Christine

Christine
July 9, 2013 Constant Readers

Arnie Cunningham is the quintessential high school nerd, with acne and a spot on the math team and everything.

Pat: The cover of Christine looks like Meat Loaf wrote a musical about a gay motorcycle.
Andrea: Christine. A story about a guy, a car, a chick, and this other guy.
Pat: The second paragraph should’ve been the first.
Andrea: I am still waiting for you to tell me what the first paragraph actually was.
Pat: It was about them growing up together, boring stuff. Not very snappy.
But the second paragraph starts with:
“He was a loser, you know. Every high school has to have at least two; it’s like a national law.”
Andrea: So would you scrap the growing up together paragraph or just move it?
Pat: I’d just rejigger the first two. Or maybe just put that part in the front. It’d probably work that way. The point is, what I just quoted is a STRONG opening.
Andrea: I thought this book was amazingly well-written, like possibly more than all his other ones.
He has “hit his stride” as the kids say.
Pat: I think the first 200 pages drag a good bit. But it occurred to me at some point that the dragginess I’ve been feeling on all these rereads may be because I’ve already read them.
Although Salem’s Lot, I think, felt draggy, and I’d never read that before.
Andrea: Yes. I am not as prone to rereading as I was when I was younger. So it’s probably not a coincidence that I am enjoying more the ones I haven’t read yet.
Pat: I reread stuff all the time. Your argument smacks of “I don’t know how to make an argument.”
Andrea: You smack of “bite me.”

Pat: SK really goes out of his way to make Arnie goddamn gross.
Andrea: I know! I hate when people compare acne to pizza. It makes me wanna vom.
Pat: Like if you punched him in the face, your fist would just slide off because of the grease.
Andrea: Same with Carrie and her greasy hair. He’s really good at writing grossniks.
Pat: I don’t think you’re ever really given any reason to LIKE Arnie.
Andrea: You don’t. You pity him.
Pat: That’s probably my only fault with the book. That and the bozo fucking section titles.
Andrea: Or you like him and see him through Dennis’s eyes because he’s a good friend to Dennis, at least at first.
Pat: I mean, I’m willing to take it on faith. I guess that’s a pretty clever trick, because, like the kids in high school, the readers feelings about Arnie are predicated entirely on Dennis’s feelings for him. You’re not even having your own feelings about him.
Andrea: Right. Man, is there any way to teach your kid not to be a giant jerk? Middle school was the worst.
Pat: Thorazine.

Arnie only has one thing going for him: Dennis Guilder, his best friend. They’ve known each other since they were little, but Dennis has grown into your bog-standard All-American Boy. He plays football and dates cheerleaders will Arnie fiddles with his slide ruler. They’re such good friends that they work together, doing roadwork or something equally unlikely for two white bozos from Podunk, Pennsylvania.

Pat: We’ve got our main characters: Arnie Cunningham, prototypical smart kid with wicked bad acne and only one friend; Dennis Guilder, Arnie’s one friend who plays sports but is moderately unexceptional and dates a cheerleader.
Andrea: Do you buy Dennis? Is he just a little too perfect?
Pat: He’s LESS PERFECT than Tommy from Carrie, who we agreed was believable.
Andrea: Well my feelings may have changed in the THREE YEARS since we have discussed Carrie.
Pat: What makes Dennis so “perfect”?
Dennis is about as believable as dudes get. He is more believable than Tommy, even.
Andrea: I can’t remember one single jock with a super hot girlfriend who was also BF with [SUPER NERD WE WENT TO SCHOOL WITH] on the side.
Pat: There are no extraordinary things about him. He wasn’t a jock—he happened to play sports. He and his cheerleader girlfriend broke up before the story even gets started.
Andrea: HE WAS A FOOTBALL STAR W/A SUPER HOT GIRLFRIEND
That’s not life extraordinary, but it’s high school extraordinary.
Pat: Dennis is pretty medium-man-on-campus
Plays sportsball, dates cheerleaders.
Andrea: Bonin’ on the regular.
And he was extraordinary. He defeated a freaking evil car.
Pat: In the END, yeah. But by that token, nearly everyone in any Stephen King story ever is extraordinary.

Toolin’ on home from work with Best Buddy Denny, Arnie spots a rotting old Plymouth Fury—a model lauded by J.D. Power & Associates as the car Most Likely To Run A Bunch Of People Down While A Ghost Drives It for the years 1956-1960—with a “For Sale” sign. Arnie flips shit and makes Denny stop.

