They’re calling it the Storm of the Century, and it’s coming hard. The residents of Little Tall Island have seen their share of nasty Maine Nor’easters, but this one is different. Not only is it packing hurricane-force winds and up to five feet of snow, it’s bringing something worse. Something even the islanders have never seen before. Something no one wants to see.
Just as the first flakes begin to fall, Martha Clarendon, one of Little Tall Island’s oldest residents, suffers an unspeakably violent death. While her blood dries, Andre Linoge, the man responsible sits calmly in Martha’s easy chair holding his cane topped with a silver wolf’s head...waiting.
Linoge knows the townsfolk will come to arrest him. He will let them. For he has come to the island for one reason. And when he meets Constable Mike Anderson, his beautiful wife and child, and the rest of Little Tall’s tight-knit community, this stranger will make one simple proposition to them all:
“If you give me what I want, I’ll go away.”
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About the Author
Date of Birth:September 21, 1947
Place of Birth:Portland, Maine
Education:B.S., University of Maine at Orono, 1970
Read an Excerpt
PART 1: Linoge
FADE IN ON:
1 EXTERIOR: MAIN STREET, LITTLE TALL ISLAND LATE AFTERNOON.
SNOW is flying past the lens of THE CAMERA, at first so fast and so hard we can't see anything at all. THE WIND IS SHRIEKING. THE CAMERA starts to MOVE FORWARD, and we see a STUTTERY ORANGE LIGHT. It's the blinker at the corner of Main Street and Atlantic Street Little Tall's only town intersection. The blinker is DANCING WILDLY in the wind. Both streets are deserted, and why not? This is a full-throated blizzard. We can see some dim lights in the buildings, but no human beings. The snow is drifted halfway up the shop windows.
MIKE ANDERSON speaks with a light Maine accent.
MIKE ANDERSON (voice-over)
My name is Michael Anderson, and I'm not what you'd call a Rhodes scholar. I don't have much in the way of philosophy, either, but I know one thing: in this world, you have to pay as you go. Usually a lot. Sometimes all you have. That's a lesson I thought I learned nine years ago, during what folks in these parts call the Storm of the Century.
The BLINKER LIGHT GOES DEAD. So do all the other brave little lights we saw in the storm. Now there's only the WIND and the BLOWING SNOW.
I was wrong. I only started learning during the big blow. I finished just last week.
2 EXTERIOR: MAINE WOODS, FROM THE AIR (HELICOPTER) DAY.
It's the cold season all the trees except the firs are bare, branches reaching up like fingers into the white sky. There's snow on the ground, but only in patches, like bundles of dirty laundry. The ground skims by below us, the woods broken by the occasional twisty line of two-lane blacktop or little New England town.
I grew up in Maine but in a way, I never really lived in Maine. I think anyone from my part of the world would say the same.
All at once we hit the seacoast, land's end, and what he's telling us maybe makes sense. Suddenly the woods are gone; we get a glimpse of gray-blue water surging and spurning against rocks and headlands...and then there's just water beneath us until we:
DISSOLVE TO: 3 EXTERIOR: LITTLE TALL ISLAND (HELICOPTER) DAY.
There's plenty of bustling activity on the docks as the lobster boats are either secured or boathoused. The smaller craft are being removed by way of the town's landing slip. People pull them away behind their four-wheel drives. On the dock, BOYS AND YOUNG MEN are carrying lobster traps into the long, weather-beaten building with GODSOE FISH AND LOBSTER printed on the side. There's laughter and excited talk; a few bottles of something warm are passed around. The storm is coming. It's always exciting when the storm is coming.
Near Godsoe's is a trim little volunteer fire department firehouse just big enough for two pumpers. LLOYD WISHMAN and FERD ANDREWS are out washing one of the trucks right now.
Atlantic Street runs uphill from the docks to town. The hill is lined with pretty little New England houses. South of the docks is a wooded headland, with a ramshackle flight of steps leading down, zigzag, to the water. North, along the beach, are the homes of the rich folks. At the far northern point of land is a squatty white lighthouse, maybe forty feet high. The automated light turns constantly, its glow pale but readable in the daylight. On top is a long radio antenna.
MIKE (voice-over) (continues)
Folks from Little Tall send their taxes to Augusta, same as other folks, and we got either a lobster or a loon on our license plates, same as other folks, and we root for the University of Maine's teams, especially the women's basketball team, same as other folks...
On the fishing boat Escape, SONNY BRAUTIGAN is stuffing nets into a hatch and battening down. Nearby, ALEX HABER is making Escape fast with some big-ass ropes.
JOHNNY HARRIMAN (voice)
Better double it, Sonny the weather guy says it's coming on.
JOHNNY comes around the pilothouse, looking at the sky. SONNY turns to him.
Seen'em come on every winter, Big John. They howl in, they howl out. July always comes.
SONNY gives the hatch a test and puts his foot up on the rail, watching ALEX finish. Behind them, LUCIEN FOURNIER joins JOHNNY. LUCIEN goes to the live well, flips it open, and looks in as:
Still...they say this one's gonna be somethin' special.
