Chapter 8 describes the spread of
Campion’s Disease Captain Tripp’s. It is a fairly short chapter, so we will be doing 2 chapter this post.
Chapter 8 starts out by showing how Joe Bob helped pass along the virus. Joe Bob, if you recall, was the police man who was some relation to Vic Palfrey. He came to Hap’s Texaco to warn the men about the CDC’s interest in them.
I have very little sympathy for him. Look, I get wanting to warn your buddies, but did you have to go down in person for that? If you knew the CDC was interested, wouldn’t a phone call have been a better idea?
On June 18, 5 hours after he had talked to his cousin Bill Hapscomb, Joe Bob Brentwood pulled over a speeder by the name of Harry Trent.
After getting the speeding ticket, Trent tries to sell Joe Bob life insurance, but Joe Bob feels fine, so he declines the offer.
Dying was the last thing on his mind. Nevertheless, he was already a sick man. He had gotten more than gas at Bill Hapscomb’s Texaco. And he gave Harry Trent more than a speeding summons.
We are then told that Trent gave the sickness to a lot of people at work, and how many they then went on to infect is impossible to tell.
You might as well ask how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
I’ve never understood this. Do people in other religions think angels dance on pins? Because Adventists think Angels have better things to do with their lives.
King then goes on to use math, and my eyes glaze over.
A lot of people got infected by just one person, ok? That’s his point.
On June 19, Trent went out for a burger, but he was so sick he couldn’t eat much.
He left the sweet thang that waited on his table a dollar tip that was crawling with death.
I like this line.
A family with kids pulls up and asks Trent for directions.
Harry gave the New York fellow very clear directions on how to get to Highway 21. He also served him and his entire family their death warrants without even knowing it.
This chapter is full of really great one liners, though in the edited edition it just says, “the whole family would be dead by July 2.” Which, looking at a calendar, is about 3 weeks, give or take. And so I like the way this reads in the unedited edition better. “He served them their death warrants” just sounds a lot more ominous.
How fast does this virus kill, again? The people in the lab died in under 12 minutes. But its taken Harry Trent at least a day to even show symptoms, and it takes the Norris family roughly 3 weeks to all die.
You could argue that the virus would have evolved to survive longer, and that would make sense. But other times, the disease still seems to kill people quite quickly, sooooo?
We should play a drinking game: drink when the rate at which the disease kills people is flexible at the plot’s convenience.
We then get a description of some of the people the Norris family infects. And it takes them a while to show symptoms.
I give up on trying to make sense of this.
In any case, we now switch to the perspective of the New Yorker, Edward Norris, who happens to be a police detective. He and his family have just come back from what we are told is their first real vacation in 5 years. How fortunate for him that he took this vacation, and that it was such a good time. In fact, Norris had such a good time that he plans on bragging about it to Steve when he gets back. The whole “bragging about it to Steve” thing gets cut from the edited edition, and I’m torn on how I feel about it. It’s not really a big deal in the scheme of things. I can see why it was cut, but I’m not sorry it got put back in, either.
The first Norris to show symptoms of the illness is the baby, Hector. That makes sense. Babies and the elderly would be particularly vulnerable to…well, anything, really.
During their wait in [the Doctor’s] office they communicated the sickness which would soon be known across the disintegrating country as Captain Trips to more than 25 people.
Why? Why Captain Trip’s? Why haven’t they started calling it “Campion’s Disease,” or just “Campion?” As far as they know, Campion was patient zero. And don’t these things usually get named after the first patient who had them? Or the first doctor who diagnosed them? Actually, nothing has been announced officially, so this “Captain Trip’s” is only a nickname. Who picks a nickname with 3 syllables? Yea “Campion’s disease” isn’t much shorter, but it still makes more sense than “Captain Trip’s.” Who is Captain Trip? Exactly.
I can’t remember if we get told this in this novel or if I am remembering it from the Dark Tower series, but in some parts of the country the virus is called “Tube Neck,” because of how swollen the neck gets. Even that makes more sense than “Captain Trip’s.”
In any case, when Ed and Trish take Hector to the doctor, they infect everyone, including a woman who is just there to pay her bill. In the edited edition, the chapter ends with the woman passing the disease along to her bridge club and everyone in the bar afterward. In this edition, we get a bit more detail.
