Stephen King: The Long Walk: Saving Each Other

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McVries and Garraty saved each other many times

  • Page numbers are from Kindle for Windows
  • Content Copy/Pasted from ePub book
  • fainting is fatal: “I don’t like the idea of fainting about two o’clock tomorrow morning.” Now there was a genuinely unpleasant thought. You wouldn’t know anything, probably. Wouldn’t feel anything. You’d just wake up in eternity.
  • Garraty almost dies 12 times and McVries saves him 5 times
  • Garraty saves McVries once and then tries to save him a second time, but fails
  • McVries also motivates Olson to keep trying
  1. p025 McVries says "if you fall over I won't pick you up."

    “Ray.” McVries was still smiling. “What’s your hurry?”
    Yeah, that was right. Hint 6: Slow and easy does it. “Thanks.”
    McVries went on smiling. “Don’t thank me too much. I’m out to win, too.”
    Garraty stared at him, disconcerted.
    “I mean, let’s not put this on a Three Musketeers basis. I like you and it’s obvious you’re a big hit with the pretty girls. But if you fall over I won’t pick you up.”
    “Yeah.” He smiled back, but his smile felt lame.

  2. p069 McVries motivates Olson to not give up

    “Our first boneyard,” McVries said. “It’s on your side. Ray, you lose all your points. Remember that game?”
    “You talk too goddam much,” Olson said suddenly.
    “What’s wrong with graveyards, Henry, old buddy? A fine and private place, as the poet said. A nice watertight casket—”
    “Just shut up!”
    “Oh, pickles,” McVries said. His scar flashed very white in the dying daylight. “You don’t really mind the thought of dying, do you, Olson? Like the poet also said, it ain’t the dying, it’s laying in the grave so long. Is that what’s bugging you, booby?” McVries began to trumpet. “Well, cheer up, Charlie! There’s a brighter day com—”
    “Leave him alone,” Baker said quietly.
    “Why should I? He’s busy convincing himself he can crap out any time he feels like it. That if he just lays down and dies, it won’t be as bad as everyone makes out. Well, I’m not going to let him get away with it.”
    “If he doesn’t die, you will,” Garraty said.
    “Yeah, I’m remembering,” McVries said, and gave Garraty his tight, slanted smile ... only this time there was absolutely no humor in it at all. Suddenly McVries looked furious, and Garraty was almost afraid of him. “He’s the one that’s forgetting. This turkey here.”
    “I don’t want to do it anymore,” Olson said hollowly, “I’m sick of it.”
    “Raring to rip,” McVries said, turning on him. “Isn’t that what you said? Fuck it, then. Why don’t you just fall down and die then?”
    “Leave him alone,” Garraty said.
    “Listen, Ray—”
    “No, you listen. One Barkovitch is enough. Let him do it his own way. No musketeers, remember.”
    McVries smiled again. “Okay, Garraty. You win.”
    Olson didn’t say anything. He just kept picking them up and laying them down.

  3. p088 McVries motivates Olson to walk faster

    “Warning! Warning 70!”
    “They’re playing your song, Olson,” McVries said between pants. “Pick up your feet. I want to see you dance up this hill like Fred Astaire.”
    “What do you care?” Olson asked fiercely.
    McVries didn’t answer. Olson found a little more inside himself and managed to pick it up. Garraty wondered morbidly if the little more Olson had found was his last legs.

  4. p092 Garraty almost dies #1 (feeling faint), McVries saves Garraty #1 (pour canteen over head)

    Oh boy—
    Garraty was suddenly aware that he felt quite giddy, as if he might faint himself. He brought one hand up and slapped himself across the face, backward and forward, hard.
    “You all right?” McVries asked.
    “Feel faint.”
    “Pour your ...” Quick, whistling breath, “... canteen over your head.”
    Garraty did it. I christen thee Raymond Davis Garraty, pax vobiscum. The water was very cold. He stopped feeling faint. Some of the water trickled down inside his shirt in freezing cold rivulets. “Canteen! 47!” he shouted. The effort of the shout left him feeling drained all over again. He wished he had waited awhile.
    One of the soldiers jog-trotted over to him and handed him a fresh canteen. Garraty could feel the soldier’s expressionless marble eyes sizing him up. “Get away,” he said rudely, taking the canteen. “You get paid to shoot me, not to look at me.”
    The soldier went away with no change of expression. Garraty made himself walk a little faster.

