Read Duma Key Online

Authors: Stephen King

Duma Key


Stephen King's
New York Times
“is as fresh as a Hemingway sentence is short. And it's no mistake to have those two authors' names in the same sentence.”
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“First-rate entertainment. . . . A return to form for a beloved pop novelist. . . . Perhaps
Duma Key
's setting—it is King's first Florida novel—accounts for its fresh vigor and supreme craftsmanship.”

—South Florida Sun-Sentinel

“In essence, a classic Gothic tale of terror. . . .”

—USA Today

“At its core it's a horror story, but with enough emotional complications to keep you turning the pages.”

—The Boston Globe

“May be the finest prose King has ever written. . . . You'll relish the journey.”

—Rocky Mountain News

“A tale of conflict between the forces of horror and the redemptive power of creativity. . . . King has in no way lost his unmatched gift for ensnaring and chilling his readers with ‘terrible fishbelly fingers.' ”

—The Washington Post

Duma Key
is also available from Simon & Schuster Audio.

“Exerts a relentless tidal pull. . . . The last third goes into overdrive . . . [but] the less action-packed aspects of the story manage to be just as compelling.”

—The New York Times

“This book is a slow burn, and the better for it. . . . As with the recent
Lisey's Story,
there's the thrilling sense of a master determined not only to flex his muscles but develop them too.”

—Los Angeles Times

“An absorbing and even moving look at the creative process by way of supernatural possession, and its collateral damage to family and friends. . . . An ultimately scary and sad story about the heartbreak of divorce, parenthood, and the insistence of truth in art.”

—Seattle Times

“A page-turner of the most cinematic sort—full of sparring dialogue, discrete scenes, and vivid surface descriptions. . . . King doesn't take himself too seriously, which is part of the fun.”

—Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Whether you're interested in such highfalutin stuff as theories of art and the reimagining of Greek myth, or you just want a delicious scare, King is in wonderful form.”

—St. Petersburg Times

Duma Key
is classic King, a leisurely tale that begins in the everyday world but drops plenty of hints of the horrors to come.”

—Charlotte Observer

Praise for Stephen King's #1 bestseller


“Dazzling. . . . Stephen King at his finest and most generous.”

—Nicholas Sparks,
author of
At First Sight
The Notebook

“Moving. . . . With
Lisey's Story,
King has crashed the exclusive party of literary fiction, and he'll be no easier to ignore than Carrie at the prom. . . . A rich portrait of a marriage and the complicated affection that outlives death.”

—The Washington Post

“Haunting. . . . A tender, intimate book that makes an epic interior journey.”

—The New York Times

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How to Draw a Picture (I)

Chapter 1: My Other Life

How to Draw a Picture (II)

Chapter 2: Big Pink

Chapter 3: Drawing on New Resources

How to Draw a Picture (III)

Chapter 4: Friends with Benefits

Chapter 5: Wireman

Chapter 6: The Lady of the House

How to Draw a Picture (IV)

Chapter 7: Art for Art's Sake

Chapter 8: Family Portrait

How to Draw a Picture (V)

Chapter 9: Candy Brown

Chapter 10: The Bubble Reputation

How to Draw a Picture (VI)

Chapter 11: The View from Duma

Chapter 12: Another Florida

How to Draw a Picture (VII)

Chapter 13: The Show

How to Draw a Picture (VIII)

Chapter 14: The Red Basket

Chapter 15: Intruder

How to Draw a Picture (IX)

Chapter 16: The End of the Game

Chapter 17: The South End of the Key

Chapter 18: Noveen

How to Draw a Picture (X)

Chapter 19: April of '27

How to Draw a Picture (XI)

Chapter 20: Perse

Chapter 21: The Shells by Moonlight

Chapter 22: June

How to Draw a Picture (XII)


“The Cat from Hell,” a bonus story from Just After Sunset

About Stephen King

For Barbara Ann and Jimmy

Memory . . . is an internal rumor.


Life is more than love and pleasure,

I came here to dig for treasure.

If you want to play you gotta pay

You know it's always been that way,

We all came to dig for treasure.


How to Draw a Picture (I)

Start with a blank surface. It doesn't have to be paper or canvas, but I feel it should be white. We call it white because we need a word, but its true name is nothing. Black is the absence of light, but white is the absence of memory, the color of can't remember.

How do we remember to remember? That's a question I've asked myself often since my time on Duma Key, often in the small hours of the morning, looking up into the absence of light, remembering absent friends. Sometimes in those little hours I think about the horizon. You have to establish the horizon. You have to mark the white. A simple enough act, you might say, but any act that re-makes the world is heroic. Or so I've come to believe.

