In this post, I’ll write about Chapter 32 of Stephen King’s The Stand: The Complete and Uncut Edition, and tie that in to the Desperate Housewives season premiere.
Chapter 32 focuses on Lloyd, who is in jail for murder. The problem for him is that the guards and the prisoners are dying from the super-flu, and so Lloyd is in jail with nobody bringing him meals. Lloyd remembers when he was a child and had a pet rabbit, whom he forgot to feed for a while. When he remembered that he had a rabbit, he went to see it and saw it was dead, and it’s paws were ragged and bloody. Lloyd thinks that the rabbit’s paws either became that way because it was trying to get out of its cage, or because it was so starving that it was attempting to eat its own paws.
It’s sad to read about living things that suffer and die. But, to Lloyd’s credit, he did not deliberately set out to kill the animal, as did Henry Bowers in IT when he groomed the Hanlons’ dog by feeding him to gain his trust, then fed the dog poison meat, or Patrick Hockstetter in IT, who got a perverse satisfaction out of killing animals. Lloyd is not a psychopath who takes pleasure in killing. At the same time, Lloyd does not strike me as one who is overly perturbed about the death that he has caused, either intentionally or unintentionally. Even when he comes close to thinking thoughts of regret about his murders, for example, he doesn’t really feel bad about his victims; rather, he blames his friend Poke for getting him into his mess, for Lloyd feels that he by himself was not ambitious and would only be capable of small-time trouble, not mass murder.
This brings me to Desperate Housewives, which also touched on sensitivity to the sanctity of life. In last season’s cliff-hanger, Carlos kills Gaby’s step-father, who raped her when she was a child and was threatening her as an adult. Gaby’s friends (led by Bree) help Carlos to cover it up. In the current season’s premiere, we see that Carlos and Susan have reservations about this. Carlos feels guilty that he has killed a man, and he seeks absolution, but his priest tells him that he will only receive it if he confesses what he did to the authorities. In a touching scene, Gaby tells Carlos that she absolves her husband, for she was terrified for years that her step-father would find her and hurt her.
Susan feels guilty that she is covering up a murder. She feels that she and her friends will be found out, but she also thinks that it was wrong for Carlos to take the life of Gaby’s step-father. After all, we’re not God, and perhaps there were people who cared about Gaby’s step-father and were wondering where he was. In one scene, Susan and her class are burying a pet rat (or some animal) who died (only she can’t mention God, because she’s told that one of the kid’s parents are atheists, lawyers, and major jerks), and Susan emotionally erupts and talks about the sanctity of life. Susan’s feelings of guilt are hurting her relationship with her husband, Mike, whom she cannot tell because she and her friends promised to keep their burial of Gaby’s step-father a secret. I think that Mike would understand if Susan told him what she did, since he himself has attempted acts of vigilantism in the past. But I can understand why she is not telling him what she and her friends did, for that would implicate him if their deed were discovered by the police, and he’s legally safer in a state of ignorance.
But somebody outside of this circle apparently knows, for Bree finds a note in her mailbox saying “I know what you did. It makes me sick. I’m going to tell.” And, of course, people who have watched the show for a long period of time know that this echoes Season 1, in which Martha Huber leaves Mary Alice a note that said precisely that, communicating that she knew that Mary Alice bought a baby from the mother and killed the mother when the mother tried to get him back. Martha Huber is dead, so who could have written this note to Bree? Rene? Ms. McCluskey? Did Paul Young from jail get someone to put the letter in the mailbox? Paul would know the exact wording of the letter to Mary Alice (who was his wife) years earlier, and he may still be holding on to hatred for the ladies of Wysteria Lane, who judged him, and he has wanted to show them that they are no better than he is.