LUCIEN yanks out a lobster and holds it up.
Forgot one, Sonny.
One for the pot brings good luck.
LUCIEN FOURNIER (to the lobster)
Storm of the Century coming, mon frere so the radio say. (knocks on the shell) Good t'ing you got your coat on, hey?
He tosses Bob the lobster back into the live well SPLASH! The four men leave the boat, and THE CAMERA CONTINUES TO TRACK.
MIKE (voice-over) (continues)
But we ain't the same. Life out on the islands is different. We pull together when we have to.
SONNY, JOHNNY, ALEX, and LUCIEN are on the ramp now, maybe carrying gear.
We'll get through her.JOHNNY HARRIMAN
Ayuh, like always.LUCIEN FOURNIER
When you mind the swell, you mind the boat. ALEX HABER
What's a Frenchman like you know?
LUCIEN takes a mock swing at him. They all laugh and go on. We watch SONNY, LUCIEN, ALEX, and JOHNNY go into Godsoe's. THE CAMERA starts up Atlantic Street toward the blinker we saw earlier. It then SLIDES RIGHT, showing a piece of the business section and bustling traffic on the street.
MIKE (voice-over) (continues)
And we can keep back a secret when we have to. We kept our share back in 1989. (pause) And the people who live there keep them still.
We come to ANDERSON'S GENERAL STORE. People hurry in and out. Three WOMEN emerge: ANGELA CARVER, MRS. KINGSBURY, and ROBERTA COIGN.
MIKE (voice-over) (continues)
All right, I've got my canned goods. Let it come.
I just pray we don't lose the power. I can't cook on a woodstove. I'd burn water on that damned thing. A big storm's only good for one thing.
Ayuh, and my Jack knows what it is.
The other two look at her, surprised, and then they all GIGGLE LIKE GIRLS and head for their cars.
MIKE (voice-over) (continues)
I stay in touch.
3A EXTERIOR: THE SIDE OF A FIRE TRUCK.
A HAND polishes the gleaming red hide with a rag, then pulls away. LLOYD WISHMAN looks at his own face, pleased.
FERD ANDREWS (off-screen)
Radio says it's gonna snow a bitch.
LLOYD turns, and THE CAMERA HINGES to show us FERD, leaning in the door. His hands are plugged into the tops of half a dozen boots, which he begins to arrange by pairs below hooks holding slickers and helmets.FERD ANDREWS
If we get in trouble...we're in trouble.
LLOYD grins at the younger man, then turns back to his polishing.
Easy, Ferd. It's just a cap of snow. Trouble don't cross the reach...ain't that why we live out here?
FERD isn't so sure. He goes to the door and looks up at:
4 EXTERIOR: APPROACHING STORM CLOUDS DAY.
We HOLD a moment, then PAN DOWN to a TRIM WHITE NEW ENGLAND HOME. This house is about halfway up Atlantic Street Hill that is, between the docks and the center of town. There's a picket fence surrounding a winter-dead lawn (but there's no snow at all, not out here on the island), and a gate that stands open, offering the concrete path to anyone who cares make the trip from the sidewalk to the steep porch steps and the front door. To one side of the gate is a mailbox, amusingly painted and accessorized to turn it into a pink cow. Written on the side is CLARENDON.
The first person on Little Tall to see Andre Linoge was Martha Clarendon.
In the extreme foreground of the shot, there now appears a SNARLING SILVER WOLF. It is the head of a cane.
5 EXTERIOR: LINOGE, FROM BEHIND DAY.
Standing on the sidewalk, back to us and before the open CLARENDON gate, is a tall man dressed in jeans, boots, a pea jacket, and a black watch cap snugged down over his ears. And gloves yellow leather as bright as a sneer. One hand grips the head of his cane, which is black walnut below the silver wolfs head. LINOGE'S own head is lowered between his bulking shoulders. It is a thinking posture. There is something brooding about it, as well.
He raises the cane and taps one side of the gate with it. He pauses, then taps the other side of the gate. This has the feel of a ritual.
MIKE (voice-over) (continues)
He was the last person she ever saw.
LINOGE begins to walk slowly up the concrete path to the porch steps, idly swinging his cane as he goes. He whistles a tune: "I'm a little teapot."
6 INTERIOR: MARTHA CLARENDON'S LIVING ROOM.
It's neat in the cluttery way only fastidious folks who've lived their whole lives in one place can manage. The furniture is old and nice, not quite antique. The walls are crammed with pictures, most going back to the twenties. There's a piano with yellowing sheet music open on the stand. Seated in the room's most comfortable chair (perhaps its only comfortable chair) is MARTHA CLARENDON, a lady of perhaps eighty years. She has lovely white beauty-shop hair and is wearing a neat housedress. On the table beside her is a cup of tea and a plate of cookies. On her other side is a walker with bicycle-grip handholds jutting out of one side and a carry-tray jutting out from the other.
