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Authors: Stephen King

The Regulators

BOOK: The Regulators
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Praise for

"This devilishly entertaining yarn of occult mayhem married to mordant social commentary is pure King. . . . The narrative itself warps fantastically, from prose set in classic typeface to handwritten journals to drawings to typewritten playscript and so on."

—Publisher's Weekly

"Stephen King revives his alter ego Bachman, who ‘died' in 1985, for a rip-roaringly violent thriller whose main action takes place in little more than an hour and a half. Whew!"


“The Regulators blends the occult with social commentary for a suburban tale of terror.”

—Anniston Star

“[The Regulators is a] devilishly entertaining yarn of occult mayhem married to mordant social commentary. Call him Bachman or call him King, the bard of Bangor is going to hit the charts hard and vast with this white-knuckler knockout.”

—Publisher's Weekly
(starred review)

“The action is fierce and Bachman's imagination proves boundless.”

—Library Journal

“The Regulators is a rip-roaring fable that exposes suburbia's id and brings all that escapism out in the open where there is no escape.”

—Time Out New York

Thinking of Jim Thompson and Sam Peckinpah: legendary shadows.


Before his death from cancer in late 1985, Richard Bachman published five novels. In 1994, while preparing to move to a new house, the author's widow found a cardboard carton filled with manuscripts in the cellar. These novels and stories were in varying degrees of completion. The least finished were longhand scribbles in the steno notebooks Bachman used for original composition. The most finished was a typescript of the novel which follows. It was in a manuscript box secured with rubber bands, as if Bachman had been on the verge of sending it to his publisher when his final remission ended.

The former Mrs. Bachman brought it to me for evaluation, and I found it at least up to the standards of his earlier work. I have made a few small changes, mostly updating certain references (substituting Ethan Hawke for Rob Lowe in the first chapter, for instance), but have otherwise left it pretty much as I found it. This work is now offered (with the approval of the author's widow) as the capstone to a peculiar but not uninteresting career.

My thanks to Claudia Eschelman (the former Claudia Bachman), Bachman scholar Douglas Winter, Elaine Koster at New American Library, and to Carolyn Stromberg, who edited the earliest Bachman novels and validated this one.

The former Mrs. Bachman says that, to the best of her knowledge, Bachman never travelled to Ohio, “although he might have flown over it once or twice.” She also has no idea when this novel was written, although she suspects it must have been late at night. Richard Bachman suffered from chronic insomnia.

—Charles Verrill

New York City

“Mister, we deal in lead.”

—Steve McQueen

The Magnificent Seven

Postcard from William Garin to his sister, Audrey Wyler:


Poplar Street/3:45
/July 15, 1996

Summer's here.

summer, either, not this year, but the apotheosis of summer, the avatar of summer, high green perfect central Ohio summer dead-smash in the middle of July, white sun glaring out of that fabled faded Levi's sky, the sound of kids hollering back and forth through the Bear Street Woods at the top of the hill, the
of Little League bats from the ballfield on the other side of the woods, the sound of power-mowers, the sound of muscle-cars out on Highway 19, the sound of Rollerblades on the cement sidewalks and smooth macadam of Poplar Street, the sound of radios—Cleveland Indians baseball (the rare day game) competing with Tina Turner belting out “Nutbush City Limits,” the one that goes “Twenty-five is the speed limit, motorcycles not
allowed in it”—and surrounding everything like an auditory edging of lace, the soothing, silky hiss of lawn sprinklers.

Summer in Wentworth, Ohio, oh boy, can you dig it. Summer here on Poplar Street, which runs straight through the middle of that fabled faded American dream with the smell of hotdogs in the air and a few burst paper remains of Fourth of July firecrackers still lying here and there in the gutters. It's been a hot July, a perfect good old by God blue-ribbon
of a July, no doubt about it, but if you want to know the truth, it's also been a
July, with no water but the occasional flipped spray of a hose to stir those last shreds of Chinese paper from where they lie. That may change today; there's an occasional rumble of thunder from the west, and those watching The Weather Channel (there's plenty of cable TV on Poplar Street, you bet) know that thunderstorms are expected later on. Maybe even a tornado, although that's unlikely.

