon Falls, Amanda currently lived alone, in a house which Lisey had provided, a small, weather-tight place not too far from Castle View where Lisey, Darla, and Cantata could keep an eye on her. Lisey had bought it for her seven years ago, five before Scott died. Died Young. Died Before His Time, as the saying was. Lisey still had trouble believing he’d been gone for two years. It seemed both longer and the blink of an eye.

  When Lisey finally got around to making a start at cleaning out his office suite, a long and beautifully lit series of rooms that had once been no more than the loft above a country barn, Amanda had shown up on the third day, after Lisey had finished her inventory of all the foreign editions (there were hundreds) but before she could do more than start listing the furniture, with little stars next to the pieces she thought she ought to keep. She waited for Amanda to ask her why she wasn’t moving faster, for heaven’s sake, but Amanda asked no questions. While Lisey moved from the furniture question to a listless (and day-long) consideration of the cardboard boxes of correspondence stacked in the main closet, Amanda’s focus seemed to remain on the impressive stacks and piles of memorabilia which ran the length of the study’s south wall. She worked her way back and forth along this snakelike accretion, saying little or nothing but jotting frequently in a little notebook she kept near to hand.

  What Lisey didn’t say was What are you looking for? Or What are you writing down? As Scott had pointed out on more than one occasion, Lisey had what was surely among the rarest of human talents: she was a business-minder who did not mind too much if you didn’t mind yours. As long as you weren’t making explosives to throw at someone, that was, and in Amanda’s case, explosives were always a possibility. She was the sort of woman who couldn’t help prying, the sort of woman who would open her mouth sooner or later.

  Her husband had headed south from Rumford, where they had been living (“like a couple of wolverines caught in a drainpipe,” Scott said after an afternoon visit he vowed never to repeat) in 1985. Her one child, named Intermezzo and called Metzie for short, had gone north to Canada (with a long-haul trucker for a beau) in 1989. “One flew north, one flew south, one couldn’t shut her everlasting mouth.” That had been their father’s rhyme when they were kids, and the one of Dandy Dave Debusher’s girls who could never shut her everlasting mouth was surely Manda, dumped first by her husband and then by her own daughter.

  Hard to like as Amanda sometimes was, Lisey hadn’t wanted her down there in Rumford on her own; didn’t trust her on her own, if it came to that, and although they’d never said so aloud, Lisey was sure Darla and Cantata felt the same. So she’d had a talk with Scott, and found the little Cape Cod, which could be had for ninety-seven thousand dollars, cash on the nail. Amanda had moved up within easy checking range soon after.

  Now Scott was dead and Lisey had finally gotten around to the business of cleaning out his writing quarters. Halfway through the fourth day, the foreign editions were boxed up, the correspondence was marked and in some sort of order, and she had a good idea of what furniture was going and what was staying. So why did it feel that she had
done so little? She’d known from the outset that this was a job which couldn’t be hurried. Never mind all the importuning letters and phone calls she’d gotten since Scott’s death (and more than a few visits, too). She supposed that in the end, the people who were interested in Scott’s unpublished writing would get what they wanted, but not until she was ready to give it to them. They hadn’t been clear on that at first; they weren’t down with it, as the saying was. Now she thought most of them were.

  There were lots of words for the stuff Scott had left behind. The only one she completely understood was memorabilia, but there was another one, a funny one, that sounded like incuncabilla. That was what the impatient people wanted, the wheedlers, and the angry ones—Scott’s incuncabilla. Lisey began to think of them as Incunks.


  What she felt most of all, especially after Amanda showed up, was discouraged, as if she’d either underestimated the task itself or overestimated (wildly) her ability to see it through to its inevitable conclusion—the saved furniture stored in the barn below, the rugs rolled up and taped shut, the yellow Ryder van in the driveway, throwing its shadow on the board fence between her yard and the Galloways’ next door.