The only modern items in the room are the large color TV and the cable box on top of it. MARTHA is watching the Weather Network avidly and taking little birdie-sips of tea as she does. Onscreen is a pretty WEATHER LADY. Behind the WEATHER LADY is a map with two large red L's planted in the middle of two large storm systems. One of these is over Pennsylvania; the other is just off the coast of New York. The WEATHER LADY starts with the western storm.
This is the storm that's caused so much misery and fifteen deaths as it crossed the Great Plains and the Midwest. It's regathered all its original punch and more in crossing the Great Lakes, and you see its track
The track appears in BRIGHT YELLOW (the same color as LINOGE'S gloves), showing a future course that will carry it straight across New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.
WEATHER LADY (continues)
before you in all its glory. Now look down here, because here comes trouble.
She focuses her attention on the coastal storm.
WEATHER LADY (continues)
This is a very atypical storm, almost a winter hurricane the sort of knuckle-duster that paralyzed most of the East Coast and buried Boston back in 1976. We haven't seen one of comparable power since then...until now. Will it give us a break and stay out to sea, as these storms sometimes do? Unfortunately, the Weather Network's Storm-Trak computer says no. So the states east of the Big Indian Waters are getting pounded from one direction
She taps the first storm.
WEATHER LADY (continues)
the mid-Atlantic coast is going to get pounded from another direction
She goes back to the coastal storm.
WEATHER LADY (continues)
and northern New England, if none of this changes, tonight you're going to win the booby prize. Look...at...this.
A second BRIGHT YELLOW STORM TRACK appears, this one hooking north from the blob of storm off New York. This track makes landfall around Cape Cod, then heads up the coast, where it intersects the first storm track. At the point of intersection, some Weather Network computer genius with too much time on his hands has added a bright red blotch, like an explosion graphic on a news broadcast.
WEATHER LADY (continues)
If neither of these two systems veer, they are going to collide and merge over the state of Maine. That's bad news for our friends in Yankee land, but not the worst news. The worst news is that they may temporarily cancel each other out.
MARTHA (sipping tea)
The result? A once-in-a-lifetime supersystem which may stall over central and coastal Maine for at least twenty-four hours and perhaps as long as forty-eight. We're talking hurricane-force winds and phenomenal amounts of snow, combining to create the sort of drifting you normally only see on the Arctic tundra. To this you can add region-wide blackouts.
No one wants to scare viewers, least of all me, but folks in the New England area, especially those on the Maine coast and the offshore islands, need to take this situation very seriously. You've had an almost completely brown winter up your way, but over the next two to three days, you're apt to be getting a whole winter's worth of snow.
MARTHA looks in that direction, then back at the TV. She'd like to stay and watch the WEATHER LADY, but nevertheless sets her teacup down, pulls over her walker, and struggles erect.
We sometimes overuse the phrase "storm of the century," but if these two storm tracks converge, as we now think they will, the phrase will be no exaggeration, believe me. Judd Parkin's in next to talk about storm preparations no panic, just practicalities. But first, this.
An ad comes on it's a mail-order disaster video called Punishments of God as MARTHA begins working her way across the living room toward the hall, clutching the bicycle-grip handles of her walker and clumping along.
When they tell you the world's ending, they want to sell cereal. When they tell you not to panic, it's serious.
I'm coming fast's I can!
7 INTERIOR: THE FRONT HALL OF MARTHA'S HOUSE DAY
She makes her way down the hall, holding tight to the walker. On the walls are quaint photographs and drawings of Little Tall as it was early in the twentieth century. At the corridor's end is a closed door with a graceful glass oval in its upper half. This has been covered by a sheer curtain, probably so the sun won't fade the carpet. On the sheer is the silhouette of LINOGE'S head and shoulders.
MARTHA (puffing a little)
Hold on...almost there...I broke my hip last summer and I'm still just as slow as cold molasses...
And the WEATHER LADY is continuing:
WEATHER LADY (voice-over)
Folks in Maine and the Maritimes saw one heck of a storm in January of 1987, but that was a freezing-rain event. This one is going to be a very different kettle of chowder. Don't even think about the snow shovel until the plows have come by.
MARTHA reaches the door, looks curiously at the shape of the man's head on the sheer curtain, then opens it. There stands LINOGE. His face is as handsome as that of a Greek statue, and a statue is sort of what he looks like. His eyes are closed. His hands are folded over the wolfs head at the top of his cane.
WEATHER LADY (voice-over) (continues)
As I've said before and will say again, there's no cause for panic; northern New Englanders have seen big storms before and will again. But even veteran weather forecasters are a little stunned by the sheer size of these converging systems.
MARTHA is puzzled of course by the appearance of this stranger but not really uneasy. This is the island, after all, and bad things don't happen on the island. Except for the occasional storm, of course. The other thing at work here is that the man is a stranger to her, and strangers on the island are rare once the fleeting summer is over.
Can I help you?
LINOGE (eyes closed)
Born in lust, turn to dust. Born in sin, come on in.
