Study Guide

It Chapter 3: Six Phone Calls (1985)

By Stephen King

Chapter 3: Six Phone Calls (1985)

The sections of this chapter have individual titles. King was clearly getting bored, and felt the need to shake things up.

1.  Stanley Uris Takes a Bath

  • Oh, cool, we're freaked out already.
  • We know that something terrible has happened, because Patty Uris tells her mom that Stanley never takes baths early in the evening, and never without a beer.
  • Also, Patty thinks that there was something wrong with Stanley because of the books he reads: books written by his childhood friend, Stuttering Bill.
  • (Whoa…that's Bill Denbrough, whose brother Georgie got murdered by Pennywise in the storm drain back in the fifties!)
  • Patty had read some of William Denbrough's books and was not impressed. They were all horror books.
  • We learn about the Urises: Patty and Stanley are a well-to-do couple in Atlanta. She's proud of their nice house and their country club membership.
  • But it hadn't always been that way: she had been denied access to her prom because she was Jewish, and the ugly anti-Semitism of that act (and her shame at having to leave the prom venue) pretty much haunted her forever.
  • But life had been, after the prom and before The Bath, a pretty sweet deal.
  • She met Stanley and fell in love, even though her parents didn't approve.
  • Stanley wasn't rich, and he was just an accountant.
  • But they were happy.
  • After graduation, Patty applied for a bunch of jobs teaching English.
  • When she was filling out applications, dozens strewn over her tabletop, Stanley had pointed to one and said "There."
  • He was pointing to one near Atlanta. He had never been to Georgia; they lived in New York. But he seemed weirdly sure.
  • His expression became blank and still and his eyes darkened and he said he was positive, adding "The turtle couldn't help us."
  • Okay, this is weird. Remember little Georgie and the can of Turtle Wax? And how obsessed he was by the picture of the turtle on the lid?
  • He suddenly knocks a dish onto the ground and snaps back to reality.
  • But he's still convinced that Atlanta is the place.
  • And, as it turns out, Patty knocks the interview out of the park.
  • They move to an Atlanta suburb and live a poor but happy existence.
  • Then their existence isn't even poor any longer—Stanley moves up in the world, making more and more money and hobnobbing with rich clients.
  • Everyone they meet is nice and accepting. They have no worries.
  • Well, they have one: they can't conceive. The doctors think that nothing is wrong, and that maybe they're just stressed.
  • Stanley seems to think the fault lies with him. And, as a matter of fact, Patty agrees. She doesn't know why, but she blames him.
  • All in all though, their life is good.
  • The night of the bath, however, Stanley gets weird. He is reading William Denbrough's new book, and gets a phone call.
  • His face, when he receives the phone call, is strange.
  • The person on the other end of the line is Mike.
  • Stanley seems to relax, and Patty goes back to watching TV…not even really thinking anything of it when Stanley says he's going to take a bath.
  • It's only when Patty realizes that Stanley forgot his traditional bath time beer that she thinks "Huh."
  • She gets him a beer, and walks to the bathroom. The door is closed.
  • This is weird—the door is never closed.
  • She starts seriously freaking out. She can hear the water dripping from the faucet, but there's no other sound.
  • She blacks out and finds herself in the living room holding the phone.
  • Shaking herself, she gets the bathroom key. Maybe nothing is wrong—or maybe Stanley had a heart attack.
  • But when she opens the door, she realizes that something is wrong…and it's not a heart attack.
  • Stanley has sliced his wrists…and he's written "It" in blood on the white bathroom walls.

2.  Rich Tozier Takes a Powder

  • It's the day of Stanley Uris' suicide: May 28, 1985.
  • Meet Rich Tozier, the mega-successful DJ whose voices and interviews entertain everyone in Los Angeles.
  • This guy is doing well in kind of the same way as Stanley Uris. He's well-to-do. He's beloved by powerful people.
  • Even his travel agent totally adores him.
  • He's asking her to book him a flight and a rental car to get from L.A. to Derry, Maine.
  • He's received a phone call—sounds like the same phone call that Stanley Uris got—and he needs to get back to Derry.
  • Like now.
  • His boss is not too happy about this. Rich doesn't even try to make up an excuse, and just tells his supervisor that he made a promise when he was a kid and really, really needs to go home.
  • To fulfill a promise he made when he was twelve.
  • It's…weird.
  • Rich packs up, including four thousand dollars—which, um, was a chunk of change back in '85—from his safe.
  • He vomits and cries. He remembers the death of George Denbrough, the band of wimpy kids he hung out with.
  • He remembers being bullied for being nerdy and having a big mouth. It sounds like he was essentially tortured.
  • But now he has to go home to the scene of the crime: Derry, Maine.
  • Somehow, he feels like he'll never see his swanky Los Angeles home ever again.

