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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Grady - the perfect murder/suicide jam for your Halloween party!



I've always been impressed with Tom Stoppard's play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (and its hilarious and brilliant movie adaptation), in which he appropriates two of the minor comic relief characters from Hamlet and writes for them a narrative that compliments and augments Shakespeare's original play. It's an ambitious thing to do in that it requires extremely extensive knowledge of the source material and author's voice. I decided to try something similar with the small supporting character "Delbert Grady" from Stephen King's book The Shining. I've always loved the Kubrick movie and the book, both of which were genuinely scary experiences for me. This turned out to be a much bigger undertaking than I'd first assumed. For starters, there are some pretty big inconsistencies between Kubrick's screenplay and King's book, many of which relate to Grady. And to make matters more complicated, King wrote and executive produced his own TV version of The Shining (one of the worst productions I've ever seen... and I had to watch it twice), which itself differed from the book in a few ways. On top of that, there is a never-really-published-but-available-on-the-internet prologue to The Shining called "Before the Play" by King (which is rumored to be turned into a film soon) as well as an epilogue called "After the Play" that is said to have been lost forever. King also wrote a sequel to The Shining called Doctor Sleep, that was recently published. I absorbed those sources then spent a few weeks binging on the wide variety of interesting theories, interviews, and documentaries about the Kubrick movie.
The challenge of writing this piece was reconciling all those conflicting sources while remaining consistent with everything King ever wrote about Grady and the Overlook. My interpretation of Grady's history is an amalgamation of all the sources, with a few holes I took the liberty of filling in... my humble effort to contribute to the folklore of my favorite horror story of all time.
Most of the music is collaged from pieces of the original score, as well many other favorite horror movie soundtracks and television shows.

Grady

I don’t need it 
don’t want it
but the whiskey keeps me haunted
it keeps calling me 
calling me

and I can’t lose it
can’t hide it
it rattles down inside me 
it keeps calling me 
calling me 

I was dropped on the earth in The Year of the Snake
my ma was a nurse and my pa was a fake
he said it was the cold but she knew it was the shakes,
I guess he couldn’t hold what he couldn’t escape

I dropped out of high school in the tenth grade
was gonna kill japs for the U.S. Navy
picture me: “Lieutenant Delbert Grady”
they wouldn’t let me in because my hands were shaky
     
I started working any job that’d pay me
I started going with this proper lady
She had me cleaning up the church grounds daily
Hoping she could dry me out to make a baby

We lost our first in the Year of the Rat
I lost my shirt when Maz took bat
I cracked the egg and the yolk came red
if you can’t break through you gonna break your head

I don’t need it 
don’t want it
but the whiskey keeps me haunted
it keeps calling me 
calling me

and I can’t lose it
can’t hide it
it rattles down inside me 
it keeps calling me 
calling me 

We sold what’s left and moved to Estes Park
laid to rest the thing I did, the darkness
I worked hard to make a brand new start
kept close to the trailer park, far from the bar

In the Year of the Tiger, Louise was born
I was pulling double shifts at the Dry Goods Store
was clean as whistle but still dirt poor,
was good with one kid but she wanted one more

When Louise was two, Lisa was due
she lit the whole room like the hole in our roof 
my ma flew out for the big debut
she stayed in the Park ’til she died of the flu.

I stopped at the Dark Horse after the wake
when I came home at three Betty smelled the mistake
I awoke in a cell with my head full of ache
and remained in a fog ’til the Year of the Dog.

