Different Seasons: The Body

Different Seasons: The Body
May 21, 2013 Constant Readers

Hello. You are now inside The Body, the third novella in Different Seasons. The setting is Castle Rock, Maine, in the Hunky-Dory Year Of Our Lord, 1960. Gordie Lachance is a kid with big dreams and a ridiculous name. He’s also friends with Chris Chambers (bad boy in training), Teddy Duchamp (a doofus of tremendous proportions and multiple maladies), and Vern Tessio (non-descript), who are DRAGGING HIM DOWN, I MEAN, COME ON, HE’S GONNA BE A BIG WRITER SOME DAY. But he doesn’t know that yet. They’re still dewey-eyed kids! THIS IS THE STORY OF THEIR DEW DRYING.

Andrea: This story is mediocre.
Sad poor kids have shitty lives, and they are great friends, but their friendships die, and they all die, too, and did you know there are no woods anymore? Your life is pointless.
Pat: Is it actually mediocre, or is it the knowledge that about five books down the line, he will kill it with IT? Because that’s all I kept thinking. “I wish I was reading IT.”
Andrea: There was nothing for me to relate to in this story at all. I remember really liking it at one time but, yeah.I HATE YOU STEPMOM. OH HEY I BANGED THIS CHICK WASH THE SHEETS. I HATE YOU DAD. HERE I GO DRIVING AWAY.
Pat: I’m sure I probably liked it way back when, but I honestly have no recollection of reading it before. I know I have, but the act is nowhere to be found in the memory banks.
Andrea: This was a very dude story to me.
And not in a good way. I feel like I really liked it when I was 19 or 20 and could feel my childhood palpably slipping away. Now I am old and don’t care.
Pat: You didn’t feel it earlier? Like when you actually left childhood?
Andrea: I feel like that was when I left childhood.
Pat: I don’t think you understand what “childhood” means.
Andrea: Yes. Here is what I feel. Even though I left for college my parents were still supporting me—it was not until the summer after my first year of college where I truly felt the feeling of being on my own and rudderless.
Pat: That’s your youth, not your childhood. Childhood ends at puberty.
Andrea: omg
Well, my youth then.
Pat: These are important distinctions!
There’s a whole different coming-of-age here. It’s not about becoming an adult, it’s about no longer being a kid.
Andrea: OMG okay professor.
Pat: WOULD IT HAVE BEEN OKAY IF THEY WERE HAVING THEIR FIRST PERIODS?

Gordie’s older brother died some time ago. His parents pretty much don’t notice him anymore because they are Stock Parents Mourning Their First Born, Even Though, Come On, He’s Been Dead Forever And At Least He Was Played By John Cusack In The Movie, Right? But at least they’re solidly middle-class parents, whereas Teddy and Vern have parents that are crap, and Chris has Ye Olde Drunken Abusive Father from page 94 of the IKEA catalog.

Andrea: Seriously, they ALL had really shitty parents? Not a good one in the bunch?
Pat: Yeah, law of averages says one of them would have one good parent.
Chris’s mom might’ve been all right?
Andrea: No, I think she was a stripper.
Pat: I don’t think we know anything about Ma and Pa Tessio.
Andrea: I thought Gordie’s dead brother Denny had way too much of a big part in the book considering that they are trying to tell us that Gordie barely remembers him.
Pat: But it was because his absence, this kid he barely knew, has shaped his whole adolescence.
And then later, when Ace brings up Denny, it shows that it has affected Gordie on some subconscious level.
Andrea: Yeah, I guess you’re right. I mean, most of all this story just really bored me.
Pat: Can you even have a shitty childhood if you have a treehouse?
Andrea: I WANT A DAMN TREEHOUSE
AND FRIENDS TO PLAY CARDS WITH
Pat: So build a treehouse and invite people over to play cards?
Andrea: No trees.
Pat: You live in the suburbs and you have no trees?
We’ve got trees out the wazoo here in the city.
Andrea: Not any good treehouse trees. Also no tools. And I don’t know how to build one.

But at least stupid Vern has an older brother! WHO ISN’T DEAD! And he overhears said older brother talking to one of his gang—that’s Ace Merrill’s gang, which he runs by virtue of the fact that he is a BEATING-GIVING-OUT DUDE with a BITCHIN’ CAR, BOY HOWDY—about the location of long-missing kid Ray Brower’s goddamn dead body. That’s the body in the title of the novella! Holy shit, Gordie and the others are totally going to scoop those hoodlum motherfuckers and find the body first!