  5. p137 McVries almost dies #1, Garraty saves McVries #1 (convinces him not to get shot)

    McVries suddenly ran at the halftrack. Two of the three soldiers raised their guns to high port, ready, but McVries halted, halted dead, and raised his fists at them, shaking them above his head like a mad conductor.
    “Come on down here! Put down those rifles and come on down here! I’ll show you what’s funny!”
    “Warning,” one of them said in a perfectly neutral voice. “Warning 61. Second warning.”
    Oh my God, Garraty thought numbly. He’s going to get it and he’s so close ... so close to them ... he’ll fly through the air just like Freaky D’Allessio.
    McVries broke into a run, caught up with the halftrack, stopped, and spat on the side of it. The spittle cut a clean streak through the dust on the side of the halftrack.
    “Come on!” McVries screamed. “Come on down here! One at a time or all at once, I don’t give a shit!”
    “Warning! Third Warning, 61, final warning.”
    “Fuck your warnings!”
    Suddenly, unaware he was going to do it, Garraty turned and ran back, drawing his own warning. He only heard it with some back part of his mind. The soldiers were drawing down on McVries now. Garraty grabbed McVries’s arm. “Come on.”
    “Get out of here, Ray, I’m gonna fight them!”
    Garraty put out his hands and gave McVries a hard, flat shove. “You’re going to get shot, you asshole.”
    Stebbins passed them by.
    McVries looked at Garraty, seeming to recognize him for the first time. A second later Garraty drew his own third warning, and he knew McVries could only be seconds away from his ticket.
    “Go to hell,” McVries said in a dead, washed-out voice. He began to walk again.
    Garraty walked with him. “I thought you were going to buy it, that’s all,” he said.
    “But I didn’t, thanks to the musketeer,” McVries said sullenly. His hand went to the scar. “Fuck, we’re all going to buy it.”
    “Somebody wins. It might be one of us.”

  6. p185 Garraty almost dies #2 (laughing fit), McVries saves Garraty #2 (picks him up), Broken Promise #1

    You’re going to have hysterics, oh my God, don’t let it get you, think about Gribble ... and don’t ... don’t let ... don’t ...
    But it was happening. The laughter came roaring out of him until his stomach was knotted and cramped and he was walking bent-legged and somebody was hollering at him, screaming at him over the roar of the crowd. It was McVries. “Ray! Ray! What is it? You all right?”
    “They’re funny!” He was nearly weeping with laughter now. “Pete, Pete, they’re so funny, it’s just ... just ... that they’re so funny!”
    A hard-faced little girl in a dirty sundress sat on the ground, pouty-mouthed and frowning. She made a horrible face as they passed. Garraty nearly collapsed with laughter and drew a warning. It was strange—in spite of all the noise he could still hear the warnings clearly.
    I could die, he thought. I could just die laughing, wouldn’t that be a scream?
    Collie was still smiling gaily and waving and cursing spectators and newsmen roundly, and that seemed funniest of all. Garraty fell to his knees and was warned again. He continued to laugh in short, barking spurts, which were all his laboring lungs would allow.
    “He’s gonna puke!” someone cried in an ecstasy of delight. “Watch ’im, Alice, he’s gonna puke!”
    “Garraty! Garraty for God’s sake!” McVries was yelling. He got an arm around Garraty’s back and hooked a hand into his armpit. Somehow he yanked him to his feet and Garraty stumbled on.
    “Oh God,” Garraty gasped. “Oh Jesus Christ they’re killing me. I ... I can’t ...” He broke into loose, trickling laughter once more. His knees buckled. McVries ripped him to his feet once more. Garraty’s collar tore. They were both warned. That’s my last warning, Garraty thought dimly. I’m on my way to see that fabled farm. Sorry, Jan, I ...
    “Come on, you turkey, I can’t lug you!” McVries hissed.
    “I can’t do it,” Garraty gasped. “My wind’s gone, I—”
    McVries slapped him twice quickly, forehand on the right cheek, backhand on the left. Then he walked away quickly, not looking back.
    The laughter had gone out of him now but his gut was jelly, his lungs empty and seemingly unable to refill. He staggered drunkenly along, weaving, trying to find his wind. Black spots danced in front of his eyes, and a part of him understood how close to fainting he was. His one foot fetched against his other foot, he stumbled, almost fell, and somehow kept his balance.
    If I fall, I die. I’ll never get up.
    They were watching him. The crowd was watching him. The cheers had died away to a muted, almost sexual murmur. They were waiting for him to fall down.
    He walked on, now concentrating only on putting one foot out in front of the other. Once, in the eighth grade, he had read a story by a man named Ray Bradbury, and this story was about the crowds that gather at the scenes of fatal accidents, about how these crowds always have the same faces, and about how they seem to know whether the wounded will live or die. I’m going to live a little longer, Garraty told them. I’m going to live. I’m going to live a little longer.
    He made his feet rise and fall to the steady cadence in his head. He blotted everything else out, even Jan. He was not aware of the head, or of Collie Parker, or of Freaky D’Allessio. He was not even aware of the steady dull pain in his feet and the frozen stiffness of the hamstring muscles behind his knees. The thought pounded in his mind like a big kettledrum. Like a heartbeat. Live a little longer. Live a little longer. Live a little longer. Until the words themselves became meaningless and signified nothing.
    It was the sound of the guns that brought him out of it.
    In the crowd-hushed stillness the sound was shockingly loud and he could hear someone screaming. Now you know, he thought, you live long enough to hear the sound of the guns, long enough to hear yourself screaming—
    But one of his feet kicked a small stone then and there was pain and it wasn’t him that had bought it, it was 64, a pleasant, smiling boy named Frank Morgan. They were dragging Frank Morgan off the road. His glasses were dragging and bouncing on the pavement, still hooked stubbornly over one ear. The left lens had been shattered.
    “I’m not dead,” he said dazedly. Shock hit him in a warm blue wave, threatening to turn his legs to water again.
    “Yeah, but you ought to be,” McVries said.
    “You saved him,” Olson said, turning it into a curse.“Why did you do that? Why did you do that?”