Andrea: So this dude who loves pussy is selling his car.
Pat: A Plymouth Fury, Andrea.
Andrea: I don’t know who to direct my sigh at, you or Stephen King.
Pat: Did You Know? “Fury” is a synonym for “anger.”
This is an angry car. Ah!
Andrea: Did You Know? The Car Was Angry
Pat: Are you a boxer, Stephen King? Then why did you just punch me right on the nose?
Andrea: I don’t think he’s exactly lauded for his subtlety.
Pat: Fair enough.

ENTER ROLAND D. LEBAY, OWNER OF CHRISTINE, who kind of makes you wonder if his middle name is “Deschain.”

Andrea: The story jumps pretty much right into them finding the car, and meeting LeBay.
Pat: Are you saying King gets to the car too fast? It’s literally the only fast thing about this book, Arnie getting the car.
Andrea: No. I’m just saying, OK, here’s what happens next, let’s talk about it.
Pat: You have thoughts on LeBay, and they are negative.
Andrea: Yes, this is all true.
Pat: Seemed a pretty normal small-town car transaction to me.
Andrea: Pretty normal? Even with the pussy remarks? He kept talking about pussy.
Pat: From an old war vet? In a small town? That doesn’t ring true to you?
Andrea: I GUESS
Dennis flashed back to it over and over as an example of why LeBay was creepy.
Pat: He flashed back to it because Arnie was becoming him, and he only had that one meeting as a reference point. It’s not like he was traumatized by LeBay talking about pussy. He’s a high school sports-ball player, for fuck’s sake.

Arnie buys the car while Denny has a look at it. Christine starts giving him hallucinations of cruisin’ and even talks to him all sexy-like in his head. Congratulations, you are now reading a Stephen King novel!

Pat: Also, Dennis has that vision before LeBay even sells the car, doesn’t he? The “Let’s go cruising, big boy” hallucination. Which, let me just say, is creepy as hell for non-supernatural reasons.
Andrea: This whole book is really profoundly creepy. Just the image of being in the dark all by yourself and then… suddenly… the headlights snap on.

We learn that Arnie’s parents are immense dipwads who are FURIOUS that he bought a PLYMOUTH FURY with money that was supposed to go towards college! They had colleges in the 80s???

Pat: I don’t get the Cunninghams at all.
His shrew mother basically just steamrolls over the father constantly. And they hate that he bought Christine. They don’t even want it on the STREET.
Andrea: They are jerks.
Pat: I think that about covers the Cunninghams, may they rest in peace.

By contrast, the Guilders are a cool family. Ma, Pops, annoying little sister Ellie—it’s the fucking Waltons of the 80s. It makes Arnie’s family seem stern and magisterial. His parents don’t like that he’s hanging around with that kid with the leather jacket and the motorcycle and the punching jukeboxes—

!!!! THAT’S HAPPY DAYS YOU STUPID BUTT !!!!

GET OUT OF MY HEAD, ANDREA.

Pat: The Guilders are like the fucking wet dream of what families could be in the 70s or 80s. So fucking hunky dory.
Andrea: Wasn’t the sister named Ellie? Why does SK want everyone to be called Ellie?
Pat: Name another Ellie.
Andrea: From Pet Sematary.
Pat: Oh right.
Andrea: And I think there was at least one other one.
Pat: Anyway, her name was Elaine.
Andrea: Well, they called her Ellie.
Pat: This is the meat-and-potatoes kind of thing people read our blog for.
Andrea: NO ONE READS IT
Pat: MORE READERS THAN YOU THINK

INTERLUDE: PAT AND ANDREA COMPLETELY FORGET THAT THEY’RE SUPPOSED TO BE DISCUSSING CHRISTINE FOR LIKE A MONTH.

Andrea: We are really stalling on this book.
Pat: Ugh. Leave the puns to the professionals.

THEN THEY FORGET FOR ANOTHER MONTH. GREAT JOB, GUYS.

Andrea: Wow, we really ran out of steam on Christine, huh?
Pat: You mean OUT OF GAS???
Andrea: “Out of steam” is a thing.
Pat: Yeah, but it’s a fucking car book.
Welcome to the world of puns.
Your waiter will be by to punch you shortly.

Arnie Cunningham starts spending all of his time fixing up his new ride, but what’s actually happening is the car is healing itself! All Arnie does is sit behind the wheel while radio stations from the distant past play some bullshit. It’s probably that stupid “Dreamwalking” song. Isn’t it always in these cases?

