The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands

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"The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands"
Author Stephen King
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Horror short story
Published in Shadows 4 (1st release),
Skeleton Crew
Publication type Anthology
Media type Print (Paperback)
Publication date 1982

"The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands" is a short story by Stephen King first published in the 1982 horror anthology Shadows 4, edited by Charles L. Grant, and collected in Skeleton Crew in 1985.

Like the novella "The Breathing Method" from King's collection Different Seasons, the story takes the form of a nested narrative told in a strange 'club' in Manhattan.

Plot summary[edit]

It entails an aged, wealthy man recounting a card game he played in many years ago where he met an odd man who refused to touch anyone, recoiling from contact in fear. After the odd man wins the game, a young player leaps up and shakes his hand enthusiastically. The odd man screams and bolts from the room. The narrator then makes it his mission to find him and give him his winnings. It is revealed shortly thereafter that the young player who shook the odd man's hand died of a brain aneurysm. The narrator speaks with an old associate of the man, who tells him the title character was cursed by an Indian shaman after an unfortunate accident where the "Shake Hands Man" (named Henry Brower) accidentally caused the death of a boy. The man is cursed to cause the death of any living thing he touches (for he demonstrates on a dog). The narrator then finds the odd man dead in a seedy inn, one hand firmly clasping the other.

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations[edit]

"The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands" has been adapted into a film shown at the Cedar Rapids Film Festival on 3 April 2009. The screenplay was adapted from the Stephen King short story by Kevin Erhard.

See also[edit]


^ "The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands (2009)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved on 2009-07-28.