Rest Stop (short story)
|Published in||Just After Sunset|
"Rest Stop" is a short story by Stephen King, originally published in the December 2003 issue of Esquire, and collected in King's 2008 collection Just After Sunset. In 2004, "Rest Stop" won the National Magazine Award for Fiction.
Author John Dykstra, who writes under the pen name of Rick Hardin, has had too much beer to drink at his mystery writer's group meeting and desperately needs to find a rest stop on his return from Jacksonville to Sarasota. There is only one other car at the rest stop and he hears its occupants in the ladies' bathroom. It is a woman's and a man's voice he hears coming from the bathroom and clearly the sounds of domestic abuse. John Dykstra is too timid and frightened to act, yet he assumes the mentality of his alter-ego, Hardin, and attacks the man with a tire iron. Calling the police and ordering the woman to leave the scene in the car, much to her protest, Hardin smashes the man's glasses to ensure he doesn't follow him on the road in retaliation. After some time, Hardin mentally reverts to Dykstra, who begins to vomit out the side of his vehicle when the adrenaline rush of the incident wears off. He stops at a gas station and thoroughly searches to make sure the man has not followed him. Upon returning home, Dykstra locks his doors and activates his burglar alarm system.