The Quick Recap and Chapter-by-Chapter Summary for Billy Summers by Stephen King are below. Spoiler warning: these summaries contains spoilers.
For a non-spoiler version of the plot synopsis, see The Bibliofile’s review of Billy Summers by Stephen King.
The one-paragraph version: Billy Summers, 44, is a hitman who only kills “bad” men. He accepts one final job (from Nick) before he retires with a major payday attached. However, Billy starts to suspect Nick intends to kill him when the job is done. Sure enough, the job goes as planned, they try to kill him, but Billy gets away. He soon meets Alice, 20, who has just been sexually assaulted, and he helps her punish her attackers (non-lethally). Then, Billy confronts Nick. Nick tells him the one who ordered the job was Klerke (who wanted Billy dead since it was one less loose end). Klerke likes young girls, so Alice dresses up as a teenager so she and Billy can confront Klerke. Alice shoots Klerke. One the way out, the mother of one of the guys Billy injured comes out of nowhere and shoots Billy. He dies.
Billy Summers is a hitman and former Marine sniper who only accepts jobs killing “bad” men and wants to retire altogether. Nick, who Billy has worked for many times before, offers Billy one last job — one that pays $500K upfront and $1.5M after it’s done.
The target, Joel Allen, is also a hitman. He’s wanted in the area for murdering a guy who won a bunch of money off of him in a poker game. Joel has been claiming that he has some valuable information that the police wants in order to make some type of deal, and apparently someone doesn’t want him talking, which is why Billy has been hired to take him out.
The job requires Billy to spend quite some time as a resident in a small town where some office space has been rented out for Billy’s use. The cover story is that Billy is a writer named David Lockridge who has been tasked by his agent to stay there and go to the office and write each day in an attempt to get him to meet his deadline. The office has a direct view to the courthouse, where Joel will eventually be taken to be arraigned for murder. Billy is meant to shoot him at that time and then disappear.
Billy gets suspicious when Nick offers up a getaway plan for after the hit takes place, since typically he leaves that up to Billy to figure out. Nick’s plan involves Billy escaping in a city transit truck that will have someone waiting to drive him away. Billy suspects that Nick intends to then kill him. Instead, Billy starts to formulate his own plan.
While he waits for the big day, Billy also starts writing the fake book his character is supposed to be writing, just as a way to kill time because he wants to. He changes all the names, but writes about his own story, starting with his little sister being beaten and killed by his mother’s drunk boyfriend when he was 11. Billy ended up finding a gun and killing the boyfriend. He later ended up in foster care and then joined the Marines at 17.
In present day, the shooting goes off without a hitch. Billy evades the transit truck and gets away by disguising himself as one of the office workers in the building. He then goes to hide out at an apartment he previously rented under another name, Dalton Smith, where he intends to lay low for a while since there is a media frenzy surrounding the shooting. When Nick doesn’t pay him after the shooting is done and instead demands to know where he is, Billy knows that his suspicions about Nick were correct. He also soon learns there’s a $6M bounty on his head.
While Billy is trying to remain out of sight, he sees a young woman get dumped out of a truck onto the street, drugged and half-dead. Not wanting to attract police attention to the street, he reluctantly goes out to save her. It turns out Alice, 20, had just been sexually assaulted by a group of men. Alice recognizes Billy as the person on the news as the shooter, but she ends up wanting to stay with him for a while.
As Billy continues writing his story, he writes about his experiences in the military and discovering that he was quite a talented sniper. He also writes about an incident in Fallujah where he and his buddies were sent to check out a large house and a majority of them were killed there. One of the survivors, Johnny Capps, later hooked Billy up with his first job as a hitman.
When it’s time to hit the road, Billy first goes to confront Alice’s attackers. He demands that two of them apologize to her over the phone, and then he sodomizes the last one (who was the one lured her there) with an object. After that, Billy and Alice head for a place in Colorado to meet with Bucky, who is Billy’s “broker” and the only person Billy fully trusts, and to plan how to go after Nick.
At Nick’s estate, Billy pretends to be a migrant worker who is there to deliver gardening supplies. He has to kill or injure a bunch of Nick’s men, including seriously injuring a guy named Frank whose mother Marge also works for Nick. Billy manages to extract a promise from Nick to pay the money owed and to tell people that Billy is dead.
Nick also tells Billy that the person who ordered the shooting was Roger Klerke, a wealthy man who owns an assortment of media companies. Roger originally hired Joel Allen to kill his son, Patrick Klerke. Roger has a predilection for very young girls which Patrick had learned about, and he managed to get photo evidence of it. Then, when Patrick had learned that Roger wasn’t planning on passing his company to him, he had lashed out by blackmailing Roger.
Joel Allen successfully killed Patrick, but in doing so Joel found out about the blackmail evidence as well. So, when Joel later got into his own trouble and was trying to use that information to cut a deal with the prosecution, Roger wanted Nick to hire someone (Billy) to kill Joel. Roger also wanted Billy dead to prevent a repeat of the Joel Allen situation.
Billy and Alice stay for a long time at Bucky’s place, and Billy finishes writing his life story to bring it all the way to present day. Meanwhile, Billy learns that Frank lived but now get seizures and screams with pain all the time. When it’s finally time to deal with Klerke, Alice takes photos of herself dressed up as a teenager to send to Klerke to entice him into meeting with them. Klerke takes the bait, and Alice and Billy show up at his place, and Alice shoots Klerke.
On their way out, Marge (Frank’s mom) comes out from nowhere and shoots Billy. Billy shoots back. Marge dies, and Billy is injured. Alice and Billy rush off. (From here, the story is written as if Billy is writing it as part of his life story). When they get back to their hotel, Billy thinks about how he’s bad for Alice, and she’s better off being free from any outlaw stuff. He leaves with hopes of becoming a writer and maybe even someday being able to atone for the things he’s done.
Then, in the final chapter, we learn that the last part of Billy’s story was written by Alice, not Billy. Billy actually died and Alice wrote it to convey his thoughts and how she wished he would have survived.
Billy Summers, 44, goes to meet with Nick Majarian, accompanied by some of Nick’s men, Frank “Frankie” Macintosh and Paulie Logan. They are in a run-down yellow house in a small town called Midwood just east of the Mississippi.
