Friday, April 4, 2014

The Body

This next story is one that comes from the same book as Shawshank but is something COMPLETELY different. When you think about it, it's more about youth & mortality. Coming face-to-face w/ life and death at a young age. Life's moments are revealed in one minute. This story is how one trip changed 4 boys' lives forever. From author Stephen King, here is The Body.

Originating in a tree house that over hung a vacant lot in Castle Rock. The four boys inside were playing blackjack. Playing for pennies w/ a nickel limit. Aside from playing cards, the club was a good place to go smoke cigarettes and look at "adult" magazines. There was Teddy Duchamp, Chris Chambers, Gordy Lechance. They were in the club on a Friday morning, dreading the end of summer and school starting. Playing cards and telling the same old jokes. In spite of his glasses & the flesh colored hearing aid, Teddy always kept his ears covered. One day when he was 8, Teddy's dad got pissed at him for breaking a plate. His mom was working and unavailable. Teddy's dad took him over to the big wood-stove at the back of the kitchen and shoved the side of his son's head against the burner plates and held it there for 10 seconds. He then took Teddy by his hair and did the other side. After that he called the Central Main General Emergency Unit and told them to come and get Teddy. After that atrocity, they had a hearing and sent him to a VA hospital in Togus. His dad did storm the beach at Normandy. Despite what his dad has done, Teddy was proud of his dad.

Coming in through the trap door of the clubhouse was Vern Tessio. He pulled himself in, he was COMPLETELY excited and out of breath. He seriously ran all the way from his house. Vern wanted/asked the guys to camp out in his backfield. That summer at home Gordy had become the Invisible Boy. It's been six months in April and Gordy's older brother, Dennis, had been killed in a Jeep accident. Vern introduced the idea to go and see a dead body. The body of a missing boy, Ray Brower. Those boys followed the story closely because he was a kid their age. Vern was under his porch digging. Four years ago, when he was 8 yrs old, Vern buried a jar of pennies under his porch.He was playing a pirate game and the pennies were to be his treasure. He drew a treasure map so he could find them again. A week or so later, his mom cleaned out his room. He tried to find the spot from memory. NO Luck! He gave up for the day but tried off/on ever since. . . . It's been 4 years later. You didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

Thanks to this Vern had a nickname, Penny Tessio. He was up in the morning before anybody after his rituals. He was under the porch to have another dig at the pennies. Vern was under the porch hearing his brother and his brother's friend, Charlie Hogan, listening to them discuss the news of Ray Brower. After hearing them discuss it, Vern ran over to his friends at the tree-house. They tried to figure out the distance of how far Ray Brower had actually gotten. They were guessing 20-30 miles. Figuring that if they found the body, they'd be notoriously famous heroes. They figured they wouldn't get into any trouble when they returned because everyone else will be so relieved at what they find. Gordy's dad was retired. Vern's dad worked at the Mill. Teddy's mom had a house and took in a boarder whenever she could. Chris' dad was a mean drunk who was on/off welfare. But he spent most of his life drinking. Chris didn't talk much about his dad. We all knew why. Chris was really smart; but was always truant.

The year before, Chris had been suspended from school for 3 days. A bunch of milk money "disappeared" when it was Chris' turn to collect it. Even though he swore he never took it, he was somewhat stereotyped because he was "one of those low-life Chambers kids". After that incident w/ the milk money, Chris' dad put him in the hospital. Chris came from a bad family. Everybody thought Chris would turn out bad just the same. They had their plan set for the next day to find The Body. Around 10:00P, they went home to confer w/ their parents. Gordy's dad didn't particularly care for his son's friends. He thought his son could have better than what he/dad described as "a thief and 2 feebs". His dad thought Vern was feeble minded to be 12-yrs-old  and still be in the 5TH grade. His dad always judged his friends. He was 63 years of age. When Denny was alive, Gordy was constantly ignored. After he died, Gordy didn't exist.