I beg pardon?
He opens his eyes...except there are no eyes there. The sockets are filled with BLACKNESS. His lips peel back from HUGE, CROOKED TEETH they look like teeth in a child's drawing of a monster.
WEATHER LADY (voice-over) (continues)
These are monster low-pressure areas. And are they really coming? Yes, I'm afraid they are.
MARTHA'S intrigued interest is replaced by stark terror. She opens her mouth to scream and staggers backward, losing hold of the walker's handles. She is going to fall.
LINOGE raises his cane, the SNARLING WOLF'S HEAD JUTTING FORWARD. He grabs the walker, which is between him and the old woman, and throws it out the door behind him, where it lands on the porch, near the steps.
8 INTERIOR: HALLWAY, WITH MARTHA.
She falls heavily and SCREAMS, raising her hands, looking up at:
9 INTERIOR: LINOGE, FROM MARTHA'S POINT OF VIEW.
A SNARLING MONSTER, hardly human, with the cane upraised. Behind him, we see the porch and the white sky that signals the oncoming storm.
10 INTERIOR: MARTHA, ON THE FLOOR.
Please don't hurt me!
11 INTERIOR: MARTHA'S LIVING ROOM.
On the TV now is JUDD PARKIN, standing in front of a table. On it are: a flashlight, batteries, candles, matches, prepared foods, stacks of warm clothing, portable radio, a cellular phone, other supplies. Beside him is the WEATHER LADY, looking bewitched by these goods.
But a storm doesn't need to be a disaster, Maura, and a disaster doesn't have to be a tragedy. Given that philosophy to start with, I think we can give our New England viewers some tips which will help them prepare for what, from all indications, is apt to be a pretty extraordinary weathermaker.
What have you got there, Judd?
Well, to begin with, warm clothing. That's number one. And you want to say to yourself, "How are my batteries? Have I got enough to keep a portable radio going? Possibly a small TV?" And if you've got a generator, the time to check your gasoline supplies or your diesel or your propane is before, not after. If you wait until it's too late...
During all this, THE CAMERA MOVES AWAY from the TV, as if losing interest. It is drawn back toward the hall. As we begin to lose the dialogue, we begin to hear far less pleasant SOUNDS: THE STEADY WHACK-WHACK-WHACK of LINOGE'S cane. At last it stops. There is SILENCE for a little bit, then FOOTSTEPS. Accompanying them is a CURIOUS DRAGGING SOUND, almost as if someone were pulling a chair or a stool slowly across a wood floor.
JUDD (voice-over) (continues)
...it'll be too late.
LINOGE comes into the doorway. His eyes aren't ordinary a distant and somehow unsettling blue but they aren't that HIDEOUS BLACK EMPTINESS that MARTHA saw, either. His cheeks, brow, and the bridge of his nose are covered with FINE STIPPLES OF BLOOD. He comes to EXTREME CLOSE-UP, eyes focused on something. A look of interest begins to warm his face up a little.
WEATHER LADY (voice-over)
Thanks, Judd. Words of wisdom our northern New England viewers have probably heard before, but when it comes to storms this size, some things bear repeating.
12 INTERIOR: THE LIVING ROOM, FROM OVER LINOGE'S SHOULDER.
It's the TV he's looking at.
Your local forecast is next, right after this.
She is replaced by an ad for Punishments of God 2 all the volcanoes, fires, and earthquakes you could ever want for $19.95. Slowly, back to us again, LINOGE crosses the room to MARTHA'S chair. The DRAGGING SOUND recommences, and as he approaches the chair and his lower half comes into the frame, we see it's the tip of his cane. It's leaving a thin trail of blood along the rug. More blood is oozing through the fingers of the fist clamped over the wolf's head. That's mostly what he hit her with, the head of that wolf, and we probably wouldn't want to see what it looks like now.
LINOGE stands, looking down at the TV, where a forest is going up in flames.
"I'm a little teapot, short and stout....Here is my handle, here is my spout."
He sits down in MARTHA'S chair. Grasps her teacup with a gory hand that smears the handle. Drinks. Then takes a cookie with his bloody hand and gobbles it down.
LINOGE settles back to watch JUDD and MAURA talk disaster on the Weather Network.
13 EXTERIOR: MIKE ANDERSON'S STORE DAY.
This is an old-fashioned general store with a long front porch. If it were summer, there would be rockers lined up out here and lots of oldtimers to fill them. As it is, there is a line of snowblowers and snow shovels, marked with a neat handmade sign: SUPERSTORM SPECIAL! LET'S TALK PRICE!
The steps are flanked by a couple of lobster traps, and more hang from the underside of the porch roof. We may also see a whimsical display of clamming gear. By the door stands a mannequin wearing galoshes, a yellow rain slicker, goggle eyes on springs, and a beanie with a propeller (the propeller now still) on his head. Someone has stuffed a pillow under the slicker, creating a fairly prominent potbelly. In one plastic hand is a blue University of Maine pennant. In the other is a can of beer. Around the dummy's neck is a sign: GENUINE "ROBBIE BEALS BRAND" LOBSTERIN' GEAH SOLD HEAH, DEAH.