Andrea: Is the premise believable? That these kids want to go see a body? I like the whole adventuring part of it, camping and hamburger on a stick and whatnot.
Pat: I don’t see why it wouldn’t be believable. I probably wouldn’t have done it when I was their age, but then again, I’m super squeamish.
Andrea: It seems pretty ghoulish, but also I think they are young enough that they don’t fully grasp the weight of it. But old enough that it feels like striking out on a big adventure.
Pat: That’s sort of the point of the story. The twain they’re in.
Andrea: The twain? Did you just come into town on a riverboat?

They obfuscate their way into having a night to travel to the place where the body is resting unpeacefully, about forty miles outside of time, and the conflict with an adult world begins. First, there’s some shit at the grocery store, where Gordie is stocking up on supplies. Then, at a junkyard, because they represent the decrepitude of age and also, sort of, death!

Pat: Pretty much the only good parts of the book are when youth is confronted with age.
Gordie versus the Shop Guy.
Teddy versus Milo Pressman.
Chris and Gordie versus Ace Merrill and the boys.
Andrea: Gordie versus the Shop Guy was pretty badass.
Pat: I would almost hazard to say that Chris defending Ray Brower’s body from the older kids is the entire thesis of the fucking book. And one of the few reasons it’s worth reading.
Andrea: Ace Merrill et al just seemed cardboard to me.
Pat: Name me one Ace Merrill type from high school that didn’t seem cardboard.

People get called “wet ends.”

Pat: I didn’t realize Teddy’s “eeee-eeee-eeeee” thing was a laugh until about three-quarters of the way through the book.
Andrea: Let’s talk about the slang. WTF in the world is a wet end??
Pat: Are you serious?
Just think about it.
Andrea: Of a wiener?
Pat: Now was that so hard?
Andrea: But what is the insult in it?
Pat: You wouldn’t be insulted by being called a wet dickhead?
Andrea: No! That means you just got some.
Pat: It means you are a PENIS.
Not THE PERSON who has a penis that is wet. A WET PENIS ITSELF.
Andrea: I guess. It doesn’t seem that bad. Like why is a wet one worse than a dry one?
Pat: Would you rather touch a dry dick or one covered in its own sauce?
Andrea: I am so not answering that.
Pat: The answer is: a dry dick.
You have called people dicks, have you not?
Andrea: Yes.
Pat: And you saw the insult in that?
Andrea: Well now you’re just being pedantic.
Pat: Even though the dick you are calling them is not any more specific than “dick”? No allusion to dampness?
Andrea: OMG
Let’s change the subject.

Here’s a subject: they head out into the wilderness! THAT THING WITH THE TRAIN HAPPENS, JUST LIKE IN THE MOVIE, GUYS.

Andrea: The scariest and best part of the story is the train trestle thing.
Pat: It’s not even that scary.
None of the story is scary.
It is not scary.
Andrea: OK, well does it need to be scary? Is it a success despite that fact? Do you like any of it?
Pat: Let’s talk about how you ask questions like the back of an English textbook in high school.
Andrea: That’s my role. Your role is to be a smartass that I am going to send to the other classroom.
Pat: I’m just saying the train trestle part isn’t all that scary. It’s barely even tense!
Andrea: Are you kidding? It freaked me right the fuck out.
Pat: Was it because you were thinking, “OMG AVERY.”
Andrea: NO! I was thinking, “OMG ME!”

Just in case you’re wondering HOW WE KNOW GORDIE WILL BECOME A WRITER—aside from the fact that he’s WRITING THE BOOK WE’RE READING—Chris tells us! We are also treated to two of Gordie’s bozo-ass short stories! If only they’d been hit by that train.