Meantime, though, it's all watermelon and Kool-Aid and foul tips off the end of the bat; it's all the summer you ever wanted and more here in the center of the United States of America, life as good as you ever dreamed it could be, with Chevrolets parked in driveways and steaks in refrigerator meat-drawers waiting to be slapped on the barbecue in the backyard come evening (and will there be apple pie to follow? what do you think?). This is the land of green lawns and carefully tended flowerbeds; this is the Kingdom of Ohio where the kids wear their hats turned around backward and their strappy tank-tops
hang down over their baggy shorts and their great big galooty sneakers all seem to bear the Nike swoosh.

On the block of Poplar which runs between Bear Street at the top of the hill and Hyacinth at the bottom, there are eleven houses and one store. The store, which stands on the corner of Poplar and Hyacinth, is the ever-popular, all-American convenience mart, where you can get your cigarettes, your Blatz or Rolling Rock, your penny candy (although these days most of it costs a dime), your BBQ supplies (paper plates plastic forks taco chips ice cream ketchup mustard relish), your Popsicles, and your wide variety of Snapple, made from the best stuff on earth. You can even get a copy of
at the E-Z Stop 24 if you want one, but you have to ask the clerk; in the Kingdom of Ohio, they mostly keep the skin magazines under the counter. And hey, that's perfectly all right. The important thing is that you should know where to get one if you need one.

The clerk today is new, less than a week on the job, and right now, at 3:45 in the afternoon, she's waiting on a little boy and girl. The girl looks to be about eleven and is already on her way to being a beauty. The boy, clearly her little brother, is maybe six and is (in the new clerk's opinion, at least) already on his way to being a first-class boogersnot.

“I want
candybars!” Brother Boogersnot exclaims.

“There's only money enough for one, if we each have a soda,” Pretty Sis tells him with what the clerk thinks is admirable patience. If this were
little brother, she would be very tempted to kick his ass so
high up he could get a job playing the Hunchback of Notre Dame in the school play.

“Mom gave you five bucks this morning, I saw it,” the boogersnot says. “Where's the rest of it, Marrrrr-grit?”

“Don't call me that, I hate that,” the girl says. She has long honey-blond hair which the clerk thinks is absolutely gorgeous. The new clerk's own hair is short and kinky, dyed orange on the right and green on the left. She has a pretty good idea she wouldn't have gotten this job without washing the dye out of it if the manager hadn't been absolutely strapped for someone to work eleven-to-seven—her good luck, his bad. He
extracted a promise from her that she'd wear a kerchief or a baseball cap over the dye-job, but promises were made to be broken. Now, she sees, Pretty Sister is looking at her hair with some fascination.

“Margrit-Margrit-Margrit!” the little brother crows with the cheerfully energetic viciousness which only little brothers can muster.

“My name's really Ellen,” the girl says, speaking with the air of one imparting a great confidence. “Margaret's my middle name. He calls me that because he knows I hate it.”

“Nice to meet you, Ellen,” the clerk says, and begins toting up the girl's purchases.

“Nice to meet you,
” the boogersnot brother mimics, screwing his face into an expression so strenuously awful that it is funny. His nose is wrinkled, his eyes crossed. “Nice to meet you, Margrit the Maggot!”

Ignoring him, Ellen says: “I love your hair.”

the new clerk says, smiling. “It's not as nice as yours, but it'll do. That's a dollar forty-six.”

The girl takes a little plastic change-purse from the pocket of her jeans. It's the kind you squeeze open. Inside are two crumpled dollar bills and a few pennies.

“Ask Margrit the Maggot where the other three bucks went!” the boogersnot trumpets. He's a regular little public address system. “She used it to buy a magazine with
Eeeeeeethan Hawwwwwke
on the cover!”

Ellen goes on ignoring him, although her cheeks are starting to get a little red. As she hands over the two dollars she says, “I haven't seen you before, have I?”

“Probably not—I just started in here last Wednesday. They wanted somebody who'd work eleven to seven and stay over a few hours if the night guy turns up late.”

“Well, it's very nice to meet you. I'm Ellie Carver. And this is my little brother, Ralph.”

BOOK: The Regulators
2.72Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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