In the windows are signs for meat specials, fish specials, videotape rentals (WE RENT OLD 'UNS THREE FOR $1), church suppers, a volunteer fire department blood drive. The biggest sign is on the door. It reads: STORM EMERGENCY POSSIBLE NEXT 3 DAYS! "TAKE SHELTER" SIGNAL is 2 SHORTS, 1 LONG. Above the display windows, now rolled up, are slatted wooden STORM SHUTTERS. Above the door is a lovely old-fashioned sign, black with gold gilt letters: ANDERSON'S MARKETISLAND POST OFFICEISLAND CONSTABLE'S OFFICE.
There are several WOMEN going in, and a couple more OCTAVIA GODSOE and JOANNA STANHOPE coming out. TAVIA (forty-five-ish) and JOANNA (late forties or early fifties) are clutching full grocery bags and chatting animatedly. TAVIA looks at the ROBBIE BEALS dummy and elbows JOANNA. They both laugh as they go down the steps.
14 INTERIOR: ANDERSON'S MARKET DAY.
This is a very well equipped grocery store, and in many ways a charming throwback to the groceries of the 1950s. The floors are wood and creak comfortably underfoot. The lights are globes hanging on chains. There's a tin ceiling. Yet there are signs of our modern age; two new cash registers with digital price-readers beside them, a radio scanner on a shelf behind the checkout counter, a wall of rental videos, and security cameras mounted high in the corners.
At the rear is a meat cooler running nearly the length of the store. To its left, below a convex mirror, is a door marked simply TOWN CONSTABLE.
The store is very crowded. Everybody is stocking up for the oncoming storm.
15 INTERIOR: MEAT COUNTER.
MIKE ANDERSON COMES out of the door leading to the meat locker (it is at the other end of the rear from the constable's office). He is a good-looking man of about thirty-five. Right now he also looks harried half to death...although the little smile never leaves his eyes and the corners of his mouth. This guy likes life, likes it a lot, and usually finds something in it to amuse him.
He's wearing butcher's whites right now and pushing a shopping cart filled with wrapped cuts of meat. Three WOMEN and one MAN converge on him almost at once. The MAN, dressed in a red sport coat and black shirt with turned-around collar, is first to reach him.
REV. BOB RIGGINS
Don't forget the bean supper next Wednesday-week, Michael I'm going to need every deacon I can lay my hands on.
I'll be there...if we get through the next three days, that is.
REV. BOB RIGGINS
I'm sure we will; God takes care of his own.
Off he goes. Behind him is a cute little muffin named JILL ROBICHAUX, and she apparently has less trust in God. She starts pawing over the packages and reading the labels before MIKE can even begin to distribute them.
Are there pork chops, Michael? I thought for sure you'd still have pork chops.
He gives her a wrapped package. JILL looks at it, then puts it in her heaped-up shopping cart. The other two women, CARLA BRIGHT and LINDA ST. PIERRE, are already going through the other wrapped cuts. CARLA looks at something, almost takes it, then drops it back into one of the trays of the meat-display cabinet.
Ground chuck's too dear! Don't you have plain old hamburger, Michael Anderson?
She snatches the package he's holding out before he can finish.
More folks now, picking the stuff over as fast as he can get it out of his cart. MIKE bears this for a moment, then decides to put on his constable's hat. Or try.
Folks, listen. It's a storm, that's all. We've gotten through plenty before this, and well get through plenty after. Calm down and stop acting like mainlanders!
That gets them a little. They stand back, and MIKE begins distributing the meat again.
Don't be smart, Michael Anderson.
She says it the way islanders do "sma'aat." And when CARLA says "dear," it comes out "deah."
No, Mrs. St. Pierre. I won't be smart.
Behind him, ALTON "HATCH" HATCHER comes out of the cold room pushing a second cart of wrapped meat. HATCH is about thirty, portly and pleasant. He's MIKE'S second-in-command at the market, and in the constabulary, as well. He is also wearing butcher's whites, and a white hard hat for good measure. Printed on the hard hat is "A. HATCHER."
CAT (over the market loudspeaker)
Mike! Hey, Mike! Got a phone call!
16 INTERIOR: THE COUNTER, WITH KATRINA "CAT" WITHERS.
She's about nineteen, very pretty, and handling one of the cash registers. She ignores the line of customers and holds the PA microphone in one hand. In the other is the receiver of the telephone hanging on the wall by the CB radio.
It's your wife. She says she's got a little problem down to the day care.
17 INTERIOR: RESUME MIKE, HATCH, SHOPPERS AT MEAT CABINET.
The customers are interested and diverted. Life on the island is like a soap opera where you know all the characters.
She hot under the collar?
18 INTERIOR: RESUME COUNTER, WITH CAT.
How do I know where she's hot? She's your wife.