  Oh, and don’t forget the sad heart of this place, the three desktop computers (there had been four, but the one in the memory nook was now gone, thanks to Lisey herself). Each was newer and lighter than the last, but even the newest was a big desktop model and all of them still worked. They were password-protected, too, and she didn’t know what the passwords were. She’d never asked, and had no idea what kind of electro-litter might be sleeping on the computers’ hard drives. Grocery lists? Poems? Erotica? She was sure he’d been connected to the internet, but had no idea where he visited when he was there. Amazon? Drudge? Hank Williams Lives? Madam Cruella’s Golden Showers & Tower of Power? She tended to think not anything like that last, to think she would have seen the bills (or at least divots in the monthly house-money account), except of course that was really bullshit. If Scott had wanted to hide a thousand a month from her, he could have done so. And the passwords? The joke was, he might have told her. She forgot stuff like that, that was all. She reminded herself to try her own name. Maybe after Amanda had taken herself home for the day. Which didn’t look like happening anytime soon.

  Lisey sat back and blew hair off her forehead. I won’t get to the manuscripts until July, at this rate, she thought. The Incunks would go nuts if they saw the way I’m crawling along. Especially that last one.

  The last one—five months ago, this had been—had managed not to blow up, had managed to keep a very civil tongue about him until she’d begun to think he might be different. Lisey told him that Scott’s writing suite had been sitting empty for almost a year and a half at that time, but she’d almost mustered the energy and resolve to go up there and start the work of cleaning the rooms and setting the place to rights.

  Her visitor’s name had been Professor Joseph Woodbody, of the University of Pittsburgh English Department. Pitt was Scott’s alma mater, and Woodbody’s Scott Landon and the American Myth lecture class was extremely popular and extremely large. He also had four graduate students doing Scott Landon theses this year, and so it was probably inevitable that the Incunk warrior should come to the fore when Lisey spoke in such vague terms as sooner rather than later and almost certainly sometime this summer. But it wasn’t until she assured him that she would give him a call “when the dust settles” that Woodbody really began to give way.

  He said the fact that she had shared a great American writer’s bed did not qualify her to serve as his literary executor. That, he said, was a job for an expert, and he understood that Mrs. Landon had no college degree at all. He reminded her of the time already gone since Scott Landon’s death, and of the rumors that continued to grow. Supposedly there were piles of unpublished Landon fiction—short stories, even novels. Could she not let him into the study for even a little while? Let him prospect a bit in the file cabinets and desk drawers, if only to set the most outrageous rumors to rest? She could stay with him the whole time, of course—that went without saying.

  “No,” she’d said, showing Professor Woodbody to the door. “I’m not ready just yet.” Overlooking the man’s lower blows—trying to, at least—because he was obviously as crazy as the rest of them. He’d just hidden it better, and for a little longer. “And when I am, I’ll want to look at everything, not just the manuscripts.”


  She had nodded seriously to him. “Everything the same.”

  “I don’t understand what you mean by that.”

  Of course he didn’t. It had been a part of her marriage’s inner language. How many times had Scott come breezing in, calling “Hey, Lisey, I’m home—everything the same?” Meaning is everything all right, is everything cool. But like most phrases of power (Scott had explained this once to her, but Lisey had already known it), it had an inside meaning. A man like Woodbody could never grasp the inside meaning of everything the same. Lisey could explain it all day and he still wouldn’t get it. Why? Because he was an Incunk, and when it came to Scott Landon only one thing interested the Incunks.

  “It doesn’t matter,” was what she’d said to Professor Woodbody on that day five months ago. “Scott would have understood.”


  If Amanda had asked Lisey where Scott’s “memory nook” things had been stored—the awards and plaques, stuff like that—Lisey would have lied (a thing she did tolerably well for one who did it seldom) and said “a U-Store-It in Mechanic Falls.” Amanda did not ask, however. She just paged ever more ostentatiously through her little notebook, surely trying to get her younger sister to broach the subject with the proper question, but Lisey did not ask. She was thinking of how empty this corner was, how empty and uninteresting, with so many of Scott’s mementos gone. Either destroyed (like the computer monitor) or too badly scratched and dented to be shown; such an exhibit would raise more questions than it could ever answer.

