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At Mile 81 on the Maine turnpike is a boarded-up rest stop, a place where high-school kids drink and get into the kind of trouble high-school kids have always gotten into. It’s the place where Pete Simmons goes when his older brother, who’s supposed to be looking out for him, heads off to the gravel pit to play “paratroopers over the side.” Pete, armed only with the magnifying glass he got for his 10th birthday, finds a discarded bottle of vodka in the boarded up burger shack and drinks enough to pass out.
Not much later, a mud-covered station wagon (which is strange because there hadn’t been any rain in New England for over a week) veers into the Mile 81 rest area, ignoring the sign that says “closed, no services”. The driver’s door opens, but nobody gets out.
Doug Clayton, an insurance man from Bangor, is driving his Prius to a conference in Portland. On the backseat are his briefcase and suitcase and in the passenger bucket is a King James Bible, what Doug calls “the ultimate insurance manual”, but it isn’t going to save Doug when he decides to be the Good Samaritan and help the guy in the broken down wagon. He pulls up behind it, puts on his four-ways, and then notices that the wagon has no plates.
Ten minutes later, Julianne Vernon, pulling a horse trailer, spots the Prius and the wagon, and pulls over. Julianne finds Doug Clayton’s cracked cell phone near the wagon door - and gets too close herself. By the time Pete Simmons wakes up from his vodka nap, there are a half a dozen cars at the Mile 81 rest stop. Two kids - Rachel and Blake Lussier - and one horse named Deedee are the only living left. Unless you maybe count the wagon.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Mary Z on 04-23-12
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
I always recommend Stephen King to my friends. King, to me, is one of our most critically underrated American storytellers, even though he is a massive commercial success.
What did you like best about this story?
I've read a lot of King's body of work, but, I have come to get more and more excited with what he's written at this point in his life. Unlike some popular authors, he really seems to try to constantly improve his skills as an author and storyteller, always trying new ground rather than resting on his laurels. This was yet another crisp, well constructed short story by a short story master. Maybe what I liked best his how, in this short space, he surprised me. Without being specific as to spoil it for other readers, I'll just point out that you cannot take anything for granted. He'll pull the rug out from under your feet ... then do it again. And you can imagine him laughing at his keyboard while writing it.
Which character ??? as performed by Edward Herrmann and Thomas Sadoski ??? was your favorite?
Pete Simmons is the heart of the story. Not unlike Steven Spielberg, King does the perspective from a child's view very well. He never talks down to Pete, yet also does not idealize him. He's a real kid, but King finds in him his moment to shine.
Any additional comments?
I cannot imagine missing a new King creation, no matter what form it is, but a short story? Never. This is HIS format, no modern popular author can compete with King on this.
10 of 12 people found this review helpful
By Jim "The Impatient" on 02-14-16
For a couple of dollars, more get Bazaar
The story is good. The story is typical King. I give it an A-. The thing is I bought it before I bought THE BAZAAR OF BAD DREAMS. This is the first story in that collection. You can pay $7.24 or 1 credit or you spend one credit for Bazaar and get 19 other great stories. Seems like a no brainer to me.
25 of 32 people found this review helpful