At some point, ROLAND LeBAY, NOTED LOVER OF PUSSY, dies. This leads to Dennis going to the funeral and seeking out Roland’s brother, who always thought Roland was kind of a shitbird.

Pat: Maybe it’s reading all of these really close together, but I think I’ve reached my fucking limit with Hey Here’s A Character Who Exists To Explain A Big Chunk Of The Story, AKA Roland LeBay’s Brother, Who Thinks He Was A Dick, AKA Walter O’ Dim, AKA The Magical Negros, AKA The Professor In Salem’s Lot, AKA Literature Forever.
Andrea: Yeah. I feel like we were nicer about the books when we took a break between them. I also felt like Dennis should leave that poor dude alone.
Pat: It has the vague air of meeting a government informant.
But the only classified information passed between them is, “My brother was a dick, which you already knew.”
Andrea: Yeah, he goes to see him in a hotel, right?
Pat: Motel, more like. Which, was it really that much safer a world thirty years ago that high school kids could just saunter off to meet strangers in motel rooms?
Andrea: No. But teenagers are stupid.
Pat: What do you make of what LeBay tells Dennis? The two deaths?
Andrea: The daughter and the wife?
Pat: No, the Limburgh baby.
Andrea: SUCK TAILPIPE, HIPP
Pat: “Oh, hey, youngster. Did you know that my niece choked to death in Christine, and then Roland’s wife committed suicide by doing the ol’ carbon monoxide poisoning trick? Hand me another Schlitz, bozo.”
Andrea: Oh man. Those two episodes are the best and most chilling part of the book.
Pat: The thing is… Roland’s ghost, once it appears, seems to be integral to Christine being a living thing.
Pat: So before Roland dies, I don’t know, is she still possessed?
There’s nothing supernatural about the death of his wife and child.
Andrea: It seemed like Christine made it so LeBay wouldn’t save them, which jives with the idea that Christine is the driving force and LeBay is the vehicle from a reader’s perspective, I think that was one of the most interesting parts of the book.
Pat: But that begs a new question, which is who was Roland LeBay’s Roland LeBay, if he bought the car new?
Did someone die while the car was being assembled, and all the right ingredients mixed to cause possession, a la “The Mangler”?
Andrea: Probably. SK loves that shit.
Although I’d appreciate a recipe, like we got with the Mangler.
Pat: I guess we’ll just never know. That was a problem for me. He’s usually all about explaining the hows and wherefores of the supernatural shit he dreams up.
Andrea: From a pure entertainment perspective though, this book was golden. Un-put-downable.
Pat: Well, yeah, I’ll give it that. But when I think about the stuff that isn’t explained, the book becomes un-not-throw-able.
Andrea: Here’s my secret to bliss: Not thinking about that stuff.
So are those the things (the deaths) that made Christine evil?
Pat: I don’t know. I’m inclined to think it was LeBay’s death that did it.
Although the strange repairs start before LeBay dies. As far as we know.
Andrea: Repairs?
Pat: It’s like trying to discuss a book with a bowl of pudding.

Arnie has been working out a deal to house his SUPER SLEEK KILLER CAR at Darnell’s garage, in which he does some work for Darnell and doesn’t really bother going to work with Dennis anymore, because roadwork is for losers and people who need a title for their shitbird novels.

Pat: It’s probably just because, you know, you go in knowing what the fuck the story is about, but no one seems to notice that Christine is fixing herself.
Andrea: Yeah, even at Darnell’s. They’re suspicious, but not suspicious enough.
Pat: I get that Arnie doesn’t notice because he’s half-unconscious when he’s “fixing” her, but Darnell is only vaguely suspicious. And his vague suspicions are offset by the fact that Arnie is running around smuggling cigarettes for him or some shit.
Andrea: Oh yeah, I forgot all about the cigarette smuggling.
For some reason, it seemed like no bid deal to me.
Pat: IT’S A MASSIVE INTERSTATE OPERATION, ANDREA
Darnell is basically a crime kingpin.
Andrea: I guess what they were trying to say is that once he started defying his parents, it was a slippery slope. OR that he would do anything to be in garage guy’s good graces. But I don’t know if I found it entirely believable.

Also, FYI, Arnie’s acne is clearing up? Because: cars?

