A Good Marriage is a short story written by Stephen King and published in 2010, part of the collection Full Dark, No Stars produced by Scribner.
Darcy Anderson has been married to Bob for 27 years. Bob is a quiet, mild-mannered accountant. Their marriage is simple and uneventful. Together they run a small mail-order business that appraises and deals in rare, collectible coins. As such, Bob is constantly away on business, on the road appraising and purchasing coins.
One night while Bob is away evaluating a collection of World War II steel pennies, Darcy is watching television when the remote control dies. She searches for batteries in the garage near Bob’s workbench. Amongst his belonging she finds a pornographic magazine specializing in bondage, S&M, and sexual violence. Darcy is upset by the discovery, mostly because it is so out of character for Bob to possess something so graphic.
Her curiosity piqued, Darcy continues to explore and finds a subtle hiding place where Bob has stashed several ID cards belonging to other people. One of the cards belongs to a woman named Majorie Duvall, recent victim of the newsworthy serial killer that calls himself “Beadie.” To confirm her suspicions, she looks up the locations of Beadie’s recent murders and finds that her husband was in all of those areas at the time of the crimes.
Darcy is shaken and emotionally distressed by what she finds. At this point, Bob makes his usual phone call to his wife for the evening. Darcy tries to feign that she is feeling ill, but Bob is very in tune with his wife and suspects that she has discovered his secret.
When Darcy wakes the next day, Bob is already at home waiting for her. Bob explains to his wife the nature of his “insanity.” When he was young he had a troubled friend named Brian Delahanty, or “BD.” When they were in high school, the two methodically planned a school shooting. However, before the plan could be brought to fruition, Delahanty was hit by a truck and killed. The shooting never took place and Bob concealed the plan. Though BD was dead, Bob felt “infected” by “certain ideas,” and has been killing ever since. Bob claims that is was Darcy and their marriage that kept him from killing in the last few years. He begs Darcy to drop the matter for the sake of the family and children. Darcy pretends to agree to put the events behind her on the condition that Bob bury all of his trophies behind the house.
Several months pass and things have seemingly returned to normal: Bob believes that Darcy has moved past his revelations. One night the two are celebrating Bob’s acquisition of a rare 1955 doubled-die cent and Bob gets uncharacteristically drunk. Darcy uses the opportunity to kill Bob: she pushes him down the stairs and then suffocating him by jamming a plastic bag and dish wiper down his throat. Darcy removes any evidence of her part in his death and calls the police, reporting his fall as an accident.
Several weeks after Bob is buried, Darcy is confronted by a retired detective named Holt Ramsey, one of the original detectives trying to catch “Beadie.” Ramsey is very astute and pieces together Darcy’s role in Bob’s death. Rather than arrest her, Ramsey tells her that she did the right thing and leaves.
- Who is “the dark girl?” What function does she perform in the telling of the story?
- Describe the mirror world and how it is perceived by Darcy. What is the significance of the mirror world in regards to Darcy’s introspections?
- What is the significance of the appearance and conversation that Darcy has with retired detective Holt Ramsey? Why include this dialogue in the story after Darcy dispatches her husband?
Source: King, Stephen. “A Good Marriage.” Full Dark, No Stars. Scribner, 2010.