My first encounter with Stephen King wasn’t one of his books. For Christmas 1984 my dad gave the family a VCR. I was raised in a strict Evangelical home, and my brother and I were very limited in what we were allowed to watch. During school vacation between Christmas and New Years, dad packed us all into the car and drove downtown to the new video rental shop that opened beside the small grocery store. We watched him with eager anticipation as he filled out the single white sheet of paper that made up the enrollment form. He didn’t believe in credit cards so he handed the girl behind the counter a twenty dollar bill as deposit against loss or damage. Once he finished, my brother and I turned on our heels and sprinted for the Action/Adventure section. Bright gaudy boxes assaulted us with phrases promising: “thrill ride,” “non-stop actin,” and “pulse-pounding terror.” The shelf that buffered the Action/Adventure section was the horror section, and we couldn’t help but catch a glimpse of the terrifying images. At that moment we were focused on our objective. Like so many eighties kids we were obsessed with Karate. Never had a single lessen, but we improved moves we picked up from commercials, half glimpsed T.V. shows past our bedtime, and posters you could win by puncturing balloons with darts at the county fair. We snatched titles off the shelves as quick as we could: Enter the Dragon, American Ninja 2, and The Last Dragon. At eight and ten, my brother shared a bedroom. This combined space compressed our rage into an endless round of fights. We fought over everything, not least of which was the first ultra violent, Karate movie we would rent. Within moments my dad was standing over us. He could hear us fighting clear across the store. By this point, my dad was so desensitized to our argument he barely heard them. He wasn’t even embarrassed by them. He was upset about something entirely different. “What is this trash?” He couldn’t put the movie back on the shelf fast enough. My father was a conservative, Evangelical pastor, and he wouldn’t be caught dead renting a movie like that in the town where he preached. He pointed across the tops of the shelves. We had to slip around the isle to see where his finger aimed. Sure enough, a sign hanging from the ceiling read: “Children.” With heads hung low, disappoint in our steps, we trudged across the room to sift through Disney films, Warner Brother classics, and Hannah Barbara cartoons. I have no idea what we rented that day, but I can still see all the covers of the movies we wanted to see in those days but were never allowed: “Police Academy 2,” “House,” “Jaws 3-D,” “Enemy Mines,” “Red Dawn,” and “Remo Williams: The Adventure Continues.” Very little deterred my brother and I from what we wanted. We did not give up easy. So, the video store was a bust, but we quickly found a new plan. There was a UHF channel out of Boston that ran horror movies late at night. My brother and I hatched a plan. After school every day we rode our bikes to the country club in the neighboring town. There we sifted through the trash searching for aluminum can we could exchange for a nickel at the redemption center. We collected bags and bags of cans. I can’t remember how long it took. It felt like forever. Finally we saved enough money to buy a set of three blank videotapes from the rental shop. Late at night, when the house was silent, my brother and I snuck downstairs. Thank God my parents decided to install wall-to-wall carpeting when the house was built. This made sneaking around that much easier. We turned the volume on the TV all the way down. Set the station. Pushed record on the new video. We left it to record through the night. We had no idea what movie was coming. It would be a surprise. Sometime during that meridian between endless night and break of day the tape would run out of space, stop, and rewind. Our mission was to be sure we woke up before anyone else, steal downstairs, switch off the T.V., and hide the evidence. We had no way to find out what was on that tape until the weekend. One advantage to having a preacher father was that most weekends there was a wedding or some church event that would take our parent’s attention. Since the church was across the street from our house my parents could save money on a babysitter. If the house burned down they could see from the church. That first horror movie we recorded from that late night, UHF channel was the story of a car with a murderous mind of its own. We watched that tape until it practically disintegrated. I had no idea who this Stephen King was but I knew I needed more.