Smiles and chuckles from the CUSTOMERS. In island parlance, that was "a good 'un." A man of about forty grins at MIKE.
You better go see about that, Mike.
19 INTERIOR: RESUME MIKE AND HATCH AT MEAT CABINET.
Can you take over here a bit?
Can I borrow your whip and chair?
MIKE laughs, knocks on the top of HATCH'S hard hat, and hurries on down front to see what his wife wants.
20 INTERIOR: AT THE COUNTER.
MIKE arrives and takes the phone from CAT. He speaks to his wife, oblivious of the watching, interested audience.
Hey, Moll, what's up?
MOLLY (phone voice)
I've got a little problem here can you come?
MIKE eyes his store, which is full of pre-storm shoppers.
I've got a few little problems of my own, hon. What's yours?
21 INTERIOR: PIPPA HATCHER, CLOSE-UP.
PIPPA is a child of about three years old. Right now she fills the wholescreen with her SCREAMING, TERRIFIED FACE. There are RED SMEARS AND BLOTCHES all over it. Maybe we at first take these for blood.
THE CAMERA DRAWS BACK and we see the problem. PIPPA is halfway up a flight of stairs, and has poked her head between two of the posts supporting the banister. Now she can't get it back through. She's still holding on to a piece of bread and jam, though, and we see that what we first took for blood is actually strawberry preserves.
Standing at the foot of the stairs below her, looking solemn, is a group of SEVEN SMALL CHILDREN, ranging in age from three to five. One of the four-year-olds is RALPH ANDERSON, son of MIKE and MOLLY. Although we may not notice it at once (right now we're more interested in PIPPA'S plight), RALPHIE has a birthmark on the bridge of his nose. It's not hugely disfiguring or anything, but it's there, like a tiny saddle.
Pippa, can I have your bread, if you're not going to eat it?
She begins to yank backward, trying to free herself, still holding on to her snack. It's disappearing into her chubby little fist now, and she appears to be sweating strawberry jam.
22 INTERIOR: THE HALLWAY AND STAIRWELL OF THE ANDERSON HOUSE.
The phone is here, placed on a hallway table halfway between the stairs and the door. Using it is MOLLY ANDERSON, MIKE'S wife. She's about thirty, pretty, and right now vacillating between amusement and fright.
Pippa, don't do that, honey...just hold still...
MIKE (phone voice)
Pippa? What about Pippa?
23 INTERIOR: BEHIND THE MEAT COUNTER, FEATURING HATCH.
His head snaps up in a hurry.
LINDA ST. PIERRE
Something about Pippa?
HATCH starts around the counter.
24 INTERIOR: RESUME HALLWAY, WITH MOLLY.
Be quiet! The last thing in the world I want is Alton Hatcher down on me.
25 INTERIOR: RESUME MARKET.
Steaming down Aisle 3, still wearing his hard hat, comes HATCH. All the smiling good humor has gone out of his face. He's completely intent, a father back to front and top to bottom.
Too late, babe. What's up?
26 INTERIOR: THE HALLWAY, WITH MOLLY.
She closes her eyes and GROANS.
Pippa's got her head stuck in the stairs. It's not serious I don't think but I can't deal with a big storm and a crazed daddy all on the same day. If Hatch comes, you be with him.
She hangs up the phone and heads back to the stairs.
Pippa...honey...don't pull that way. It'll hurt your ears.
27 INTERIOR: THE STORE COUNTER, WITH MIKE, HATCH, CUSTOMERS.
MIKE looks at the phone, bemused, then hangs it up again. As he does, HATCH comes shouldering through the CUSTOMERS, looking worried.
Pippa! What about Pippa?
Got a little stuck-itis, I hear. Why don't we go see?
28 EXTERIOR: MAIN STREET, IN FRONT OF THE STORE.
There's slant parking here. The vehicle in the slot handiest to the store is a forest-green four-wheel drive with ISLAND SERVICES painted on the doors, and a police flasher-bar on the roof.
MIKE and HATCH come out of the store and hurry down the steps. As they approach:
How upset did she sound, Mike?
Molly? Point five on a scale of one to ten. Don't worry.
A gust of wind strikes them, rocking them back on their heels. They look toward the ocean. We can't see it, but we can hear the POUNDING WAVES.
This is going to be one bad mother of a storm, isn't it?
MIKE doesn't answer. He doesn't have to. They get into the Island Services truck and drive off.
29 EXTERIOR: THE MANNEQUIN ON THE STORE'S PORCH.
There's another GUST OF WIND. The hanging lobster traps click together...and the beanie propeller on "ROBBIE BEALS'S" head slowly BEGINS TO TURN.
30 INTERIOR: THE STAIRWELL OF THE ANDERSON HOUSE.
PIPPA is still stuck with her head through the posts, but MOLLY is sitting beside her on the stairs and has her calmed down quite a bit.
The CHILDREN still cluster around, watching her. MOLLY strokes PIPPA'S hair with one hand. In her other, MOLLY is holding PIPPA'S bread and jam.