The night Dennis graduated high school w/ honors Gordy played sick and stayed home. He had a friend's older brother buy him a bottle of Wild Irish Rose. He drank 1/2 of and puked it up in the middle of the night. Gordy couldn't go into Dennis' room unless it was a necessity.  He just kept envisioning being told that: "It should've been you, Gordon." On the morning of their venture, Gordy began heading out into Summer St. and onto a vacant lot to Carbine. He was heading up towards Carbine towards the clubhouse. He was met up by Chris who had his Boy Scout pack and what he would need. In private, Chris had pulled out a pistol to show Gordy. He had hawked it off his dad's bureau. It was a .45. Chris had also gotten the rest of his father's shells. His dad would be thinking he was shooting cans when was drunk. After accidentally squeezing the trigger and gun shot, it scared them both, "Gordie Lechance is shooting up Castle Rock". Chris truly didn't know the gun was loaded. At the tree-house, Vern & Teddy were waiting. They began their venture on how to get their. Taking the train tracks all the way there!

Planning the trip was easy, except for one thing: How were they going to survive and eat? They began counting what change they had.
Chris - 1.02
Teddy - .60
Vern - .07 - he hadn't found his pennies yet.
Gordy - 2.37
Gordy would try to make do w/ what they had. Gordy then put his hands on the tracks. TRAIN WAS COMING. Teddy thought he could dodge it. The others tried to get him off the tracks because he was being stupid. A fight somewhat ensued after Chris saved Teddy's life.

They arrived at the dump at 1:30P. There was a left security fence surrounding it. They climbed the fence and jumped over. The dump is one of the strongest memories of Castle Rock. It looked as though NOTHING belonged there. The dump keeper, Milo Pressman, was never without his dog, Chopper, at his heel. Legend had it Chopper was the meanest dog for 40 miles around. The most common urban legend was that Chopper was trained, not just to sic, but to sic specific parts of the human anatomy. Therefore an unfortunate kid might hear the dreaded cry: "Chopper! Sic! Balls!" Milo was a half-bright working joe who supplemented his small salary by fixing things people threw away and selling them around town. There were no signs of either Milo or Chopper that day. You could clearly see the maturity that Gordy & Chris had that Vern & Teddy didn't and that they lacked.

Gordy and Chris raced to the pump. Chris tossed Vern his canteen. Refilling their canteens and walking over to the shade. Talking about how great their lives are. They knew who they were and exactly where they were going. It was a grand moment in their lives. They sat under a tree for awhile just shootin' the shit. After acknowledging the time of the day. Vern seen they had to hurry for provisions before the dump opened at 4:00. They didn't want to be there when Milo or Chopper made the scene. So, they flipped coins to see who was going. The first call was 2 heads and 2 tails. They flipped again. This time it was ALL 4 tails. That scared Vern due to a childish urban legend that meant very bad luck. Vern sincerely didn't like hearing the story. Vern flipped his coin again but w/ reluctance. This time he, Chris & Teddy all had tails while Gordy showed Thomas Jefferson on a nickel. That meant Gordy would be the one going to the market. The rest of the guys would wait by the train tracks awaiting his return.

Gordon Lechance ran down the road w/ change in his pockets. He bought 3lbs. of hamburger, some hamburger rolls. 4 bottles of Coke and a .2 cent church key to open them with. The owner knew Gordy as Denny Lechance's brother. The owner knew Denny and thought Gordy was a spitting image. The total for Gordy's order added to $2.13. The owner thought it was $2.29. He thought Gordy was being a smart-ass to correct him. But, Gordy was being honest. In mistaken anger, the owner threw Gordy out w/ his items. He compared Gordy and Denny. ("Your brother wasn't no smart-ass.") Gordy cursed him and ran like Hell out of the store. He went back to his friends' location. He was about 50ft. from the fence of the junkyard. Almost out of the clear when he's heard/told to get away from the fence. Gordy ran like hell to the fence. His friends awaiting the other side. Milo yelled for his dog, Chopper to sic him. Behind him, Gordy could hear Chopper coming. He was able to quickly climb the fence. He almost landed on a laughing Teddy. At the same time, Chopper it the fence behind Gordy. After he turned around and seen Chopper, Gordy got a lesson in myth and reality. Instead of a huge, raving beast they expected to see, what the boys seen was a medium sized mongrel dog who was grasping at the fence. Teddy began mocking invoking and teasing the dog. Soon Milo Pressman came on the scene. Chopper soon went nuts. Milo soon went berserk w/ rage. Milo quickly soon identified who the boys were. He began taunting Teddy due to his dad was "a loony up in the nuthouse in Togus." Milo triggered and pushed Teddy's button. Vern & Chris had been laughing the entire time. Gordy had to pull an enraged Teddy off the fence. Nobody could understand and figure out why Teddy would put up such a fight for his dad who practically tried to kill him. Gordy couldn't give a shit about his own dad who hasn't laid a hand on him since he was three.

