I have been remiss, in recent years, in maintaining a routine I started many years ago. Before children. Before marriage. Before money. Before satellite and cable television. Back when I was a single teacher, lolling about on my brown-and-orange plaid couch, wishing I could afford bonbons, letting afternoon soap operas play on my tiny TV to keep me company, while I wallowed in my annual summer vacation reading of The Stand.
Yes. The heat of the summer. The Stand. I could feel the sweat on Fran's brow as she stitched up her daddy in that tablecloth shroud and thump-thump-thumped him down the stairs and out to his garden plot. I thirsted with Stu Redmond and Judge Farris as they waited for beers to cool in the creek. Heard the grill sizzle in the restaurant where Larry Underwood cooked a steak for high-as-a-kite Rita Blakemoor. Smelled the body odor of Harold Lauder. Tasted the green apples of Tom Cullen, thankfully, rather than the leg of Trask, or the rat that Lloyd Henreid munched on in the crossbars Hilton.
Maybe I'll dig out my unabridged hardback next week when Hick and the boys take off on a roasting vacation south of not-heaven.
There's nothing better than re-reading The Stand in the oppressive heat of a Missouri summer. Unless, perhaps, it's re-reading The Shining.