Pat: I have this feeling that I should dislike the whole Christine Heals Herself Whilst Also Healing Arnie’s Acne And Stuff, but it’s kind of good.
Andrea: It is kinda good. It’s very Portrait of Dorian Gray.
Pat: In that you’ve never read Dorian Gray and so don’t realize that it’s pretty much the exact opposite thing?
Andrea: It’s the opposite, which makes it related, however tangentially.
Pat: Because the car and the kid get better and better. Dorian Gray stays the same while the painting gets fucked up.
It’s a similar concept, you’re right. A person and an object have something to do with each other. HOW DID I NOT SEE THAT
Andrea: Anyways. It’s good.
Pat: Dorian Gray also drove his painting around. It grew wheels.

Pat: Do you make anything of Arnie and Christine’s relationship, the car starting to repair itself after however many decades of just not bothering, and LeBay dying at the same time?
Andrea: Maybe Christine is kind of a vampire that needed new blood to feed on, i.e. Arnie?
Pat: It seems like LeBay is the force, not Christine. Christine seems to be an instrument of LeBay’s will. Or at least a kind of amplifier.
Andrea: Right, but then what is LeBay’s motivation? Especially because he left Christine to rot all those years.
Pat: I really couldn’t say. This is one of those SK books where there is not enough to go on. You’re just expected to go, “Right, okay, so the car’s alive” and get on with it, and then it’s like, “Oh, forgot to mention, guys, the previous owner is taking over Arnie’s mind.”
It’s like there are two supernatural phenomenon competing with each other.
STRANGELY if it was just the fucking car without LeBay possessing Arnie inexplicably, I’d be all, “I BUY THIS.”
Andrea: Or is the LeBay stuff Arnie’s imaginings because the car is driving him batshit.
Pat: No, you see LeBay in the car with Arnie. Hell, other people see it.
That guy at the gas station, anyone Christine mows down when Arnie’s not in town.
That was the world’s most morbid haiku.
Andrea: OH true dat.
Maybe LeBay did some voodoo thing that tied his spirit in with Christine as the vehicle of destruction? That seems the simplest explanation.
Pat: Before his daughter choked to death and his wife carbon monoxided herself?
Andrea: Yes. My brain is hurting thinking of all the potential LeBay/Arnie/Christine possession/possessor combos.

Dennis keeps on keeping on and starts seeing this super perfect chick around school. She doesn’t even know how pretty she is. She’s approachable! She’s charming! She’s down-to-earth! But she’s already dating Arnie?????????1

Pat: Then Leigh Cabot, Queen of the WASP Names, comes to town.
Andrea: Do you think that’s a WASP name? It’s more 80s to me.
Pat: Cabot seems super WASPy to me, even though it’s actually probably French.
Andrea: Is she too perfect?
Pat: That is the only question you ever have about characters.
Andrea: THAT’S THE ONLY THING THAT MAKES CHARACTERS UNBELIEVABLE
Pat: King describes her as being kind of just natural, effortless. I imagined the kind of girl that everyone is in love with, but no one would single out as being the hottest ever.
Andrea: And he keeps talking about the cheekbones. Her “cruel” Nordic cheekbones.
Pat: And you take issue with these. You always take issue with character types. Your favorite word is “cypher,” and my least favorite person in the world is whoever taught you that word.
Andrea: I LEARNED IT FROM WATCHING YOU
Pat: I didn’t teach you that word!
Andrea: I don’t take issue with her cheekbones. Or the archetypes.
Pat: So of course Dennis falls in love with her because she is Perfect And Nice. But Arnie saw her first, and somehow they start dating???
Okay, there’s a second thing I had trouble buying into.
Andrea: Um, yeah. I don’t even remember how they started dating. Leigh was obviously SK’s fantasy girl.
Pat: She’s Susan Norton Mark XVI.
Andrea: Yeah, but sexier than Susan Norton.
Like, WAY sexier. Does anyone actually have honey blonde hair in real life?
Pat: Meaning brownish blonde hair? Uh, yeah.
Andrea: Yes, but like, luscious.
Pat: Yes, there are people with that hair. He isn’t making that up. The shit about the car coming to life though, that didn’t strike you as possibly fantasy?
Andrea: I am not even going to justify that with a response.
Pat: You just did, trifling ass ho.
So they’re all lovey dovey, and motherfucking Dennis is pining real hard.
That I kind of dug.
But at the same time, I don’t like Arnie and I do like Dennis, and so I want Dennis and Leigh together. So they can make bone time together.
Andrea: Yes. I even though it was justified when Dennis “stole” her because Arnie was being a dick.
Pat: Well, yeah, at that point he’s basically given up on life outside of Christine, and Leigh’s seen the dashboard lights turn into evil green eyes and doesn’t like the car.
So that’s understandable.
And thus, they get all up in each other’s business because they have to discuss Arnie’s rapid decline into Asshole City.
Andrea: Did the car find Arnie on purpose because he is an easily malleable loser?
Pat: I think it waited until someone like that came along, yeah.

