Stephen King – I know what you want * Night shift

From the Night Shift comes another wonderful creepy story about a couple in love. Well, when they met they weren’t a couple. And when they broke up, they had a story to tell to raise the hair up on your arms.

I know what you need.

Like the voice of a submarine captain tolling off fathoms, the words he had greeted her with followed her down to sleep.

Told from the perspective of a popular, college-age girl named Elizabeth Rogan, the premise of this story concerns her sudden, unexpected attraction to a social outcast named Ed Hamner, Jr., whose paranormal ability to perceive what will make any person happy has not resulted in his own happiness.

Elizabeth looked up from her sociology text, startled, and saw a rather nondescript young man in a green fatigue jacket. For a moment she thought he looked familiar, as if she had known him before; the feeling was close to deja vu. Then it was gone. He was about her height, skinny, and twitchy. That was the word. He wasn’t moving, but he seemed to be twitching inside his skin, just out of sight. His hair was black and unkempt. He wore thick horn-rimmed glasses that magnified his dark brown eyes, and the lenses looked dirty. No, she was quite sure she had never seen him before.

But she did. Elizabeth’s roommate, suspicious of Ed from the start, runs a background check and finds out that he attended the same elementary school as did Elizabeth, and that his low-paying job at a theatre cannot pay for a sports car he owns, and warns Elizabeth, thus breaking her fascination with Ed and prompting her to investigate herself. It is revealed through the course of the tale that he has been secretly craving Elizabeth’s love since childhood, and has employed a variety of black magic rituals, voodoo and charms to murder her aggressive boyfriend and manipulate her emotions.

Curiously, she picked it up [a box] and turned it over in her hands, hearing things rattle inside. It was the kind of box a young boy might choose to keep his treasures in. Stamped in raised letters on the tin bottom were the words ‘Bridgeport Candy Co.’ She opened it.

The doll was on top. The Elizabeth doll.

She looked at it and began to shudder.

The doll was dressed in a scrap of red nylon, part of a scarf she had lost two or three months back. At a movie with Ed. The arms were pipe cleaners that had been draped in stuff that looked like blue moss. – Graveyard moss, perhaps. There was hair on the doll’s head, but that was wrong. It was fine white – flax, taped to the doll’s pink gum-eraser head. Her own hair was sandy blonde and coarser than this. This was more the way her hair had been -When she had been a little girl.

While this story flirts with casting a sympathetic light on Ed’s character (describing his sad childhood, and his inability to please his abusive parents despite his amazing gift, mainly by winning them large gambling jackpots), when his plans are ultimately brought to ruin, he is revealed less as a product of anti-elitism and more as a childish, murderous coward, morally corrupt and self-serving. Knowing that his magic will always keep a (somewhat small) emotional hold on her, Elizabeth crushes his voodoo doll of her, destroying the small amount of pity she still feels for him.

When your looks go and men strop trying to give you anything you want, you’ll wish for me!. . .I know what you need.


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