Stationary Bike by Stephen King (audio)

I’m going to call this one a short story, at only an hour and a half, unabridged. It made for a nice short entertaining story during our drive up for a bike race a few weeks ago.

Richard Siftkitz is a freelance commercial artist, making his living by drawing and painting commissioned works for advertisements, pamphlets, movies posters, record covers, and the like. He’s 38 years old when the story opens, and his doctor is concerned about his cholesterol level (Richard likes to eat a lot of fast food). The doctor explains the issue with a metaphor: he tells Richard that there is a little team of workmen, of the hardhat-and-work-boots variety, living inside his body, working hard to keep his arteries clear of the junk Richard is putting into them. If they are made to work too hard for too many years, they’ll get tired, start doing sloppy work, and eventually quit or be overcome.

Richard takes this concern to heart, and goes out and buys… that’s right, a stationary bike. He sets it up in the basement of his apartment building and paints a mural on the wall, of a road through a forest. This road represents both the road he pretends he’s riding down, and one of the roads that his little tiny interior metaphorical workmen are keeping cleared for him. He pins up maps on the wall and considers himself to be riding down real roads in upstate New York, eventually achieving the Canadian border and riding onward deep into the Canadian forests. Richard’s very active imagination simultaneously creates full lives for the team of four men he envisions working inside his body. He gives them names and backgrounds and families.

Without ruining too much for you, I will say that Richard’s imagined workmen take on lives of their own, and his imaginary ride through the Canadian woods takes on proportions larger than he meant for it to have. He finds himself in danger.

I found this short audiobook entertaining and spooky. The tension built nicely. There were little clips of music that played in between chapters; it started off sort of Musak-ish, but as the story got creepier, the music got creepier, growing with the mood. It was well done. Luckily (since I’m not real good with horror!) it wasn’t unbearably scary but it did give us some creeps. I liked it.

4 Responses

  1. […] of my genre fiction class in grad school, From a Buick 8, and a short audiobook for a car trip, Stationary Bike) because I don’t have much use for horror; but of course he does more than horror, […]

  2. […] of my genre fiction class in grad school, From a Buick 8, and a short audiobook for a car trip, Stationary Bike) because I don’t have much use for horror; but of course he does more than horror, […]

  3. […] read, From a Buick 8. A bicycle that takes its rider otherworldly places played a central role in Stationary Bike. I don’t mean to call Hill derivative – he’s not – but it’s […]

  4. Hi,

    I love your writting. Your post is very much helpful and informative. Keep up the good work and present us your best.

    Regards

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