Oct 31

“Before the Play” by Stephen King

Scene V. The Overlook Hotel, Third Floor, 1958

(read Scene I here)

(read Scene II here)

(read Scene III here)

(read Scene IV here)

The murderers came up the stairs in their stocking feet.

The two men posted outside the door of the Presidential Suite

never heard them. They were young, dressed in Ivy League suits

with the cut of the jackets a little wider than the fashion of the day

decreed. You couldn’t wear a .357 Magnum concealed in a shoulder

holster and be quite in fashion. They were discussing whether or not

the Yankees could take yet another pennant. It was lacking two

days of September, and as usual, the pinstripers looked formidable.

Just talking about the Yankees made them feel a little better. They

were New York boys, on loan from Walt Abruzzi, and they were a

long way from home.

The man inside was a big wheel in the Organization. That was all

they knew, all they wanted to know. “You do your job, we all get

well,” Abruzzi had told them. “What’s to know?”

They had heard things, of course. That there was a place in

Colorado that was completely neutral ground. A place where even a

crazy little West Coast hood like Tony Giorgio could sit down and

have a fancy brandy in a balloon glass with the Gray Old Men who

saw him as some sort of homicidal stinging insect to be crushed. A

place where guys from, Boston who had been used to putting each

other in the trunks of cars behind bowling allies in Malden or into

garbage cans in Roxbury could get together and play gin and tell

jokes about the Polocks. A place where hatchets could be buried or

unearthed, pacts made, plans laid. A place where warm people

could sometimes cool off.

Well, they were here, and it wasn’t so much - in fact, both of

them were homesick for New York, which was why they were

talking about the Yankees. But they never saw New York or the

Yankees again.

Their voices reached down the hall to the stairwell where the

murderers stood six risers down, with their stocking-covered heads

just below line-of-sight if you happened to be looking down the hall

from the door of the Presidential Suite. There were three of them

on the stairs, dressed in dark pants and coats, carrying shotguns

with the barrels sawed off to six inches. The shotguns were loaded

with expanding buckshot.

One or me three beckoned and they walked up the stairs to the


The two outside the door never even saw them until the

murderers were almost on top of them. One of them was saying

animatedly, “Now you take Ford. Who’s better in the American

League than Whitey Ford? No, I want to ask you that sincerely,

because when it comes to the stretch he just-“

The speaker looked up and saw three black shapes with no

discernable faces standing not ten paces away. For a moment he

could not believe them. They were just standing there. He shook his

head, fully expecting them to go away like the floating black specks

you sometimes saw in the darkness. They didn’t. Then he knew.

"What’s the matter?" His buddy said. "What-"

The young man who had been speaking about Whitey Ford clawed

under his jacket for his gun. One of the murderers placed the butt

of his shotgun against a leather pad strapped to his belly beneath

his dark turtleneck and pulled both triggers. The blast in the narrow

hallway was deafening. The muzzle flash was like summer lightning,

purple in its brilliance. A stink of cordite. The young man was blown

backwards down the hall in a disintegrating cloud of Ivy League

jacket, blood and hair. His arm looped over backwards, spilling the

Magnum from his dying fingers, and the pistol thumped harmlessly

to he carpet with the safety still on.

The second young man did not even make an effort to go for his

gun. He stuck his hands high in the air and wet his pants at the

same time.

"I give up, don’t shoot me, it’s okay-"

"Say hello to Albert Anastasia when you get down there, punk,"

one of the murderers said, and placed the butt of his shotgun

against his belly.

"I ain’t a problem, I ain’t a problem!" The young man screamed in a

thick Bronx accent, and then the blast of the shotgun lifted him out

of his shoes and slammed him back against the silk wallpaper with

its delicate raised pattern. He actually stuck for a moment before

collapsing to the hall floor.

The three of them walked to the door of the suite. One of them

tried the knob. “Locked.”


The third man, who hadn’t shot yet, stood in front of the door,

levelled his weapon slightly above the knob, and pulled both

triggers. A jagged hole appeared in the door, and light rayed

through. The third man reached through the hole and grasped the

deadbolt on the other side. There was a pistol shot, then two more.

None of the three flinched.

There was a snap as the deadbolt gave, and then the third man

kicked the door open. Standing in the wide sitting room in front of

the picture window which now showed a view only of darkness was

a man of about thirty-five wearing only jockey shorts. He held a

pistol in each hand and as the murderers walked in he began to fire

at them, spraying bullets wildly. Slugs peeled splinters from the

doorframe, dug furrows in the rug, dusted plaster down from the

ceiling. He fired five times, and the closest he came to any of his

assassins was a bullet that twitched the pants of the second man at

the left knee.

They raised their shotguns with almost military precision.

The man in the sitting room screamed, threw both guns to the

floor, and ran for the bedroom. The triple blast caught him just

outside the door and a wet fan of blood, brains, and bits of flesh

splashed across the cherry striped wallpaper. He fell in the open

bedroom doorway, half in and out.

"Watch the door," the first man said, and dropped his smoking

shotgun to the rug. He reached in his coat pocket, brought out a

bone-handled switchblade, and thumbed the chrome button. He

approached the dead man, who was lying in the doorway on his

side. He squatted beside the corpse and yanked down the front of

the man’s jockey shorts.

Down the hall the door to one of the other suites opened and a

pallid face peered out. The third man raised his shotgun and the

face jerked back in. The door slammed. A bolt rattled frantically.

The first man rejoined them.

"All right," he said. "Down the stairs and out the back door. Let’s


They were outside and climbing into the parked car three minutes

later. They left the Overlook behind them, standing gilded in

mountain moonlight, white as bone under high stars. It would stand

long after the three of them were as dead as the three they had left


The Overlook was at home with the dead.


  1. jzanity1010 reblogged this from withnailrules
  2. whereismyteenspirit reblogged this from withnailrules
  3. marinetti1 reblogged this from withnailrules
  4. koolsunglasses reblogged this from mslonelyhearts
  5. mslonelyhearts reblogged this from withnailrules and added:
  6. withnailrules posted this

Next Entry Previous Entry