Even though Darnell starts taking a shine to Arnie, one of the regulars at the garage, a high school chum named Buddy, fucking hates the dude! Arnie basically took his job from him, also, he’s a greaser, so what else is he going to do in a Stephen King book? Crotchet doilies? He fucking pulls a knife on Arnie, and Dennis, Sort Of Estranged Friend, comes to his aid.

Pat: At some point, Buddy tries to stab Arnie or some shit.
FINALLY, AN ENEMY FOR CHRISTINE.
Andrea: DEN DEN DEN!!!!
Pat: Interesting that Arnie still gets picked on after he gets all ghost-manicured.
And Dennis still has to protect him.
Andrea: Doesn’t he finally start taking the shop classes?
Pat: Yeah, but he starts boning it hard on all his other classes. Like our other all-American bozo from Apt Pupil. It’s like Stephen King took that kid and split him into Arnie and Dennis.

Anyfuck, Arnie finishes “restoring” Christine and brings it home. HIS MOM IS NOT FUCKING HAPPY. She wants it gone, even though it’s costing Arnie that precious college money she was so worried about to keep it garage at Darnell’s. Meanwhile, he keeps dating Leigh, Supergirl. They go out for burgers and pick up a hitchhiker, which is exactly the kind of thing you do if you’ve never seen a horror movie or had a thought in your life. But it’s a damn good thing, because Christine using this opportunity to make Leigh choke on her burger! JUST LIKE LeBAY’S DAUGHTER. Arnie just sits there, a la LeBay from time immemorial.

This is one of the few times when a hitchhiker actually saves a life, which is why this book is fiction.

Pat: So Leigh fucking chokes on a hamburger while Arnie is sort of zoned out.
Andrea: I forget this part completely. What happens?
Pat: Just read the summary I wrote above this.
Andrea: K HOLD ON BREAKING THE BLOG’S FOURTH WALL
Pat: For fuck’s sake…
Andrea: OH YEAH
Wasn’t Arnie all pissed off at the hitchhiker?
Pat: He gets super fucking pissed off at him. He punches the dude.
But the real upshot is that Leigh resolves to never ever get in the car again.
Andrea: Riiiiiiight. God, Arnie is the worst.
Pat: Here’s another bit of evidence for Christine being powered by LeBay. It’s like the car is trying to recreate the conditions of LeBay’s life, just like Arnie is slowly being rewritten by LeBay’s personality.
Andrea: Or maybe Christine needs LeBay, and that’s why Arnie is turning into him, and the more he turns into LeBay, the quicker Christine repairs itself.
Pat: UGHHHHHHHHH GOD DAMMIT I WANT ANSWERS

Dennis breaks his leg. It’s a little uncertain how he does it, because we lost the original conversation about this part of the book, and now we don’t remember what the hell happened, and in what order it happened. He breaks his leg, and he hasn’t seen Arnie in forever! It’s Thanksgiving, and Dennis is still in the hospital with a terminal case of the teenage angsteses.

Pat: Thanksgiving in the hospital with the two of them? Sheeeeeeeshboy.
Andrea: Oh man. Refresh my memory. I remember that it was depressing
Pat: READ THE SUMMARY ABOVE, JESUS
Andrea: He doesn’t actually give Arnie “what-for.” Stop sullying our blog with your homoerotic fantasies.
Pat: Good, that proves you read it.
It all works really well because it seems like Arnie can be saved and that it would be super easy, but he isn’t. He won’t be. It’s perfect tragedy.

The father shows a rare pair of balls and concocts a scheme to solve the problem of Christine’s sinister chasis lurking at the end of the Cunningham driveway.

Pat: I like the conspiracy of Arnie’s dad taking him out to the airport parking lot.
And the whole revealed dynamic of him just being cowed to Mrs. Arnie.
Andrea:Yeah, I found the whole Arnie-and-his-parents dynamic really interesting. Gosh, that mom was the worst.
Pat: OH SHIT THEY BOTH HAVE DOMINEERING SHREWS TRYING TO RUN THEIR LIVES AND TURN THEM INTO SHITHEADS
MRS. CUNNINGHAM IS MR. CUNNINGHAM’S CHRISTINE
Andrea: OH MAN
I LITERALLY NEVER MADE THAT CONNECTION BEFORE
Pat: A PULITZER JUST DROPPED INTO MY LAP FROM ON HIGH

THIS IS ALL A FUCKING SETUP BECAUSE STEPHEN KING IS A BASTARD. Buddy needs his revenge on Arnie for, uh, not getting stabbed? So he gathers up the rest of the school’s greasy spoons and heads on out to that airport parking lot at around the same time Arnie and Leigh are holding hands all over the fucking mall, buying Christmas presents like the pimps they are.