Billy is a sniper and former Iraq War vet who has been working as a hitman since he left the military, though he only kills bad people. Billy wants to retire, but Nick offers him one final job with a major payday attached — 500K upfront and 1.5M after.
The intended target, “Joe”, is also a sniper/hitman. He’s currently across the country in a Los Angeles jail awaiting trail for assault and attempted rape — though the rape charge is unlikely to stick so he’ll likely just have to spend a few months in county jail. He’s also wanted around here for murdering someone after he lost to him in a poker game. They also tell Billy that Joe once killed an innocent 15-year-old girl (to send a message to the girl’s dad), though Billy suspects it might be a lie to make him feel better about killing Joe.
However, Joe’s lawyer is saying that Joe has some valuable information for the police and wants the murder charges dropped in exchange. And now someone wants Joe to be taken out (hence, this conversation) since they don’t want that information released.
Their local contact for the hit is Kenneth Hoff. They want Billy to stay in town for a while (they’ve rented out this house for that purpose) and do the hit here. Back at his hotel, Billy use details about “Joe” to figure out that his real name is Joel Randolph Allen.
The next day, Billy meets with Ken Hoff at a local eatery in Red Bluff. Hoff explains that he owns a 22-story building nearby called The Gerard Tower, where he’s set up a room for Billy on the 5th floor with a clear view of the front steps of the county courthouse, which is where he’ll shoot Joe/Joel. Hoff also confirms that he’s acquired a sniper rifle and scope for Billy to do the job. Hoff also talks about some financial trouble he’s been having, which is why he’s involved with all of this. He mentions a deal involving the WWE that is giving him problems.
Later, Billy meets with Nick again. Nick is with his right-hand man, Giorgio “Georgie Pigs” Piglielli. They give Billy a wallet with his identification. Assuming he takes the job, he’ll be going under the name David Lockridge, pretending to be an aspiring author. Giorgio will stay here pretending to be his agent, going by the name George Russo.
His cover story is that he’s writing a book, but he’s keeping the subject matter of it a secret. He went online to find agents and ends up finding George. They’ve been paid a small advance for the book and it wasn’t getting finished, so George demanded that Dave move out here and write every day in an office (the 5th floor unit), which is why Dave is in Red Bluff.
By that night, Billy has accepted the job, and the $500K has been wired to an offshore account.
On Monday, the move Billy out from his hotel into the little yellow house — 24 Evergreen Street — which has a small Toyota parked out front for him to drive. As Billy settled in, he thinks about how he thinks there’s something that Ken Hoff isn’t telling him. His gut instinct is also to dislike him.
Soon, his neighbor introduces himself as Jamal Ackerman. Jamal is married to his wife Corinne (“Corrie”), and they have two kids — Shanice is 8 and Derek is 10. Jamal works as the foreman at a tire store while Corrie is the stenographer at the courthouse.
The next morning, Billy meets Giorgio and Ken at Gerard Tower. Ken introduces him as David Lockridge to the security guy at the building, Irv Dean. They take a picture of him for his building ID, though Billy dislikes the idea of a photo if himself being left on their serves. Giorgio instructs Ken to tell the building super, Steven Broder, not to clean Billy’s office.
As Ken gives him the rundown of the building, Billy sees how many vacant spaces there are. Ken had previously mentioned that he was a little financially strained at the moment, but Billy starts to realize that Ken must be in serious financial trouble. In the office, Billy is given a new MacBook Pro, though Billy assumes they’ve installed software to track his usage and he plans to use his personal laptop instead.
Later, Billy buys some stuff just in case — two burner phones and another laptop, plus some flash drives. Back at the house, one of the neighborhood kids, Danny Fazio, 9, introduces himself. Jamal has also left him some lawn fertilizer as a gift.
That night, Jamal goes over and they have a drink on the porch. Mrs. Kellogg, a widow who lost her husband last year, drops by to say hi. Soon, they’re joined by the Raglands (Paul and Denise), the Fazios (Diane and Pete) and the Petersons. They tell him that the previous residents of the yellow house were the Dugans, but people thought they were “snotty”.
Before bed, Billy looks up Ken online and sees that he’s a Trump supporter. He owns a bunch of buildings ins downtown Red Bluff, plus three TV stations. He’s also twice divorced, which means he’s likely paying alimony. He had plans to build a golf course and casino, but those plans were scrapped or on hold. Billy starts to think that Nick likely chose Ken for this because he’s sufficiently desperate and would make a good patsy.
In the office the next day, Billy sets up the computer to play solitaire solo by itself, later switching it over to cribbage, so that anyone checking in on his activities will think that’s what he’s up to. Meanwhile, Billy scopes out the area. By now, Billy has completed 17 other assassinations, with this as #18. Part of the difficulty here, however, is figuring out how to get away after-the-fact undetected.
Around lunchtime, a food truck pulls up near the building, and Billy uses it as an opportunity to get to know some of the others working in the building. He meets John, Jim Albright (lawyer), Harry, and Phyllis Stanhope. They tell them there’s quite a few lawyers who work in the building, an accounting firm, a small architectural and a photography studio. Colin White works for a collections agency called Business Solutions which occupies the entire second floor.
After ordering some wigs and other stuff, Billy gets on the MacBook to try to at least pretend to write some of the book his character is supposed to be writing. Despite being well-read, Billy dumbs it down on purpose since he has purposely cultivated a persona of being not much of a thinker to Nick and Giorgio, with the goal of making them underestimate his skills.
That night, Billy is invited over to the Raglands’ for dinner. Giorgio also asks him to drop by on Thursday night to talk.
Billy finds that he enjoys the process of writing, even in a dumbed down form. As he writes, he refers to himself as Benjy Compson. He writes about how his sister, Catherine “Cathy” Ann Summers, was killed when she was 9 by his mother’s boyfriend. He refers to Cathy as “Cassie” in his book as a precaution.
Billy was 11 when it happened. The man, Bob Raines (unnamed in the book), had been drunk and had gotten mad at Cathy over some burnt cookies and had started hitting and kicking her until she was dead. Billy had tried to stop him but, when the man turned on him, Billy ran away and grabbed a gun. Billy then shot him dead.
Later, the stuff Billy ordered arrived — all part of his eventual escape plan because as soon as the shooting is done he knows that “David Lockridge” will be quickly identified as the shooter. The stuff includes a mustache, glasses with clear lenses, and a silicone pregnancy belly.