  7. p197 McVries says he won't save Garraty again

    “I guess I caused you some trouble,” Garraty said in a low voice.
    “I told you, fair is fair, square is square, and quits are quits,” McVries said evenly. “I won’t do it again. I want you to know that.”

  8. p199 McVries distracts Garraty taking his mind off the horror

    A moment later the redheaded boy’s face was blown away.
    “I’m gonna see my girl in Freeport,” Garraty said rapidly. “And I’m not gonna have any warnings and I’m gonna kiss her, God I miss her, God, Jesus, did you see his legs? They were still warning him, Pete, like they thought he was gonna get up and walk—”
    “Another boy has gone ober to dat Silver City, lawd, lawd,” Barkovitch intoned.
    “Shut up, killer,” McVries said absently. “She pretty, Ray? Your girl?”
    “She’s beautiful. I love her.”
    McVries smiled. “Gonna marry her?”
    “Yeah,” Garraty babbled. “We’re gonna be Mr. and Mrs. Norman Normal, four kids and a collie dog, his legs, he didn’t have any legs, they ran over him, they can’t run over a guy, that isn’t in the rules, somebody ought to report that, somebody—”
    “Two boys and two girls, that what you’re gonna have?”
    “Yeah, yeah, she’s beautiful, I just wish I hadn’t—”
    “And the first kid will be Ray Junior and the dog’ll have a dish with its name on it, right?”

  9. p257 Garraty almost dies #3 (crying besides Olson) McVries saves Garraty #3 (pulls him away, Broken Promise #2)

    Garraty began to cry. He ran over to Olson and fell on his knees beside him and held the tired, hectically hot face against his chest. He sobbed into the dry, bad-smelling hair.
    “Warning! Warning 47!”
    “Warning! Warning 61!”
    McVries was pulling at him. It was McVries again. “Get up, Ray, get up, you can’t help him, for God’s sake get up!”
    “Its not fair!” Garraty wept. There was a sticky smear of Olson’s blood on his cheekbone. “It’s just not fair!”
    “I know. Come on. Come on.”
    Garraty stood up. He and McVries began walking backward rapidly, watching Olson, who was on his knees. Olson got to his feet. He stood astride the white line. He raised both hands up into the sky. The crowd sighed softly.
    “I DID IT WRONG!” Olson shouted tremblingly, and then fell flat and dead.
    The soldiers on the halftrack put another two bullets in him and then dragged him busily off the road.

  10. p293 Garraty almost dies #4 (muscle cramp)

    “My leg, my leg, my leg!” he screamed, unable to help himself.
    “Oh, Jesus, Garraty,” Baker had time to say—nothing in his voice but mild surprise, and then they had passed beyond him, it seemed that they were all passing him as he stood here with his left leg turned to clenched and agonizing marble, passing him, leaving him behind.
    “Warning! Warning 47!”
    Don’t panic. If you panic now you’ve had the course.
    He sat down on the pavement, his left leg stuck out woodenly in front of him. He began to massage the big muscles. He tried to knead them. It was like trying to knead ivory.
    “Garraty?” It was McVries. He sounded scared ... surely that was only an illusion? “What is it? Charley horse?”
    “Yeah, I guess so. Keep going. It’ll be all right.”

