A King and I
(A true story)
I chuckled out loud the first time I saw him. He wasn’t at all what I expected. Not what one would call attractive. Kind of geeky, really, big rabbit teeth and thick coke bottle glasses. Not nice of me, I know, but I was young. Only seventeen. He was much older.
We were so different. I was nobody, a young girl still in high school. He was a King, revered, loved by so many. There were some, though, who said he was troubled, twisted. And perhaps they were right. I thought he was brilliant. He drew me in slowly and soon we were inseparable.
So many nights I lay in bed shivering in his sick embrace, frightened, yet unable to push him away, my heart racing, by blood pumping . . . so alive.
And, oh, the adventures he took me on, worlds so very different from my own. So many different places, all dark and dangerous. And the things he introduced me to. I shudder to think of them. Monsters do exist. They really do. He made sure of that.
Horrible, horrible. I should have spurned him, but the seduction was too powerful. Instead, I would count the hours, the minutes till we could be reunited.
The years flew by. Ten to be exact. Finally I decided to move forward with my life. I married, had three children in quick succession. I loved my husband and my three sons kept me very busy. Still, the lure was strong, and when the opportunities arose, I would slip away to be with him, a stolen hour while the babies napped in the afternoons, clandestine meetings in the dead of night while my husband was away at work.
I just couldn’t let him go? Didn’t want to. He had a gruesome grip upon my soul that would pull me back time and again. The excitement of the unknown, the horrid nightmares conjured; blood sucking vampires, ghosts, demons, the very devil himself. Awful. So very awful.
I loved it. We were two of a kind, this King and I.
I learned of his death quite by accident.
Curled up on my leather sofa one fine morning, I was surfing through the channels when I happened upon the tail-end of a news report. There was his picture. I was shocked to see him. He was in the news every now and then, but not very often. I tuned in to what the reporter was saying, and heard something about the cause of death. Then he gave his age at death, before moving on to more important matters.
I felt my heart turn cold. Could it be? My beloved King? Dead? With a lump lodged firmly in my throat, I scanned the other stations. Nothing.
I was caught off guard at the emotions that consumed me. I didn’t know this man. Not really. Didn’t love him. Not like that. I loved his unusual mind, loved the countless hours we shared. So many late nights, so many dark adventures. There would be no more.
The tears came, the floodgates swinging wide. I wept openly, loud enough to draw my sons away from their morning cartoons.
There they stood, three toddlers in diapers, gawking.
I managed to force out that ‘Mommy is fine’ past all the sobbing. This satisfied them enough to send them back to Bugs Bunny.
Oh, the emptiness that I felt. He had impacted me more than I realized. I mourned the loss of a masterful mind. I mourned my King.
Eventually the tears abated. Drained and weary, I pulled out my laptop to learn the details.
He wasn’t dead! He wasn’t dead at all.
You see, he had been run over by a most careless driver years earlier. It almost killed him. It was the man who ran over him that had died.
I was embarrassed at my blunder, but relieved. The King of horror lived! My beloved Stephen King was alive and well.
It’s been over ten years since the day I mourned Stephen King. I love him still. I think more than ever.
Think I’ll spend a little time with him tonight. The Dome is waiting. It’s a thick one. Hours of late-night thrills await me.
Long live the King!