Pat: Even having read the book before, I was a little crushed that Buddy and friends beat the car back to the Stone Age.
Andrea: Yeah. I felt sorry for Arnie, as much of a dick as he was.
Not to mention for Leigh.
Pat: I should’ve been like, YEAH, FUCK THAT CAR UP, IT IS THE DEVIL
Andrea: The overwhelming emotion that this book evokes is pity, and also, everyone relates to Arnie a little, I think.
Pat: Leigh absolutely freaks the fuck out. And Arnie’s just kind of quiet, isn’t he?
And she fucks off, and he pushes the fucking car all the way back to the garage.
A huge, 50s era car made out of nothing but metal.
Pat: I get Arnie turning into LeBay, but things like him fucking up his back pushing the car back to the garage and getting a back brace like LeBay is a little much.
Andrea: See I thought that was super creepy.
Pat: It is super creepy, but that doesn’t make it good.
Andrea: I disagree.
Pat: That’s because you’re a creep.

Leigh fucks off home because Arnie is being a supertwat about his vintage car looking like it was catapulted into a volcano, shot into the sky, and landed on the pointing end of a wind turbine. What Arnie does is he pushes the motherfucker all the way back to Darnell’s.

Pat: It doesn’t make sense: Arnie’s all back-braced and fixing Christine all the time, which is dumb because the car is healing itself in no time at all these days.
Andrea: Man, Leigh is a patient woman.
Pat: She would be, if she hadn’t stopped waiting around for him.
Andrea: And then she runs right into Dennis’s waiting arms and boner.
boioioioioioioioioioioioioing
Pat: I was rooting for it the entire time and all, and I liked how conflicted he was about it.
Andrea: It seemed natural. And it kind of made sense that Dennis didn’t feel as guilty as he might have since Arnie wasn’t even really Arnie anymore.

Also: Christine starts rollin’ on out and killing people from Buddy’s gang.

Pat: And then killin’ time happens.
All I remember at this point is the chase through the forest. Where that kid sees LeBay behind the wheel.
Andrea: Oh yeah. That was really harrowing and creepy.
It was also kind of one of his longer, more drawn out scenes a la dudes getting the pig in Carrie or dad unburying Gage in Pet Sematary.
Pat: It goes on forever. At one point it just gets too detailed, to the point where you’re like, what? What is happening?
Andrea: That is kind of an SK hallmark—describing things beyond recognition. For some reason it mostly happens in outdoor scenes.
Pat: I kind of think the book doesn’t get a good head of steam going until Christine runs everyone the fuck over.
Andrea: Disagree. I really enjoyed the Arnie family dynamics, the Leigh stuff, the dynamics of Darnell’s garage.
Pat: Yeah, but you don’t think the murders are when the book slips into… FOURTH GEAR?
Andrea: I just sighed audibly.
Calling the attention of our new project manager.
Pat: Why? Not a high enough gear?
Andrea: I quit this blog.
Pat: The best parts of the run-downs were after, when Christine slinks her broken ass back to the garage, repairing herself all along the way.
Andrea: I liked the detail of Dennis getting all shuddery every time Arnie called the car “her” or “Christine.”
And that Arnie starts talking about the car’s parts as if they are female. So gross and off-putting.

Because of the murders, the police start poking around. That’s generally what the police do when there’s murderin’ going on. The main detective is on Rudy Junkins, who has some sort of hunch that Arnie is involved, even though he’s got a million alibis and his car is so unmarked by its late-night excursions that it’s kind of suspicious. Come again?

Pat: So Junkins. Discuss. See what I did? I just stole one of your PERSISTENT TROPES.
Andrea: Gruesome death. He had it coming?
Pat: He’s the one who gets chased THROUGH the house, right?
Andrea: Yeah, I think so. That was pretty nuts.