    “Warning! Warning 47! Third warning, 47!” The muscle was not loosening at all. He was going to die. After all this, after ripping his guts out, that was the fact, after all. He let go of his leg and stared calmly at the soldier. He wondered who was going to win. He wondered if McVries would outlast Barkovitch. He wondered what a bullet in the head felt like, if it would just be sudden darkness or if he would actually feel his thoughts being ripped apart. The last few seconds began to drain away. The cramp loosened. Blood flowed back into the muscle, making it tingle with needles and pins, making it warm. The blond soldier with the remotely handsome face put away the pocket chronometer. His lips moved soundlessly as he counted down the last few seconds. But I can’t get up, Garraty thought. It’s too good just to sit. Just sit and let the phone ring, the hell with it, why didn’t I take the phone off the hook? Garraty let his head fall back. The soldier seemed to be looking down at him, as if from the mouth of a tunnel or over the lip of a deep well. In slow motion he transferred the gun to both hands and his right forefinger kissed over the trigger, then curled around it and the barrel started to come around. The soldier’s left hand was solid on the stock. A wedding band caught a glimmer of sun. Everything was slow. So slow. Just ... hold the phone. This, Garraty thought. This is what it’s like. To die. The soldier’s right thumb was rotating the safety catch to the off position with exquisite slowness. Three scrawny women were directly behind him, three weird sisters, hold the phone. Just hold the phone a minute longer, I’ve got something to die here. Sunshine, shadow, blue sky. Clouds rushing up the highway. Stebbins was just a back now, just a blue workshirt with a sweatstain running up between the shoulder blades, goodbye, Stebbins. Sounds thundered in on him. He had no idea if it was his imagination, or heightened sensibility, or simply the fact of death reaching out for him. The safety catch snapped off with a sound like a breaking branch. The rush of indrawn air between his teeth was the sound of a wind tunnel. His heartbeat was a drum. And there was a high singing, not in his ears but between them, spiraling up and up, and he was crazily sure that it was the actual sound of brainwaves— He scrambled to his feet in a convulsive flying jerk, screaming. He threw himself into an accelerating, gliding run. His feet were made of feathers. The finger of the soldier tightened on the trigger and whitened. He glanced down at the solid-state computer on his waist, a gadget that included a tiny but sophisticated sonar device. Garraty had once read an article about them in Popular Mechanix. They could read out a single Walker’s speed as exactly as you would have wanted, to four numbers to the right of the decimal point. The soldier’s finger loosened.

    “I’ve already got three strikes against me. That means you’re out, doesn’t it?”
    “Call the last one a foul tip,” Stebbins said.

  11. p297 Garraty almost dies #5 (fainting) after his leg cramp

    The soldier ’s finger loosened.
    Garraty slowed to a very fast walk, his mouth cottony dry, his heart pounding at triphammer speed. Irregular white flashes pulsed in front of his eyes, and for a sick moment he was sure he was going to faint. It passed.

  12. p298 Garraty almost dies #6 (fainting), McVries saves Garraty #4 (distraction)

