Eddie is sitting in his living room in New York when famous comedian Richie Tozier comes out unexpectedly during one of his shows. He doesn’t even know what possessed him to watch it in the first place (Myra doesn’t like crude jokes and Tozier is the definition of crude) but somehow it ended up on the tv. The audience react in varying stages of surprise (half laughter and half silence) as the man jokes his way through the whole ordeal, talking theatrically about his imaginary asthmatic, hypochondriatic childhood best friend who was the apparent reason for his sexual awaking.
“So, it was then I discovered that not only was I a flamin’ homo, but I was a flamin’ homo with a weird checklist of things to tick off. I mean, this imaginary boy is the reason I can only get my rocks off to the smell of antiseptic spray.” Tozier looks amused at his own joke, lips quirking in a way that suddenly feels so familiar to Eddie his breath catches in his throat. The camera pans to a bunch of fans losing their shit then, the sudden roar of the crowd so deafening that he’s tempted to turn down the volume.
The set continues for another ten minutes or so, full of self-directed digs and then a few more generalised jokes. Tozier looks happy and relaxed when his story finally comes to an end, giving the cheering audience a deep bow and grinning cheekily. Someone heckles him from the back row, and Richie heckles them back. The audience laughs again, louder this time, and then programme cuts out.
There’s a moment of silence as Eddie stares at the now black screen, blinking rapidly. From beside him he’s aware of Myra shifting and glances to the side. Her face is red, his lips curled up in disgust. She has the same face when someone sneezes without covering their mouth, or when she has to step in dirt. He doesn’t know why but seeing her face like that in this context makes his stomach lurch. He shifts nervously, suddenly wanting to escape. He stands, presses a kiss to her head despite how it makes him feel vaguely nauseous and flees the room.
He at first walks down the hall towards their room before he freezes at the door, his hand hesitating over the handle. The air feels oppressive, and suddenly the idea of sitting on their bed makes him feel winded. He makes a B-Line for the bathroom instead, shutting the door gently so he’s left undisturbed and sitting down on the closed toilet. He scrambles in his pocket until he’s pulling out his inhaler, taking a few puffs of the medicine. It feels like lead settling in his lungs and he rears back, a single thought coming to his mind: They’re gazebos. They’re bullshit. The inhaler slips from his hand, clattering pathetically against the linoleum floor. His head hurts, like he’s straining to remember a memory that doesn’t exist. He gets flashes of his mother, a pharmacy and a girl with bubble gum laughing. He looks down at his arm and for a second he sees a cast with the word ‘Loser’ scribbled across it hastily, a ‘V’ crudely added in red marker to ament it. The noise of New York traffic is filtered then, and he can’t hear anything but the ringing in his ears and beep beep Richie coming from somewhere deep within him. He feels hot, then cold, then just really fucking numb as he stares at the floor. He feels like he’s missing something crucial- like there’s a piece of a puzzle he’s missing.
He paces the room tightly like a pent-up animal, needing to do something, anything, when the phone rings from down the hall and Myra call for him to get it. He almost trips himself in his haste to exit the bathroom, clambering at the chance to have a distraction. When he answers the phone however, he wishes he has just pretended not to hear. He feels cold instantly and for a second he thinks he’s about to pass out. He leans against the wall heavily, splaying his fingers to keep himself up.
“Eddie, are you still there? We made a promise,” Mike continues.
It all comes back to him then. He remembers a quarry and weather worn bikes and a clubhouse in the ground. He remembers the barrens and the sewers and a clown with razor sharp teeth. He remembers six other friends huddled together in a library, looking over books and laughing. Beverly with her fire for hair, Ben as a chubby boy with a kind smile. He remembers Mike and his soothing tones, and Stan with his dry sense of humour and gentle nature. He remembers their leader Bill, standing strong and fearless against the very creature that stole his little brother from him forever. He remembers a Trash mouth with milk bottle glasses and a bird nest for hair. The overload of information is enough to floor him and he slides down the wall, trying to keep his breathing under control as to not alarm his wife. He doesn’t want to see her right now, doesn’t think he could. He takes a moment to get himself under control, feeling a deep primal fear at the thought of going back to face the monster. If they didn’t kill it the first time, what’s to say they could kill it the second time. What’s to say it could die at all. His fight or flight response kicks in and for a second he nearly tells Mike to forget it, that he’s busy and possibly couldn’t find the time to come all the way down to Derry, but then his mind wanders back to an image of cheeky smile on a boy who was once his best friend in the whole world. It’s the same smile he had seen on Richie’s face during his show. He swallows then, steels himself, and takes a few calming breathes. Maybe it’s time he does something for himself for once.
“When do I need to be there?”