Andrea: There were good parts, but then the stupid frigging pie thing and then the Chico story bring it to a screeching halt, not once but twice.
Pat: Oh god. Yes. The inserted short stories.
Stephen King Goes Meta.
Andrea: I hate it so much.
Pat: I mean, the writer thing was integral to the story because of the friends-drag-you-down thing, but it felt too on-the-nose. And too unlikely.
Andrea: I HATE YOU STEPMOM. OH HEY I BANGED THIS CHICK WASH THE SHEETS. I HATE YOU DAD. HERE I GO DRIVING AWAY.
Pat: Here’s a line I liked from the Chico story: “Love may be as divine as the poets say, he thinks, but sex is Bozo the Clown bouncing around on a spring.”
Andrea: I actually kind of liked the Chico story. Way better than that goddamned pie story.
Pat: You were just trashing it!
Andrea: As a standalone, I liked it. As part of the novella, I hated it.
Pat: Future Gordie describes Chico as having “stepped whole and breathing from the grooves of a Springsteen record.”
Andrea: He totally does.
Pat: You’re a wet end.
After he tells the pie story, and Teddy is asking what happened next, he says, “When you don’t know what happens next, that’s the end.”
Andrea: Ha! As a writer, do you find that to be true?
I mean, clearly that is SK’s strategy.
Pat: It’s sort of true
Actually, no. When you don’t know what happens next, that’s not the end. When you know nothing else happens attendant to the story you’re writing, that’s the end.
Andrea: Agreed.

LEECHES ON BALLS.

Pat: I also don’t believe that any kids that age would just jump into a pond in the middle of the woods, oblivious to the existence of leeches.
Hadn’t they ever seen that one movie? Stand By Me?
Andrea: I hate you.

The dead body is found! But fucking Ace Merrill and his Gang Of Toolbags arrive. FORGOT TO MENTION: CHRIS CHAMBERS IS PACKING HEAT. A STAND-OFF ENSUES. Over dibs. Seriously.

Andrea: I didn’t really get what they were fighting over.
Pat: They were fighting over who gets to take credit for finding the body and end up with their names in the paper.
Andrea: Right. Which neither of them ended up doing.
Pat: That’s not the point. The point is, Gordie and Co. are defending their innocence, Ray Brower’s innocence, and childhood in general.
I mean, it’s a fight over dibs, for shit’s sake.
Pat: Name one thing that represents the innocence of childhood and that kind of dewy-eyed sense of right-and-wrong than dibs?

The gun… TRUMPS Ace. Hahahahaha. The kids just report the body anonymously, which was their right, since they won out against the older boys! Of course, they then get beaten up in the months after the incident. Badly. With fists and things. Proper beatings. The mind starts to drift…

Pat: There were a lot of goddamn allusions to other King works.
Andrea: OK tell me what they are??
Pat: They mention Cujo by name.
Andrea: Yeah we talked about that.
Pat: One of them mentions Jerusalem’s Lot
And there’s some mention of “happy crappy” in this book.
Andrea: Oh man. I think happy crappy and my brain goes right to anal firearm rape
Pat: Well, that’s as it should be
Andrea: And lemon yellow underpants.
Pat: You’ve committed a scary amount of detail to memory
Andrea: I know.
Usually I remember nothing.
Pat: Towards the end, even Shawshank comes up.
Andrea: That’s right. They call him the crazy wife murdering banker or something like that.
Pat: No, they just mention the prison.
You’re thinking of Apt Pupil.
Andrea: Oh right. In this one someone just goes up to Shawshank
Pat: …no. They’re talking about getting sent to reform school, and Chris mentions that it’s not like they’re going to be sent to Shawshank.
Sometimes you just say things.
Andrea: I do.

The speed of the narrative thankfully picks up, careening Gordie towards college as he grows apart from his three friends who are TOTALLY NOT GOING ANYWHERE IN LIFE and, anyway, ARE ACTUALLY GOING TO BE DEAD IN THE NEXT TEN YEARS. The feel-good hit of the summer of corruption! Wait, that was Apt Pupil. This one is “Fall From Innocence.” Oh lord.

Gordie grows up to be a famous writer of supernatural novels. Ho boy.

Pat: So what else? This story was boring.
Or maybe I’ve seen the movie too many times.
Andrea: It is a boring movie. Super overrated. I have nothing else to add. There are way better coming of age stories.
Pat: WAY BETTER.
Andrea: I don’t like when SK puts “hoods” in his stories. It feels so forced.
Pat: Hoods?
You mean the gang?
Andrea: Gangs in general. The cheesy 50s types.
Pat: 50s greasers are cheesy by definition.
Andrea: Right. I hate it!
Pat: Are they unbelievable to you?
Andrea: Not unbelievable. I mean, I guess they existed at one time.
Pat: Yeah, the 50s.
Andrea: They just seem corny!
“Oh, look at me, I have a car with a big Ace painted on it. Oh, look at me, I have a dumb slicked-back hair.”
Pat: I’m done with this hog-ass story.