As they were finally leaving the dump grounds, Teddy shot Milo the finger as they walked away. No more was seen/heard of Milo Pressman and Chopper that day. After the events that had already happened, they still wanted to venture on their trek. When it came to Teddy, Chris did his best to try and make peace. He had a way about it. He tried to Teddy look at the bright side of the situation. Teddy's crying mellowed. It was only 2:45, but it felt much later. It was too hot and too much had happened. They weren't even into Harlow yet. They were going to have to make some REAL miles before dark. At around 3:30p, they came across the Castle Rock trestle.

Looking at the trestle, the boys felt a sudden fear. They tried to calculate 2 things: the shortest-to-longest way to get there and when the next train was due. Teddy wanted to take a shortcut. Gordy knelt down and took one of the steel rails in his hand. The rail was mute. They went out to the trestle single file: first Chris, then Teddy, then Vern w/ Gordy at the tail end. They walked on the platform cross-ties
between the rails. Chris & Teddy were a long way ahead. Vern was tottering slowly along. Peering studiously at his feet. Slow-poking worse than ever. Chris & Teddy were almost all the way across. Gordy squatted down and made a fist around the rail on his left. It was thrumming like a bundle of deadly snakes. The vibration from the rail sank so deeply into Gordy's hand when he took it away still vibrating.

Gordy's last thought broke paralysis and he just shot to his feet. But, he did break the surface and screamed "TRAIN!" Everything calm fell apart and they just fell ran. Once Gordy began to run, they all started to run faster. Soon Chris was safe. He/Gordy was right behind Vern. Being halfway, they began to actually hear the train. Beginning at a slow volume and rising higher. Running faster and screaming as the train came. Gordy was driving Vern in a faster direction. The train was very loud at this point. Chris was below them at the right. Teddy was right behind him. The trestle began to shake at the train charged across it. They jumped. Vern landed full length in the dust. When the train was surely & sincerely gone, at least they knew knew when the next train was due. When Vern sat up finally, shaking all over, Chris thought they should enjoy the Cokes. They could've all used one.

When it was all over & done, they just laid back, not laughing about it anymore. Just drinking their Cokes and being quiet. Gordy's body felt calm, warm & at peace. He always seemed uncomfortable when the talk turned to Gordy's stories, although the others seemed to like them. That was the cool part. It was cool that his friends requested and wanted to hear Gordy tell a story. In his stories that he told, he always used rounds. Never bullets. Gordy began making up and telling a story of an extremely overweight kid that no one liked named Davie "Lard Ass" Hogan and a pie eating contest. After hearing the story, it was still bright daylight outside, so they went walking. It was shortly after 5:00P, Vern & Teddy were walking discussing after summer and life plans. Gordy in his college courses and the others in their remedial classes. It was like God gave Gordy something, all those stories he can make up. "This is what we got for you, kid. Try not to lose it. But kids lose everything unless somebody is there looking out for them." Chris was only 12 when he said this to Gordy, but he KNEW what he was saying. It somewhat scared Gordy because he KNEW Chris was RIGHT in his words of wisdom. He spoke as if he had been there before.

Chris stated he already KNEW his fate in life due to how others viewed him due to his last name. Chris Chambers. Kid brother of "Eyeball" Chambers and Frank Chambers. He KNEW an example of his fate when it came to him being made an example out of when it came to supposed "stolen" milk money at school. Chris NEVER THOUGHT a teacher would call or make him out to be a liar. It really hurt him to be betrayed by a teacher that way. He was in tears. Chris wanted to get out of Castle Rock, go to college and never see his dad or his brothers again. He wanted to go somewhere where NO ONE knew him or of his family's legacy. A chance to start out before it began. Chris thought that out of all 4 of them, Gordy was different. He had a chance at life, but him, Teddy & Vern drug him down. They went for another mile and then camped out for the night.