In fact, a lot of the detail in this chapter has been cut. And I can see why–it’s not really important in the overall scheme of things–but it would be nice if this could have been left in the original version.
This chapter introduces us to one of the other main characters, Nick Andros.
We are first introduced to Nick as he’s getting beaten up by some guys from the bar.
We are not told, right away, that Nick is a deaf mute. We are given some clues: Nick fights without making a sound, he doesn’t even scream as they are beating him up, which causes the bullies to feel unnerved. It doesn’t make sense to me, either. Even a deaf mute can usually make sound. A lot of sound, actually, since they feel no need whatsoever to regulate their volume.
A car comes by, causing the thugs to scatter, while Nick almost gets run over.
He comes to in a jail cell, for reasons I don’t understand. Wouldn’t you put a person who had been badly beaten up and found unconscious in a hospital? Maybe this is one of those realistic details that make no sense to me because I think it’s ridiculous.
In any case, even though he’s in jail, he has been given stitches on his most severe wounds.
Just then, the sherriff walks in, telling him he looks terrible, and asks for his name.
We’ve gotten enough clues so far to be able to piece it together on our own, but this is where we find out for sure that Nick is a deaf-mute.
Nick put a finger to his swelled and lacerated lips and shook his head. He put a hand over his mouth, then cut the air with it in a soft diagonal hashmark and shook his head.
The sherriff isn’t sure about all this, but he gives Nick a pencil and a pad of paper. Nick writes down what happened. When the sheriff asks him if he’s old enough to drink, Nick replies that he is 22, and that he should be able to get some beers without getting beaten and robbed.
Baker reflected that teaching a deaf-mute kid to read and write was probably quite a trick, and this Nick Andros must have some pretty good equipment upstairs to have caught the hang of it.
We get little hints throughout the book like this that Nick is really really smart. I have no issue with Nick being smart. Though I’m not sure how realistic it is for him to be able to lip read like that. It takes years of training to learn how to lip read, and as we will see, Nick Andros is a bit lacking in the formal training department.
Even if one is really super smart, lip reading is still difficult because a lot of sounds and words look the same. Even someone who is good at lip reading is still going to struggle. I have been reading that, in order to lip read successfully, it’s necessary to have at least some level of hearing, even if it is very minor. Without any hearing at all, even a very smart person would have trouble understanding much of what anyone was saying.
I can kinda see why King wouldn’t want to get bogged down by that detail in the story. From a literary stand point it’s much easier if the other characters don’t have to use sign language or write things down.
Is that an excuse for not portraying Nick’s disability more realistically? Someone else will have to comment. I’m not sure I know the answer to that.
In any case, Nick tells Sheriff Baker that he’s been traveling, and that he did some work for a man in town named Rich, but that the men who beat him up got all the money he earned.
Baker tells Nick he can check on that, and asks Nick if he’s sure of the details. He calls up Rich, and upon finding that Nick’s story is true, he lets Nick out of jail.
So, Nick was only in jail in the first place because everyone thought he was jobless? Do police just lock up all the jobless people and put them in jail? What a fucked up world we live in, if that’s the case.
Baker asks Nick more about the people who robbed him. When Nick gives the description, Baker swears.
“That’s my brother in law, Ray Booth…thanks, kid. Five in the morning and my day’s wrecked already… He’s a bad actor, Janey knows it. He beat her up enough times when they was kids together. Still, they’re brother ‘n sister and I guess I can forget my lovin for this week.”
I like the sheriff. He’s a bit gruff, and you can tell he doesn’t want to upset his wife. But, even though he makes a lot of noise about not liking it, it’s clear he’s going to do the right thing.
Not a lot of small town sheriffs are like that.
Baker tells Nick that going after the men probably won’t do any good, because it’s his word against theirs, but that if Nick wants to press charges, Baker will try.
As the sheriff goes to get Nick some medicine the doctor left for him, he starts sneezing violently into his handkerchief.
This good man is already dead.
As he passed the pills and a glass of water to Nick, Baker rubbed gently under the angle of his jaw. There was a definite painful swelling there. Swollen glands, coughing, sneezing, a low fever, felt like. Yeah, it was shaping up to be a wonderful day.