Part One: The Pet Sematary - Chapter 4
Crandall brought back the keys, but by then Louis had found his set. There was a space at the top of the glove compartment and the small envelope had slipped down into the wiring. He fished it out and let the movers in. Crandall gave him the extra set. They were on an old, tarnished fob. Louis thanked him and slipped them absently into his pocket, watching the movers take in boxes and dressers and bureaus and all the other things they had collected over the ten years of their marriage. Seeing them this way, out of their accustomed places, diminished them. Just a bunch of stuff in boxes, he thought, and suddenly he felt sad and depressed – he guessed he was feeling what people called homesickness.
‘Uprooted and transplanted,' Crandall said suddenly beside him, and Louis jumped a little.
‘You sound like you know the feeling,' he said.
‘No, actually I don't.' Crandall lighted a cigarette. Pop! went the match, flaring brightly in the first early evening shadows. ‘My dad built that house across the way. Brought his wife there, and she was taken with child there, and that child was me, born in the very year 1900.'
‘That makes you—'
‘Eighty-three,' Crandall said, and Louis was mildly relieved that he didn't add years young, a phrase he cordially detested.
‘You look a lot younger than that.'
Crandall shrugged. ‘Anyway, I've always lived there. I joined up when we fought the Great War, but the closest I got to Europe was Bayonne, New Jersey. Nasty place. Even in 1917 it was a nasty place. I was just as glad to come back here. Got married to my Norma, put in my time on the railroad, and here we still are. But I've seen a lot of life right here in Ludlow. I sure have.'
The moving men stopped by the shed entrance, holding the box spring that went under the big double bed he and Rachel shared. ‘Where do you want this, Mr Creed?'
‘Upstairs. Just a minute, I'll show you.' He started toward them, then paused for a moment and glanced back at Crandall.
‘You go on,' Crandall said, smiling. ‘I'll see how y'folks're makin' out. Send 'em back over and get out of your way. But movin' in's mighty thirsty work. I usually sit out on my porch about nine and have a couple of beers. In warm weather I like to watch the night come on. Sometimes Norma joins me. You come over, if you've a mind.'
‘Well, maybe I will,' Louis said, not intending to at all. The next thing would be an informal (and free) diagnosis of Norma's arthritis on the porch. He liked Crandall, liked his crooked grin, his offhand way of talking, his Yankee accent, which was not hard-edged at all, but so soft it was almost a drawl. A good man, Louis thought, but doctors became leery of people fast. It was unfortunate, but. Sooner or later even your best friends wanted medical advice. And with old people there was no end to it. ‘But don't look for me, or stay up – we've had a hell of a day.'
‘Just so long as you know you don't need no engraved invitation,' Crandall said, and there was something in the man's crooked grin that made Louis feel that Crandall knew exactly what Louis was thinking.
He watched the old guy for a moment before joining the movers. Crandall walked straight and easily, like a man sixty instead of over eighty. Louis felt that first faint tug of affection.