On Thursday, Billy heads to Nick’s house as instructed. They have a fancy meal.
Afterwards, Nick asks him how things are going and fills him in on some more details. Nick says that the day that “Joe” is headed their way, he’s going to have some flashpots (small explosions resembling gunfire) go off near the courthouse to create a distraction.
Billy has been planning his escape, but when Nick asks if he has any ideas for a getaway, he smiles blankly and says he doesn’t know yet. Instead, Nick offers him an idea, though Billy wonders why Nick is trying to give him ideas for how to make his getaway even though in the past he’s been content to let Billy handle it. Nick says there a Department of Public Works van that they purchased, which could be parked nearby and used as cover for the getaway. After that, they’d take him to a safe house in Wisconsin.
The next day, Billy feels uneasy with things even though Nick has never given Billy a reason to distrust him. Still, the only person that Billy trust completely is his friend Bucky Hanson in New York. In his closet, he has stored a suitcase containing identification and credit cards for a false ID for Dalton Curtis Smith of Vermont.
Dalton is an identity he has carefully cultivated over the years to make it seem as real as possible for when he was ready to make his final getaway. He has a birth certificate, a decent credit score, Social Security, rental history, etc. Dalton is also blond and wears a mustache.
He knows that once the shooting is done, that David Lockridge will be identified as the killer and an alias for William Summers. He’ll also be connected to their fall guy, Ken Hoff. However, he is hoping that no one, including Nick, will be able to connect him to Dalton Smith.
The next day, Billy goes to an apartment building not too far from Gerard Tower and asks to rent an apartment — 658 Pearson, a basement-level unit. He’s wearing a disguise and introduces himself as Dalton Smith. He talks to Mr. Merton Richter to arrange the details. He also meets one of the neighbors, a friendly woman named Mrs. Beverly Jensen.
That weekend, Billy is invited over to the Ackermans’ house, and he plays monopoly with the kids. When he’s given more pocket money the next week, Billy buys a few more cheap laptop computers. Afterwards, he uses his Dalton Smith alias to lease a car for 36 months and to buy a cheap television. He then moves some stuff into the new apartment.
Back at the office, he runs into Phyllis and impulsively invites her for a drink sometime, even though he knows it’s a bad idea to get too close to anyone. They make plans for that Friday.
Billy soon has drinks with Phyllis, and he eventually meet Beverly Jensen’s husband, Don Jensen. He also continues getting to know his neighbors on Evergreen Street, and he buys a grill so he can invite them over for burgers and hotdogs. As they meet for monopoly games each weekend, Billy starts to worry how hurt and shocked they will be when they learn he’s a killer.
Meanwhile, Billy gets to know Colin White, a gay man who is a flashy dresser, because he has a specific use for him. All the while, Giorgio provides him updates on “Joe” by referring to him as David’s “editor”. The message Billy is waiting for that will indicate that “Joe” is on his way is “Your editor wants to publish.”
In mid-August, Billy meet with Nick again for updates. Frankie, Paulie and two new guys, Reggie and Dana Edison are there as well. Ken Hoff also drops by to check to see if everything is going okay.
As Billy continues to write his fake book, referring to himself as Benji Compson. He talks about knowing that Cassie was dead and calling the police. He then called the laundry place where his mother Arlene (real name was Darlene) worked. Eventually the police arrived, telling him he was a brave boy. There was a hearing and counseling for the boy was recommended, but his mother didn’t have the money for that.
Cassie is buried, and he goes back to school, but is held back that year. His mother starts drinking heavily and bringing groups of men back to have sex with. She gets charged with drunk driving and loses her license for six months. Then, she gets charged again, and Billy/Benji is sent to foster care at a place called Speck House (actual name was Stepenek House) in Evansville.
He’s accompanied there by Deputy Franklin “Franky” Winfield Scott Malkin, who tries to reassure him that he can go home once his mother “gets her feet back planted on the ground”. However, she gets hooked on crystal meth and never does.
The Specks “weren’t the worst or the best”, and there were 14 kids total there when he showed up. The youngest was Peggy Pye who eventually ended up in the hospital with pneumonia and died. The oldest was Glen Dutton (real name was Gadsden Drake), who soon joined the army. Billy/Benji was in love with Ronnie Givens (real name was Robin Maguire), whose parents had died in a fire that she had narrowly escaped from, but she later ran away from the Speck House.
Along with Ronnie, Glen and another kid named Donnie Wigmore, he fondly recalls hanging out at a junkyard nearby which they referred to as the Demo Derby. After five years there, Billy/Benji is old enough to enlist in the Marines. While the Specks were basically in it to get money from the state, Mr. Speck helped him get emancipated from his mother so he could join the Marines six months early.
In present day, on Labor Day weekend, two bad things happen. First, there’s a parade downtown and a carnival set up. One of the prizes at the shooting gallery, a giant stuffed flamingo, catches the eye of Shanice. Jamal takes a shot at it, but no dice. Instead, Billy wins the prize for Shanice, who is delighted. When asked, he later claims he learned to shoot in ROTC. Shanice ends up naming the flamingo after him. Still, Billy knows he is being careless.
The second incident happens on Monday. He dons his Dalton Smith getup and goes to a local strip mall. He sees two shifty-looking guys who he suspects are robbers, but he walks on by knowing that he can’t afford extra attention, especially not police attention. As expected, the robbery is soon reported in the newspaper, and he feels terrible.
As Billy continues writing his fake book, he writes about how he went to sign up for the Marines when he was 17 and a half. There, he meets Staff Sergeant Walton Fleck. By then, Ronnie had been gone for 4-5 months. She lets him make out with her before she leaves as a parting gift of sorts, and he remembers it as his first real kiss.
In present day, Ken reaches out to Billy saying that it’s time for Billy to pick up the gun. They meet up at a Wal-mart parking lot for the hand-off. Hoff hides it in a golf bag. As they talk, Hoff expresses some nervousness about what’s to come and his role in all of it. Billy talks him down, reassuring him that he’ll just be some guy who rented out some office space to some bad people. However, Billy doesn’t actually think that’s how it’ll go down. He knows that police will be suspicious that Ken’s financial troubles suddenly disappeared.
