Rest Stop

by

Summary

After five beers in a bar in Jax a man is sitting in his Jaguar. He is on his way home. He is an English professor for American poets and novelists at university and has decided to write a book instead of teaching another term. The protagonist has different identities: John Andrew Dykstra is the name on his passport, the smart professor who tries to avoid trouble. His antagonist is Rick Hardin, who has drunk two additional beers to John’s two. Rick is tough and always causes trouble.

Dykstra thinks about his life and the decision to write a book and about what kind of characters he should write about. Since he has drunk a bit too much, he leaves the interstate for the next rest area. The parking lot is empty with the exception of a PT Cruiser. He stops his car and walks over to the men’s room opposite the women’s room. Dykstra wants to enter, when he hears a woman screaming at the women’s restroom. A guy, called Lee, abuses his girlfriend. Dykstra wonders what to do while listening to them. The scene escalates and John still thinks of his mobile phone which is in his car. To call the police would be a waste of time, the girl would be dead by then. John wishes, he had not stopped.

The point of view changes and shows Ellen Whitlow, the woman in the cubicle of the women’s room. Lee wants to slay her, when a car alarm goes off. He walks outside and is knocked down by a man. Hardin advises the girl to take the PT Cruiser and to drive to the next rest area. He destroys Lee’s glasses. Dykstra returns slowly, but Hardin’s identity pushes him back into subconsciousness. Rick kicks Lee one more time and leaves with his car after calling the police.

On his way home, he realizes what he has done. His identity changes back to Dykstra. At home he sets the burglar alarm.

My impression

At first it is difficult to get why there are two people acting in one, but slowly Stephen King lets the reader find out who is who. The story contains a lot of internal monolog as well as action which make the reader understand the crisis Dykstra respectively Hardin is in. After the change to the third person narrator, the reader does not exactly know which man helps Ellen Whitlow. He is always called “the man”. When the point of view changes again, it becomes clear, that Hardin helped her.

Hardin could be an allusion to Hades (Greek “the unseen” or “invisible”) in Greek mythology. He was the God of the underworld.

The story succeeds in being creepy without supernatural appearances. The atmosphere and the scary character who changes his identity is enough to make the story interesting. At the beginning I was really immersed in Dykstra’s thoughts who thinks all the time of his book and how he could create his main character. His need of a toilet jolted me out of his/my daydreams.

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