The Stephen King Project

for constant readers by a constant reader


1974, 12 – 'Salem's Lot

‘salem’s Lot – Impossible

“Henry Petrie spoke his verdict in four calm, considered syllables.

Earlier in the story, there is a scene (scene? chapter?) in which Matt Burke is discussing the very reality of vampires to Father Callahan.  There is a frank discussion on the use of holy water, crucifixes (crucifii?), & Father Callahan himself as representatives of the Catholic church.  Freud is involved, as are generalized observations about the new way of thinking by priests & the church itself.

I find this curious, much in the same way that I find Christians who mock Scientologists for believing in those alien things that are the core of their religion curious.

(of course, full disclosure, i also am of the personal theory that they’re all kinda quacked out, but hey, to each their own, right?)

So you’re telling me that you are going to laugh at someone for believing that beings from another planet exist – a statistically sound idea, if you consider how many planets are in the vastness of space; are we really that arrogant to think we’re the only ones? – you’re going to giggle conspiratorially over their beliefs while you believe – staunchly – in the following:

–  There is no such thing as Evolution with all of the scientific evidence to the contrary.
–  2000 years ago, some lady got pregnant without having intercourse & not only that, but the guy she was dating at the time, instead of leaving her ass (which would have been totally acceptable in that society &, let’s face it, ours), married her & raised the kid as his own as a poor carpenter.
–  This kid grew up to possess magical abilities, which he used to make water into wine, among other assorted parlor tricks like not getting leprosy for as much as he frequented their colonies.
–  He also hung around 12 other dudes &, of course, not a one of them was homosexual … cuz that’d be a sin.
–  In addition, his favorite chick was a “whore” (or so the guys who were in his gang wrote after the fact) but he remained a virgin.  Right?
–  Oh yeah, & when he died & was buried, three days later, not only was his body gone, but he would just appear to people.
–  & have I mentioned that he was God?
–  Oh, & also a dirty-blonde Caucasian with a perfectly manicured beard, thin nose, & blue eyes.
–  But let’s just glaze over the fact that he was also Jewish.  Jewish, bad.
–  & despite all of the inconsistencies & hypocrisies of the Gospels (why does god hate figs? how do they know what happened when jesus was born & when he died, but somehow all of his formative years are left out? he who is without sin may cast the first stone, but we’re not going to let women into our little club?), this is the end-all, be-all of spirituality & whomever disagrees is just wrong & deserved of public ridicule, even wars.

& while we’re on the subject, you’re going to now make a rust stain underneath an expressway a shrine because it kinda sorta
(not really)
looks like the Virgin Mary?  Or proclaim a piece of toast “holy”?  Please.

But yeah … laugh at the guys who believe in aliens…

…or vampires.

*In the interest of noting that this entry is bereft with sarcasm & is not intended to over-simplify nor generalize the whole of the Catholic church & its members but instead to draw sunshine, to use a vampiric analogy, upon those of the congregation who are less than Jesus-like … I must also add that – & I don’t believe this is much of a spoiler – the priest, Father Callahan, does believe … quite strongly, in fact … as a direct result of his vows.  “For every action, there is an equal & opposite reaction,” so to speak.

‘salem’s Lot – Fish

“The Catholic Church is not the oldest of my opponents, though!  I was old when it was young, when its members hid in the catacombs of Rome and painted fishes on their chests so they could tell one from another.”

The Big Bad, in this story, writes this to the guys who have come to take him down.  There’s all sorts of Catholicism run amok in the latter half of this novel & this is no exception.

In my hometown, you either went to Catholic school or public school.  I went to Catholic school … for thirteen years, total.  &, just as one would expect, we wore uniforms.

The guys always had it easy: navy pants, light blue, collared shirts.  Us girls, while we could wear the same (albeit with white shirts instead of blue), had the option of wearing a blue plaid jumper as an elementary student or a blue & green plaid pleated skirt as a junior|high schooler.

Now you’d think with more options, we had it easier.  Not so much.  Girls, as it were, often do, in fact, like to wear skirts/dresses.  So it was a daily struggle with How Badly Do I Want To Wear A Skirt vs. How Badly Do I Not Want To Be Discriminated Against.

Because, see, it wasn’t like the tv shows or Halloween costume shops portrayed.  These weren’t sexy skirts.  They were uncomfortable wool or polyester blends with unflattering pleats & they had to be worn at a certain length — & that length was not inches from ass … more like inches from knee.

(of course, that didn’t stop us from rolling the waistband up once we were away from the evil eyes of the faculty … namely certain nuns who would push their vows of chastity on us — sorry ladies, i hate to tell you but that didn’t work)

The Catholic school uniform was a badge, a public symbol that immediately placed us in a particular group.  We walked around town & everyone knew.