Before Ken leaves, he tells Billy that there’s going to be another disturbance on the day of the shooting, but in Cody, a location that’s a few miles away. Billy wonders why Nick doesn’t know about this (since he otherwise would have told him). He also thinks about how Nick’s getaway plan sounds too good to be true. When Billy mulls it over later, he starts to realize that perhaps there’s someone else pulling the strings in all this. Perhaps someone contacted Nick and told him to involve Ken.
Billy also worries that Nick will go looking for him after he disappears his own way instead of going with Nick’s plan. He worries that Bucky Hanson, his broker, will end up with the blowback and possibly end up dead.
Soon, Billy transports the gun to the office disguised in the golf bag as a gift for his agent, complete with a glittery bow. Then, on his personal computer, he opens a document where he’s been tracking Colin’s outfits to find something that would be suitable to pass as something Colin would wear, since he’s planning on making his escape while pretending to be Colin.
As he waits for the big day, he gets a call from Don Jensen, saying that he and Beverly are going to be out of town for a while because Beverly’s mother passed away. Don asks if he can leave a key to their place under his door and have Dalton/Billy water their plants and such. Billy readily agrees since that could work out nicely for him.
By now, Billy has put his writing on hold until after the job is completed. He soon gets a message to call Nick, who says that Joel is expected in town next Wednesday, to be transferred to the courthouse on Thurday.
The following Monday, Phyllis drops by asking him to dinner. She says that she just got dumped and is in need of cheering up. After dinner and drinks, she asks to go to his place, and they have sex. In the morning, they agree that they’re still just friends and that this was just a one-time thing, and then Billy drives her home.
On Tuesday, Don drunkenly calls to tell him the news that he and Beverly have just inherited $200,000 from Beverly’s mother. They’re planning on going on a cruise, and then they’ll be moving to somewhere nicer when they get back.
On Wednesday, Billy brings his Colin getup to the office, and he saves the story he’s written onto a flash drive. Soon, Dana, one of Nick’s men, drops by for a chat. He runs through the plan with Billy, including the getaway plan involving the DPW Transit van. Billy agrees to it all, all the while thinking that if he goes with their getaway plan that he’ll end up with a bullet in his head.
The night before the shooting, Billy picks up and padlock at the store and returns to the yellow house to find a crayon drawing that Shanice left for him on his doorstep. He regrets taking this job, even considering the hefty payday, knowing how disappointed in him the people who have gotten to know David Lockridge will be.
Thursday morning, Billy is up early. He gets his stuff together and drops his three emptied phones into three different sewer grates to dispose of them. He keeps the crayon drawing. In the parking garage, he hides his personal laptop and a cap, which he doesn’t need but very much wants to keep. He gets into the office at 6:2o, and he puts a Do Not Disturb sign on his door.
He soon gets a text alert about a warehouse fire in Cody, confirming the information Ken Hoff had given him about the other disturbance. As he waits, he watches other people file into the building. A little after 9:30, reporters start to populate the area around the courthouse in preparation for the news about Joel Allen.
Joel finally emerges for his arraignment for the murder of James Houghton. As Joel heads up the courthouse steps, Billy takes his shot. It hits him directly in the head, and Joel dies.
As the flashpots go off (the distraction), Billy heads for the bathroom and changes into his Colin outfit. As he emerges, he’s able to see the commotion going on outside around the plaza with everyone shouting about an active shooter. As planned, Billy makes his way to the parking garage. On the way, he can see Dana and Reggie looking for him in their Transit van.
Back in the parking garage, his thinks his laptop is missing, but then finds it. Still, he feels unnerved feeling like he misremembered where exactly he’d hidden it. From there, he puts on the cap and heads out on foot.
One block away from his Pearson address (Dalton Smith’s place), he feels anxious half-expecting someone to suddenly shoot him, but no one does. He tries not to panic when the key initially doesn’t open the door, but then he locates the correct key and gets inside. He sees a Transit van, but then watches as it disappears around the corner.
By a little after 11 AM, Billy is watching as the news about the shooting is reported on television. They’ve quickly identified that there’s a cut into the window (a “shooter’s loophole”) of the 5th floor unit in Gerard Tower, where Billy had made his shot.
When Billy talks to Bucky, Bucky says that Nick wants to know what happened. Billy simply says that he did the job, so there shouldn’t be a problem unless the getaway plan was part of some type of set-up. He asks Bucky if the $1.5M was transferred, but it’s not there yet (which is bad news since that points to it actually being a set up).
Billy tells Bucky to get out of town for a while for his own safety. Recognizing the bad situation that Bucky is now in, Billy promises him $1M of the $1.5M when he gets it. He tells Bucky to send a message to Nick demanding a transfer of the promised funds before midnight.
Billy takes a nap, but is awoken by a call from Beverly Jensen, apologizing for bragging about the money. Billy tells her it’s fine. Soon, Bucky reaches out, saying there’s still no funds. Instead, Nick wants to know where he is. By now, the news has identified David Lockridge as the shooter.
While Billy’s initial plan was to hide out in his basement apartment in the days following the shooting, the situation has now changed, so he needs to go out and take care of business. He goes out and buys a new burner phone.
As he thinks over the situation, he considers that Ken Hoff is likely going to end up dead. Then, he realizes something he should have considered sooner — that Giorgio was also in a very exposed position in all of this as well. With the burner phone, he texts Giorgio, asking about the payment, but gets no response.
While they’ll link Giorgio to Nick regardless of whether Giorgio is dead or alive, as long as Giorgio stays quiet then Nick has plausible deniability in all of this — and Giorgio will definitely stay quiet if he’s dead. Billy wonders why Giorgio would’ve let himself be so exposed in this business.
When he wakes up at 3AM, the news has reported that Ken Hoff was found in his car after committing suicide, via a gunshot to the head.
When he wakes again at 6AM, the news is showing a sketch of Giorgio, who the police are now searching for.
Billy now turns his attention back to his book, which he is keen to continue writing. He replaces any mentions of Benji Compson with his own name. He starts back in by describing his experiences as a new recruit with the Marines. Basic training is 8 weeks long. In Week 6, they learn how to break down and reassemble weapons, and Billy finds that he’s quite good at it.
Week 7 is Firing Week. Billy is teamed up with Rudy “Taco” Bell, since each team consists of a shooter and a spotter. Two other guys he would later end up together with in Fallujah — George “Dinner Winner/Din-Din” Dinnerstein and Pete “Donk” Cashman — were paired together as well. George is a good shot. Billy is also identified as a good shooter and is soon transferred to Camp Pendleton.