You're okay, Pippa. Mike and your daddy will be here in another minute. Mike will get you out.
How can he?
I don't know. He's just magic that way.
MOLLY gets her arm through the bars and maneuvers the bread to PIPPA'S mouth. PIPPA eats. The other KIDS watch this with fascination. One, a boy of five, is JILL ROBICHAUX'S son.
Can I feed her, Missus Anderson? I fed a monkey once, at the Bangor Fair.
The other kids laugh. PIPPA is not amused.
I'm not a monkey, Harry! I'm a child, not a monkey!
Look, you guys, I'm a monkey!
He starts leaping around at the foot of the stairs, scratching under his armpits and being foolish as only a four-year-old can be. At once, the others start imitating him.
I am not a monkey!
And begins to cry. MOLLY strokes her hair, but can't talk her out of this one. Getting your head stuck between the bars is bad; being called a monkey is even worse.
You kids, stop that! Stop it right now! It's not nice, and it's making Pippa sad!
Most of them stop, but DON BEALS, a little booger of the purest ray serene, goes on prancing and scratching.
Don, you stop. It's mean.
Momma says it's mean.
He tries to grab hold of DON. DON shakes him off.
I'm bein' a monkey!
DON does the monkey thing twice as hard, just to spite RALPHIE...and RALPHIE'S mother, of course. The hall door opens. MIKE and HATCH come in. HATCH sees the problem at once and reacts with a mixture of fright and relief.
She starts yanking backward again, trying to free herself.
Pippa! Hold still! You want to yank your ears right off your head?
RALPHIE (runs to MIKE)
Daddy! Pippa got her head stuck and Don won't stop being a monkey!
RALPHIE leaps into his father's arms. HATCH climbs to where his daughter has been caught by the incredible girl-eating stairs and kneels by her. MOLLY looks over her back at her husband and sends a message with her eyes: "Please fix this!"
A CUTE LITTLE BLONDE GIRL with pigtails pulls at the pocket of MIKE'S white butcher's pants. She is wearing most of her own strawberry jam treat on the front of her shirt.
Mr. Anderson? I stopped being a monkey. As soon as she said.
SALLY points to MOLLY. MIKE gently disengages her. SALLY, another four-year-old, promptly pops her thumb into her mouth.
That's good, Sally. Ralphie, got to put you down now.
He puts RALPHIE down. DON BEALS promptly pushes him.
Ow, hey! Why'd you do that?
For acting smart!
It comes out "sma'aat." MIKE picks DON BEALS up and raises him to eye level. DON isn't afraid a bit, the little craphead.
I ain't afraid of you! My dad's town manager! He pays your salary!
He sticks out his tongue and BLOWS A RASPBERRY right in MIKE'S face. MIKE isn't the slightest put out of countenance.
Pushers get pushed, Donnie Beals. You want to remember that, because it's a true fact of this sad life. Pushers get pushed.
DON doesn't understand, but reacts to the tone. He'll get up to more dickens eventually, but he's been put in his place for the time being. MIKE puts DON down and goes to the side of the stairs. Behind him we see a half-open door marked WEE FOLKS. In the room beyond the door are little tables and chairs. Happy, colorful mobiles hang from the ceiling. It's the classroom of MOLLY'S day-care center.
HATCH is pushing at the top of his daughter's head. This isn't accomplishing anything, and she's consequently growing panicky again, thinking she'll be stuck forever.
Honey, why did you do this?
Heidi St. Pierre dared me.
MIKE puts his hands over HATCH'S and moves HATCH aside. HATCH looks at MIKE hopefully.
31 INTERIOR: THE CHILDREN AT THE FOOT OF THE STAIRS.
HEIDI ST. PIERRE, the five-year-old daughter of LINDA ST. PIERRE, is a carrottop wearing thick glasses.
HEIDI ST. PIERRE
Liar, liar, pants on fire!
Stop it, both of you.
PIPPA (to MIKE)
It was easy going out, but now I can't get back in. I think my head must be bigger on this side.
It is...but I'm going to make it smaller. Do you know how?
I'm just going to push the smaller button. And when I do, your head will get smaller and you'll slide right back where you were. Just as easy as you slid in. Do you understand, Pippa?
He speaks in slow, soothing tones. He's engaged in something that's almost hypnosis.
HATCH What kind of
Are you ready for me to push the button?
MIKE reaches up and pushes the end of her nose with the tip of his finger.
Beep! There it goes! Smaller! Quick, Pippa, before it gets big again!
PIPPA pulls her head out easily from between the posts. The kids clap and cheer. DON BEALS hops around like a monkey. One of the other boys, FRANK BRIGHT, hops around a little, too, then sees RALPHIE giving him a disgusted look and quits it.
HATCH gathers his daughter in for a hug. PIPPA hugs back, but eats her bread and jam at the same time. She stopped being scared when MIKE started talking to her. MOLLY smiles at MIKE gratefully and puts her hand through the stairwell posts where PIPPA was stuck. MIKE takes it on his side and kisses each finger extravagantly. The KIDS GIGGLE. One of them, BUSTER CARVER (BUSTER, the last of MOLLY'S day-care pupils, is about five), puts his hands over his eyes.