    He caught up with McVries, who glanced around. “I thought you were out of it, kiddo,” McVries said.
    “So did I.”
    “That close?”
    “About two seconds, I think.”
    McVries pursed a silent whistle. “I don’t think I’d like to be in your shoes right now. How’s the leg?”
    “Better. Listen, I can’t talk. I’m going up front for a while.”
    “It didn’t help Harkness any.”
    Garraty shook his head. “I have to make sure I’m topping the speed.”
    “All right. You want company?”
    “If you’ve got the energy.”
    McVries laughed. “I got the time if you got the money, honey.”
    “Come on, then. Let’s pick it up while I’ve still got the sack for it.”
    Garraty stepped up his pace until his legs were at the point of rebellion, and he and McVries moved quickly through the front-runners. There was a space between the boy who had been walking second, a gangling, evil-faced boy named Harold Quince, and the survivor of the two leather boys. Joe. Closer to, his complexion was startlingly bronzed. His eyes stared steadily at the horizon, and his features were expressionless. The many zippers on his jacket jingled, like the sound of faraway music.
    “Hello, Joe,” McVries said, and Garraty had an hysterical urge to add, whaddaya know?
    “Howdy,” Joe said curtly.
    They passed him and then the road was theirs, a wide double-barreled strip of composition concrete stained with oil and broken by the grassy median strip, bordered on both sides by a steady wall of people.
    “Onward, ever onward,” McVries said. “Christian soldiers, marching as to war. Ever hear that one, Ray?”
    “What time is it?”
    McVries glanced at his watch. “2:20, Look, Ray, if you’re going to—”
    “God, is that all? I thought—” He felt panic rising in his throat, greasy and thick. He wasn’t going to be able to do it. The margin was just too tight.
    “Look, if you keep thinking about the time, you’re gonna go nuts and try to run into the crowd and they’ll shoot you dog-dead. They’ll shoot you with your tongue hanging out and spit running down your chin. Try to forget about it.”
    “I can’t.” Everything was bottling up inside him, making him feel jerky and hot and sick. “Olson ... Scramm ... they died. Davidson died. I can die too, Pete! I believe it now. It’s breathing down my fucking back!”
    “Think about your girl. Jan, what’s-her-face. Or your mother. Or your goddam kitty-cat. Or don’t think about anything. Just pick ’em up and put ’em down. Just keep on walking down the road. Concentrate on that.”
    Garraty fought for control of himself. Maybe he even got a little. But he was unraveling just the same. His legs didn’t want to respond smoothly to his mind’s commands anymore, they seemed as old and as flickery as ancient lightbulbs.
    “He won’t last much longer,” a woman in the front row said quite audibly.
    “Your tits won’t last much longer!” Garraty snapped at her, and the crowd cheered him.
    “ They’re screwed up,” Garraty muttered. “They’re really screwed up. Perverted. What time is it, McVries?”
    “What was the first thing you did when you got your letter of confirmation?” McVries asked softly. “What did you do when you knew you were really in?”
    Garraty frowned, wiped his forearm quickly across his forehead, and then let his mind free of the sweaty, terrifying present to that sudden, flashing moment.
    “I was by myself. My mother works. It was a Friday afternoon. The letter was in the mailbox and it had a Wilmington, Delaware, postmark, so I knew that had to be it. But I was sure it said I’d flunked the physical or the mental or both. I had to read it twice. I didn’t go into any fits of joy, but I was pleased. Real pleased. And confident. My feet didn’t hurt then and my back didn’t feel like somebody had shoved a rake with a busted handle into it. I was one in a million. I wasn’t bright enough to realize the circus fat lady is, too.”
    He broke off for a moment, thinking, smelling early April.
    “I couldn’t back down. There were too many people watching. I think it must work the same with just about everyone. It’s one of the ways they tip the game, you know. I let the April 15th backout date go by and the day after that they had a big testimonial dinner for me at the town hall—all my friends were there and after dessert everyone started yelling Speech! Speech! And I got out and mumbled something down at my hands about how I was gonna do the best I could if I got in, and everyone applauded like mad. It was like I’d laid the fucking Gettysburg Address on their heads. You know what I mean?”
    “Yes, I know,” McVries said, and laughed—but his eyes were dark.
    Behind them the guns thunderclapped suddenly. Garraty jumped convulsively and nearly froze in his tracks. Somehow he kept walking. Blind instinct this time, he thought. What about next time?
    “Son of a bitch,” McVries said softly. “It was Joe.”
    “What time is it?” Garraty asked, and before McVries could answer he remembered that he was wearing a watch of his own. It was 2:38. Christ. His two-second margin was like an iron dumbbell on his back.
    “No one tried to talk you out of it?” McVries asked. They were far out beyond the rest now, better than a hundred yards beyond Harold Quince. A soldier had been dispatched to keep tabs on them. Garraty was very glad it wasn’t the blond guy. “No one tried to talk you into using the April 31st blackout?”
    “Not at first. My mother and Jan and Dr. Patterson—he’s my mother ’s special friend, you know, they’ve been keeping company for the last five years or so—they just kind of soft-pedaled it at first. They were pleased and proud because most of the kids in the country over twelve take the tests but only one in fifty passes. And that still leaves thousands of kids and they can use two hundred—one hundred Walkers and a hundred backups. And there’s no skill in getting picked, you know that.”
    “Sure, they draw the names out of that cock-sucking drum. Big TV spectacular.” McVries’s voice cracked a little.
    “Yeah. The Major draws the two hundred names, but the names’re all they announce. You don’t know if you’re a Walker or just a backup.”
    “And no notification of which you are until the final backout date itself,” McVries agreed, speaking of it as if the final backout date had been years ago instead of only four days. “Yeah, they like to stack the deck their way.”
    Somebody in the crowd had just released a flotilla of balloons. They floated up to the sky in a dissolving arc of reds, blues, greens, yellows. The steady south wind carried them away with taunting, easy speed.
    “I guess so,” Garraty said. “We were watching the TV when the Major drew the names, I was number seventy-three out of the drum. I fell right out of my chair. I just couldn’t believe it.”
    “No, it can’t be you,” McVries agreed. “Things like that always happen to the other guy.”
    “Yeah, that’s the feeling. That’s when everybody started in on me. It wasn’t like the first backout date when it was all speeches and pie in the sky by-and-by. Jan ...”
    He broke off. Why not? He’d told everything else. It didn’t matter. Either he or McVries was going to be dead before it was over. Probably both of them. “Jan said she’d go all the way with me, any time, any way, as often as I wanted if I’d take the April 31st backout. I told her that would make me feel like an opportunist and a heel, and she got mad at me and said it was better than feeling dead, and then she cried a lot. And begged me.” Garraty looked up at McVries. “I don’t know. Anything else she could have asked me, I would have tried to do it. But this one thing ... I couldn’t. It was like there was a stone caught in my throat. After a while she knew I couldn’t say Yes, okay, I’ll call the 800 number. I think she started to understand. Maybe as well as I did myself, which God knows wasn’t—isn’t—very well.
    “Then Dr. Patterson started in. He’s a diagnostician, and he’s got a wicked logical mind. He said, ‘Look here, Ray. Figuring in the Prime group and the backups, your chance of survival is fifty-to-one. Don’t do this to your mother, Ray.’ I was polite with him for as long as I could, but finally I told him to just kiss off. I said I figured the odds on him ever marrying my mother were pretty long, but I never noticed him backing off because of that.”
    Garraty ran both hands through the straw-thatch of his hair. He had forgotten about the two-second margin.
    “God, didn’t he get mad. He ranted and raved and told me if I wanted to break my mother ’s heart to just go ahead. He said I was as insensitive as a ... a wood tick, I think that’s what he said, insensitive as a wood tick, maybe it’s a family saying of his or something, I don’t know. He asked me how it felt to be doing the number on my mom and on a nice girl like Janice. So I countered with my own unarguable logic.”
    “Did you,” McVries said, smiling. “What was that?”
    “I told him if he didn’t get out I was going to hit him.”
    “What about your mother?”
    “She didn’t say much at all. I don’t think she could believe it. And the thought of what I’d get if I won. The Prize—everything you want for the rest of your life—that sort of blinded her, I think. I had a brother, Jeff. He died of pneumonia when he was six, and—it’s cruel—but I don’t know how we’d’ve gotten along if he’d’ve lived. And ... I guess she just kept thinking I’d be able to back out of it if I did turn out to be Prime. The Major is a nice man. That’s what she said. I’m sure he’d let you out of it if he understood the circumstances. But they Squad them just as fast for trying to back out of a Long Walk as they do for talking against it. And then I got the call and I knew I was a Walker. I was Prime.”
    “I wasn’t.”
    “No. Twelve of the original Walkers used the April 31st backout. I was number twelve, backup. I got the call just past 11 PM four days ago.”
    “Jesus! Is that so?”
    “Uh-huh. That close.”
    “Doesn’t it make you ... bitter?”
    McVries only shrugged.
    Garraty looked at his watch. It was 3:02. It was going to be all right. His shadow, lengthening in the afternoon sun, seemed to move a little more confidently. It was a pleasant, brisk spring day. His leg felt okay now.