Fast forward to fall of 2003, Billy is stationed in Ramadi as a peacekeeper, still teamed up with Taco. As he’s doing target practice, Lieutenant Colonel Jamieson sees them. He drives them over to a mosque roughly 900 yards away and asks Billy to shoot out one of the loudspeakers that is broadcasting anti-American sentiments. Billy does as instructed, and then they leave.
As Billy thinks about how people in Baghdad had once welcomed them, yelling “we love America” and how that had eventually transitioned into “we hate America”, he thinks about that day shooting pointlessly at that mosque.
By the last day of March 2004, Billy is now at Camp Baharia, referred to as “Dreamland“, two miles outside of Fallujah. Billy is with Taco, George and Donk playing poker when they hear shooting, which turns out to be some Blackwater contractors being ambushed in Fallujah. The next day, Billy is summoned by a CIA guy, Foss, and asked to snipe out the guy who set the contractors up to be killed, Ammar Jassim.
They get set up with him, his rifle and an M151 known as the Spotter’s Friend. Finally, Billy gets a clear shot. He takes it, and Jassim is dead. As they rush off from their position, Billy spots a pink baby shoe and picks it up. The baby shoe becomes a good luck charm for him because leaning over to pick it up probably prevented him from getting shot.
In present day, Billy flips back on the news. Ken has now been implicated in the shooting, and it’s hypothesized that his suicide could actually have been a murder. Meanwhile, David Lockridge has now been identified as an alias for William Summers, who they know was a Marine and a decorated Iraq War veteran. Billy watches as they air interviews with his neighbors on Evergreen Street.
The next few days, Billy whiles away the time writing and exercising to try to keep sane from being cooped up indoors. He soon gets the idea to check the Jensen’s apartment for a gun, which he finds and takes just as a precaution.
From here on out, Billy plans to write the part of his story about Operation Phantom Fury in November 2004, and then he plans to travel west to pay Nick a visit to get what he’s owed.
However, his plan is very quickly derailed. Close to midnight, he sees a van outside with some people in it. There appears to be a group of guys who leave a girl slumped over half-dead near the street in the rain. Billy knows he needs to go help her since the last thing he wants is someone seeing her and calling the police into the area.
The girl is semi-conscious and her thighs seem to have blood on them. She throws up in the foyer as he brings her inside. She’s also bruised and shivering. Billy undresses her and dries her off. He then puts some clothes on her and puts her to bed. Afterward, he checks her wallet to see that her name is Alice Reagan Maxwell, 21, from Kingston, Rhode Island. He also removes the SIM card from her phone.
He can’t help but think it would be much simpler if he let her die, but he won’t do that. She’s still shivering, so finally he gets into bed with her to let her warm up next to him. When he wakes up, she is still sleeping. He checks that she is breathing. He then goes and sleeps on the couch. When he wakes, she’s standing over him holding a knife.
Alice demands to know what happened, and he soon explains what he knows and offers her coffee. She demands to know why he didn’t take her to a hospital, but he says that it didn’t seem like she was going to die so he let her sleep instead.
He then asks her what she remembers, and as she’s telling him she has a panic attack. He helps her through it with a trick he learned from one of his Marine buddies, Clay “Pill/Pillroller” Briggs. She explains that she is a student who works part time as a barista. She met Tripp Donovan, 24, who she went on a couple dates with. Last night, he invited her up for a drink before they were supposed to head out to go dancing. She met his roommates, Hank Flanagan and Jack Martinez. They offered her a gin and tonic and from there her memory starts to get foggy.
After he makes her breakfast, Billy puts his disguise back on, and she admits that she knows that he’s the shooter who has been in the news. He tells her he’s going to the nearest drugstore to pick up the morning after pill for her. He then reminds her that he saved her life, and that he is trusting her to not reveal his identity to anyone. He says that the man he killed was a bad man. Still, Billy realizes there’s a reasonable chance she’ll turn in him regardless.
When he gets back, he gives her the stuff. She asks if she can stay for a few days, since she is afraid that Tripp may come looking for her (though Billy imagines he’ll probably just want nothing to do with her).
When she goes back to sleep, Billy resumes his writing about Operation Phantom Fury where they were stationed in Fallujah. He recalls how Clay “Pill” Briggs had to help the many men who had panic attacks as it wore on. In August 2004, Jamieson ends up in a cot and in a lot of pain with his left foot blown off, among other injuries. Clay convinces him that singing will help to ease the pain. They sing Teddy Bears’ Picnic with him until Jamieson passes out.
In present day, Billy’s writing is interrupted by Alice. They watch some television on the Jensen’s big TV. They also discuss how Billy plans to stick around for another 4-5 days. Alice agrees to stick around for that duration, too, since that allows him to keep an eye on her to see that she’s not turning him in before he can leave.
That night, Billy dreams about Fallujah. He thinks about him, Pill, Taco and Albie Stark hiding behind an overturned taxi, with heavy fire directed at them, while Albie bleeds to death with his head in Taco’s lap.
When he awakes, Alice is having another panic attack, and he sings Teddy Bears’ Picnic with her to calm her down. She soon asks him about why he killed Joel Allen, and he tells her the whole story, but he replaces Nick’s name with a fake name (Benjy Compson) for her own safety.
He goes out for groceries, and Alice promises to stay put. He tells her if the police come looking for him for some reason, to claim that she was afraid to leave. When he returns he thinks she’s gone — until he realizes that she’s outside setting up the grill. They have a nice dinner, and the next day he gets the idea to suggest that she read his book.
Her enthusiasm for reading it motivates him, and Billy continues writing. He writes about his crew, the Hot Nine who became the Hot Eight after Albie’s death. When he gets to the part where they were assigned to clear out a house which he now ominously refers to as the “Funhouse“, he takes a break.
Later, thinking about what happened to Alice, he suggests doing something for revenge, though he assures her he won’t kill them. Alice says she’s mostly angry at Tripp and thinks he deserves some form of punishment.
Merton Richter soon shows up at the building. As Billy hurries to get his disguise back on, he worries what Richter will think if he sees Alice here, half Billy’s age and with bruises on her face and body. When Richter comes in, Billy claims she is his niece.
