Clippings from the Derry News chronicle fears about Edward Corcoran, who has gone missing. His younger brother, Dorsey Corcoran, has recently died “of what were reported to be accidental causes.” His stepfather, Richard P. Macklin, takes him to the hospital, saying that Dorsey was playing at the top of a ladder in the garage and fell, losing consciousness. Dorsey dies three days after falling into a coma. By the end of June, Macklin is arrested for murdering his stepson. Both of the Corcoran boys suffer abuse at home, which is noticed by their teachers. Edward’s teacher is warned against reporting it, out of fears that reports of abuse will hurt the school during tax appropriation season. Monica Macklin, the boys’ mother, refuses to believe that Richard has ever beaten the boys.
The supernatural evil that lurks in Derry during the summer of 1958 co-exists with the mundane evil of domestic abuse, which the people of Derry also ignore in order to maintain the town’s status quo as a peaceful, charming New England town. What Derry wishes to believe about itself is more important than confronting any wrongdoing. King tells the story of the Corcoran killings through the “objective” format of newspaper clippings, eliminating the narrative voice to tell a story about the common horror of child abuse.
Richard Macklin is later charged with Dorsey’s murder and confesses to bludgeoning the boy to death with a retractable hammer. He recalls Dorsey begging Richard to stop beating him, telling Richard how much he loves him. Edward Corcoran remains missing and Macklin has no idea where the elder boy is, but his wife, Monica Macklin, who has started divorce proceedings, does not believe him. Richard has been sent to Shawshank State Prison and has become a Catholic. His priest testifies to Richard’s contrition for what he did to Dorsey and thinks that Richard’s hands are clean in regard to Edward.
Monica goes from believing that Richard would never harm Dorsey, which is really her attempt not to implicate herself in the boy’s death, to fully embracing Richard’s guilt. This, too, has less to do with her anger over her son’s loss than in her desire for Richard to bear the full brunt of the blame for Dorsey’s abuse and murder. Her tolerance of Richard’s abuse of her children mirrors that of Elfrida Marsh.
The police later find a badly decomposed body, which they believe belongs to Edward Corcoran, but it is not him after all. In 1967, Richard Macklin commits suicide shortly after being paroled from prison. His suicide note reveals a “confused state of mind.” Meanwhile, Monica Macklin has Edward Corcoran declared legally dead and inherits Edward’s savings account, which contains sixteen dollars.
Richard Macklin cannot survive with the memory of his actions, as well as the sense that he is partly to blame for Eddie’s death. His confusion is likely the result of being unable to reconcile his true actions with the rumors that circulate about him.
Edward Corcoran dies on the night of June 19th and it is true that his stepfather, Richard Macklin, does not kill him. Bill Denbrough, Ben Hanscom, Eddie Kaspbrak, Richie Tozier, Beverly Marsh, Mike Hanlon, and Stanley Uris—the members of the future Losers’ Club—are all in their own homes and doing different things. However, they all look up at the same moment that Eddie Corcoran dies, “as if hearing some distant cry.”
All of the children are equally attuned to It, which may be part of the reason why It has been unable to kill any one of them. At this time, their circle has not yet fully formed, but they are united through similar experiences with It.
Earlier that day, Edward Corcoran receives his report card and knows that his poor marks will anger his father. Besides, his parents have been arguing a lot lately. Eddie has never seen Richard Macklin use his fists on Monica—he seems to save that for Eddie and Dorsey—but they have regular shouting matches around the time that bills are due. This results in the cops being called and Monica flipping off the officers, daring them to take her in. His father is afraid of the cops but Edward still knows to stay out of Richard’s way, using what happens to Dorsey as a cautionary tale. Two nights earlier, Richard throws a chair at Eddie when he changes the TV channel. One night Richard smears mashed potatoes into Eddie’s hair for no reason at all. When Eddie accidentally slams the door coming in from school, Richard shoves him and sends him reeling backward into the low coat hooks his mother recently mounted.
Eddie Corcoran comes from a violent, unstable household in which Richard uses his authority and his assumed right to mete out discipline to abuse Eddie and Dorsey. He takes his resentments against Monica out on the children, either out of fear of her physical retaliation or Richard’s belief that he can hurt her more by causing harm to the children. Everything Eddie does becomes cause to abuse or humiliate him. The abuse does not subside after Dorsey’s death, but instead seems to intensify, as though Richard is daring Edward, who is approaching adolescence, to defy Richard’s authority.
