Chattery Teeth (short story)
|Published in||Cemetery Dance (first release)
Nightmares & Dreamscapes
|Publication type||Periodical, Anthology|
|Publisher||Cemetery Dance Publications|
|Media type||Print (Magazine)|
Stephen King had been a regular reader of Cemetery Dance, a horror magazine, and sent an unsolicited short story to be published there in 1992. The resulting publicity helped to raise their profile.
In the story, salesman Bill Hogan notices an odd pair of walking "Chattery Teeth" (odd due to their unusually large size and the fact that they are made of metal) in a convenience store display. The clerk ends up giving Hogan the teeth, claiming they had been dropped and no longer work.
Hogan reluctantly (having been robbed by a hitchhiker once before) gives a ride to a hitchhiker outside the convenience store; his fears prove prophetic when the hitchhiker tries to carjack him and then kill him. During the struggle, Hogan wrecks the van, and before the hitchhiker can recover and kill him, the teeth come to life and gruesomely dispatch the criminal. Hogan passes out to the vision of the Chattery Teeth dragging the hitchhiker's body off into the desert.
Nine months later, Hogan stops again at the same convenience store, where he is unexpectedly reunited with the "broken" teeth again. He decides to buy the teeth again, realizing that instead of trying to kill him, the teeth want to protect him. His theory is proved correct when a dog snarls at him as he leaves and the teeth stir in his pocket, ready to attack anything that means him harm. He says also that he will give the teeth to his son, so his son is always protected.
George Beahm called it "quintessential King" and "a horrific little gem of a story". Wiater et al. called it "a bizarre tale" and said that it is reminiscent of "The Monkey", a story collected earlier in Skeleton Crew.
Film, TV or theatrical adaptations
The short story was turned into a short film in the television movie Quicksilver Highway.
- Rogak, Lisa (2010). Haunted Heart: The Life and Times of Stephen King. Macmillan. p. 170. ISBN 9781429987974.
- Beahm, George (1998). Stephen King from A to Z: An Encyclopedia of His Life and Work. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 39. ISBN 9780836269147.
- Wiater, Stanley; Golden, Christopher; Wagner, Hank (2001). The Complete Stephen King Universe: A Guide to the Worlds of Stephen King. Macmillan. p. 349. ISBN 9781580631600.
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