The Man In The Black Suit

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Christine62

Well-Known Member
Nov 7, 2013
493
3,127
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Oklahoma City
When I read The Man In The Black Suit, I was 6 months post op from emergency heart surgery feeling nothing but tired. I certainly didn't feel like writing. I was in the waiting room to see my cardiologist. The nurse called my name--three times. When I finally heard it, I jumped. I wasn't in the waiting room, I was in the woods running from the Devil!

After I read it, I read it again. The story is simple but sticks to you like burrs on your pant leg and in your brain. I thought about this story for days. Very few short stories can do that and almost nothing on television does. I gloried in the simplicity of it.

Though simple the feelings it evoked were not. It reminded me of Hawthorne, and Serling but most of all like an old fashioned round the fire Grimm cautionary tale. Don't go in them thar woods...

What Mr. King captures better almost anyone is the fantastical mind of a child but like many of his children characters who are naive enough to believe in the Devil this one is also naive enough or brave enough to believe he can out run him.

This little tale is not just about a childhood memory but how these memories can still haunt us when we are old and gray.
 

Scratch

In the flesh.
Sep 1, 2014
829
4,475
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If anyone knows the fun is in the chase it's the devil. He could catch and rend flesh or torture in memory for a lifetime. Memory does a much better job.

This story got to me on a level different from those who have not often been alone in the woods I'll bet. When you are country you are as much a part of the woods as any creature there and so forget there might ever be things to fear. As long as you are immobile you sometimes feel invisible. An armadillo might cross a grassy stretch and run right into your boot before realizing you are there, a deer may jump a fence and begin eating within arms reach. You might see a King snake longer than a two lane road is wide cross your path without acknowledgement or hear an owl screech right next to your ear without flying from it's perch in fear. You might even, just once, find something which makes you no longer feel a part of the woods and very very visable. A bear is a bone crunching gut spilling nightmare but at least you know what it is. What happens when you don't and never will? You think about it off and on over the years like the protagonist of this story.

Perhaps I'll tell mine sometime.
 

FlakeNoir

Original Kiwi© SKMB®
Moderator
Apr 11, 2006
44,082
175,641
New Zealand
If anyone knows the fun is in the chase it's the devil. He could catch and rend flesh or torture in memory for a lifetime. Memory does a much better job.

This story got to me on a level different from those who have not often been alone in the woods I'll bet. When you are country you are as much a part of the woods as any creature there and so forget there might ever be things to fear. As long as you are immobile you sometimes feel invisible. An armadillo might cross a grassy stretch and run right into your boot before realizing you are there, a deer may jump a fence and begin eating within arms reach. You might see a King snake longer than a two lane road is wide cross your path without acknowledgement or hear an owl screech right next to your ear without flying from it's perch in fear. You might even, just once, find something which makes you no longer feel a part of the woods and very very visable. A bear is a bone crunching gut spilling nightmare but at least you know what it is. What happens when you don't and never will? You think about it off and on over the years like the protagonist of this story.

Perhaps I'll tell mine sometime.
See.. I can't remember The Man in the Black Suit story at all, but your post does remind me of The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. (Were you aiming for that thread?)
 

Scratch

In the flesh.
Sep 1, 2014
829
4,475
59
I haven't read The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. I'll have to now. And I don't know how you could forget The Man in the Black Suit. Nobody forgets meeting the devil. Not that I met the devil. What I met never introduced itself. It stayed just outside the circle of firelight and did something I knew to be impossible.
 

FlakeNoir

Original Kiwi© SKMB®
Moderator
Apr 11, 2006
44,082
175,641
New Zealand
I haven't read The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. I'll have to now. And I don't know how you could forget The Man in the Black Suit. Nobody forgets meeting the devil. Not that I met the devil. What I met never introduced itself. It stayed just outside the circle of firelight and did something I knew to be impossible.
I blame it on my kids, they've sucked the living life right out of me. My memory used to be one of my very best features. Damn kids...
 

The Nameless

M-O-O-N - That spells Nameless
Jul 10, 2011
2,080
8,261
39
The Darkside of the Moon (England really)
If anyone knows the fun is in the chase it's the devil. He could catch and rend flesh or torture in memory for a lifetime. Memory does a much better job.