Richter explains that this and nearby properties have been purchased by a developer who is planning to build a strip mall in the area. As a result, Billy only has six weeks to find alternate accommodations. Before he leaves, Richter points out that Billy no longer has a mustache, and he realizes that he forgot to put it on.
After he leaves, Billy decides it’s time for him to head out of town soon, and he and Alice get started on cleaning things up and packing up. When they’re ready, they head out to go confront the guys that attacked Alice. Billy pays for two motel rooms in the area for him and Alice.
Alice points out their building, and Billy manages to get inside. He then heads to their apartment, and puts on a mask. When Jack answers the door, Billy sprays him in the eyes with Easy-Off (a cleaning product) and zip-ties his hands. After rinsing his eyes, Billy questions him.
Jack says that Tripp will probably be back sometime after 2PM and Hank will be back after 4PM. When Tripp comes through the door, Billy hits him with the butt of the gun and tip-ties his hands as well after a little resistance. Eventually, Hank strolls in, and Billy zip-ties him as well.
For Jack and Hank, he makes them apologize to Alice over the phone. As for Tripp, Billy takes out a Magic Wand mixer. He explains to Tripp that men don’t know what it’s like to be raped unless it happens to them. He then tells Tripp that he can comply or get shot in the ankle and possibly lose his foot. Tripp cries, and then Billy uses it to sodomize him. Billy also takes a picture of all three of them before he leaves.
When he returns to the motel, Alice hugs him, and she asks to travel with him for a while. He agrees, but warns her that eventually they’ll have to go their separate ways. That night, he asks Bucky to meet up, and Bucky gives him a location in Sidewinder, Colorado. Billy also tells him that he’ll need a new ID for someone he’s traveling with.
It’s a two day drive to Sidewinder. As they drive, Billy thinks about how his interest in helping in Alice is clearly has to do with rectifying the way he feels he wasn’t able to help Cathy, with Alice essentially serving as a grown-up version of his sister.
Eventually they arrive at Bucky’s cabin in Colorado. Around here, Bucky goes by the name Elmer Randolph, his real first and middle name. Billy introduces Bucky and Alice, and soon he launches into the details of what happened with the Joel Allen shooting.
Afterwards, Bucky sets Alice up with a new ID as “Elizabeth Anderson”. He then lets Billy know that a lot of people seem to be looking for him, not just Nick and his guys. Moreover, there is apparently a $6M bounty on Billy’s head.
Later, as Billy and Bucky talk over Billy’s plan to track down Nick in Las Vegas to get his payment, Bucky suggests that Billy take Alice along with him, since they’ll be looking for a man traveling alone. Bucky also suggests swapping around the car since his out-of-state plates make him more conspicuous.
Alice goes for a walk, and when she returns, she reports seeing the Overlook Hotel, but then she blinked and it was gone. Billy tells her it’s probably best to steer clear of that area.
The next day, Bucky tells Billy how Alice referred to Billy as her guardian angel. Later that morning, Alice and Bucky head into the city to run some errands and pick up some things. Meanwhile, Billy gets back to his writing.
Returning to his book, Billy describes their experience at the Funhouse, a large estate with a courtyard. Taco has some misgivings about going in, saying that the situation feels “hinky”, but Captain Hurst tells him to get on with it. The Hot Eight (Billy plus Taco, Pill, Donk, Din-Din, Big Klew, Pablo “Bigfoot/Foot” Lopez and Johnny Capps) proceeds, but the situation gets ugly quickly. Billy remembers feeling for his lucky baby shoe and finding that it’s not there.
They blow the lock on a locked area, and immediately are hit with gunfire coming from the balcony above them. In less than 90 seconds or so, Johnny Capps is hit in the legs, and Klew is shot in the chest. Taco then gets hit in the shoulder and face. The rest of the guys find a position of safety, but then Bigfoot tries to grab Johnny to try to save him, and Bigfoot is shot in the face.
Billy runs into the unfinished apartment building next to them to try to take out some of the Iraqi shooters. However, in the meantime, Donk tries to get Johnny to safety, and Donk is killed in the process as well. When Billy is in position, he sees the three guys laughing over their kills, and Billy takes all three of them out.
In the present day, Billy takes a break from writing. There was a painting on the wall of hedge animals that he’d taken down because it was distracting him. Now, as he glances at it again, he feels like the animals have shifted position, but he tells himself that he must’ve misremembered what the painting looked like before.
When Bucky and Alice return, Bucky has a different car with him, a beat-up truck intended for Billy to use to drive to Las Vegas. Alice has also brought him back a new wig, though it doesn’t match what’s on his drivers license photo.
They look up Nick’s place — 1900 Cherokee Drive in Paiute, Nevada near Las Vegas — on Google Earth and Zillow to glean whatever information they can about the $15-million-dollar property, such as exterior shots and getting an idea of what’s nearby. Bucky points out a small gatehouse which is almost certainly guarded. The expansive landscaped grounds of the estate are referred to as Promontory Point.
When Bucky and Billy are alone, Bucky warns Billy that Alice seems very attached to him and would probably be willing to follow Billy where ever, but that wouldn’t be good for her since he’s an outlaw. Instead, Billy should take care of the business in Nevada — leaving her out of it — and then she should go back to being Alice Maxwell. Also, Bucky says to tell her in advance that if it goes south and he doesn’t return, that she should head back here to Bucky’s cabin.
After the fifth day of being at Bucky’s, Billy and Alice head for Las Vegas. Their truckbed has been loaded with stuff to make him seem like a migrant laborer. Bucky also says he’ll have someone drive the Dalton Smith car back to where it came from.
When they stop for the night, Alice tells Billy more about her background. Her father owned a furniture store, but died when she was 8. Her mother was a bookkeeper, and she has an older sister, Gerry. Her mother and sister thought she should go to beauty school, but Alice decided to attend Clarendon Business College instead.
Soon, Bucky reaches out with information that the landscaping at Promontory Point is done by a company called Greens & Gardens. Nick likes to return to his estate on weekend to watch the Giants on Sundays. Meanwhile, Billy starts to memorize some Spanish phrases saying that his name is Pablo Lopez, that he’s a deafmute, that he’s with his daughter and indicating that he does gardening work.
