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Revival(4)
Stephen King

“I would,” he said. “And I wonder if you could manage to call me Charlie.”

She considered this, then said, “No, but I could probably manage Charles.”

I changed into jeans and a tee-shirt, and because they were talking about adult things when I came back downstairs, I went outside to wait for the schoolbus. Con, Terry, and I attended the one-room school on Route 9—an easy quarter-mile walk from our house—but Andy went to Consolidated Middle and Claire all the way across the river to Gates Falls High, where she was a freshman. (“Just don’t be a fresh girl,” Mom told her—that was also a joke.) The bus dropped them off at the intersection of Route 9 and Methodist Road, at the foot of Methodist Hill.

I saw them get off, and as they came trudging up the hill—squabbling as always, I could hear them as I stood waiting by the mailbox—Reverend Jacobs came out.

“Ready?” he asked, and took my hand. It seemed perfectly natural.

“Sure,” I said.

We met Andy and Claire halfway down the hill. Andy asked where I was going.

“To Reverend Jacobs’ house,” I said. “He’s going to show me a surprise.”

“Well, don’t be too long,” Claire said. “It’s your turn to set the table.” She glanced at Jacobs, then quickly away again, as if she found him hard to look at. My big sister had a wicked crush on him before the year was out, and so did all her friends.

“I’ll have him back shortly,” Jacobs promised.

We walked down the hill hand in hand to Route 9, which led to Portland if you turned left, to Gates Falls, Castle Rock, and Lewiston if you turned right. We stopped and looked for traffic, which was ridiculous since there were hardly any cars on Route 9 except in the summer, and then walked on past hayfields and cornfields, the stalks of the latter now dry and clattering in a mild autumn breeze. Ten minutes brought us to the parsonage, a tidy white house with black shutters. Beyond it was the First Methodist Church of Harlow, which was also ridiculous since there was no other Methodist church in Harlow.

The only other house of worship in Harlow was Shiloh Church. My father considered the Shilohites moderate to serious weirdos. They didn’t ride around in horse-drawn buggies, or anything, but the men and boys all wore black hats when they were outside. The women and girls wore dresses that came down to their ankles, and white caps. Dad said the Shilohites claimed to know when the world was going to end; it was written down in a special book. My mother said in America everyone was entitled to believe what they liked as long as they didn’t hurt anybody . . . but she didn’t say Dad was wrong, either. Our church was larger than Shiloh, but very plain. Also, it had no steeple. It did once, but a hurricane came along back in the olden days, 1920 or so, and knocked it down.

Reverend Jacobs and I walked up the parsonage’s dirt driveway. I was interested to see that he had a blue Plymouth Belvedere, a very cool car. “Standard shift or push-button drive?” I asked.

He looked surprised, then grinned. “Push-button,” he said. “It was a wedding present from my in-laws.”

“Are in-laws like outlaws?”

“Mine are,” he said, and laughed. “Do you like cars?”

“We all like cars,” I said, meaning everyone in my family . . . although that was less true of Mom and Claire, I guessed. Females didn’t seem to totally understand the basic coolness of cars. “When the Road Rocket’s fixed up, my dad’s going to race it at the Castle Rock Speedway.”

“Really?”

“Well, not him, exactly. Mom said he couldn’t because it’s too dangerous, but some guy. Maybe Duane Robichaud. He runs Brownie’s Store along with his mom and dad. He drove the nine-car at the Speedway last year, but the engine caught on fire. Dad says he’s looking for another ride.”

“Do the Robichauds come to church?”

“Um . . .”

“I’ll take that as a no. Come in the garage, Jamie.”

It was shadowy and musty-smelling. I was a little afraid of the shadows and the smell, but Jacobs didn’t seem to mind. He led me deeper into the gloom, then stopped and pointed. I gasped at what I saw.

Jacobs gave a little chuckle, the way people do when they’re proud of something. “Welcome to Peaceable Lake, Jamie.”

“Wow!”

“I got it set up while I’m waiting for Patsy and Morrie to get here. I should be doing stuff in the house, and I have done a fair amount—fixed the well-pump, for one thing—but there’s not a whole lot more I can do until Pats gets here with the furniture. Your mom and the rest of the Ladies Auxiliary did a terrific job of cleaning the place up, kiddo. Mr. Latoure commuted from Orr’s Island, and no one’s actually lived here since before World War II. I thanked her, but I wouldn’t mind if you thanked her again.”

“Sure, you bet,” I said, but I don’t believe I ever passed that second thanks on, because I barely heard what he was saying. All my attention was fixed on a table that took up almost half the garage space. On it was a rolling green landscape that put Skull Mountain to shame. I have seen many such landscapes since—mostly in the windows of toyshops—but they all had complicated electric trains running through them. There was no train on the table Reverend Jacobs had set up, which wasn’t a real table at all, but sheets of plywood on a rank of sawhorses. Atop the plywood was a countryside in miniature, about twelve feet long and five feet wide. Power pylons eighteen inches high marched across it on a diagonal, and it was dominated by a lake of real water that shone bright blue even in the gloom.

“I’ll have to take it down soon,” he said, “or else I won’t be able to get the car in the garage. Patsy wouldn’t care for that.”

He bent, planted his hands above his knees, and gazed at the rolling hills, the threadlike power lines, the big lake. There were plastic sheep and cows grazing near the water (they were considerably out of scale, but I didn’t notice and wouldn’t have cared if I had). There were also lots of streetlamps, which was a little peculiar, since there was no town and no roads for them to shine on.

“I bet you could have quite a battle with your soldiers here, couldn’t you?”

“Yeah,” I said. I thought I could fight an entire war there.

He nodded. “That can’t happen, though, because in Peaceable Lake, everyone gets along and no fighting is allowed. In that way it’s like heaven. Once I get MYF going, I plan to move it to the church basement. Maybe you and your brothers would help me. The kids would like it, I think.”

“They sure would!” I said, then added something my father said. “You betchum bobcats!”

He laughed and clapped me on the shoulder. “Now do you want to see a miracle?”

“I guess,” I said. I wasn’t actually sure I did. It sounded like it might be scary. All at once I realized the two of us were alone in an old garage with no car in it, a dusty hollow that smelled as if it had been closed up for years. The door to the outside world was still open, but it seemed a mile off. I liked Reverend Jacobs okay, but I found myself wishing I had stayed home, coloring on the floor and waiting to see if Mom could win the Electrolux and finally get the upper hand in her never-ending battle with the summer dust.

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