Whoops, Andrea skipped right past the ongoing investigation, where Junkins keeps showing up at the garage and other places, trying to make Arnie slip up about being a vehicular manslaughterer. Which is all well and good, but Arnie is out of town for most of the murders, and by the way, did you know that Darnell’s Illegal Smuggling Operation and Fun-Time Spa is being taken down by the Feds? Arnie gets caught up in the process for having a trunk full of maybe-you-shouldn’t.

Then, as you might have guessed from having read it a paragraph back, Rudy Junkins gets a whole lot of Christine ramming and bursting through his house. Eventually, he is a dead guy who is no longer alive. Also, he stops breathing.

Andrea will now skip ahead because she is not of this earth.

Andrea: What did you think of the climactic ending?
Pat: Which part? Where Leigh thinks Christine is idling outside in the snow?
Or where they’re making out in Dennis’s car and Arnie comes out of the burger joint and sees them?
Andrea: No, where they are trying to trap Christine in the garage and destroy her.
Pat: What I was actually doing there was trying to stop you from going all out of order.
Because Dennis and Leigh have to GET IT ON first. Then they have to talk about how every time Arnie goes out of town, that motherfuckin’ car kills someone.
Andrea: OH GOD
OK OK
Pat: And then Arnie has to catch them, giving Christine a reason to kill one or both of them. THEN ARNIE GOTTA GO OUTTA TOWNNNNNN
Andrea: So Dennis and Leigh get it on. Arnie catches them, and it is a total HOLY SHIT moment. Like, I actually feared for them.
Pat: Well, of course, we’ve just spent the last 100 pages at that point reading about the car getting revenge on people.
The setup was really good though. That Arnie always went out of town before the killings, so they know WHEN it’s going to happen.
Andrea: Right. And then Leigh almost chokes, right?
Pat: No, that’s way before, when Arnie and her are dating.
Andrea: This is what happens when it takes a long time. I forget.
Pat: Let’s be fair here. You forget almost immediately.
Don’t act like it’s time that’s doing it to you.
Andrea: Well, yeah.

Arnie happens on the two newly minted lovers canoodling in Dennis’s decided not-homicidal car. This, of course, marks them for death. Hello, and welcome to Stephen King’s Horror Restaurant. Table for two?

Pat: SO OKAY IT WAS REAL TENSE AND THEY DECIDE THEY HAVE TO ACT.
Andrea: RIGHT
AND THEY START MEETING IN SEXY, SEXY SECRET

They devise a plan: the next time Arnie leaves town, which is when the murders always happen, they will have to kill the shit out of Christine before it kills them.

Arnie suddenly decides he’d like to take a look at some colleges, and his mother, so gobsmacked that he’s thinking about his future again, says, “Okay! Let’s go east! Hope your car doesn’t MURDER YOUR FATHER while we’re gone!”

Christine murders Mr. Cunningham, and Dennis and Leigh put their plan into effect: get a huge garbage truck, let the guy with the broken leg drive it (???), trap the car in Darnell’s garage, drop the gate, and run into it over and over until it’s re-undead.

Andrea: This whole thing stressed me out so much.
Pat: You’re right, it is super stressful for corralling a car in a garage.
Andrea: I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic or not.
Pat: I’m not. You’d think it’d be easy dodging a fucking car in a damn garage. Especially when you’re in a huge whatever-that-truck-was.
And Leigh’s all dangling from the door and shit, trying to stay out of the way.
Andrea: And Dennis’s leg is broken, and he is trying to drive the clutch with his crutch
Pat: It’s pretty climactic.
That’s my deep literary opinion on it.
Andrea: Did you climax?
I just disgusted myself.
Pat: At least we’re on the same page.

THEY WIN. Fuck that car anyway. But in the last moments of the battle, apparently the ghost of Roland LeBay tried to escape the Car That Would Be Killed and re-enter Arnie’s body, way the hell east on the turnpike. That pretty much kills him and his mother, because Arnie is driving at the time. Oops.