Nearing Las Vegas, Billy tells Alice about how he got into the assassination business. Johnny Capps ended up surviving Fallujah and getting airlifted out, though he became addicted to dopamine during rehab. Johnny had a distant cousin who’d been beaten up by a guy who liked to pick up women and assault them. Johnny and his other cousin, Joey Cappizano, met with the “organization” that guy worked for, and it turns out they all wanted this dude gone.
Johnny ended up contacting Billy, who got the job done. Johnny later introduced Billy to Bucky and hooked him up with a couple of other jobs as well.
Soon, Dalton Smith and Elizabeth Anderson have booked rooms at a motel near Las Vegas. One night, she has another panic attack and asks to sleep in his bed, though they don’t sleep together.
When the time comes to confront Nick, Billy gives her a bunch of cash in case he doesn’t come back, and he instructs her to call Bucky and leave the next day if that happens. Otherwise, he promises to call when it’s finished.
On Sunday, Billy heads toward the estate alone. When he arrives at Promontory Point, Billy takes the maintenance road and sees that the gate it leads to is open. A woman who is doing some gardening stops him as he enters, demanding to know why he’s here on a Sunday.
Billy pretends to delivering some gardening equipment, and after some hostile questioning, she lets him in. Billy can’t shake the sense that he’s seen her before, but he’s not sure from where. As Billy gets back in the car, however, she moves to attack him, but he gets lucky and happens to notice before she does. After he’s stopped her, he realizes that she was the chef working at Nick’s place in Red Bluff, Marge Macintosh (Frank’s mother).
When she refuses to cooperate with him, he knocks her out and takes her phone, walkie-talkie and gun. However, she manages to revive herself and start screaming. As a result, another guy Billy recognizes, Sal, comes out to check things out, and Billy shoots him.
At the main house, the front door is unlocked. He hears to sound of cheering, which indicates that the Giants have likely just scored. Then, a young maid sees him. He quickly pulls out his gone and tells her to run away out the front door, which she does. Billy then hears Nick call out to her, Maria, though she’s gone by then. When Frank goes looking for her in the kitchen, Billy butts him with the gun, and Frank hits hit head on the island table as he collapses.
As Billy walks into the room where the game is playing, he sees that Nick is seated with two other men, Reggie and Mark Abromowitz. When they finally notice him, Billy orders the two other guys to get down on the floor with their arms and legs spread apart, and he orders Nick to turn off the television.
Based on the chairs, he sees that there’s one person unaccounted for. Mark says he went to the bathroom, and when Reggie protests, Billy shoots Reggie in the ankle.
Nick admits that the missing person is Dana (who was the person that was originally supposed to shoot Billy, most likely). Billy demands that Dana come out if he wants to live, but Dana doesn’t emerge, so Billy opens the door and kills him. Meanwhile, Mark manages to scamper off. Then, when Billy sees Reggie reach for a gun, Billy kills Reggie as well.
Now, it’s just Billy and Nick. Upstairs, Billy can hear Marge freak out about her injured son, Frank. Nick admits that taking that contract was a mistake. He also says that Giorgio isn’t dead, he’s actually at a intensive weight-loss camp in Brazil so he can reach his goal weight to get a liver transplant. Billy thinks to himself that it’s such a bizarre reason for him to be gone that it must be true.
As they talk, Nick reveals that Giorgio was paid $3M to set up Billy, and Nick was offered $6M for the job. The client’s name was Roger Klerke, a name associated with the WWE — World Wide Entertainment. The mention of the WWE reminds Billy of the initial conversation that he’d had with Ken Hoff.
Billy tells Nick to get in his safe and emerge in an hour. He also demands that Nick tell people that he (Billy) came here and died in the shootout. If Nick doesn’t do that, then Billy will come back and kill him. Nick also promises to get him his money, though Billy thinks to himself that he no longer cares about the money. On the way out, he grabs the keys to Reggie’s SUV and drives that off.
Once he’s back outside the gate, Billy calls Alice to let her know that he’s alive. Meanwhile, Billy thinks about the man he needs to take care of next: Roger Klerke.
After Billy reunites with Alice, he tells her they’re headed for Utah. Some online research reveals that Roger Klerke is 65 and owns a number of media companies, including the WWE, a movie studio, two streaming services, etc. He also owns the only TV station in Red Bluff that managed to get footage of the Joel Allen shooting (because the other stations were in Cody reporting on the warehouse fire).
Billy then fills Alice on the details of what Nick had told him. Nick was originally the go-between for another killing, one where Joel Allen was the shooter. Roger Klerke was the one who ordered it, and the target was his son, Patrick Klerke.
Roger had been under pressure to name a successor, and it was expected by outsiders to be Patrick, but Roger knew that he was a partier and a drug user. His younger son, Devin, was his pick instead. When Patrick found out, he was furious. More importantly, Patrick had found out that his father was abusing young girls, with one particularly young in Tijuana, and obtained photographic evidence of it. Patrick made a bunch of demands based on that evidence. After Roger agreed to the demands and acquired the evidence in return, Roger had Patrick killed.
After Joel Allen completed his part, the whole thing was covered up as some type of gang violence where Patrick had been mistaken for someone else. However, apparently Joel Allen must’ve learned about the details of his killing — especially the bit about the incriminating evidence against Roger — in the process.
So, when Joel Allen was arrested for his own misdeeds and started trying to use that information to negotiate a deal, then Roger wanted him dead as well. Nick then brought in Billy to kill Joel.
In present day, that night, Alice gives Billy advice on wiping off the makeup he used as part of his disguise. Then, before they head off to their separate rooms, Alice tells Billy she lives him, and Billy says it back to her.
Afterwards, Billy calls Nick to confirm that he’s setting things right, and Nick reassures him. He’s writing the first 300K that Billy is owed tomorrow. Nick also comments that Billy is smarter than he or anyone else realized. Billy also asks Nick for Giorgio’s number, which Nick obliges him with. Nick also clarifies that this whole thing was never about the $1.5M, it was because Klerke specifically wanted Billy dead to avoid a repeat of the Joel Allen fiasco.
As he tries to sleep, he feels unrest over the guys he killed that day. He also thinks about how he ditched that truck at Nick’s place with the crayon drawing of Dave the Flamingo from Shanice still inside. It was another good luck charm for him that’s now gone.
The next day, they drive back to Bucky’s place. When Alice sees Bucky again, she greets him with a warm hug.