3.  Ben Hanscom Takes A Drink

  • If Stanley Uris and Rich Tozier are doing a-okay financially, Ben Hanscom is doing great.
  • He's a star architect, building buildings in London and New York, and raking in tons of cash.
  • So much cash that he's able to spend basically every Friday and Saturday night in a dive bar in Nebraska.
  • Like, even when he was living in London, he took the Concorde to New York, then a limo to an airport in New Jersey, where his Lear Jet was waiting.
  • Then he flew himself to this weird little watering hole in Middle Of Nowheresville, Nebraska.
  • He's generous, kind, good company and, as proprietor Ricky Lee puts it, crazy-lonely.
  • On this particular night—May 28th, 1985—Ben walks into Ricky Lee's bar.
  • It's a Monday, which is weird.
  • What's even weirder, and scarier, is Ben Hanscom's expression.
  • He reminds Ricky Lee of this guy, a falling-down drunk who killed himself years before.
  • And Ben is acting unhinged.
  • He orders a pint of whiskey and a bunch of lemon slices.
  • He squeezes the lemon slices into his nose, and then gulps the whiskey down.
  • Pretty soon, he's snorted back three or four lemons, and drunk the whole, massive glass of whiskey.
  • Ricky Lee says that he's afraid for Ben Hanscom.
  • Not as afraid as Ben is, though.
  • Ben shares a bit of history: he's from Derry, and an old buddy named Mike Hanlon just gave him a call.
  • This dredged up a whole lot of childhood memories for Ben: memories of being a fat kid, bullied horrifically by Reginald Huggins, Victor Criss, and Henry Bowers.
  • In fact, Henry Bowers had carved a letter H—for Henry—in Ben's stomach. The scars are still there.
  • Ben says that his whole childhood had been forgotten until that night, but it's all come back.
  • He looks like death, and not just because he drank a pint of whiskey.
  • As he leaves the bar, headed back to Derry, Ricky Lee imagines that he can see though Ben Hanscom's body.

4.  Eddie Kaspbrak Takes His Medicine

  • Eddie Kaspbrak, like the other ex-Derry ex-kids, is doing fine financially.
  • He lives on Long Island with his wife, and he makes his living driving around superstars—think Al Pacino—in limos.
  • But other than that, his life is kind of messed up.
  • His medicine cabinet looks like a CVS pharmacy: there's everything from Valium to Quaaludes. 
  • He self-medicates in the most literal way.
  • This has a lot to do with the fact that he had a difficult childhood: his mother was monstrously overbearing and wouldn't let him do any number of things, from run to jump to play at the pool to sit with his elbows on his knees.
  • Later in life, she was morbidly obese, weighing more than four hundred pounds.
  • Somehow, he couldn't ever manage to really move out of her house. He lived there on and off until she died.
  • After she passed away, he met and married a girl who looked and behaved exactly like his mother.
  • When we meet Myra, she's wailing at Eddie not to leave and go back to Derry, because she can't stand to be alone for a week.
  • She promises to rub his back and cook for him if he stays.
  • But Eddie realizes he needs to get back to Derry.
  • Mike had called and informed him that, "It's started again."
  • This means it's go time: take the train from Penn Station up to Boston, and then up to Maine.
  • Eddie leaves the wailing Myra behind, but keeps getting increasingly creeped out.
  • On the train, he dreams he's in the sewers of Derry, Maine, and comes across the rotting corpse of a boy who disappeared in 1958.
  • He wakes up screaming, and finds himself on the Amtrak, heading north.
  • He stares out the window. It seems, somehow, that the moon is muttering to him.