They were now in the woods in Harlow by this nightly point. After a fire was gathered & made, they split up the already bought hamburger and cooked it over the fire. Unable to wait for them to finish cooking, the boys ate medium-cooked burgers. They were good. After dinner, Chris brought a finishing box of Winston cigarettes that they split. No inhaling. Just drag & blow. Nothing like a smoke after a meal. They talked for the night. The kind of talk before you discover girls. Just shootin' the bull. After they were out and asleep, Gordy began dreaming of Denny. He was disoriented and could've sworn he was in his bedroom. But he wasn't. Someone was holding him in a mighty bear-hug, someone else was pressed against his back. Gordy wondered 'What the Hell?' It seemed to come from Vern. It brought Gordy back into the focus of reality. Vern was gibbering in his sleep w/ an equivalent of a prayer for him/Vern. Gordy was still sleepy and disoriented. A long and hollow scream rose from the woods. Vern was whimpering w/ his voice high and filled w/ tears. He began to get closer to Gordy. They thought it was Ray Browers ghost in the woods. After some mild guessing, Teddy went looking for the location of the screams. Chris & Gordy stopped and hauled him back down. Teddy struggled to get up. The wild cry arose again, cutting the air like a knife, freezing the boys in motion w/ their hands on Teddy. The screams came again w/ a crazy ease through different octaves. Hanging in there for a minute, then down again, followed by a burst of what sounded like mad laughter.

Chris proposed they keep guard and sleep in shifts. They all agreed to that. Gordy got the first watch and Vern got the last. Chris began having a recurring dream in his sleep. Envisioning Teddy & Vern drowning at the local pool. He's only about to grab a couple of hairs or fingertips and down they go. Gordy was up and asleep multiple times in the night. With his last waking, Gordy looked at his watch at dawn. It was 4:45A. He could feel his body awaking for the day. It was a fine feeling. Gordy had some time to himself sitting on the rail tracks. He was in peace and about to get up when he looked to his right and seen a deer standing in the rail-bed not 10 yards away. He/Gordy didn't move. They had a moment looking at each other for a long time. Then the deer turned and walked off the other side. Seconds later, the rail of the track began to thrum under him. Gordy sat mesmerized. He never told anyone about that moment. That was one thing on the trip he kept to himself. The trains slow fright awoke the others. Throughout his life during tough times, Gordy mentally remembers and sets himself back to that moment w/ the deer. They were headed back on the tracks at 8:00A.

The last day of the heat was the worst of all. After all they have been though this far . . . . seeing the body of Ray Brower went from a necessity to a MUST! They went from peering the tracks to DETERMINED. A small creek trickled into the far end of a pool. Since they knew it would be gone soon with the railroads increasing, they tried to take a swim in it. Chris checked out its depth. After checking, they all jumped in one after another. Hitting the water was clean, cool & fantastic. Having fun and goofing off for 30 minutes before realizing the pool was FULL of bloodsucking leeches. They frantically pulled themselves out of the bank. Frantically pulling them off their bodies and each other. Gordy was beginning to relax a little until he seen the biggest one on his male parts. He tried to speak but couldn't. He reached down again and pulled it off w/ blood on his fingers. He began to cry. Eventually, they were all off everyone and they got dressed.

Ray Brower
They continued to walk further down the tracks. They were only 10 miles from Ray Brower's location, with 16 miles to walk. It would around 4:00P when they arrived. What they didn't know was that Ace Merrill, Eyeball & the others were on their way to the body as well. They tried and came by car. They were burning up the road in the Castle Rock to the Back Harlow Road when Gordy and the others were getting close. At about 3:30P, they found the Royal River. They got a second wind and went faster. The weather was threatening a thunderstorm. Vern screamed in a high, fainting voice. Gordy looked in Vern's pointing direction. He was w/ Teddy. He began to screech in excitement of seeing Ray's location. It would have been better to see the whole body at once, but they only seen a hand hand and fingers first. The rest of Ray Brower was coming.

Rain was beginning to start. All at once the storm came. They jumped to the side. Chris and Gordy were the first to reach the body of Ray Brower. He was face down. Ray must've been down there trying to get out of the way when the train came knocking him over his heels. Ray had been knocked out of his Keds just as it had knocked the life out of his body. It rammed it home. The kid was dead. Stone dead.

