STEPHEN KING “Quitters, Inc.” Short story. First published in Night Shift (Doubleday, hardcover, 1978). Reprinted in Best Detective Stories of the Year: 1979, edited by Edward D. Hoch (Dutton, hardcover, 1979); and Prime Suspects, edited by Bill Pronzini & Martin H. Greenberg (Ivy, paperback original; 1st printing, June 1987). Film/TV adaptations: (1) Anthology film Cat’s Eye (1985) along with “The Ledge” and “General.” (See comment #1.) (2) Bollywood film No Smoking (2007) (3) “Bigalow’s Last Smoke” (1985) an episode of Tales from the Darkside, 09 June 1985 (Season 1, Episode 21). (King is not credited on either of these last two.)

   An agency man named Morrison meets an old friend from another agency in a bar, but while Morrison is in bad shape healthwise – he’s overweight, drinks too much, and more importantly, smokes too much – his friend is in great shape. How’d he do it, he asks. The friend gives him a business card. It says Quitters, Inc., Treatment by Appointment. Go here, he is told. They have a plan that’s guaranteed to get you to quit smoking. 100%.

   Morrison demurs but decides to give it a try.

   If you’ve ever read a Stephen King novel or story, you know you’re in for a gonzo over-the-top tale from here on out. 100%. No doubt about it. And so it is here. Nobody can match Stephen King when it comes to stories like this, but in that regard, this is only a normal Stephen King story.

   Normal, that is, until it comes to the last line. If you ever read this story, you won’t forget it. Never. 100% guaranteed. And not a bad way to lead off an anthology of crime and mystery stories, as Bill Pronzini and Martin H. Greenberg did with Prime Suspects, the first of several similar collections they put together in the late 80s. Other authors include P. D. James, Ed McBain, John D. MacDonald and Donald E. Westlake, just for beginners.