Dolan's Cadillac (short story)
"Dolan's Cadillac" is a novella by Stephen King. It was originally published in Castle Rock, King's official newsletter, in monthly installments from February to June 1985. In 1993, "Dolan's Cadillac" was collected in Nightmares & Dreamscapes. The story is narrated by the protagonist, a schoolteacher, and there is only one other main character, Dolan.
|Genre(s)||crime, thriller, novella|
|Published in||Nightmares & Dreamscapes|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
The narrator, known only by his surname, Robinson, is a schoolteacher who lives in Las Vegas. He has become a widower after Dolan, a wealthy crime-boss, had his wife murdered with a car bomb in order to prevent her from testifying against him. The murder remains unsolved, and Robinson, unskilled in the arts of revenge, has no recourse. Over a seven-year period, however, Robinson—mentally haunted by his wife's voice—devises a scheme of retaliation.
Discovering that Dolan regularly takes the same route along State Route 71 when traveling to Los Angeles while in his Cadillac, Robinson decides to trick Dolan into missing a detour, which leads the Cadillac to crash into a ditch in which he'll be buried alive; while the Cadillac is armored against most conventional forms of attack, he realized he can use that against Dolan. He takes on a summer job with a road paving crew so that he can learn to operate the heavy equipment needed to excavate an oblong ditch just long and deep enough to contain the car, but not so wide as to allow escape through its doors.
The trap works, and Dolan is stuck in his Cadillac as it crashes into the pit. One of Dolan's bodyguards is killed in the crash, while the other, crushed by the engine block, screams out in pain and panic, prompting Dolan to kill him. Robinson greets him and announces his intent on burying Dolan alive. Dolan addresses Robinson by name, prompting him to lean over the roof of the car as Dolan fires a few bullets skyward. He misses Robinson, who proceeds with the burial.
Dolan, increasingly desperate, pleads with Robinson for his freedom, offering him a large sum of cash. Robinson merely tells him he will be released if he screams as loud as the explosives that killed his wife, gleefully listening to Dolan's cries as he completes the burial and paves over his car. With what must be the last gasp of air left to him, Dolan screams out, "For the love of God, Robinson!" (An allusion to The Cask of Amontillado) as the latter drops the last piece of paving into place.
Robinson pays a relatively small price of undergoing much physical and mental exhaustion, but he feels satisfied that he has done a great service to the memory of his late wife, whose voice finally falls silent; this silence is something of a relief to Robinson. The press reports Dolan missing, joking that he is "playing dominos or shooting pool somewhere with Jimmy Hoffa."
Robinson notes that he often traveled along the same highway to the area where he buried Dolan alive. During his final trip, he urinated on the spot where he thought Dolan was buried. He notes that this was his final trip down the highway and that he now takes an alternate route. Robinson's wife's voice no longer haunts him, and he finds this a relief.
The 2008 film version of "Dolan's Cadillac" was directed by Jeff Beesley, scripted by Richard Dooling and starred Christian Slater as Dolan, Wes Bentley as Robinson, and Emmanuelle Vaugier as Robinson's wife. The film was shot in Regina and Moose Jaw. J-pop idol Crystal Kay performed its theme song, "Hold On".