Pat: The final boss battle isn’t nearly as good as the actual ending.
Andrea: You mean the Wonder Years-esque epilogue were they don’t get married?
I wanted to punch Leigh when she was like “what car?” or whatever on the postcard.
Pat: That, yeah, but no, immediately after.
The story of Arnie on the road with his… mom?
And LeBay trying to take over his body as Christine was dying.
And Arnie fighting him.
Andrea:
Oh yeah!!! Loved that part. And doesn’t the whole family die at once?
Pat: He and his mother die.
Andrea: They crash into each other, right?
Pat: No.
Andrea: I thought they crashed into the dad.
Pat: You’re just making things up. And partially using a story from the drunk driving assembly they made us attend before prom.
Andrea: UGH THAT
Pat: Christine kills Arnie’s dad. That’s where it’s coming from when they ambush it at the garage.
Andrea: OH YEAH
Shit is getting real.
Pat: In the end, I liked Arnie’s dad for some reason. He seemed to want to be better but couldn’t because of his cunt of a wife.
Andrea: I liked him too. He is totally whipped but seems to mean well.
Pat: And then he gets a whole bunch of Christine to the body. Which made me sad.
Andrea: I like that they all died, the whole Cunningham clan.
Pat: I don’t know, I didn’t see any reason why Arnie had to die. AND his mother. AND his dad.
Andrea: I mean, how are you going to come back from killer-possessed-car-owning, drug-running son?
Pat: But getting rid of the car and not running drugs anymore? I think he’d have been all right without LeBay behind the wheel of the Arniemobile.
I mean, if he had to go, going out trying to fight off LeBay’s ghost from taking him over again was the only way.

That’s the entire Cunningham family dead now. Jesus, King. Leigh and Dennis go off to college, where they drift apart and probably experiment with the pot. And eventually, Dennis hears about some dude getting run over near the movie theater he works at. A CAR? SOMEONE DYING? MUST BE CHRISTINE, RIGHT, DENNIS?

Andrea: Do you buy Dennis living in fear of Christine forever?
Pat: No.
Andrea: So does that sully the ending for you?
Pat: No. I like that he thinks this vehicular murder in California is the last of Weenie Peehole’s gang.
By which I mean Buddy’s gang.
It’s a sentient damn car. But again, the… ahem, mechanics of it kind of annoy me.
Andrea: OMG
Let’s stop before I die from all the puns.
Pat: Without someone taking care of her, connecting with her, how would Christine repair herself?
If it wasn’t unsalvageable, why did LeBay try to escape but jumping ship from the car and entering Arnie, way the fuck out in eastern Pennsylvania?
Andrea: Cause LeBay is dumb?
Cause Christine played dead cause she was tired of LeBay’s stank ass?
Pat: Now you’re telling me the car, which is already pushing the limits of credulity by being alive at all, is trying to ditch her clingy ghost boyfriend by faking her own death?
Andrea: YES
YES
YES YES
Pat: Have you been huffing exhaust fumes again?
Andrea: I mean, ludicrous questions get ludicrous answers
YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW, HIPP
Pat: Those were legit questions, you living Pop-Tart.
I mean, fuck, in the end, is Christine even alive herself? Or is it just LeBay’s fucking ghost?
Andrea: I think LeBay’s spirit embodied the car and made it (“her”) alive.
Pat: Yeah, but near the end, LeBay tries to abandon Christine and return to Arnie, and that’s what kills him and his mom.
Andrea: That’s right. So why is he so hell-bent on killing Arnie? Is he just evil?
Pat: He doesn’t want to kill Arnie. He never tries.
He turns him all smooth-skinned and shit. Unless he’s trying to kill Arnie with all the poon he’s going to get with his new look.
Andrea: Right, but he kills him at the end.
Pat: No, Arnie fights him off when he comes back. And in the fight, he crashes as dies. The idea is that he would rather end it than go on as LeBay’s puppet.
Did you even READ the book?

For some reason, there isn’t a scene where King describes the crushed cube of Christine’s body, off in some junkyard somewhere, with a dent that suddenly pops itself out because the car is STARTING TO REPAIR ITSELF AGAIN. It is the least Stephen King ending of all time, not including Gone With The Wind.

Pat: That’s pretty much it. Where does this rank for you?
Andrea: It is a solid mid-range entry. I think it’s really underrated among his books.
I mean, the premise sounds dumb, but the book itself is totally engaging and un-put-downable
Pat: That’s the second time you’ve used that.
And MID? I thought you’d put this at the top.
Andrea: High-mid.
Where would you put it?
Pat: I think it might be the best thing we’ve read so far.
Up there with Shawshank, definitely.
Andrea: I liked Carrie, Apt Pupil, and The Stand all more than this.
Subquestion: If we are ranking everything, are we ranking books of short stories or individual short stories?
Pat: Subanswer: eat a stupid dick, stupid.
What, we’re going to rank eighty-some short stories? That’s preposterous. You have the dumb.
Andrea: No more preposterous than the very nature of this blog.
Pat: WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?
I hope your car comes to life and eats you.
Wait, you’re an awful driver. Your car doesn’t need to be possessed.
Andrea: Choke on a hamburger, chum.