Needful Things





Ladies and gentlemen, attention, please!

Come in close where everyone can see!

I got a tale to tell, it isn't gonna cost a dime!

(And if you believe that, we're gonna get along just fine.)

-Steve Earle "Snake Oil"

I have heard of many going astray even in the village streets, when the darkness was so thick you could cut it with a knife, as the saying is...

-Henry David Thoreau Walden


Sure you have. Sure. I never forget a face.

Come on over here, let me shake your hand! Tell you something: I recognized you by the way you walk even before I saw your face good.

You couldn't have picked a better day to come back to Castle Rock.

Ain't she a corker? Hunting season will be starting up soon, fools out in the woods bangin away at anything that moves and don't wear blaze orange, and then comes the snow and sleet, but all that's for later.

Right now it's October, and in The Rock we let October stay just as long as she wants to.

As far as I'm concerned, it's the best time of year. Spring's nice here, but I'll take October over May every time. Western Maine's a part of the state that's mostly forgotten once the summer has run away and all those people with their cottages on the lake and up on the View have gone back to New York and Massachusetts.

People here watch them come and go every year-hello, hello, hello; goodbye, goodbye, goodbye. It's good when they come, because they bring their city dollars, but it's good when they go, because they bring their city aggravations, too.

It's aggravations I mostly want to talk about-can you sit a spell with me? Over here on the steps of the bandstand will be fine. The sun's warm and from here, spang in the middle of the Town Common, we can see just about all of downtown. You want to mind the splinters, that's all. The steps need to be sanded off and then repainted. It's Hugh Priest's job, but Hugh ain't got around to it yet. He drinks, you know. It ain't much of a secret. Secrets can and are kept in Castle Rock, but you have to work mighty hard to do it, and most of us know it's been a long time since Hugh Priest and hard work were on good terms.

What was that?

Oh! That! Say, boy-ain't that a piece of work? Them fliers is up all over town! I think Wanda Hemphill (her husband, Don, runs Hemphill's Market) put most of em up all by herself. Pull it off the post and hand it to me. Don't be shy-no one's got any business stickin up fliers on the Town Common bandstand in the first place.

Hot damn! just look at this thing, will you? DICE AND THE DEVIL printed right up at the top. In big red letters with smoke comin off em, like these things was mailed special delivery from Tophet! Ha!

Someone who didn't know what a sleepy little place this town is would think we're really goin to the dogs, I guess. But you know how things sometimes get blown out of proportion in a town this size. And the Reverend Willie's got a bee under his blanket for sure this time. No question about it. Churches in small towns... well, I guess I don't have to tell you how that is. They get along with each other-sort of-but they ain't never really happy with each other. Everything will go along peaceful for awhile, and then a squabble will break out.

Pretty big squabble this time, though, and a lot of hard feelings.

The Catholics, you see, are planning something they call Casino Nite at the Knights of Columbus Hall on the other side of town.

Last Thursday of the month, I understand, with the profits to help pay for repairs on the church roof. That's Our Lady of Serene Waters-you must have passed it on your way into town, if you came by way of Castle View. Pretty little church, ain't it?

Casino Nite was Father Brigham's idea, but the Daughters of Isabella are the ones who really picked up the ball and ran with it.

Betsy Vigue in particular. I think she likes the idea of dollin up in her slinkiest black dress and dealin blackjack or spinnin a roulette wheel and sayin, "Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen, please place your bets." Copyright 2016 - 2024