Up Close: The Monkey by Stephen King

Glenn Chadbourne’s interior artwork for The Secretary of Dreams (Volume Two) by Stephen King.

Glenn Chadbourne’s interior artwork for The Secretary of Dreams (Volume Two) by Stephen King.

When Stephen King first published this story in the November 1980 issue of skin mag, Gallery, I was four years old. The version that appears in his anthology, Skeleton Crew, in 1985, is “significantly revised.” I have never seen the Gallery version but I would like to know what revisions were made.

As a teenager, I couldn’t get enough of the set pieces in this shocker. I thought: “My God, monkey is indestructible. How on Earth will it be contained? I was certain that it was more than just a messenger of doom because of the inner dialogue Hal has with it. Malevolent. Vicious. Seemingly indestructible with a clear flaw. It is inanimate after all. Like every classic horror monster, it follows a rigid set of rules. When it claps its cymbals, people or creatures close to it die. The fun is imagining ways of stopping it. You see, if you get rid of it, like Droopy it comes back, in the same Ralston-Purina carton. And nothing can block its cymbals. This conundrum is the reason I recommended this story to friends again, and again, and again. And again.

When I re-read it in the horror anthology, The Dark Descent, a year ago, it was like meeting an old friend who you thought you knew. So much had changed. Not all of it good.

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