I apologize for the lack of Shack posts. I have just moved to a new apartment and have temporarily misplaced my copy. I’ll look for it later today, and try to get a post up by the middle of the week at the latest. But I’m also busy with a contest in my online game that I play, so we’ll see what happens.
But The Stand is a better book anyway, so I’m not too worried about missing The Shack.
This chapter introduces us to Lloyd Henreid, who we’re not supposed to like, but I think I end up sympathizing with him a little, when he almost dies. No matter what a person has done, I am absolutely not a fan of the death penalty.
Poke and Lloyd had killed 6 people in the last 6 days.
Which, in some states, would get Poke and Lloyd the death penalty.
But Poke Lloyd aren’t nervous that the police will peg them for the murders. What they are nervous about is the ridiculously large amount of drugs and guns they are carrying.
Murder was a trifle beyond their intellectual reach, but they both understood the trouble they were going to be in if the Arizona State Police picked them up in a stolen car full of blow and shooting irons.
Which, yes, the police will care about. However, even if you didn’t have ridiculous amounts of drugs and guns, you’re still screwed because you just killed 6 people in 6 days. I mean, do they think they’ll get a shorter prison sentence if they didn’t have guns and drugs? Is it actually true that they will get a longer sentence for drugs than they will for the murders because if so that is truly fucked up.
I’m not sure what to think about King’s telling us “murder was a trifle beyond their intellectual reach.” Lloyd is later shown to be fairly intelligent, so how does he not know that the drugs are going to be the least of their worries if they get pulled over? Or does he somehow think the police don’t know he and Poke committed the murders?
And if they are carrying ridiculous amounts of drugs (King lists out exactly how much, and it is truly ridiculous), why are they driving 90-100 on the interstate? You have drugs, you set your cruise control* to 75** and you don’t make any stupid moves.
Interstate fugitives. Lloyd Henreid liked the sound of that. Gangbusters. Take that, you dirty rat. Have a lead sandwich, ya lousy copper.
Maybe Lloyd’s intelligence is supposed to improve over time.
There’s a short description of everyone they killed, which isn’t pretty but honestly, some of the deaths they gave those people were probably quicker and kinder than the ones they would’ve had anyway had they lived long enough to catch the plague. I’m not saying that’s an excuse for killing them, mind you. Just something to think about.
Poke begins to drive erratically, lurching forward and backward. Because that’s not going to get you noticed by the cops at all.
Poke complains about the gas tank, and Lloyd says, “god will provide.” Christian me would have rolled my eyes at murderers believing God would give them anything, but cynical atheist me says that, if God exists, he sure does protect a lot of pedophiles, so nothing would really surprise me anymore.
The narrative then goes back in time a bit, describing how Poke and Lloyd first met (in prison, of course. Lloyd was in for attempted rape, which doesn’t exactly raise my sympathy for him.) Poke and Lloyd get out of prison, and Poke tells Lloyd he has a great idea. He knows this guy, “Gorgeous George,” who deals in drugs and guns and stuff. Apparently George is going to help Poke and Lloyd steal from himself in exchange for a cut of the profit.
So Poke and Lloyd go in, tie George up, black his eyes, steal the stuff….and then, instead of leaving when they are supposed to, they kill him. George was helping them steal shit, and they killed him slowly and painfully.
The rest of their kills are at least clean shots with a gun. Those people were probably just going to die a horrible death of the plague anyway, so I’m not as sad as I would be upon reading these deaths.
Still, Lloyd and Poke are terrible people. And yet they get way more development than Frannie’s terrible mother, who is a bitch, but at least she’s never killed anyone.
Deciding that they have thrown off enough pursuit for a while, Poke and Lloyd decide to stop for gas and food. Poke grabs his gun, and they go into the store.
King then tells us that the police had been looking for Poke and Lloyd for about 4 days, because their fingerprints were all over Gorgeous George’s house. Poke and Lloyd would have known this if they’d been listening to the car’s radio instead of the tape player.
