|Lotta Dead Birds|
|Part 1, Chapter 5|
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Highways and Byways
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Lotta Dead Birds is the fifth part of the novel, Under the Dome.
The Mill's Chief of Police heard neither of the explosions , though he was outside, raking leaves on the lawn of his Morin Street home. The portable radio was sitting on the hood of his wife's Honda, playing sacred music on WCIK. Also his hearing wasn't what it once had been, the novel then asks at sixty seven is anyones? But he heard the first siren as it drove by; it explains his ears were attuned to that sound just as a mother's are to her child. Howard even knew which car it was, and who was driving it. It explains only Three and Four still had the old warblers, but Johnny Trent had taken Three over to Castle Rock with the FD to the training exercise. So it was car Four, one of the two remaining Dodges, and Henry Morrison would be driving. He stopped raking and stood, head cocked. The siren started to fade and he began to rake again, Brenda then came out on the stoop. "Howie, the power's out. And there were bangs" she said. The novel then talks about the nickname Howie, explaining that Howard was Christian about it but he sometimes wondered if the nickname wasn't at least partially responsible for the pace maker he now carried around in his chest. Duke says "What?" and Brenda turns off the radio in the middle of a song, telling him that she has told him not to put the radio on the car as it will scratch it and lower the resale value. Howard apologized and asked her again what she said. "The power's out! And something boomed. That's probably what Johnny Trent's rolling on". Howard corrects her explaining it is Henry, she replies "Well, whoever it is--" but is cut off mid-sentence by another siren, this one of the newer kind that he thought of as Tweety Birds. That would be two, Jackie Wettington. It had to be Jackie, while Peter sat minding the store, rocked back in his chair with his feet cocked up on his desk, reading the Democrat or on the toilet. He was a fair cop, and he could be just as hard as he needed to be, but Duke didn't like him. Partly because he was so clearly Jim Rennie's man, partly because Randolph was sometimes harder than he needed to be, but mostly because he thought Randolph was lazy, and Duke Perkins could not abide a lazy policeman. Brenda was looking at him with large eyes. She had been a policeman's wife for forty-three years, and she knew that two explosions, two sirens and a power failure added up to nothing good. "You better go on in" she said "Something got knocked down. I just hope no one is dead". He took his phone off his belt, he didn't dial it, just stood looking down at it; waiting for it to ring. But then another Tweety Bird siren went off: car One. Randolph rolling after all. Which meant something very serious. Duke no longer thought the phone would ring and moved to put it back on the belt, but then it did; It was Stacey Moggin. When he answered he asked why she was at the station on a Saturday to which she replied that she wasn't and that she was at home, Peter had called her and told her that a plane and a truck had collided on 119 and that it was bad, she sounded dubious and explained that she didn't see how. He asked her if the plane belonged to Chuck Thompson but Stacey told him that she doesn't know and that she has told him everything Peter told her. Meanwhile Brenda was moving her car so he could back the forest-green Chief's car down the driveway. She had set the portable radio beside his small pile of raked leaves. Duke continued "Okay, Stace. Power out on your side of town, too?" to which Stacey replied "Yes, and the landlines. I'm on my cell. It's probably bad, isn't it?". He tells her he hopes not and asks if she can go down to the station and cover, she agrees telling him she'll be there in five and to reach out to her on the base unit, he replies "Roger that" before ending the call. As Brenda came back up the driveway, the down whistle went off, its rise and fall a sound that never failed to make Duke feel tight in the guts. Nevertheless, he took time to put his arm around Brenda. "Don't let it worry you, Brennie. It's programmed to do that in a general power outage. It'll stop in three minutes. Or four. I forget which" he said. Brenda told him that she knew but she still hated it, asking him if he remembered Andy Sanders, who she mentions as an idiot, ringing it on 911 as if they were going to get bombed next. Duke nodded in response. The novel then went on to explain that Andy was an idiot, unfortunately he was also first selectman. It continued to describe him as the cheery Mortimer Snerd dummy that sat on Big Jim Rennie's lap. "Honey, I have to go" Howard explained, she told him she knew yet still followed him to his car. She then asked "What is it? Do you know yet?". He told her what Stacey had told him about the plane and truck, she smiled tentatively asking if that was a joke. "Not if the plane had engine trouble and was trying to land on the high way" he explained, her smile faded and her fisted right hand came to rest just between her breasts, body language he knew well. Duke climbed behind the wheel, and although the Chief's cruiser was relatively new, he still settled into the shape of his own butt. The novel then mentions that Duke Perkins was no light weight. "On your off day" Brenda said disappointed. "Really, it's a shame! And when you could retire on full P!" she continued. Howard replied that they would just have to take him in his Saturday slops, grinning at her. He then asks her to stick him a sandwich or two in the fridge to which she replies "Just one. You're getting too heavy. Even Dr Haskell said so and he never scolds anybody". He agrees, then puts the shift in reverse, then put it back in park. He leaned out of the window, and she realized he wanted a kiss. The novel states she gave him a good one, with the town whistle blowing across the crisp October air. He caressed the side of her throat while their mouths were together, a thing that always gave her shivers and he hardly ever did anymore. As he rolled down the driveway, she called something after him. He caught part of it but not all, the novel mentioned that he will really have to get his ears checked. Let them fit him with a hearing aid if neccesary. Although that would probably be the final thing Randolph and Big Jim needed to kick him out on his aging ass. He braked and leaned out again "Take care of my what?". "Your pacemaker!" she practically screamed, laughing and exasperated. "Oh, you bet!" he called back, and drove away. The novel then states that the next time she saw him, he was dead.
