The Man In The Black Suit

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In the flesh.
Sep 1, 2014
I finally read "Young Goodman Brown" by Hawthorn which King referenced in the afterward to this story. It's disturbing because it hits on a truth of human nature. When one does bad it makes one see bad in others even when it doesn't exist. Or perhaps it does in some few cases or for some few moments but in the mind of the one who has given in to evil or sin or that which one knows to be wrong it becomes amplified. All killers feel we all would if we could get away with it. All cheaters feel the same way. When we mar ourselves all we can see is it's reflection in others.

It's a terrible thing to believe because it damages the believer and those they come into contact with. It's a self made hell on earth. It's exactly the sort of rotten seed the devil would sow. Where that belief exists no good thing can grow. Only by humbling oneself and searching out the good in others and self can one find the path out of that dark wood. This was a scary story on a fundamental level. I understand why Stephen likes it so much.


Jun 23, 2007
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
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.
Old Scratch always likes to meet one on one, away from prying eyes. (Not you Scratch...I meant the Devil). I sure am interested in hearing what happened to you outside the rim of campfire light!

jake erb

Active Member
Nov 10, 2016
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.
I agree i felt deeply thrusted into this story as well when i was reading it. Stephen King writes such deep stories that is hard not to forget every detail.


Well-Known Member
Oct 8, 2007
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.

The Man in the Black Suit is one of my favorite (if not my favorite) short story. I agree, the stories in which King weaves in childhood fears are the scariest (FYI....In The Eyes of the Dragon is by favorite novel).

Marty Coslaw

Low-BDNF Gork
May 19, 2018
This one is one of my favorites of his, and very different than the others I've read. I grew up in a very rural area, though not quite as idyllic as the one in this story, and I remember vividly how special those summer afternoons to yourself could be. I could picture the woods and the stream, and it's just such a pleasant setting, you desperately want to fall asleep with that bamboo rod in the sun.

I also appreciated how the story allows the reader to enjoy the straightforward setup, similar to Judd's hint-hint wink-wink explanation of the path behind the Creeds' house in Pet Sematary.

I got the feeling with this story that I was reading a fairy tale for adults, with the faithful dog barking to warn his master and the one-dimensional parents warning their wandering child. Then, at the stream, there's a kind of magic in the way the kid's rod handles the gigantic fish that seem so eager to hook themselves on his line. Another element that seemed reminiscent of a fairy tale was the protagonist's certainty of who he'd met in the woods, and how he got away. Seems like there's some kind of symbolism with the fish, and greed and pride--vaguely evocative of the seven deadly sins? Either way, I'd say the real strength of The Man in the Black Suit is that it's just a really enjoyable story.