Elevation Page 1

Author: Stephen King

Genres: Horror , Fiction


Losing Weight

Scott Carey knocked on the door of the Ellis condo unit, and Bob Ellis (everyone in Highland Acres still called him Doctor Bob, although he was five years retired) let him in. “Well, Scott, here you are. Ten on the dot. Now what can I do for you?”

Scott was a big man, six-feet-four in his stocking feet, with a bit of a belly growing in front. “I’m not sure. Probably nothing, but . . . I have a problem. I hope not a big one, but it might be.”

“One you don’t want to talk to your regular doctor about?” Ellis was seventy-four, with thinning silver hair and a small limp that didn’t slow him down much on the tennis court. Which was where he and Scott had met, and become friends. Not close friends, maybe, but friends, sure enough.

“Oh, I went,” Scott said, “and got a checkup. Which was overdue. Bloodwork, urine, prostate, the whole nine yards. Everything checked out. Cholesterol a little high, but still in the normal range. It was diabetes I was worried about. WebMD suggested that was the most likely.”

Until he knew about the clothes, that was. The thing with the clothes wasn’t on any website, medical or otherwise. It certainly had nothing to do with diabetes.

Ellis led him into the living room, where a big bay window overlooked the fourteenth green of the Castle Rock gated community where he and his wife now lived. Doctor Bob played the occasional round, but mostly stuck to tennis. It was Ellis’s wife who enjoyed golf, and Scott suspected that was the reason they were living here, when they weren’t spending winters in a similar sports-oriented development in Florida.

Ellis said, “If you’re looking for Myra, she’s at her Methodist Women’s group. I think that’s right, although it might be one of her town committees. Tomorrow she’s off to Portland for a meeting of the New England Mycological Society. That woman hops around like a hen on a hot griddle. Take off your coat, sit down, and tell me what’s on your mind.”

Although it was early October and not particularly cold, Scott was wearing a North Face parka. When he took it off and laid it beside him on the sofa, the pockets jingled.

“Would you like coffee? Tea? I think there’s a breakfast pastry, if—”

“I’m losing weight,” Scott said abruptly. “That’s what’s on my mind. It’s sort of funny, you know. I used to steer clear of the bathroom scale, because these last ten years or so, I haven’t been crazy about the news I got from it. Now I’m on it first thing every morning.”

Ellis nodded. “I see.”

No reason for him to avoid the bathroom scale, Scott thought; the man was what his grandmother would have called a stuffed string. He’d probably live another twenty years, if a wild card didn’t come out of the deck. Maybe even make the century.

“I certainly understand the scale-avoidance syndrome, saw it all the time when I was practicing. I also saw the opposite, compulsive weighing. Usually in bulimics and anorexics. You hardly look like one of those.” He leaned forward, hands clasped between his skinny thighs. “You do understand that I’m retired, don’t you? I can advise, but I can’t prescribe. And my advice will probably be for you to go back to your regular doctor, and make a full disclosure.”

Scott smiled. “I suspect my doc would want me in the hospital for tests right away, and last month I landed a big job, designing interlocking websites for a department store chain. I won’t go into details, but it’s a plum. I was very fortunate to get the gig. It’s a large step up for me, and I can do it without moving out of Castle Rock. That’s the beauty of the computer age.”

“But you can’t work if you fall ill,” Ellis said. “You’re a smart guy, Scott, and I’m sure you know that weight-loss isn’t just a marker for diabetes, it’s a marker for cancer. Among other things. How much weight are we talking about?”

“Twenty-eight pounds.” Scott looked out the window and observed white golf carts moving over green grass beneath a blue sky. As a photograph, it would have looked good on the Highland Acres website. He was sure they had one—everyone did these days, even roadside stands selling corn and apples had websites—but he hadn’t created it. He had moved on to bigger things. “So far.”

Bob Ellis grinned, showing teeth that were still his own. “That’s a fair amount, all right, but my guess is you could stand to lose it. You move very well on the tennis court for a big man, and you put in your time on the machines in the health club, but carrying too many pounds puts a strain not just on the heart but the whole kit and caboodle. As I’m sure you know. From WebMD.” He rolled his eyes at this, and Scott smiled. “What are you now?”

“Guess,” Scott said.

Bob laughed. “What do you think this is, the county fair? I’m fresh out of Kewpie dolls.”

“You were in general practice for what, thirty-five years?”


“So don’t be modest, you’ve weighed thousands of patients thousands of times.” Scott stood up, a tall man with a big frame wearing jeans, a flannel shirt, and scuffed-up Georgia Giants. He looked more like a woodsman or a horse-wrangler than a web designer. “Guess my weight. We’ll get to my fate later.”