Imagine a little girl, hardly more than a baby. She fell from a carriage almost ninety years ago, struck her head on a stone, and forgot everything. Not just her name; everything! And then one day she recalled just enough to pick up a pencil and make that first hesitant mark across the white. A horizon-line, sure. But also a slot for blackness to pour through.

Still, imagine that small hand lifting the pencil . . . hesitating . . . and then marking the white. Imagine the courage of that first effort to re-establish the world by picturing it. I will always love that little girl, in spite of all she has cost me. I must. I have no choice.

Pictures are magic, as you know.

1—My Other Life


My name is Edgar Freemantle. I used to be a big deal in the building and contracting business. This was in Minnesota, in my other life. I learned that my-other-life thing from Wireman. I want to tell you about Wireman, but first let's get through the Minnesota part.

Gotta say it: I was a genuine American-boy success there. Worked my way up in the company where I started, and when I couldn't work my way any higher there, I went out and started my own. The boss of the company I left laughed at me, said I'd be broke in a year. I think that's what most bosses say when some hot young pocket-rocket goes off on his own.

For me, everything worked out. When Minneapolis–St. Paul boomed, The Freemantle Company boomed. When things tightened up, I never tried to play big. But I did play my hunches, and most played out well. By the time I was fifty, Pam and I were worth forty million dollars. And we were still tight. We had two girls, and at the end of our particular Golden Age, Ilse was at Brown and Melinda was teaching in France, as part of a foreign exchange program. At the time things went wrong, my wife and I were planning to go and visit her.

I had an accident at a job site. It was pretty simple; when a pickup truck, even a Dodge Ram with all the
bells and whistles, argues with a twelve-story crane, the pickup is going to lose every time. The right side of my skull only cracked. The left side was slammed so hard against the Ram's doorpost that it fractured in three places. Or maybe it was five. My memory is better than it used to be, but it's still a long way from what it once was.

The doctors called what happened to my head a contracoup injury, and that kind of thing often does more damage than the original hit. My ribs were broken. My right hip was shattered. And although I retained seventy per cent of the sight in my right eye (more, on a good day), I lost my right arm.

I was supposed to lose my life, but didn't. I was supposed to be mentally impaired thanks to the contracoup thing, and at first I was, but it passed. Sort of. By the time it did, my wife had gone, and not just sort of. We were married for twenty-five years, but you know what they say: shit happens. I guess it doesn't matter; gone is gone. And over is over. Sometimes that's a good thing.

When I say I was mentally impaired, I mean that at first I didn't know who people were—even my wife—or what had happened. I couldn't understand why I was in such pain. I can't remember the quality of that pain now, four years later. I know that I suffered it, and that it was excruciating, but it's all pretty academic. It wasn't academic at the time. At the time it was like being in hell and not knowing why you were there.

At first you were afraid you'd die, then you were afraid you
. That's what Wireman says, and he would have known; he had his own season in hell.

Everything hurt all the time. I had a constant
ringing headache; behind my forehead it was always midnight in the world's biggest clock-shop. Because my right eye was fucked up, I was seeing the world through a film of blood, and I hardly knew what the world was. Nothing had a name. I remember one day when Pam was in the room—I was still in the hospital—and she was standing by my bed. I was extremely pissed that she should be standing when there was a thing to sit on right over in the cornhole.

“Bring the friend,” I said. “Sit in the friend.”

“What do you mean, Edgar?” she asked.

!” I shouted. “Bring over the fucking
you dump bitch!” My head was killing me and she was starting to cry. I hated her for that. She had no business crying, because she wasn't the one in the cage, looking at everything through a red blur. She wasn't the monkey in the cage. And then it came to me. “Bring over the chum and sick
!” It was the closest my rattled, fucked-up brain could come to

I was angry all the time. There were two older nurses that I called Dry Fuck One and Dry Fuck Two, as if they were characters in a dirty Dr. Seuss story. There was a candystriper I called Pilch Lozenge—I have no idea why, but that nickname also had some sort of sexual connotation. To me, at least. When I grew stronger, I tried to hit people. Twice I tried to stab Pam, and on one of those two occasions I succeeded, although only with a plastic knife. She still needed a couple of stitches in her forearm. There were times when I had to be tied down.

Here is what I remember most clearly about that part of my other life: a hot afternoon toward the end of my month-long stay in an expensive convalescent
home, the expensive air conditioning broken, tied down in my bed, a soap opera on the television, a thousand midnight bells ringing in my head, pain burning and stiffening my right side like a poker, my missing right arm itching, my missing right fingers twitching, no more Oxycontin due for awhile (I don't know how long, because telling time is beyond me), and a nurse swims out of the red, a creature coming to look at the monkey in the cage, and the nurse says: “Are you ready to visit with your wife?” And I say: “Only if she brought a gun to shoot me with.”

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