Edward Corcoran loses consciousness for ten minutes after being shoved into what feel like “hard steel fingers.” He awakes to hear his mother, Monica Macklin, saying that she is going to take him to the hospital and Richard warning her against it, after what happened to Dorsey. Instead, Monica helps Eddie to his room. Eddie comforts himself by taking nips from his stepfather’s whisky, which dulls the pain, though he pees blood for two weeks.
Monica chooses her marriage to Richard over the safety of her children, which was not an unusual act in the 1950s—a decade in which women often did not have the means to live on their own. Lacking comfort from his mother, however, Eddie establishes a dangerous precedent in finding comfort in alcohol.
Eddie is not a stupid boy but has missed a lot of school since his mother’s remarriage, which explains his poor marks. He thinks that Richard Macklin used the recoilless hammer, which has disappeared, on his brother, Dorsey, then buried it in the family garden. Eddie thinks of this while walking toward the Canal. Eddie likes the park and thinks it is a peaceful place, despite its seedy reputation after sundown. He has thought, more than once, about walking beside the Canal with his stepfather, then giving the man one great big push, in revenge for what happened to Dorsey.
Eddie’s aversion to school is due both to his preoccupation with his brother’s murder and his sense that no one at school really cares about the horrors that he has endured at home. The town keeps the secret of Dorsey’s murder in its effort to remain respectable. For this reason, Eddie finds solace in the park, which has a reputation for being a setting of vice. Here, Eddie can fantasize about meting out his own justice to his stepfather.
Suddenly, a hand closes around Edward Corcoran’s foot. He looks down and his mouth drops open. It is Dorsey. Dorsey is grinning and croaks Eddie’s name. Eddie wants to scream, but he cannot manage to produce the sound. He feels the hand slide away momentarily and thinks that the thing is not his brother. Eddie walks away, looking everywhere at once. The breeze seems to call his name. Something is following him. He can hear feet behind him, but they are not Dorsey’s; they belong to the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Green fluid drips from vertical gashes in its cheeks. Its webbed fingers are tipped with claws. It has “green-black lips” that wrinkle back to reveal large fangs. The thing chases Eddie, with the intention of taking him into the Canal.
As with the false images and “glamours” that appear to Bill Denbrough, fooling him into thinking that they are reappearances of George, It uses Eddie’s love for his brother, as well as his wish that he could have saved Dorsey, to haunt the elder boy. The glamour then transforms into something that Eddie probably saw in a movie, as the Creature from the Black Lagoon was the name of a 1950s horror film.
Eddie Corcoran runs as fast as he can. He becomes overwhelmed by a stink all around him. He trips over a park bench that some kids had pushed earlier in the evening. The edge of the seat smacks Eddie in the shins. The creature bears down on him and Eddie sees its eyes, which are like poached eggs. He crawls as the creature grabs hold of Eddie’s neck. Eddie tries to assure himself that the creature is not real. Still, the claws go into Eddie’s neck and puncture his carotid artery. Eddie gropes at the creature’s back, feeling for a zipper. His hands fall away only after the creature tears Eddie’s head from his shoulders “with a satisfied grunt.” Then, Eddie’s image of It fades and It turns into something else.
Like Ben, Eddie attempts to quell his fear by trying to convince himself that his senses are betraying him. The creature that kills Eddie is a real monster, not a character from a 1950s schlock film, so Eddie’s efforts to “[feel] for a zipper” are futile. The amphibious creature is representative of Eddie’s imagined fear of violence, which becomes real. When Eddie dies, the perceived reality of that image dies with him.
Unable to sleep, Mike Hanlon rises soon after dawn on the first full day of summer vacation. He dresses and has breakfast. He then hops on his bike and heads to town. He enters Bassey Park. On the ground, he spots “a cheap two-blade pocket knife.” The initials E.C. are scratched on the side. He sees blood, too, but chalks it up to a dogfight. Still, he follows the grooves in the grass, wondering if they were caused by something else.
This is the first instance in which Mike encounters something eerie in Derry, and the scene also shows his investigative nature, as well as his intuition that something is awry in Derry. The presence of a knife beside a pool of blood would suggest murder or assault. Mike’s brief explanation of a “dogfight” is an attempt to avoid an uncomfortable truth.
Each April and May, the Hanlon farm becomes active again. Will Hanlon tries to get his old Ford, which he scrounged from the city dump, running again. The year’s work begins with a rock harvest. After the rock harvest, Will parks the Ford in the tall grass and drive the tractor out of the barn. Then comes the planting and hoeing. In July, there is picking and more hoeing. First come the peas and radishes, then the lettuce and tomatoes. Corn and beans arrive in August and September, then pumpkins and squash. New potatoes also arrive in the midst of other harvests.
