Saturday, February 25, 2017

DMI2017, Week 8: "The Boogeyman" by Stephen King

I have been reading Stephen King since I was a teenager, and in all that time, one of my very favorite stories of his was "The Boogeyman" from his collection Night Shift. So when I made my Deal Me In list for this year, and decided to have a suit dedicated to King, I knew that this story had to go at the top of the list. This week the Ace of Spades delivered the story up to me. Since I haven't read it in literally decades, however, I was curious to know if the story had stood the test of time, or if it was one of those stories that just speaks to one at a particular time of life, for whatever reason.

I am very happy to say that "The Boogeyman" is still one of the creepiest stories I have ever read, as evidenced by my racing pulse and faster breathing while I re-read it.

The story is simple and straightforward enough, and therein lies its power. The protagonist, Lester Billings, is talking to a psychiatrist by the name of Dr. Harper. He begins by telling the doctor that he has killed his three kids, but not literally. He has simply caused their deaths by leaving them to the devices of a creature that lives in his house -- the boogeyman, of course. Lester is a no-nonsense, blue-collar kind of guy who is very concerned that his kids not grow up to be sissies, so when they start crying and screaming in the middle of the night about "the boogeyman," he doesn't take them seriously. In fact, he doubles down and practices some tough love in leaving them in their beds. But the kids die, one by one, and each dies in a way that is completely plausible in the grand scheme of things. However, Lester eventually comes to believe in the boogeyman after his second child dies, and even has proof of sorts, but he continues to refuse to intervene, now acting out of cowardice and fear rather than bullheadedness.

I can't say any more about the story for fear of spoilers, but suffice it to say that the ending of this story is startling enough to have seared itself into my brain long years ago when I first read it, and it had pretty much the same effect the second time around. It's a fun, extremely characteristic Stephen King story, worth all five stars I can give it.

Deal Me In 2017 is hosted by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.


  1. I've read a lot of Stephen King, including a lot of his short stories, but I don't believe I've ever read The Boogeyman. That will have to change soon. I do have a copy of The Night Shift on my shelves...

    I'm glad to hear also that it has stood the test of time - that's always a concern for me on a re-read done so many years later, sometimes I'm afraid it will "ruin" my existing feelings about a book or a story.

    1. I think I have forgotten most of the stories in Night Shift, so when I finish Deal Me In reading for the year, I want to go back and read the other stories in the collection too!