Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Me and Stephen King

I had the oddest dream the other night. I dreamt that I lost control of my "super b tanker" after a car ran a light and I had to lock the brakes up. The big truck, loaded down with 49,000 litres of diesel cut into a jack-knife whipping me completely around and the pup disconnected from my train and took off. When it was over I climbed out of the truck to examine the carnage and too my surprise there was none. The pup was upright and sitting in an empty lot. As I went about recovering the trailer I happened upon a bookstore.

Dreams are funny, causing your attention and priorities to shift crazily. I say this because all my anguish regarding the near miss seemed suddenly unimportant as I entered the bookstore to look around. It was one  of those old havens that you rarely find anymore. A little independent place with old shelves—plaster peeling from the walls—the musty smell of paper permeating in the air; or perhaps it was the radiator. I don't know. I do know that my truck was out on the street and though it was blocking traffic I seemed to not to care as I explored this little shop.

On a worn coffee table there were a dozen or so used books strewn about. There was a Dean Koontz, a Michael Connelly and book by my pal Jim Steel: Amiens: Dawn of Victory.  I recognized that one immediately because I have a signed copy. In the center of these second hands was a recipe card folded in half that read: $4.50 A Real Bargain! The penmanship looked as though it had been scrawled out by a four year-old. I glanced out the window to make sure my rig wasn't on fire, then back down at the books. I was getting ready to pick up the Connelly Book, wondering if it was a Harry Bosch novel, when from behind I heard a voice I recognized.

"There's some real treasures in there," he said and I turned around. It was Stephen King. He was dressed in blue jeans and a loose fitting sweatshirt and his glasses hung over his nose magnifying his strange eyes. "There might even be a McCammon book in there if you're willing to dig."

In the real world I probably would have said. "You're Stephen King, what the fuck are you doing in a little independent book store." But I didn't, because in dreams you are more apt to accept the ridiculous and this was as ridiculous as it got. What I did say was, "You like Robert R McCammon too? That's pretty cool."

"McCammon writes like Pete Townsend plays the guitar," King said. "He's a genius and highly underrated." Shit, he liked THE WHO as well, imagine that. I wondered if he liked Pink Floyd? "I see you had a bit of trouble out there." He was pointing to my rig and smiled.

I gazed out again. There was a cop sizing the truck up. He had a ticket pad in his hand. That was going to cost. I turned back to King and said, "The first book I read by you was Different Seasons, I enjoyed it a lot and it opened up a whole new world for me. I always wanted to be a writer, but reading was hard for me."

King smiled, but said nothing.

So I continued. "I read almost everything you wrote. I liked THE RUNNING MAN and THE LONG WALK. The Bachman Books rocked! In the mid-nineties my wife and I took our kids down to Bangor on a weekend excursion and I parked outside your property for about an hour, but you never came out. I don’t know why I was sitting out there, it wasn’t like I had a book for you to sign.” I paused and rubbed my goatee. That wasn’t quite true. “I guess I wanted to thank you. There was a time when reading was a real chore for me, but your storytelling made it easy. You opened up a door for me and as a result I found other writers that caught my eye. Clancy, McCammon, Barker, Koontz, Harlan Ellison.” I didn’t tell King that I wrote a book, that I had mailed it to his Bangor Office expecting that it would end up in a dumpster or a bargain bin, instead I just said. “I guess I’ll say thanks now.”

Then I put out my hand.

That’s when Stephen frowned and said. “They’re towing your rig away.”

I turned to look out the window and the Cop was now directing a Peterbilt tow truck and it was lifting my rig onto its hook. “Man, the boss is going to be pissed.” I turned back and Stephen King was gone, then I heard the rumble of a diesel engine and darkness enveloped me. When the veil of darkness cleared I found myself waking inside my sleeper, above me the buttoned leather ceiling. Faux leather.

As I lay there in the dark I checked the time, I’d been asleep roughly four hours. I was parked in a scale house outside of Dawson Creek, British Columbia. I had just finished Kings latest book: Doctor Sleep. I suppose that was what conjured the memories. 

“I never got to say thanks,” I mumbled and rolled over.

I guess this will have to do.


MJ Preston is the Author of the Horror Novel: THE EQUINOX
His new novel ACADIA EVENT is forecasted for release in 2014

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