Billy and Wanda Debec never heard either of the explosions because they were on Route 117, and because they were arguing. The fight had started simply enough, with Wanda observing it was a beautiful day and Billy responding he had a headache and didn't know why they had to go to the Saturday flea market in Oxford Hills, anyway; it would just be the usual pawned-over crap. She told him that he wouldn't have a headache if he hadn't sunk a dozen beers the night before. He then asked her if she had been looking in the recycling bin. She said yes she had, you bet she had. They got as far as Patel's Market in Castle Rock, having progressed through you drink too much, Billy and you nag too much, Wanda to my mother told me not to marry you and why do you have to be such a bitch. This had become a fairly well-worn call-and-response during the last two years of their four year marriage, but this morning Billy suddenly felt he had reached his limit. it. He first turned quickly into the car park with signaling or slowing, and then back out onto 117 without a single glance at any traffic. On the road behind him, Nora Robichaud honked. Her best friend, Elsa Andrews, rutted. The novel then explained that the two women, both retired nurses, exchanged a glance but not a single word. They had been friends too long for words to be necesary in such situations. Meanwhile, Wanda asked Billy where he though he was going. He said back home to take a nap, she could go to the 'shit-fair' on her own. Wanda also took notice that they had almost hit two old ladies, which were now dropping behind fast. Billy then observed Wanda looked and sounded like her mother. She asks what he means by that and he explains both mother and daughter had fat asses and tongues that hung in the middle and ran on both ends. She then told him he was hungover, he told her she was ugly. He was driving at over sixty mph in Wanda's little Chevy crossing from Castle Rock to Motton. "What's the smoke?" Wanda asked, pointing northeast, toward 119. He said he didn't know before saying "Did my mother-in-law fart?" which cracked him up and he started laughing. Wanda had finally had enough; she was turning to him, the words I want a divorce on the tip of her tongue, when they reached the Motton-Chester's Mill town line and struck the Dome. The Chevy was equipped with airbags, but Billy's did not deploy and Wanda's didn't pop out completely. The steering wheel collapsed Billy's chest; the steering column smashed his heart; he died almost instantly. Wanda's head collided with the dashboard, the accident also left her left leg and right arm broken. She was not aware of any pain, only that the horn was blaring, the car was suddenly askew in the middle of the road with its front end smashed almost flat, and her vision had come over all red. When Nora and Elsa rounded the bend just to the south, the novel mentions that they also had been talking about the rising smoke for several minutes and congratulating themselves on having taken the lesser traveled highway. Wanda had now begun to drag herself up the white line on her elbows, blood gushed down her face. She had been half scalped by a piece of the collapsing windshield and a huge flap of skin hung down over her left cheek like a misplaced jowl; Nora and Elsa looked at each other grimly.
- Dale "Barbie" Barbara
- Paul "Sea Dogs" Gendron
- James "Junior" Rennie
- Robert "Bob" Roux (Corpse)
- Alden Dinsmore
- Rory Dinsmore
- Ollie Dinsmore
- Howard "Duke" Perkins
- Brenda Perkins
- Stacey Moggin
- Billy Debec
- Wanda Debec
- Nora Robichaud
- Elsa Andrews
- First appearance of Howard "Duke" Perkins.
- First appearance of Brenda Perkins.
- First appearance of Stacey Moggin.
- First appearance of Billy Debec.
- First appearance of Wanda Debec.
- First appearance of Nora Robichaud.
- First appearance of Elsa Andrews.
- First mention of Johnny Trent.
- First mention of Henry "Hank" Morrison.
- First mention of Jackie Wettington.
- First mention of Peter "Pete" Randolph.
- This chapter revealed Howard's death a chapter before it takes place.
- Much of Wanda and Billy's argument took place through novel narration rather than actual spoken language.
- Despite dying in the previous chapter, Bob Roux appears as a corpse.
|Chapters of Under the Dome|
| Part 1|
|"The Airplane and the Woodchuck" • "Barbie" • "Junior and Angie" • "Highways and Byways" • "Lotta Dead Birds" • "Clustermug" • "We All Support The Team" • "The Good of the Town, The Good of the People" • "Prayers" • "Madness, Blindness, Astonishment of the Heart" • "This is Not as Bad as it Gets" • "Nyuck-Nyuck-Nyuck" • "Missile Strike Imminent"|
| Part 2|
|"In The Frame" • "Pink Stars Falling" • "Feeling It" • "In The Jug" • "Salt" • "Ashes" • "Play that Dead Band Song" • "Busted" • "Blood Everywhere" • "Ants" • "Halloween Comes Early" • "Survivors" • "Wear it Home, it’ll Look Like a Dress"|