This story got to me on a level different from those who have not often been alone in the woods I'll bet. When you are country you are as much a part of the woods as any creature there and so forget there might ever be things to fear. As long as you are immobile you sometimes feel invisible. An armadillo might cross a grassy stretch and run right into your boot before realizing you are there, a deer may jump a fence and begin eating within arms reach. You might see a King snake longer than a two lane road is wide cross your path without acknowledgement or hear an owl screech right next to your ear without flying from it's perch in fear. You might even, just once, find something which makes you no longer feel a part of the woods and very very visable. A bear is a bone crunching gut spilling nightmare but at least you know what it is. What happens when you don't and never will? You think about it off and on over the years like the protagonist of this story.

Perhaps I'll tell mine sometime.
You little tease, make with story telling already.
 

Scratch

In the flesh.
Sep 1, 2014
829
4,475
59
I'm sorry The Nameless but I did try. I wrote the whole thing as best I could recall but it was pulled by The Moderator as being unsuitable for this forum. It was suggested it be put in "shameless self promotion" but it doesn't fit there either to my thinking as it isn't a made up story. Moot anyway. I did not save it. It never occurred to me I might have to. Perhaps another time.
 

skimom2

Just moseyin' through...
Oct 9, 2013
15,683
92,168
USA
That was a scary story, and well written. I agree, Christine, that it sticks with you. What got me was when my LilMan pondered, out of the blue, whether the Man In the Black Suit was Flagg. He'd heard the rest of us talking about the story, and that's where his mind went. I'd not thought of that, but when I did, I immediately recalled the section of The Stand where Flagg goes after Bobby Terry, and the scenes from TMitBS and The Stand do hang together in my mind! The little booger creeped me out right royally! When he finally gets old enough to read the stories/books for himself (he's only 8, so a little young yet), he's going to have so much fun :)
 

krwhiting

Well-Known Member
Jan 5, 2015
258
1,081
54
I just read this yesterday for the first time. Scary stuff. What Christine 62 said is very true of King: he can take the fears of a child and make them relevant, believable and, I don't know the right word, "feelable" to an adult. It and The Library Policeman and Gramma, the three of his stories I find the most scary, all do that. They draw on my own childhood memory to fill in details and remind me of what it was like to be scared as a kid. Scratch mentions the woods and being alone. I get that. I was raised an only child in nowhere Idaho and I spent a lot of time alone both in the woods and in the desert. Sometimes you freak yourself out. Sometimes you're not sure it's you doing it. Someday I might write down for you all some of the things that I've experienced. I'm only 48, but I've been around a bit and seen quite a lot, some of it causing me to remember Hamlet: "There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

I'm fairly practical and hardheaded, but there's a reason we have fear.

Kelly
 

Scratch

In the flesh.
Sep 1, 2014
829
4,475
59
Someday I might write down for you all some of the things that I've experienced.

I'll trade you story for story (that goes for anyone btw) but we likely have to use the conversation function of the inbox, sort of a PM. I love true strange ones because I know they happen. They have been fairly tolerant of me and you might sneak a few passed but some dufus sued Mr. King over one and it's a legal thing now. There's always one that has to pee in the lemonade.

As for whether the devil wanders the woods, well, what better place to meet one on one and away from others eyes? Nobody would believe you.
 

krwhiting

Well-Known Member
Jan 5, 2015
258
1,081
54
I'll trade you story for story (that goes for anyone btw) but we likely have to use the conversation function of the inbox, sort of a PM. I love true strange ones because I know they happen. They have been fairly tolerant of me and you might sneak a few passed but some dufus sued Mr. King over one and it's a legal thing now. There's always one that has to pee in the lemonade.

As for whether the devil wanders the woods, well, what better place to meet one on one and away from others eyes? Nobody would believe you.

That's a shame. If you put it out here, it seems you've made it public and King or anyone can use it. I mean, it seems that way to me. But that's because I don't think my history is particularly my own. I think it's part of what human beings have been doing and experiencing and feeling and thinking since our first parents. In any event, I'll see if I can figure out the conversation function. And for the record, anything I put out here, I waive ownership of. Anyone can repeat it. If I don't want that, well, I'm a big boy and I'll keep it to myself.

Kelly