Fair Extension, by Stephen King

Four stars (of five)

As an added bonus to his Kindle release of BIG DRIVER…

King’s short story abilities continue to amaze with another completely unique tale, with strong undertones of his past classic NEEDFUL THINGS. Dave Streeter is riddled with cancer and feeling the affects of chemotherapy. During a drive through Derry, Streeter comes across a small kiosk where George Elvid is running Fair Extensions. Ever the curious consumer, Streeter seeks to learn more about what Elvid might be peddling. After some innocent inquiries, Streeter learns that Elvid is in the business of offering extensions to people, whatever they might need more of in order to live a happy life. In return, a percentage annual fee is negotiated and the customer is on their way. Thinking of the cancer that is sure to take his life, Streeter tells of a friend who seems to have it all going for him and how it was, at least partially, based on ill-gotten gains. Streeter enters into the agreement with Elvid and begins to see changes in his life, as well as that of his purported friend. King delineates the rise of Streeters fortune and how, for a fee, an apparent fair extension to his life is within his grasp. Delightful as much as it is entertaining, King has unearthed another short story classic.

The story’s idea is simple, its delivery seamless, and the outcome appears effortless. King takes the reader into one of his rabbit-hole storylines, where the impossible can happen at the drop of a hat; a snake-oil salesman always willing to offer up the solution that no one else can proffer. As the pages of the story rush by, the reader is taken on a short journey through the lives of the characters and, in true King fashion, someone always ends up suffering plight akin to the life of Job (as is plainly referenced in the text). At times humourous as well as glimpse into fate’s capabilities, King shows how the power of belief can turn the tables on any roadblock.

Kudos, Mr. King for another entertaining piece of fiction.