The boys turned Ray face down in the bad weather. Teddy and Vern stood right behind Gordy and Chris. The first to show show up was Ace Merrill and Eyeball Chambers. Chris was staring at his brother. Chris called 'DIBS'. It became a war who was going to report the body. It wasn't  fair. The younger boys walked while the older ones drove. Ace asked them to politely surrender." He/Ace brought Denny into the conversation. THAT WAS IT! Then Gordy told Ace to "suck my fat one. You cheap dime store hood." He/Gordy went dead cold. Ace was surprised. Gordy was really ready to fight.  But Chris fired the pistol that he hawked from his dad. BAM! The others were really shocked & surprised. Ace didn't think a 12-yr-old kid would shoot him. He/Ace stopped and retreated once he seen they were SERIOUS about shooting him. Ace was terrified. He didn't think they had the sac to shoot a woodchuck.

NO ONE WAS KIDDING!! They were BOTH SERIOUS!! In a fit of rage, Eyeball began to come for Chris. Gordy fired a shot in nearby water. Eyeball jumped back - cursing. After Gordy instructed them to leave, Ace PROMISED revenge. Vern came in first w/ a wailing scream. Teddy held out a minute longer until running after Vern. Ace began to grin. He looked at Chris a minute longer than left. Gordy stood his ground w/ no one but Ray Brower by his side. Chris eventually returned. Now what to do with the body? They were supposed to be heroes. They were different. Seeing death in their faces. Teddy REALLY wanted to claim the notoriety of this finding. NO ONE was calling dibs. They ventured on their way home! Ray Brower's appearance STUCK w/ Gordy. They got back to Castle Rock a little past 5:00A on Sunday, the day before Labor Day.

Gordy's head was pounding with a headache. They figured to walk across the tracks to get home. No train came. They took the same trek back without trouble. When they came back into town, they parted ways. First Teddy & Vern. Soon later, Gordy & Chris. The back door was locked and Gordy let himself in. The kitchen was clean and empty. He changed his clothes and cleaned himself up. He began to make eggs for breakfast. When his mom woke, she asked Gordy his whereabouts. He told her the drag race story. She told him of how she missed Denny in the mornings. Although he was trembling, the story never got out. Neither their gang or Ace's crew got credit. An anonymous phone call was the best thing to do. One day neat the end of the month while walking home from school, Ace and his hood caught up w/ Gordy. He dropped his schoolbooks and ran. Ace hit him and Gordy went into the pavement. Ace's crew wailed on him. His nose was broken. His eye was busted and more. Mrs. Chambers came up and threatened to call the law. They let him go and backed off. Aunt Chambers came down and seen if he/Gordy needed help. She did help him w/ aftercare from Ace. Although slowly, Gordy managed to get home. His parents took him to the doctor. He was given some painkillers for his pain. When he got to the doctor, Gordy didn't give up any names. Chris was bleeding from both ears. He had a temporary sling across his chest. Billy laid into Vern when he got home knocking him unconscious. Three of them caught Teddy on the way home. He was punched and had broken glasses. The 4 of them (Gordy, Chris, Teddy &Vern) stuck together at school for awhile.

When everything healed, the boys seen less-and-less of each other. Vern & Teddy drifted away. They took command of younger kids. Vern was killed in a house fire in 1961. In 1971, Teddy was killed in a car crash. Chris enrolled in the college courses in his junior year. He couldn't take the hounding from other people. Both he and Gordy studied every night. He eventually went to college and became a lawyer. Near the end of 1971, Chris was in a restaurant. Just ahead of him, 2 men began arguing. One of them pulled a knife. Chris tried to make peace. He was stabbed in the throat and died almost instantly. Gordy was teaching high school English. When he heard news of Chris, he cried for him alone. Although he hadn't seen him in almost 20 years, Gordy will forever miss his friend. He never had any friends again like ones he had when he was 12. Jesus, does anyone?

In 1986, a coming of age CLASSIC film was made based on this story. It was directed by Rob Reiner. The film starred Wil Wheaton as Gordy, River Phoenix as Chris, Corey Feldman as Teddy, Jerry O'Connell as Vern (Verno) and Kiefer Sutherland as Ace.

 This book and the film are BOTH INCREDIBLY REMARKABLE!!



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