Finger-kissin'! Oh, no!
MOLLY laughs and pulls her hand back.
Thank you. Really.
Yeah thanks, boss.
Dad, is my head still little? I felt it get little when Mr. Anderson said. Is it still little?
No, honey, just the right size.
MIKE walks to the foot of the stairs. MOLLY meets him. RALPHIE is there, too; MIKE picks him up and kisses the red mark on the bridge of the little boy's nose. MOLLY kisses MIKE'S cheek.
I'm sorry if I pulled you away at a bad time. I saw her head that way and when I couldn't get it to come out on my own, I just...freaked.
It's okay. I needed a break, anyway.
Is it bad down at the store?
Bad enough. You know how it is when there's a storm coming...and this is no ordinary storm. (to PIPPA) Got to go back, sweet girl. You be good.
DON BLOWS ANOTHER RASPBERRY.
Gee, I love Robbie's kid.
MOLLY says nothing, but rolls her eyes in agreement.
What do you say, Hatch?
Let's roll while we still can. If they're light, we're all apt to be cooped up for the next three days. (pause) Like Pippa, with her head caught in the stairs.
None of them laugh. There's too much truth in what he says.
32 EXTERIOR: THE ANDERSON HOUSE ON LOWER MAIN STREET DAY.
The Island Services four-wheel drive is parked at the curb. In the foreground, by the walk, is a sign reading WEE FOLKS DAY-CARE CENTER. It's on a chain, and swinging back and forth in the wind. The sky overhead is grayer than ever. The ocean, visible here in the background, is full of gray chop.
The door opens. MIKE and HATCH come out, pulling down their hats to keep the wind from tearing them off, raising the collars of their jackets. As they approach the car, MIKE stops and looks up at the sky. It's coming, all right. A big one. MIKE'S anxious face says he knows that. Or thinks he does. No one knows how big this baby is going to be.
He gets into the car behind the wheel, waving to MOLLY, who stands on the porch with her sweater over her shoulders. HATCH waves, too. She waves back. The four-wheel drive pulls around in a U-turn, headed back to the market.
33 INTERIOR: THE ISLAND SERVICES VEHICLE, WITH MIKE AND HATCH.
HATCH (quite amused)
The "smaller button," huh?
Everyone's got one. You gonna tell Melinda?
No but Pippa will. Did you notice, through the whole thing, she never lost sight of her bread.
The two men look at each other and grin.
34 EXTERIOR: ATLANTIC STREET DAY.
Coming up the center of the street, oblivious of the impending storm and rising wind, is a boy of about fourteen DAVEY HOPEWELL. He's dressed in a heavy coat and gloves with the fingers cut off. This makes it easier to handle a basketball. He weaves from side to side, dribbling and talking to himself. Doing play-by-play, in fact.
Davey Hopewell in transition...he avoids the press...Stockton tries to steal the ball, but he doesn't have a chance...It's Davey Hopewell at the top of the key...clock running out...Davey Hopewell's the Celtics' only hope...he shakes and bakes...he
DAVEY HOPEWELL stops. Holds the ball and looks at:
35 EXTERIOR: MARTHA CLARENDON'S HOUSE, FROM DAVEY'S POINT OF VIEW.
The door is open in spite of the cold, and the overturned walker is lying by the porch steps, where LINOGE threw it.
36 EXTERIOR: RESUME DAVEY.
He tucks his basketball under his arm and goes slowly to MARTHA'S gate. He stands there for a moment, then sees something black on the white paint. There are CHAR MARKS where LINOGE tapped his cane. DAVEY touches one with a couple of bare fingers (cutoff gloves, remember) and then snatches them away.
Still hot, those marks. But he loses interest in them as he looks at the overturned walker and the open door that door shouldn't be open, not in this weather. He starts up the path; climbs the steps. He bends, moves the walker aside.
WEATHER LADY (voice)
What part does global warming play in such storms? The fact is, we just don't know...
Mrs. Clarendon? You all right?
37 INTERIOR: MARTHA'S LIVING ROOM, WITH LINOGE.
The weather is still playing. The storm graphics have moved closer toward their eventual point of impact. LINOGE sits in MARTHA'S chair, with his bloody cane drawn across his lap. His eyes are closed. His face has that look of meditation.
One thing we do know is that the jet stream has taken on a pattern which is very typical for this time of year, although the upper flow is even stronger than usual, helping to account for the terrific strength of this western storm.
DAVEY (off-screen) (calls)
Mrs. Clarendon? It's Davey! Davey Hopewell! Are you all right?
LINOGE opens his eyes. Once again they are BLACK...but now the black is shot through with TWISTS OF RED...like FIRE. HE GRINS, showing those AWFUL TEETH. We hold on this, then:
FADE OUT. THIS ENDS ACT 1.
Copyright © 1999 by Stephen King