  At last Amanda gave in and opened her notebook. “Look at this,” she said. “Just look.”

  Manda was holding out the first page. Written on the blue lines, crammed in from the little wire loops on the left to the edge of the sheet on the right (like a coded message from one of those street-crazies you’re always running into in New York because there’s not enough money for the publicly funded mental institutions anymore, Lisey thought wearily), were numbers. Most had been circled. A very few had been enclosed in squares. Manda turned the page and now here were two pages filled with more of the same. On the following page, the numbers stopped halfway down. The final one appeared to be 846.

  Amanda gave her the sidelong, red-cheeked, and somehow hilarious expression of hauteur that had meant, when she was twelve and little Lisey only two, that Manda had gone and Taken Something On Herself; tears for someone would follow. Amanda herself, more often than not. Lisey found herself waiting with some interest (and a touch of dread) to see what that expression might mean this time. Amanda had been acting nutty ever since turning up. Maybe it was just the sullen, sultry weather. More likely it had to do with the sudden absence of her longtime boyfriend. If Manda was headed for another spell of stormy emotional weather because Charlie Corriveau had jilted her, then Lisey supposed she had better buckle up herself. She had never liked or trusted Corriveau, banker or not. How could you trust a man after overhearing, at the spring library bake sale, that the guys down at The Mellow Tiger called him Shootin’ Beans? What kind of nickname was that for a banker? What did it even mean? And surely he had to know that Manda had had mental problems in the past—

  “Lisey?” Amanda asked. Her brow was deeply furrowed.

  “I’m sorry,” Lisey said, “I just kind of…went off there for a second.”

  “You often do,” Amanda said. “I think you got it from Scott. Pay attention, Lisey. I made a little number on each of his magazines and journals and scholarly things. The ones piled over there against the wall.”

/>   Lisey nodded as if she understood where this was going.

  “I made the numbers in pencil, just light,” Amanda went on. “Always when your back was turned or you were somewhere else, because I thought if you saw, you might have told me to stop.”

  “I wouldn’t’ve.” She took the little notebook, which was limp with its owner’s sweat. “Eight hundred and forty-six! That many!” And she knew the publications running along the wall weren’t the sort she herself might read and have in the house, ones like O and Good Housekeeping and Ms., but rather Little Sewanee Review and Glimmer Train and Open City and things with incomprehensible names like Piskya.

  “Quite a few more than that,” Amanda said, and cocked a thumb at the piles of books and journals. When Lisey really looked at them, she saw that her sister was right. Many more than eight hundred and forty-some. Had to be. “Almost three thousand in all, and where you’ll put them or who’d want them I’m sure I can’t say. No, eight hundred and forty-six is just the number that have pictures of you.”

  This was so awkwardly stated that Lisey at first didn’t understand it. When she did, she was delighted. The idea that there might be such an unexpected photo-resource—such a hidden record of her time with Scott—had never crossed her mind. But when she thought about it, it made perfect sense. They had been married over twenty-five years at the time of his death, and Scott had been an inveterate, restless traveler during those years, reading, lecturing, crisscrossing the country with hardly a pause when he was between books, visiting as many as ninety campuses a year and never losing a beat in his seemingly endless stream of short stories. And on most of those rambles she was with him. In how many motels had she taken the little Swedish steamer to one of his suits while the TV muttered talk-show psalms on her side of the room and on his the portable typewriter clacked (early in the marriage) or the laptop clicked quietly (late) as he sat looking down at it with a comma of hair falling on his brow?

  Manda was looking at her sourly, clearly not liking her reaction so far. “The ones that are circled—over six hundred of them—are ones where you’ve been treated discourteously in the photo caption.”