Wednesday, January 9, 2008

"Lisey's Koko"

Start: Lisey's Story (Page 13, Copyright 2006), by Stephen King
End: Koko (Page 13, Copyright 1988), by Peter Straub

She looked over at the other periodicals, was suddenly overwhelmed by the riches she might find in them, and realized Amanda had hurt her after all, had gored her a wound that might bleed a long time. Was he the only one who had known about the dark place?

Of course there was no accounting for her odd bouts of attraction.

That's what she called them, wasn't it, her odd bouts of attraction?

Lisey felt deep down inside that this particular odd bout was probably going to doom her sister. Amanda could only stare across the park at the groups of men in uniform, the children running uncontrolled around veterans in wheelchairs. Poole was nowhere to be found.

Turning from the newsstand, Lisey said, "Mandy?"

"Hmm." Her sister, always lost. Always lost when the odd bouts bit, Amanda could barely tear her eyes away.

Lisey touched her shoulder. "Mandy, I'm talking to you."

Finally meeting her eyes, but just a glance, Amanda said, "Hmm? I-I'm looking for him?"

"You know, you have to stop this," and Lisey bit her lip. It was a little louder than she had intended and a wrinkled man in a smooth pressed beribboned uniform scowled at them.

Amanda, finally breaking the trance, turned and grabbed her older sister by the forearm and pulled her into the shade of an oak as gnarled and wrinkled as the old soldier. "You have to stop this," she whispered harshly.

"I'm not going to this time, Mand," Lisey pulled her arm away and crossed them defiantly, "and you know why."

"'Fraid I don't, Liz."

"You know I hate that."

"You know I hate that."

Changing tack and bringing the conversation up to a high school level, Lisey tried, "How long have you known Poole?"

"What do you mean?"

Lisey's head shook involuntarily as though she were taken aback by the counter-question. Which she was. The expected answer would have been the, What do you mean, what do I mean? variety if she were going to take the bait. She wasn't.

"Do you even know his first name?" Lisey asked.


Corporal Poole moved closer to another cluster of Marines around the Vietnam Memorial. Their olive drabs and drab sport coats contrasted starkly with the deep monolithic black memory spanning this side of the park.

He wasn't thinking about the half-his-age girl he met the previous night in the hotel bar. What was her name? Agatha? Andie? Mary? He couldn't remember and didn't care. He was sure he had seen Sergeant Bowman last night in the lobby and again just moments ago near the fountain.

He just couldn't be sure if it was really him or not.

"Airborne!" someone shouted.

"Airborne all the way!" someone else shouted back.

Poole worked his way closer to the Memorial through the mostly stationary crowd. The sergeant who looked like his old sergeant from Fort Sill was now slipping the tiny red poppies into the crack between the last two tall panels.

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