Mike recalls how his family farm was a part of the cycle of life in Derry. The Hanlon farm, along with the Bowers farm, were both run by local families. The Hanlon farm, however, was successful and cause for “Butch” Bowers’s resentment. Hanlon’s old car is an example of his resourcefulness, which he learned from a lifetime of poverty in the South.
Will Hanlon leaves his son, Mike, notes about what chores to perform around the farm. On one or two schooldays a week, there is no note or a note that says “No chores,” and Mike can do what he wants, such as go fishing or look at trolley tracks. One day he and his father go to the Courthouse and look at the old tramp-chair. One day, Mike rides his bike out to Pasture Road and comes home late for dinner, causing his mother, Jessica, to become hysterical. She chases him with a dishrag and admonishes him for scaring her.
When Mike has no chores, he is free to explore the town. However, during the days in which Derry is under curfew, Mike’s mother becomes worried when he stays out too late. She fears that he will be hurt by the man whom everyone imagines is killing children in Derry. She does not realize that the source of her fear is not human.
One day, Mike goes over to the old Kitchener Ironworks. He peers inside of the old smokestack. He thinks that he sees a bird staring back at him. Mike pulls away, shaking. He walks down in the smokestack, exploring further. He decides to take something—a seven-inch gear-toothed wheel—as a souvenir and prepares to leave quickly. Mike cannot resist looking down into the “cellarhold” [sic] and sees the bird looking up. Suddenly, the ground shifts and he begins to slide. He scrambles to his knees and sees the bird rising out of the cellarhold.
Just as George Denbrough looked down into a dark space and imagined seeing eyes staring back at him, Mike has the same experience. What takes shape in the dark is whatever is on the child’s mind. It is using Mike’s subconscious fear of a bird to haunt him. The “cellarhold” parallels with George’s walk into the cellar of his home early in the novel.
Mike starts to run. The bird screams, and he hears its fluttering wings. Its black eyes are fixed on Mike, and its talons close around Mike’s forearm. He feels himself being pulled upward. The bird tries to force itself into the mouth of the stack. Mike falls to the curved floor of the smokestack and spreads his hands wide, feeling around. He finds a piece of broken tile and chucks it at the bird. Mike throws another piece of tile and hits the bird in the eye. He sees that the bird’s tongue is silver with orange puffs, like tumbleweed. For a moment, Mike can see the bird’s reptilian talons. Then, its wings flap and It is gone.
The bird’s attempt to pull Mike into the air mirrors Will Hanlon’s recollection of seeing a bird with orange puffs carry away one of the white supremacists who burned the Black Spot. The silver of the bird’s tongue also matches the clown’s silvery suit. This, along with the orange puffs, demonstrates that the bird is Pennywise in another form. Attacks on the eyes also occur frequently in the novel. Later, Henry Bowers will be stabbed in the eye, and the Losers’ Club gets chased by a crawling eye, which they puncture.
Mike waits to see what will happen next. He has gathered a stack of broken tile to use as ammo. The bird comes back, its wings flapping, and Mike throws more tiles at It, demanding that It go away. He then steps out of the smokestack, looking around. He is sure that he will see the bird, but it’s no longer there.
Mike’s anticipation of what will happen next is similar to a reader or a viewer of a horror film waiting to learn how the next scene will frighten them. The characters’ sense of anticipation builds their fear.
When Mike gets home, his father, Will Hanlon, is changing the plugs on the tractor. Mike explains his dusty appearance by saying that he swerved on his bike to avoid hitting a pothole. He shows his father the gear-wheel from the smokestack. His father says that he doesn’t want Mike to go back to Kitchener Ironworks—at least not until the killer is found. Old places like that, he says, can be dangerous. Mike agrees then goes to get cleaned up for dinner.
Like many children, Mike likes to go exploring in old, abandoned buildings. His father worries, because old places that inspire children’s curiosity can also be places that child predators inhabit. Will Hanlon, like Arlene Hanscom, erroneously believes that a mundane, human evil endangers his son.
Mike releases himself from this memory and looks again at the blood beside the Canal. He throws the pocketknife that he finds into the water. He hears something coming, like dragging footsteps. When he sees the headline in the paper the next day about a missing boy, he thinks of the pocketknife and the grooves that stop at the edge of the Canal.
King hints at the possibility that Mike, too, could be killed by the Creature from the Black Lagoon. However, the creature is not representative of Mike’s subconscious fear. The sound could be Mike intuiting what happened to Eddie Corcoran.