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Gerald's Game - Stephen King

”This wasn’t the smile, though. This was the grin--a version of it he seemed to save just for these sessions. She had an idea that to Gerald, who was on the inside of it, the grin felt wolfish. Piratical, maybe. From her angle, however, lying here with her arms raised above her head and nothing on but a pair of bikini panties, it only looked stupid, No...retarded. He was, after all, no devil-may-care adventurer like the ones in the mens’ magazines over which he had spent the furious ejaculations of his lonely, overweight puberty; he was an attorney with a pink, too-large face spreading below a widow’s peak which was narrowing relentlessly toward total baldness. Just an attorney with a hard-on poking the front of his undershorts out of shape. And only moderately out of shape at that.”

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Poor Gerald, unfortunately he is merely a plot device and his moments on center stage are destined to be fleeting. He has recently discovered this new sexual kink that puts the fire back in the dragon. It changes everything and soon it becomes apparent that he can’t raise the flag anymore unless he handcuffs his wife Jessie to a bed. He wants and needs her to be absolutely submissive. Jessie is complicit. She feels okay with it; maybe even feels a little excited about that horny glint in Gerald’s eye, and it adds to the excitement that they decided to run up to the summer house in the fall when no one is there.

Gerald didn’t skimp on the equipment, oh no, he bought the real McCoy, not toys, but police issue handcuffs. It adds to his pleasure knowing she is completely helpless,


Now maybe there is something extra stimulating for Gerald to lock his wife to a bed knowing that they are in the middle of nowhere, knowing that no one can hear a thing. He has a look in his eye that makes Jessie think that he is prepared to take the GAME too far. She asks to be released. He likes this new twist. A rape fantasy is blooming before his eyes. He isn’t going to release her. Jessie kicks him. Her aim is excellent and those legs belong to someone who used to be athletic. She catches him in the gonads and in the stomach.

Gerald exits stage left, but though his lines are finished his corpse still has a role to play.

Jessie is in a pickle.

”Those are real handcuffs you’re wearing, not the cute little bondage numbers with the padding inside the wristlets and a hidden escape-lever you can push if someone gets carried away and starts going a little too far. You’re for-real locked up, and you don’t happen to be either fakir from the Mysterious East, capable of twisting your body up like a pretzel, or an escape artist like Harry Houdini or David Copperfield. I’m just telling it the way I see it, okay? And the way I see it, you’re toast.”

I don’t know if Jessie is technically schizophrenic because sometimes voices in our heads can be good guiding forces and not necessarily debilitating. A traumatic event like being handcuffed to a bed in the middle of nowhere might bring out all kinds of voices in my head. I would hope that Jimmy Stewart’s voice would show up. Wouldn’t that be great hearing him say ‘now just calm down Jeff we are going to get through this.’ Jessie’s voices, old friends it seems, are sometimes very encouraging and sometimes depressively pragmatic about the situation. Jessie, an old hand at sorting out the voices, vacillates between thinking about how she can live and thinking about exactly how she will die as the voices wage a war in her head.

The keys, yes the keys are way over there on the dresser.

She gets a cramp. It was only a matter of time.

”A fresh cramp sank long, bitter teeth into her left armpit, and she pulled her cracked lips back in a grimace. It was like having your heart poked with the tines of a barbecue fork. Then the muscles just below her breasts tightened and the bundle of nerves in her solar plexus seemed to ignite like a pile of dry sticks. This pain was new, and it was enormous--far beyond anything she had experienced thus far. It bent her backward like a greenwood stick, her torso twisting from side to side, knees snapping open and shut. Her hair flew in clots and clumps. She tried to scream and couldn’t. For a moment she was sure this was it, the end of the line. One final convulsion, as powerful as six sticks of dynamite planted in a granite ledge, and out you go, Jessie; cashier’s on your right.
But this one passed, too.”

Does anyone truly understand fear better than Stephen King.

Let’s ratchet it up a bit.

Entered through the pet door stage right is the stray dog formerly known as Prince. He is a demented version of the dog that was once loved and coddled by a girl. He is beyond hungry on the verge of starvation.

Yeah it gets a bit gruesome.

Being tied up with death staring you in the face will probably lead most anyone to a few moments of reflection. Jessie thinks about her father and the stain he left on her life. Even as an adult looking back the situations that occurred are baffling. The manipulations and the secrets are still wiggling in her subconscious never to be completely still or properly categorized like a mounted butterfly or a file marked DONE. It is an ongoing evaluation.

She sees someone...in the room. Hallucination or real? Something that genetically monstrous can’t be real...can it?

One of the things I like about Stephen King is he usually gives nods to other writers or artists or musicians reminding me that he is beyond just a pop culture...well...King.

If you want to go to heaven
Let me tell you how to do it,
You gotta grease your feet
With a little mutton suet.
You just slide out of the devil’s hand
And ooze on over to the Promised Land;
Take it easy,
Go greasy.

A bit of Woody Guthrie...oh so appropriate...as it turns out to the situation.

I was caught up in this book and blew through pages like Speedy Gonzales. By the end I felt that King added too many elements which detracted from the overall believability of the situation for me. True terror comes from me being totally sold on all the twists and turns. Despite those misgivings I still really enjoyed the book and he convinced me most emphatically that I don’t need two pair of police issue handcuffs to spice up my love life. *Shudder*