Needful Things by Stephen King
There is a new shop in town. Run by a stranger. Needful Things, the sign says. The oddest name. A name that causes some gossip and speculation among the good folks of Castle Rock, Maine, while they wait for opening day. Eleven-year-old Brian Rusk is the first customer and he gets just what he wants, a very rare 1956 Sandy Koufax baseball card. Signed. Cyndi Rose Martin is next. A Lalique vase. A perfect match for her living room decor. Something for everyone. Something you really have to have. And always at a price you can just about afford. The cash price that is. Because there is another price. There always is when your heart’s most secret, true desire is for sale…
This constitutes the third and final Castle Rock series, with The Dark Half and Cujo being the first and second with Sheriff Alan Pangborn. (But, this book could be read separately, without reading the others as prerequisites).
Since, my rating is a Perfect score (5/5 or 10/10), I’ll describe only those wired connections—according to Mr. Leland Gaunt’s terminology that equals caveat emptor—comprising the plots twists that were the finest in terms of excitement, power and craftiness.
Proprietor, Leland Gaunt, opened his store called fittingly enough: Needful Things. But, he was actually the devil (incarnate) who’s offering their most prized goods in exchange for a nominal fee, but with a trick (or two to boot) to be played on their fellow townsmen. These seemingly harmless tricks themselves reaped havoc and caused massive counter retaliations with violent deaths usually between two adversaries like crazy Nettie Cobb and Wilma Jerzyck, the wild Cusack. They both called each other (down) on the phone; first, in order to convey their meaning straight and that there wasn’t any wild ambiguities. But, when they finally left their respective houses, they were both armed to the teeth: Nettie had a meat cleaver and Wilma had a knife. Then after their bloody, arduous, duel in the middle of the street, they both dropped dead. (Then they had to barricade the area with yellow don’t enter tape before CID arrived in order to take three hundred pictures and to trace what had happened). However, the assailant that had actually committed the crime wasn’t even remotely connected: an eleven year old, Brian Rusk. Hence, ultimately, their souls were stolen, but Gaunt didn’t even mention it.
Gaunt’s first fatal (encounter) customer, Brian Rusk, purchased his favorite Topps baseball card: Sandy Koufax. By holding it, he is able to commune directly with Sandy via virtual reality. He’s talks with him briefly at the Pitcher’s mound. He said, “In order to be a Professional Pitcher, one must practice the fundamentals.” The card itself was signed with Brian Rusk’s name on it. But, he must play two tricks on Wilma: throwing mud on her clean sheets and throwing rocks with attached notes (with rubber bands) on them that smashed through her windows and the TV set. (For the second trick, however, Gaunt said, that dealing wasn’t done until he said so—and that only he knows what’s best.) But, Leland Gaunt had somebody else kill Nettie’ dog: Hugh Priest. He had purchased a fox tail fur just like his father’s, attached to his car’s antennae. But, first, he used his skeleton key set to unlock the door. Then when he petted Raider’s stomach, he killed it with his cork screw knife. (But, he left his finger prints, inadvertently, on the door, which was incriminating).
Later Brian was questioned by Panghorn, but he didn’t admit committing it, but later, he shot himself with his father’s hunting rifle because he felt guilty. But, before that, he asked his brother, Sean, not to visit Needful Things and swear on his own name. Then he said not to swear by their mother’s name since she had already been compromised with the King’s (Elvis Presley’s) personal sun Glasses from Needful Things, which meant that it was trash, since she saw a virtual reality trip with it.
Nettie Cobb purchased some carnival glass, but her trick was to put notes all over Selectman, Buster Keaton’s house. It was signed by Officer Norris Ridgewick (not Nettie). So, later Buster, hit Norris’s BMW with his Cadillac as retaliation at the municipal building’s parking lot. But, Norris had purchased his father’s old fishing pole, a Bazim, which was the best for fly.
Norris’ ex girl friend new boyfriend (Coach Pratt) beat him with his fists, at the Police station, because somebody stole his wallet with his incriminating pictures and placed it inside of Pratt’s car, just visible on the seat’s edge. (It was a picture of Norris with his ex-girlfriend at a bar, but a kid told him that they were sucking faces when they kissed, but of course, it was a lie).
But, when Norris started losing the duel like battle, the dispatch Officer, Sandy, had to intervene by killing Pratt with a shot gun butt. He then died from a mortal head wound. (At this instant, Allan was arriving via car at the scene, but he believed that the assailant was Hugh Priest, so he was wrong).