They end up staying at Bucky’s cabin for quite some time, with Alice convincing him that he should try to finish his book, though he knows she’ll probably be the only one to ever read it. He sees that the hedge animal painting is on the wall again and takes it back down. He’s also sure that the animals on it have shifted again.
Near the end of October, Billy’s story is caught up to the moment when he and Alice (referred to as Katherine in the book) returned to Bucky’s (Hal in the book) place after dealing with Nick. As he saves his work and closes his laptop, Billy notices that the creepy painting is on the wall again.
Bucky tells him that it’s a painting of hedge animals that used to be in front of the Overlook Hotel. He also says the painting was here when he bought the cabin.
With the book done, Billy calls Giorgio. He says that it’s all water under the bridge, but he wants information from him about Klerke’s whereabouts. Giorgio doesn’t know, but he says he can find out. Giorgio also admits to helping find girls for Klerke with the assistance of a woman named Judy Blatner, but Judy was 18+ only. For girls younger than that, she’d refer Klerke to other people.
Giorgio also reassures Billy that he had nothing to do with the little girl in Tijuana. Giorgio says that both he and Judy hate Klerke and would happily see him dead.
After they get off the phone, Billy, Bucky and Alice contemplate now young they could potentially make Alice look in order to lure Klerke. Klerke lives on a 40-acre estate (which he refers to as Eos) so sniping him out is not feasible. He lives there alone, apart from his assistant William Peterson. Bucky warns that Peterson likely functions as an assistant-slash bodyguard and likely has decent firearm skills.
Giorgio says that the man Klerke works with to procure girls in New York is Darren Byrne. He suggests that Billy pretend to be Darren’s brother or cousin for when he offers up Alice to him as bait.
They take a bunch of photos of Alice where she is dressed up to look as young as possible. From there, Giorgio will send those photos to Klerke, who will hopeful be interested so they can secure an invitation to his place. Billy will go with her, pretending to be a concierge-service-type pimp.
Giorgio also provides an update on Frank, who’s alive, but his suffered a serious brain injury. He now sleeps a lot and has seizures and screams a lot when he’s awake. Marge, his mother, is taking care of him. Afterwards, Billy calls Nick and tells him to throw in an extra 200K to what he owes and give it to Marge from Billy. Nick agrees.
Before he leaves Bucky’s place, Billy takes the creepy hedge animals photo and tosses it off the cliff into the gorge where the Overlook once (reportedly) stood.
As they head out, Billy gives Alice a small handgun. He then shoots off the e-mail to Giorgio with the photos of Alice, and he instructs Giorgio to identify her as “Rosalie”. Soon, Giorgio responds to say that Klerke is interested.
This last part is written as the ending to Billy’s book. He writes about how on the way to Klerke’s home, Alice finishes reading the end of Billy’s book. She tells him she might stay with Bucky for a while after this is all over until she finds a job and whatnot. Meanwhile, Billy says that when this is done, he might try his hand at being a writer, though he’d never publish the story about himself.
Billy gets a text from Giorgio saying that Klerke’s assistant wants a photo of the person Rosalie is coming with (Billy), for identification purposes. So, Billy gets dressed up in his black wig and pimp outfit, and they take a picture.
In New Jersey, they check into a hotel, and Billy received the package he had requested from Giorgio containing a cannister of Carfentanil. It’s sleeping gas.
At 6:00 PM on November 4, they head out to meet with Klerke. At the gate, Billy introduces himself as Steve Byrne, a cousin of Darren’s. Billy is told to leave his gun outside.
When they’re through the gate, Billy instructs Alice to stay behind him. Then, when Peterson approaches, he demands the money. After checking it over, Billy clocks Peterson and sprays him with the gas.
Klerke comes to see the commotion, and when he realizes what has happened, he tries to run. However, he’s old and Billy quickly catches up to him and shoves him over. As Billy confronts him, Alice angrily shoots Klerke in the stomach.
Alice is shocked and upset with her own actions. Billy moves to usher her out, and he tries to mollify her worries, saying that “What I know is men like him are above justice in most cases. Except the kind we gave him.”
As he goes to pick back up his gun, Marge appears seemingly out of nowhere, and shoots him just as Billy fires off a shot as well. Billy shot kills Marge. Marge’s shot is less accurate. but he’s still wounded. They leave, and Alice rushes to help clean Billy up.
Knowing it’s time to part ways, that night Billy writes a goodbye letter to Alice. He explains that it’s no good for her to follow him, since he’s a “bad man” because of the things he’s done. He also reminds her that Bucky will be kind to her and get her started in a new life, but he’s also a “bad man” who has done many bad things.
Instead, he tells her the names attached to two accounts (Edward Woodly and James Lincoln) and says that Bucky can give her access to those accounts. He can also help her manage how to get the money into her account, which is important since money needs to be accounted for (it can’t just materialize from nowhere) or else that creates a liability for her.
Finally, he lets her know that he’s left her the thumb drive with his story it. He encourages her to finish the story, saying that “you must be very familiar with my style by now! After that, he leaves, thinking to himself that he hopes to someday to be able to atone for his past action.
By November 21, 2019, Alice is at Bucky’s place again. She is reading over the end of Billy’s story.
Bucky point out that it’s incongruous that the story narrates Billy leaving, since if he’d already left her the thumb drive he wouldn’t have had it at that point. Still, he says it’s good, and he doesn’t know where Alice’s writing takes over (basically, we find out the ending of the story was written by Alice, not Billy, but that’s not what really happened).
Instead, what actually transpired was that Billy had told her the best thing to do about the bullet was to go to sleep and head for Bucky’s (since they couldn’t go to a hospital). The next morning, he directs her to a truck stop and instructs her to try to buy some painkillers off of someone and Adderall (so Alice will have the energy to keep driving).
After he takes the medicine, he’s able to drive for a while, however, he starts to feel worse. He takes two oxycontin pills and goes to take a nap. By the time they’re in Nebraska, Billy seems to know he’s going to die. He says to her all the things that in the previous chapter were described in the “letter”. Then, he dies.
Bucky is the one who helps to dispose of Billy’s body. Alice goes to the place he’s buried and tells Billy that she’s going to Fort Collins to attend Colorado State. She also thinks she might want to try her hand at doing some writing herself.