    “Thanks,” he said.
    “For saving your life again?” McVries laughed merrily.
    “Yes, that’s just right.”

  13. p318 Garraty almost dies #7 (chest pain)

    Garraty felt a stabbing, needling pain in the left side of his chest and was still unable to stop cheering, even though he understood he was driving at the very brink of disaster.

  14. p336 Garraty almost dies #8 (almost faints with rage)

    “It’s really your mother you want to see anyway.”
    Garraty recoiled sharply. “What?”
    “Aren’t you going to marry her when you grow up, Garraty? That’s what most little boys want.”
    “You’re crazy!”
    “Am I?”
    “What makes you think you deserve to win, Garraty? You’re a second-class intellect, a second-class physical specimen, and probably a second-class libido. Garraty, I’d bet my dog and lot you never slipped it to that girl of yours.”
    “Shut your goddam mouth!”
    “Virgin, aren’t you? Maybe a little bit queer in the bargain? Touch of the lavender? Don’t be afraid. You can talk to Papa Stebbins.”
    “I’ll walk you down if I have to walk to Virginia, you cheap fuck!” Garraty was shaking with anger. He could not remember being so angry in his whole life.
    “That’s okay,” Stebbins said soothingly. “I understand.”
    “Motherfucker! You!—”
    “Now there’s an interesting word. What made you use that word?”
    For a moment Garraty was sure he must throw himself on Stebbins or faint with rage, yet he did neither. “If I have to walk to Virginia,” he repeated. “If I have to walk all the way to Virginia.”
    Stebbins stretched up on his toes and grinned sleepily. “I feel like I could walk all the way to Florida, Garraty.”

  15. p336 Garraty almost dies #9 (almost gives up hope when he can't see Jan)

    He could see the big brown Woolman’s sign, but no sign of his mother or of Jan. God, oh God God, Stebbins had been right ... and even if they were here, how was he going to see them in this shifting, clutching mass?
    A shaky groan seeped out of him, like a disgorged strand of flesh. He stumbled and almost fell over his own loose legs. Stebbins had been right. He wanted to stop here, to not go any further. The disappointment, the sense of loss, was so staggering it was hollow. What was the point? What was the point now?
    Fire siren blasting, Crowd screaming, Klingerman shrieking, rain falling, and his own little tortured soul, flapping through his head and crashing blindly off its walls.
    I can’t go on. Can’t, can’t, can’t. But his feet stumbled on. Where am I? Jan? Jan? ... JAN!