I don’t need it 
don’t want it
but the whiskey keeps me haunted
it keeps calling me 
calling me

and I can’t lose it
can’t hide it
it rattles down inside me 
it keeps calling me 
calling me 

When I hit rock bottom at last
I was saved from the grave by a broken gasket

pickin’ up trash on Route 34 
I came upon a man in a broken down Ford
I knew just what to do cause I’d seen it before
I used my canteen to fill his radiator

I brought him into town to look it over with Mel 
who told us it would take a few days to get the part
I drove him up the pass to the Overlook Hotel
where repairs were being done before the winter got started

Oh what luck for your friend, D. Grady
The man, so relieved, was inclined to repay me
He noticed I was living in the back of my Studebaker,
offerred me a job as the wintertime caretaker. 

hustled into town to tell Betty and the girls
she wouldn’t let me in, she wouldn’t have it any more
I swore that it was true, I promised her the world
and I knew there was a chance ‘cause she listened through the door

please baby baby please baby baby please ergrgggghhh

things got better before they got worse
I was made for this place like a corpse for a hearse
I turned down the boiler each night like clockwork
I cleaned every station, from tool shed to desk clerk

Seemed like we were finally home
with some fresh mountain air to breath life into bone 
and nothing but time, no TV or phone,
should’a known that the wife couldn’t leave it alone

she started real subtle, just little observations
wondering why we didn’t get the best accommodations
wondering if I should’ve asked for better compensation
perhaps that Mr. Ulmann guy had known my reputation?

the storm rolled in, my wits wore thin
with the girls indoors, there was double the din  
and Betty doing nothing ‘bout the trouble they’re in
always trying to get one over on me, dressing like twins and…

one night they took the joke too far
Betty found a whiskey bottle underneath the bar
and next to it a half smoked Bayuk cigar
she threw them in my face, left a 4-inch 

and I couldn’t get my mind right after that night
I started seeing voices, I started hearing lights
I dreamt I was a minataur running through the maze
I woke up on the second floor, banging on a door

I don’t need it 
don’t want it
but the whiskey keeps me haunted
it keeps calling me 
calling me

and I can’t lose it
can’t hide it
it rattles down inside me 
it keeps calling me 
calling me 

before long I was sleeping in the lounge
Betty said it wasn’t safe to keep a gun around
I startled her awake one night ripping at her gown  
and the girls were hearing whispering and radio sounds

One night by the fire, while she taught me to read,
Louise stopped my lesson to tell me, “we should leave”
“I want you to like it here,” I tried to reset her, 
“I wish that we could stay here forever and ever…”

she wandered upstairs as I chopped up the kindling
stopped mid swing when the front desk phone rang
those lines have been down for at least two months, 
but here was this call from a Bob T. Watson

“Grady, do you know what your daughters intend?
Did you happen to wonder where your matches have been?
The Management feels that they lack discipline!
Perhaps you’re not so… adept at correction?”

The next thing I remember is Betty’s screaming
I opened my eyes to see my girls hacked to pieces
Before I could react the wall exploded to my right
She glared down the barrel while she put me in the site

I crawled around the corner as she tore down the hall
I slid on the blood and a chair broke my fall
when she bore down on me with the shotgun raised
every clock in the Overlook rang out its praise!

She startled and dropped the gun within my reach
I snatched it up and fired it into her teeth
and then it was done, my duties complete,
the silence was torn by the voice of Bob T:

“Grady, I must say I’m rather impressed
you’ve proven yourself to work well under stress
but before we can offer you the year-round employment
you’ll have to get downstairs and shut off the boiler.”

iI was hell getting down there with one mangled leg
but I’m a hard working man, ya that’s what the man said,
and with all of those bodies stacked safely in their beds
I swallowed both barrels and I opened my head.


Epilogue

“Colorado Lounge,” the lift boy called out
“Congratulations on the new job, sir!” he shouted
a big chested bald man wrangled my arm
and spoke with a hint of that old southern charm 

“Everyone is waitin’! Come come, Mr. Grady!
The Manager’s been very pleased with you lately
Outside the Gold Room I read the big sash:
“The Overlook Welcomes the Gradys at Last.”

He handed me a bottle and he called to the crowd, 
“Should we make him the bartender? What do you think?”
I froze for a moment, and I looked out at Betty,

her smile was as dead as my urge to drink.

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