Home > Revival(10)

Stephen King

When I finally ran down, she said: “Come around to the back shed. You need to talk to Charlie.”

• • •

Now that the Belvedere had taken its proper place in the parsonage garage, the back shed had become Jacobs’s workshop. When Patsy led me in, he was tinkering with a television set that had no screen.

“When I put this puppy back together,” he said, slinging an arm around my shoulders and producing a handkerchief from his back pocket, “I’ll be able to get TV stations in Miami, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Wipe your eyes, Jamie. And your nose could use a little attention while you’re at it.”

I looked at the eyeless TV with fascination as I cleaned up. “Will you really be able to get stations in Chicago and Los Angeles?”

“Nah, I was kidding. I’m just trying to build in a signal amplifier that will let us get something besides Channel 8.”

“We get 6 and 13, too,” I said. “Although 6 is a little snow-stormy.”

“You guys have a roof antenna. The Jacobs family is stuck with rabbit ears.”

“Why don’t you buy one? They sell them at Western Auto in Castle Rock.”

He grinned. “Good idea! I’ll stand up in front of the deacons at the quarterly meeting and tell them I want to spend some of the collection money on a TV antenna, so Morrie can watch Mighty 90 and the missus and I can watch Petticoat Junction on Tuesday nights. Never mind that, Jamie. Tell me what’s got you in such a tizzy.”

I looked around for Mrs. Jacobs, hoping she’d spare me the job of having to tell everything twice, but she had quietly decamped. He took me by the shoulders and led me to a sawhorse. I was just tall enough to be able to sit on it.

“Is it Con?”

Of course he’d guess that; a petition for the return of Con’s voice was part of the closing prayer at every Thursday-night meeting that spring, as were prayers for other MYFers who were going through hard times (broken bones were the most common, but Bobby Underwood had suffered burns and Carrie Doughty had had to endure having her head shaved and rinsed with vinegar after her horrified mother discovered the little girl’s scalp was crawling with lice). But, like his wife, Reverend Jacobs hadn’t had any idea of how miserable Con really was, or how that misery had spread through the entire family like an especially nasty germ.

“Dad bought Hiram Oil last summer,” I said, starting to blubber again. I hated it, blubbering was such a little kid’s trick, but I couldn’t seem to help it. “He said the price was too good to turn down, only then we had a warm winter and heating oil went down to fifteen cents a gallon and now they can’t afford a specialist and if you could have heard her, she didn’t sound like Mom at all, and sometimes he puts his hands in his pockets, because . . .” But Yankee reticence finally kicked in and I finished, “Because I don’t know why.”

He produced the handkerchief again, and while I used it, he took a metal box from his workshop table. Wires sprouted from it every whichway, like badly cut hair.

“Behold the amplifier,” he said. “Invented by yours truly. Once I get it hooked up, I’ll run a wire out the window and up to the eave. Then I will attach . . . that.” He pointed to the corner, where a rake was propped on its pole with its rusty metal tines sticking up. “The Jacobs Custom Antenna.”

“Will it work?” I asked.

“I don’t know. I think it will. But even if it does, I believe the days of television antennas are numbered. In another ten years, TV signals will be carried along the telephone lines, and there will be a lot more than three channels. By 1990 or so, the signals will be beamed down from satellites. I know it sounds like science fiction, but the technology already exists.”

He had his dreamy look, and I thought, He’s forgotten all about Con. Now I know that wasn’t true. He was just giving me time to regain my composure, and—maybe—himself time to think.

“People will be amazed at first, then they’ll take it for granted. They’ll say ‘Oh yes, we have telephone TV’ or ‘We have earth satellite TV,’ but they’ll be wrong. It’s all a gift of electricity, which is now so basic and so pervasive we have a way of ignoring it. People like to say ‘Thus-and-such is the elephant in the living room,’ meaning a thing that’s too big to be ignored, but you’d even ignore an elephant, if it was in the living room long enough.”

“Except when you had to clean up the poop,” I said.

That made him roar with laughter, and I laughed along with him, even though my eyes were still swollen from crying.

He went to the window and looked out. He clasped his hands at the small of his back and didn’t speak for a long time. Then he turned to me and said, “I want you to bring Con to the parsonage tonight. Will you do that?”

“Sure,” I said, without any great enthusiasm. More praying was what I thought he had in store, and I knew it couldn’t hurt, but there had been a lot of praying on Con’s behalf already, and it hadn’t helped, either.

• • •

My parents had no objections to our going to the parsonage (I had to ask them separately, because that night they were barely talking to each other). It was Connie who took convincing, probably because I wasn’t very convinced myself. But because I had promised the Reverend, I didn’t give up. I enlisted Claire for help, instead. Her belief in the power of prayer was far greater than my own, and she had her own powers. I think they came from being the only girl. Of the four Morton brothers, only Andy—who was closest to her in age—could resist her when she got all pretty-eyed and asked for something.

As the three of us crossed Route 9, our shadows long in the light of a rising full moon, Con—just thirteen that year, dark-haired, slender, dressed in a faded plaid jacket handed down from Andy—held up his notepad, which he carried everywhere.

He had printed while he walked, so the letters were jagged. THIS IS STUPID.

“Maybe,” Claire said, “but we’ll get cookies. Mrs. Jacobs always has cookies.”

We also got Morrie, now five and dressed for bed in his pj’s. He ran directly to Con and jumped into his arms. “Still can’t talk?” Morrie asked.

Con shook his head.

“My dad will fix you,” he said. “He’s been working all afternoon.” Then he held his arms out to my sister. “Carry me, Claire, carry me, Claire-Bear, and I’ll give you a kiss!” She took him from Con, laughing.

Reverend Jacobs was in the shed, dressed in faded jeans and a sweater. There was an electric heater in the corner, the elements glowing cherry-red, but his workshop was still cold. I supposed he had been too busy tinkering away on his various projects to winterize it. The temporarily eyeless TV had been covered with a mover’s quilt.

Jacobs gave Claire a hug and a peck on the cheek, then shook hands with Con, who then held up his pad. MORE PRAYER I SUPPOSE was printed on the fresh page.

I thought that was a little rude, and by her frown I could see Claire felt the same, but Jacobs only smiled. “We might get to that, but I want to try something else first.” He turned to me. “Whom does the Lord help, Jamie?”

“Them that help themselves,” I said.

“Ungrammatical but true.”

» Fallen Too Far (Rosemary Beach #1) read online
» Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2) read online
» Forever Too Far (Rosemary Beach #3) read online
» Unseen Messages read online
» Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3) read online
» New Moon (Twilight #2) read online
» Divergent (Divergent #1) read online
» Breaking Dawn (Twilight #4) read online
» Rush Too Far (Rosemary Beach #4) read online
» Eclipse (Twilight #3) read online
» I Am Legend read online
» Never Too Far (Rosemary Beach #2) read online
» The Darkest Seduction (Lords of the Underwo read online
» Insurgent (Divergent #2) read online
» Warm Bodies (Warm Bodies #1) read online
» Twilight (Twilight #1) read online
» Easy (Contours of the Heart #1) read online
» Allegiant (Divergent #3) read online
» Breakable (Contours of the Heart #2) read online
» The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1) read online
» Midnight Sun (Twilight #1.5) read online