  16. p343 Garraty almost dies #10 (wants to stay with girlfriend Jan and mother), McVries saves Garraty #5 (convinces him to keep walking), Broken Promise #3

    He saw her. She was waving the blue silk scarf he had gotten her for her birthday, and the rain shimmered in her hair like gems. His mother was beside her, wearing her plain black coat. They had been jammed together by the mob and were being swayed helplessly back and forth. Over Jan’s shoulder a TV camera poked its idiot snout.
    A great sore somewhere in his body seemed to burst. The infection ran out of him in a green flood. He burst into a shambling, pigeon-toed run. His ripped socks flapped and slapped his swollen feet.
    “Jan! Jan!”
    He could hear the thought but not the words in his mouth. The TV camera tracked him enthusiastically. The din was tremendous. He could see her lips form his name, and he had to reach her, had to—
    An arm brought him up short. It was McVries. A soldier speaking through a sexless bullhorn was giving them both first warning.
    “Not into the crowd!” McVries’s lips were against Garraty’s ear and he was shouting. A lancet of pain pierced into Garraty’s head.
    “Let me go!”
    “I won’t let you kill yourself, Ray!”
    “Let me go goddammit!”
    “Do you want to die in her arms? Is that it?”
    The time was fleeting. She was crying. He could see the tears on her cheeks. He wrenched free of McVries. He started for her again. He felt hard, angry sobs coming up from inside him. He wanted sleep. He would find it in her arms. He loved her.
    Ray, I love you.
    He could see the words on her lips.
    McVries was still beside him. The TV camera glared down. Now, peripherally, he could see his high school class, and they were unfurling a huge banner and somehow it was his own face, his yearbook photo, blown up to Godzilla size, he was grinning down at himself as he cried and struggled to reach her.
    Second warning, blared from the loudhailer like the voice of God.
    She was reaching out to him. Hands touching. Her cool hand. Her tears—
    His mother. Her hands, reaching—
    He grasped them. In one hand he held Jan’s hand, in the other his mother ’s hand. He touched them. It was done.
    It was done until McVries’s arm came down around his shoulder again, cruel McVries.
    “Let me go! Let me go!”
    “Man, you must really hate her!” McVries screamed in his ear. “What do you want? To die knowing they’re both stinking with your blood? Is that what you want? For Christ’s sake, come on!”
    He struggled, but McVries was strong. Maybe McVries was even right. He looked at Jan and now her eyes were wide with alarm. His mother made shooing gestures. And on Jan’s lips he could read the words like a damnation: Go on! Go on!
    Of course I must go on, he thought dully. I am Maine’s Own. And in that second he hated her, although if he had done anything, it was no more than to catch her—and his mother—in the snare he had laid for himself.
    Third warning for him and McVries, rolling majestically like thunder; the crowd hushed a little and looked on with wet-eyed eagerness. Now there was panic written on the faces of Jan and his mother. His mother ’s hands flew to her face, and he thought of Barkovitch’s hands flying up to his neck and startled doves and ripping out his own throat.
    “If you’ve got to do it, do it around the next corner, you cheap shit!” McVries cried.
    He began to whimper. McVries had beaten him again. McVries was very strong. “All right,” he said, not knowing if McVries could hear him or not. He began to walk. “All right, all right, let me loose before you break my collarbone.” He sobbed, hiccuped, wiped his nose.
    McVries let go of him warily, ready to grab him again.
    Almost as an afterthought, Garraty turned and looked back, but they were already lost in the crowd again. He thought he would never forget that look of panic rising in their eyes, that feeling of trust and sureness finally kicked brutally away. He got nothing but half a glimpse of a waving blue scarf.
    He turned around and faced forward again, not looking at McVries, and his stumbling, traitorous feet carried him on and they walked out of town.

  17. p357 McVries says why he saved him

    McVries had told him the first time he had saved him out of pure reflex. Then, in Freeport, it had been to prevent an ugliness in front of a pretty girl he would never know.

  18. p353 Garraty promises Abraham that he won't help anyone even though he owes McVries a couple