Then Pratt’s girlfriend tore the locks off from the middle School’s principle (Jewett’s) desk drawers with a huge pair of scissors, which were about two feet long, but she had to do it twice (in order for it to come free) where he had stashed his incriminating, Porno collection. (She had acquired a sacred splint of wood from Noah’s Ark for her troubles). Then she threw around inside his office like confetti but the interior window panes were made of Glass. So, when the cheerleaders walked through the hall, they saw it all from point blank range, wearing long red and white stockings. Also, a note was left by the woodshop teacher demanding a monetary payment—by an old friend who had shared similar amusements.
Then somehow, Jewett was able get inside the woodshop Teacher’s (George T. Nelson) home because somebody had left a window ajar. Then Jewett finds a large amount of cocaine inside of a sealed plastic bag, which seemed as if he were dealing due the extreme amount. Then Jewett tore it open with a knife, poured it down a toilet and then flushed it. Then he took a shit on his hallowed mother’s picture. Then he started to play games with his beloved Parrot, (Tammy Faye), by pocking it with a knife through the cage bars—and many feathers were flying around inside the kitchen. But, as soon as he grew bored, he skewered it, dead with his trusty knife.
Then Jewett who was armed with a gun and knife waited for (George T. Nelson) to return for retaliation by hiding behind the living room couch. But, when he does return shortly, he sits on the couch in such a way that Jewett can’t use his gun or knife—and in fact, he’s having an extremely tough time just breathing fresh air; he nearly suffocated. During this time, however, George T. Nelson called a friend on the phone and then complained that someone had just killed his beloved, Tammy Faye. So, the man on the other side of the conversation said that he should get a new one at Needful Things. Then he departed and went there, but I believed he bought a lethal automatic pistol from Gaunt.
But, in actuality, Norris’s fishing pole was a bamboo pole, since he had failed to hang himself with a rope since he felt guilty thinking about his trick: slashing Hugh Priest’s tires. So, he finally decided to get even with Gaunt at the very end, by Assisting Allan Panghorn.
First, he deals with Ace and Keaton who were driving around town planting dynamite sticks with timer caps. But, when Norris (who looked like Barney Snipe), orders them to Stop, and put your hands up. Then Norris is shot a few times by the Hells Angel (Ace) and (Buster) Keaton, but they were superficial wounds. Then Norris returns their fire, but he hits Keaton in the stomach, but Ace shot Buster’s brains out in order to put him out of his misery.
Then Norris asked that deputy, Seat Thomas, drive him with his patrol car to Needful Things in order to meet with Allan Panghorn. But, when they arrived, Norris noticed that, as they got closer from their rear that he could see that Ace was holding Poly hostage with his arms holding her throat and a gun aimed at her face. But, Allan was facing them, a few feet away from Poly. So, he told Seat to drive forward, but not to stop until he had tapped his foot. So, when they got closer, they stopped, punctually. But, Leland Gaunt decided to leave via his front door at the same time. Then Poly fell on the ground, which made it possible for Norris to shoot Ace with his pistol just in time, saving her. Since, Ace didn’t see them coming. So, when this happened, Allan ran quickly to block Gaunt’s way, but he had a hyena skin bag that bulged and sagged, repeatedly, in and out, as if it were an obscene bellows. Then he heard an eldritch screaming sound emanating from inside of his mind.
Then Allan snatched the bag away from Gaunt, with his lighting quick reflexes.
Then Gaunt said that he had bagged as many souls as possible—and since it was free trade, not communism that he had had a right to his property. The souls cannot survive without his aid.
So, Allan pulled out his Nuts and snake magic trick that used to belong to his son, Todd. Then the Fake snake, turned into a mystical snake, which was about ten feet long, with diamond eyes, and huge fangs that punched a few holes in Gaunt’s face. (But, after finishing, it became a Fake snake again, with springs and cloth).
Then Allan did his appearing flower trick, which turned eventfully into a spiritual, white light, which even spoke and said get thee hence where you belong: Hell.
Then the souls in the bag turned into spiritual steam and they were thus freed.
Then Gaunt, who looked like a gargoyle with hideous demon red eyes, got into his car: The Tucker Talisman.
But, slowly it starts to metamorphose its shape with demon eyes for lights. As he walks by Allan, he feels a magnetic (tingling) force in the opposite direction. Then Flames started to pour out everywhere, which made the asphalt street melt, as if it were cheese. Then when he mounted on his giant demon horse with demon nose, snorting plumes of fire, it started to fly off at an obtuse angle toward the burning memorial building. Then it morphed again into a wagon and receded.
This Needful Things book review was written by August Profumo
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