I Know What You Need

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"I Know What You Need"
Author Stephen King
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Horror, fantasy
Published in Night Shift
Publisher Doubleday
Media type Print (Paperback)
Publication date 1978

"I Know What You Need" is a short story by Stephen King, first published in the September 1976 issue of Cosmopolitan, and later collected in King's 1978 collection Night Shift.[1]

Plot summary[edit]

Told from the perspective of a popular, college-age girl named Elizabeth Rogan, the premise of this story concerns her sudden, unexpected attraction to a social outcast named Ed Hamner, Jr., whose paranormal ability to perceive what will make any person happy has not resulted in his own happiness. Elizabeth's roommate, suspicious of Ed from the start, does research on him and realizes through background checks that he attended the same elementary school as did Elizabeth, and that his low-paying job at a theatre cannot pay for a sports car he owns, and warns Elizabeth, thus breaking her fascination with Ed and prompting her to investigate herself. It is revealed through the course of the tale that he has been secretly craving Elizabeth's love since childhood, and has employed a variety of black magic rituals and charms to murder her aggressive boyfriend and manipulate her emotions.

While this story flirts with casting a sympathetic light on Ed's character (describing his sad childhood, and his inability to please his abusive parents despite his amazing gift, mainly by winning them large gambling jackpots), when his plans are ultimately brought to ruin, he is revealed less as a product of anti-elitism and more as a childish, murderous coward, morally corrupt and self-serving. Knowing that his magic will always keep a (somewhat small) emotional hold on her, Elizabeth crushes his voodoo doll of her, destroying the small amount of pity she still feels for him.

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