    “Well, look. We’re getting together on something. All of us that are left.”
    “Scrabble, maybe?”
    “It’s a kind of a ... a promise.”
    “Oh yeah?”
    “No help for anybody. Do it on your own or don’t do it.”
    Garraty looked at his feet. He wondered how long it had been since he was hungry, and he wondered how long it would be before he fainted if he didn’t eat something. He thought that Abraham’s Oxfords were like Stebbins—those shoes could carry him from here to the Golden Gate Bridge without so much as a busted shoelace ... at least they looked that way.
    “That sounds pretty heartless,” he said finally.
    “It’s gotten to be a pretty heartless situation.” Abraham wouldn’t look at him.
    “Have you talked to all the others about this?”
    “Not yet. About a dozen.”
    “Yeah, it’s a real bitch. I can see how hard it is for you to talk about.”
    “It seems to get harder rather than easier.”
    “What did they say?” He knew what they said, what were they supposed to say?
    “They’re for it.”
    Garraty opened his mouth, then shut it. He looked at Baker up ahead. Bake was wearing his jacket, and it was soaked. His head was bent. One hip swayed and jutted awkwardly. His left leg had stiffened up quite badly.
    “Why’d you take off your shirt?” he asked Abraham suddenly.
    “It was making my skin itch. It was raising hives or something. It was a synthetic, maybe I have an allergy to synthetic fibers, how the hell should I know? What do you say, Ray?”
    “You look like a religious penitent or something.”
    “What do you say? Yes or no?”
    “Maybe I owe McVries a couple.” McVries was still close by, but it was impossible to tell if he could hear their conversation over the din of the crowd. Come on, McVries, he thought. Tell him I don’t owe you anything. Come on, you son of a bitch. But McVries said nothing.
    “All right, count me in,” Garraty said.
    Now I’m an animal, nothing but a dirty, tired, stupid animal. You did it. You sold it out.
    “If you try to help anybody, we can’t hold you back. That’s against the rules. But we’ll shut you out. And you’ll have broken your promise.”
    “I won’t try.”
    “Same goes for anyone who tries to help you.”
    “It’s nothing personal. You know that, Ray. But we’re down against it now.”
    “Root hog or die.”
    “That’s it.”
    “Nothing personal. Just back to the jungle.”
    For a second he thought Abraham was going to get pissed, but his quickly drawn-in breath came out in a harmless sigh. Maybe he was too tired to get pissed. “You agreed. I’ll hold you to that, Ray.”
    “Maybe I should get all high-flown and say I’ll keep my promise because my word is my bond,” Garraty said. “But I’ll be honest. I want to see you get that ticket, Abraham. The sooner the better.”
    Abraham licked his lips. “Yeah.”

  19. p359 Garraty almost dies #11 (bullet ricochet from Parker firing the rifle)

    He fired the rifle he had wrenched away from the dead soldier twice into the road. The slugs snapped and whined, and Garraty felt one of them tug air in front of his face. Someone in the crowd screamed in pain.

  20. p365 Garraty almost dies #12 (bullet near miss from soldier)

    The guns were shooting again, God, they were shooting at him now, he felt the air from that one, it was over, all over—

  21. p387 McVries dies, Garraty tries to save McVrie, (Garraty helping McVries), Broken Promise #4

    He looked around. McVries’s head had dropped, and he was walking at the crowd, fast asleep.
    “Hey!” Garraty shouted. “Hey, Pete! Pete!”
    “Let him alone,” Stebbins said. “You made the promise like the rest of us.”
    “Fuck you,” Garraty said distinctly, and darted to McVries’s side. He touched McVries’s shoulders, setting him straight again. McVries looked up at him sleepily and smiled. “No, Ray. It’s time to sit down.”
    Terror pounded Garraty’s chest. “No! No way!”
    McVries looked at him for a moment, then smiled again and shook his head. He sat down, cross legged on the pavement. He looked like a world-beaten monk. The scar on his cheek was a white slash in the rainy gloom.
    “No!” Garraty screamed.
    He tried to pick McVries up, but, thin as he was, McVries was much too heavy. McVries wouldn’t even look at him. His eyes were shut. And suddenly two of the soldiers were wrenching McVries away from him. They were putting their guns to McVries’s head.
    “No!” Garraty screamed again. “Me! Me! Shoot me!”
    But instead, they gave him his third warning.
    McVries opened his eyes and smiled again. The next instant, he was gone.

  22. p387 Garraty almost dies #13 (wave of dizziness)

    “The king wasn’t digging it, thinking no one was good enough for his daughter Gwen, the world-famous Lady Fair, but the Lady Fair loved the White Knight so much that she threatened to run away into the Wildwoods if ... if ...” A wave of dizziness rode over him darkly, making him feel as if he were floating. The roar of the crowd came to him like the boom of the sea down a long, cone-shaped tunnel. Then it passed, but slowly.

  23. p382 Broken Promise #5 (Garraty helping Art Baker)

    “Walk a little bit longer,” Garraty said through his tears. “Walk a little longer, Art.”
    “No—I can’t.”
    “All right.”
    “Maybe I’ll see you, man,” Baker said, and wiped slick blood from his face absently.
    Garraty lowered his head and wept.
    “Don’t watch ’em do it,” Baker said. “Promise me that, too.”
    Garraty nodded, beyond speech.
    “Thanks. You’ve been my friend, Garraty.” Baker tried to smile. He stuck his hand blindly out, and Garraty shook it with both of his.
    “Another time, another place,” Baker said.
    Garraty put his hands over his face and had to bend over to keep walking. The sobs ripped out of him and made him ache with a pain that was far beyond anything the Walk had been able to inflict.
    He hoped he wouldn’t hear the shots. But he did.

Date Created September 15, 2018
Last Updated November 7, 2018