The Arizona and New Mexico police were coordinating the largest manhunt in all of 40 years, all for a couple of small time grifters who could not quite comprehend what they might have done to start such a fuss.
We only murdered 6 people, why are you trying to arrest us?
I get that Lloyd and Poke aren’t meant to seem that intelligent, but come on. No one thinks like this.
Anyway, Poke and Lloyd go into the store.
“Just hold still and nobody’ll get hurt!” Lloyd shouted, and Poke immediately made him a liar by blowing a hole through the woman looking at the sauces. She flew out of her shoes.
“Holy Jee, Poke. You didn’t have to–“
So, let’s talk about this. Later on, Lloyd will insist that he never would have gotten into such trouble if not for Poke. Because apparently attempted rape is “small town trouble.”
And I personally think this is just a form of Lloyd denying how bad he has gotten, wanting to blame someone else and not take responsibility for his own actions. I think King wants us to see it this way too, but perhaps we are also being shown that Lloyd is more hesitant than Poke because King still wants the audience to have at least a crumb of sympathy for Lloyd. Yes, Lloyd goes along with the 6 murders, but he’s never the first one to suggest it, and he’s never the one pulling the trigger.
Speaking of pulling triggers, it turns out that Lloyd and Poke aren’t the only people in that particular store with guns. One of the men who was in the store pulls out a gun and shoots Poke in the face.
And this is why I am a fan of people being allowed to conceal carry. We have to protect ourselves from the gun wielding maniacs, who, contrary to popular belief, are not going to simply stop carrying guns if it becomes illegal to do so.
It’s a shame Poke died, but honestly, it was self defense at that point. Poke has just proven himself unstable and willing to kill. This isn’t a situation where the good townspeople can just talk the gunman down and wait for the police and no one will get hurt. Someone is already dead.
Poke doesn’t die right away, but slowly and painfully, screaming. We don’t have much sympathy for him, because he’s done the same thing to a lot of other people.
(Would being shot in the face and surviving for a while be more or less painful than the deaths from Captain Tripp’s? Did Mr. Storeman accidentally do Poke a favor? Discuss.)
There’s more gunfighting, and by the time Lloyd is done dousing the place in bullets, the guy who shot Poke is dead. Because guns are not the be all end all of protection, and sometimes hiding behind cover is the smartest thing to do. The cashier pulls out a shotgun and finishes killing Poke.
Lloyd decided it was time to leave. Fuck the money. There was money everywhere. The time to throw off a little more pursuit had clearly come.
But it is already too late. As he is leaving, The Arizona State Police come and arrest him. The police don’t catch on that he’s responsible at first, and they ask him what happened.
“Three people dead!” Lloyd cried. “Guy that did it went out the back! I’m getting the fuck out!” He ran to the Connie, had actually slipped behind the wheel, and was just remembering that the keys were in Poke’s pocket when the trooper yelled: “Halt! Halt or I’ll shoot!”
Really, his mistake was running to the Connie. And not having listened to the radio to know that the police were looking for it.
Lloyd gets arrested. In the miniseries as this is happening, he sees Randall Flagg on a telephone pole, watching him. When he asks the police who’s there, the police turn and see a black crow.
None of that is in the book, and I’d be interested to know why it was added for the miniseries. I like it, though. It gives the impression that Flagg had more of a plan than we first concluded. It also gives the impression that maybe Flagg manipulated things a bit, pulled the strings.
Was Flagg somehow responsible for what Lloyd and Poke did? Did he take their natural tendency to do stupid evil shit and enhance it somehow? It’s interesting to think about, at least.
*Wait, was cruise control a thing when this was first written? It absolutely was by the time this unabridged edition came out. But in 1979 when King first drafted this? Anyone older than me know the answer?
**Most freeways in my area have speed limits of 75MPH. I know in some states this is different. Those states need to rewrite their speed laws.