The public school kids, as kids are oft to do, reveled in ragging on us for this.  They taunted us with their ability to individualize their outfits, their non-conformity, their
(jeans on a school day)
proclaimed superiority as a result.  But no one word could make these points more clear than the word they’d shout from car windows, from across the street, from playgrounds:


Yes, since before my parents were in school, the term “Fish” was used to describe a Catholic, especially a Catholic who went to parochial school (after all, if you were a Catholic who didn’t go to Catholic school, you were pretty much ridiculed by both sides – one for being too Catholic, the other for not being Catholic enough).

We all kinda thought it was stupid … I mean, it’s not like we ate fish all the time.  Besides, we were pretty elitist, thinking that public school kids were hooligans who had to resort to name-calling they didn’t even understand themselves because their quality of education was far inferior.  Right, my Sr. High friends who may have stumbled upon this?  Right?!  ;D (that’s a joke)

I had heard several definitions & stories about how the derogatory term had come to be:

–  Jesus’s multiplying of the fish in the Gospel.
–  Most of the 12 Apostles being fishermen.
–  The Catholic church’s former tradition of not eating meat on Fridays (apparently, they didn’t consider fish flesh/muscle “meat” — this is a bone of contention for me as a vegetarian when people say, “i’m a vegetarian,” as they’re chowing down on salmon….)
–  The Catholic church’s current, amended tradition of not eating meat on Fridays during Lent.

I had never heard of the drawing of a fish to indicate a solidarity in early Christians until now.  Funny how I could go through thirteen years & never know this, huh?  Guess you really do learn something new every day.

So now there’s this revelation (pardon the pun): The Ichthys, which is emblazoned on bumper stickers, email signatures, etc.


What was once an exhausting derogatory term intended to humiliate & alienate is now a sense of pride.  My younger brother, while enrolled at the same high school from which I graduated, was part of the self-proclaimed “Fish Tank,” the student cheering section for the athletic department.  They wore this badge of honor to all events, were infamous for it.  They owned it & took back the power as a result.

Nowadays, I feel more of a solidarity with people who “survived” Catholic school.  Those who were raised Catholic, but who either fell away from the church or who, like me, never truly felt a part of it to begin with.  Reformed Catholics, some call themselves.

But I certainly do empathize with the hush-hush, fish nature of being a Catholic.  Let’s see what else Mr. King’s going to teach me about my former religious affiliation….

‘salem’s Lot – Quotes

Been reading a lot, but not finding time to actually post, so here are a few quotes that got me thinkin’ (after all, that’s what this blog is all about — quotes that get me thinkin’):

“If the column of truth has a hole in it, they neither know nor care.”

When you live & die by what you think you know to be truth, you will do whatever it takes to maintain that level of ignorance towards the possibility of anything but.  This can be said about both religion & politics – two subjects we are warned at an early age to avoid broaching as subjects of conversation for what I believe is precisely this reason.

“‘It’s amazing how hard the mind can try to block out something it doesn’t like or finds threatening.  Like the magic slates we had as boys.  If you didn’t like what you had drawn, you had only to pull the top sheet up and it would disappear.’
‘But the line stayed on the black stuff underneath forever.'”

I remember maybe three days of June 1989.  & by three days, I mean if you were to piece my memories together, minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, they would total three days.  It’s my mind’s defense mechanism, I am sure of it, but even the events I cannot (or perhaps will not) remember have left an invisible, indelible mark on my psyche for the rest of my life.

“…never pausing to wonder if she would be able to hammer it through a man’s chest if the situation called for it.”

I’ve often wondered about this.  On film & tv, it looks so easy.  Just jut the wooden stick/stake/pencil/broken broom handle into the chest of a vampire who is charging at you & poof! dead.  It goes through them as if they were already dust.  In my vampire monster nightmares, this is something with which I struggle.  The stake is next to impossible to just stab in there (trying to get it past the whole ribcage & all) & when it does, it misses its mark.  I hope to God that if there are vampires & I’m suddenly faced with one, my Mr. Pointy goes in as smoothly as they do in Buffy, the Vampire Slayer/Angel.

“But still: the fear.
It rose suddenly, emotion overspilling logic and the bright Formica reason of the cerebrum, filling her mouth with a taste like black copper.”

Once again, Mr. King describes the taste of fear, this one a little closer to how I describe my own brand of terror in my mouth like I did in this post.

PS:  I sometimes tweet singular quotes on my Twitter account, so if you’re reading this, find it interesting, & haven’t yet “followed” me, give it a whirl. @TheSKProject

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