The Shining

Part Three. The Wasps' Nest Chapter 15. Down in the Front Yard


Jack had found a huge white-painted wicker chair in the back of the equipment shed two weeks ago, and had dragged it around to the porch over Wendy's objections that it was really the ugliest thing she had ever seen in her whole life. He was sitting in it now, amusing himself with a copy of E. L. Doctorow's Welcome to Hard Times, when his wife and son rattled up the driveway in the hotel truck.
Wendy parked it in the turn-around, raced the engine sportily, and then turned it off. The truck's single taillight died. The engine rumbled grumpily with post-ignition and finally stopped. Jack got out of his chair and ambled down to meet them.
"Hi, Dad!" Danny called, and raced up the hill. He had a box in one hand. "Look what Mommy bought me!"
Jack picked his son up, swung him around twice, and kissed him heartily on the mouth.
"Jack Torrance, the Eugene O'Neill of his generation, the American Shakespeare!" Wendy said, smiling. "Fancy meeting you here, so far up in the mountains."
"The common ruck became too much for me, dear lady," he said, and slipped his arms around her. They kissed. "How was your trip?"
"Very good. Danny complains that I keep jerking him but I didn't stall the truck once and... oh, Jack, you finished it!"
She was looking at the roof, and Danny followed her gaze. A faint frown touched his face as he looked at the wide swatch of fresh shingles atop the Overlook's west wing, a lighter green than the rest of the roof. Then he looked down at the box in his hand and his face cleared again. At night the pictures Tony had showed him came back to haunt in all their original clarity, but in sunny daylight they were easier to disregard.
"Look, Daddy, look!"
Jack took the box from his son. It was a model car, one of the Big Daddy Roth caricatures that Danny bad expressed an admiration for in the past. This one was the Violent Violet Volkswagen, and the picture on the box showed a huge purple VW` with long '59 Cadillac Coupe de Ville taillights burning up a dirt track. The VW had a sunroof, and poking up through it, clawed hands on the wheel down below, was a gigantic warty monster with popping bloodshot eyes, a maniacal grin, and a gigantic English racing cap turned around backward.
Wendy was smiling at him, and Jack winked at her.
"That's what I like about you, doc," Jack said, handing the box back. "Your taste runs to the quiet, the sober, the introspective. You are definitely the child of my loins."
"Mommy said you'd help me put it together as soon as I could read all of the first Dick and Jane."
"That ought to be by the end of the week," Jack said. "What else have you got in that fine-looking truck, ma'am?"
"Uh-uh." She grabbed his arm and pulled him back. "No peeking. Some of that stuff is for you. Danny and I will take it in. You can get the milk. It's on the floor of the cab."
"That's all I am to you," Jack cried, clapping a hand to his forehead. "Just a dray horse, a common beast of the field. Dray here, dray there, dray everywhere."
"Just dray that milk right into the kitchen, mister."
"It's too much!" he cried, and threw himself on the ground while Danny stood over him and giggled.
"Get up, you ox," Wendy said, and prodded him with the toe of her sneaker.
"See?" he said to Danny. "She called me an ox. You're a witness."
"Witness, witness!" Danny concurred gleefully, and broadjumped his prone father.
Jack sat up. "That reminds me, chumly. I've got something for you. too. On the porch by my ashtray."
"What is it?"
"Forgot. Go and see."
Jack got up and the two of them stood together, watching Danny charge up the lawn and then take the steps to the porch two by two. He put an arm around Wendy's waist.
"You happy, babe?"
She looked up at him solemnly. "This is the happiest I've been since we were married."
"Is that the truth?"
"God's honest."
He squeezed her tightly. "I love you."
She squeezed him back, touched. Those had never been cheap words with John Torrance; she could count the number of times he had said them to her, both before and after marriage, on both her hands.
"I love you too."
"Mommy! Mommyl" Danny was on the porch now, shrill and excited. "Come and see! Wow! It's neat!"
"What is it?" Wendy asked him as they walked up from the parking lot, hand in hand.
"Forgot," Jack said.
"Oh, you'll get yours," she said, and elbowed him. "See if you don't."
"I was hoping I'd get it tonight," he remarked, and she laughed. A moment later he asked, "Is Danny happy, do you think?"
"You ought to know. You're the one who has a long talk with him every night before bed."
"That's usually about what he wants to be when he grows up or if Santa Claus is really real. That's getting to be a big thing with him. I think his old buddy Scott let some pennies drop on that one. No, he hasn't said much of anything about the Overlook to me."
"Me either," she said. They were climbing the porch steps now. "But he's very quiet a lot of the time. And I think he's lost weight, Jack, I really do."
"He's just getting tall."
Danny's back was to them. He was examining something on the table by Jack's chair, but Wendy couldn't see what it was.
"He's not eating as well, either. He used to be the original steam shovel. Remember last year?"
"They taper off," he said vaguely. "I think I read that in Spock. He'll be using two forks again by the time he's seven."
They had stopped on the top step.
"He's pushing awfully hard on those readers, too," she said. "I know he wants to learn how, to please us... to please you," she added reluctantly.
"To please himself most of all," Jack said. "I haven't been pushing him on that at all. In fact, I do wish he wouldn't go quite so hard."
"Would you think I was foolish if I made an appointment for him to have a physical? There's a G. P. in Sidewinder, a young man from what the checker in the market said-"
"You're a little nervous about the snow coming, aren't you?"
She shrugged. "I suppose. If you think it's foolish-"
"I don't. In fact, you can make appointments for all three of us. We'll get our clean bills of health and then we can sleep easy at night."
"I'll make the appointments this afternoon," she said.
"Mom! Look, Mommy!"
He came running to her with a large gray thing in his hands, and for one comic-horrible moment Wendy thought it was a brain. She saw what it really was and recoiled instinctively.
Jack put an arm around her. "It's all right. The tenants who didn't fly away have been shaken out. I used the bug bomb."
She looked at the large wasps' nest her son was holding but would not touch it. "Are you sure it's safe?"
"Positive. I had one in my room when I was a kid. My dad gave it to me. Want to put it in your room, Danny?"
"Yeah! Right now!"
He turned around and raced through the double doors. They could hear his muffled, running feet on the main stairs.
"There were wasps up there," she said. "Did you get stung?"
"Where's my purple heart?" he asked, and displayed his finger. The swelling had already begun to go down, but she ooohed over it satisfyingly and gave it a small, gentle kiss.
"Did you pull the stinger out?"
"Wasps don't leave them in. That's bees. They have barbed stingers. Wasp stingers are smooth. That's what makes them so dangerous. They can sting again and again."
"Jack, are you sure that's safe for him to have?"
"I followed the directions on the bomb. The stuff is guaranteed to kill every single bug in two hours' time and then dissipate with no residue."
"I hate them," she said.
"What... wasps?"
"Anything that stings," she said. Her hands went to her elbows and cupped them, her arms crossed over her breasts.
"I do too," he said, and hugged her.