5.  Beverly Rogan Takes A Whuppin'

  • You know the drill by now: it's May 28th, 1985, and we're meeting one of the gang of Derry kids.
  • Like everyone else, Beverly is successful financially.
  • And like everyone else, that's about the end of her happiness.
  • She's married to Tom Rogan, a guy who seems to like two things: drinking way, way too much beer, and…beating his wife.
  • Tom Rogan remembers back when they first started going out. He could tell she was a bit fearful and a bit of a push-over, which he liked.
  • Because he's a predator.
  • He told her she was never allowed to smoke around him, and then, when she forgot and lit a cigarette, he hit her.
  • Later, they had make-up sex. It's a sick, cyclical thing: he first beats her, and then they have sex.
  • She's also, by the way, an incredibly talented designer. Together they own a brand called Beverly Fashions.
  • The night in question, Beverly gets a call from—you guessed it, Mike. She tells him to reserve her a room and then starts piling clothes into a suitcase.
  • She also starts smoking a cigarette.
  • Tom Rogan is none too pleased. He decides to beat her, and takes out a black leather belt he uses for that purpose.
  • But Beverly, who is usually sad and apologetic, is changed. She's almost scaring him this time.
  • In fact, she starts fighting back. She throws glass bottles of perfume at him, and he gets cut.
  • He charges her: he's planning on seriously, seriously hurting her.
  • But she pushes the vanity at him, which means he loses hold of the black belt.
  • She whips him—hard—across the testicles and he falls to his knees, landing on a broken glass perfume bottle.
  • Now his knee is geysering blood and he's on his knees.
  • Beverly grabs her suitcase and runs out the door, laughing almost hysterically.
  • She's forgotten her credit cards and money inside, but she's free from Tom.

6.  Bill Denbrough Takes Time Out

  • Because Bill Denbrough's in England, his call comes in the morning.
  • Of all the Derry gang, it seems like Bill is the most well-adjusted.
  • (He, um, also seems to be the most like Stephen King. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.)
  • Basically, Bill Denbrough's a horror writer. He starts taking classes in college, where intellectuals pooh-pooh his genre work.
  • But he begins making money—he places a short story, and then publishes a novel, and then is invited to Hollywood to adapt one of his own books for the silver screen.
  • There, he falls in love with a gorgeous and slightly troubled starlet.
  • Not too troubled, as it turns out: they have a blissful eleven-year marriage.
  • When the phone call from Mike comes, Bill realizes that he has just…not thought of Derry.
  • Not since he left there two years after his brother died.
  • He spills his guts to his wife: he used to stutter. His brother was murdered. He has blanked on the idea of Derry for decades. He made a promise to come back if some nebulous trouble started back up.
  • In fact, all the kids made a blood oath. They cut their hands and pressed the wounds together.
  • He shows his palms. There are scars that neither Bill nor his wife can remember ever seeing before.
  • Also, his stutter has come back.
  • It's creepy. His wife asks if she can come with him.
  • No, Bill says. Derry is going to be a very bad place in the next few weeks. She has to stay there and cover for him.

Derry: The First Interlude

  • This book has epigraphs at the beginning but, because that's not hardcore enough, it also has epigraphs within its interludes.
  • This one is:

How many human eyes . . . had snatched glimpses of their secret
anatomies, down the passages of years?”—Clive Barker, Books of Blood

  • Yeesh.
  • We're also informed that "The segment below and all other Interlude segments are drawn from “Derry: An Unauthorized Town History,” by Michael Hanlon. This is an unpublished set of notes and accompanying fragments of manuscript (which read almost like diary entries) found in the Derry Public Library vault.
  • Okay. Good to know.
  • So Mike was one of the group we've just met: outsider kids haunted by the occurrences in Derry.
  • Now Mike has become a bit of a historian: he's a librarian and overall loner who obsessively researches the history of Derry.
  • Despite well-meaning old-timers telling him to stay the heck away from Derry's dark secrets.
  • One thing's for sure: weird stuff goes down in this tiny little Maine town.
  • The original settlers disappeared, all three hundred of them.
  • Every twenty-seven years, bad stuff seems to happen.
  • For example, a shut-down factory exploded, killing more than a hundred. Eighty-eight were kiddos.
  • About that: tons of kids seem to die or go missing in Derry.
  • Compared to towns of similar sizes, the rate of missing children is off the charts.
  • Especially during these "cycles," when kids go missing or wind up dead by the hundreds.
  • And Derry only has about 33,000 people. That's a whole lot of missing kids.
  • Mike ends his notes by saying it's time: his old buddies need to be summoned.
  • They've all had weirdly similar trajectories.
  • He really, really wishes he didn't have to dial their numbers.

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