The others saw him as the Klass Klown, the Krazy Kut-up, and he had fallen neatly and easily into that role again. Ah, we all fell neatly and easily back into our old roles again, didn't you notice? But was there anything very unusual about that? He thought you would probably see much the same thing at any tenth or twentieth high-school reunion—the class comedian who had discovered a vocation for the priesthood in college would, after two drinks, revert almost automatically in to the wiseacre he had been; the Great English Brain who had wound up with a GM truck dealership would suddenly begin spouting off about John Irving or John Cheever; the guy who had played with the Moondogs on Saturday nights and who would go on to become a mathematics professor at Cornell would suddenly find himself on stage with a band, a Fender guitar strapped over his shoulder, whopping out "Gloria" or "Surfin' Bird" with gleeful drunken ferocity. What was it Springsteen said? No retreat, baby, no surrender... but it was easier to believe in the oldies on the record-player after a couple of drinks or some pretty good Panama Red.
But, Richie believed, it was the reversion that was the hallucination, not the present life. Maybe the child was the father of the man, but fathers and sons often shared very different interests and only a passing resemblance. They—
But you say grownups and now it sounds like nonsense; it sounds like so much bibble-babble. Why is that, Richie? Why?
Because Derry is as weird as ever. Why don't we just leave it at that?
Because things weren't that simple, that was why.
As a kid he had been a goof-off, a sometimes vulgar, sometimes amusing comedian, because it was one way to get along without being killed by kids like Henry Bowers or going absolutely loony-tunes with boredom and loneliness. He realized now that a lot of the problem had been his own mind, which was usually moving at a speed ten or twenty times that of his classmates. They had thought him strange, weird, or even suicidal, depending on the escapade in question, but maybe it had been a simple case of mental overdrive—if anything about being in constant mental overdrive was simple.