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HORROR AUTHOR STABLE, ALERT AFTER SURGERY FROM VAN INJURY

LEWISTON, Maine (AP) -- Stephen King was conscious, alert and even cracking jokes following an operation to treat his shattered leg and collapsed lung sustained after being struck by a van.The prolific, best-selling horror author remained in serious but stable condition, hospital officials said Sunday. King faces additional surgery this week.

"He's been alert and he's in pretty good spirits," said Chuck Gill, vice president of Central Maine Medical Center, where King is recovering.

Hospital spokesman Laird Covey said King had been talking with his wife, Tabitha, adding, "I know that he has been cracking some jokes to the staff about his condition."

Officials said King was thrown 14 feet when he was hit Saturday by a Dodge Caravan in Lovell, where he owns a summer home.

STILTSVILLE HOMES NEAR MIAMI WON'T FACE WRECKING BALL YET

MIAMI (AP) -- The colorful little cluster of homes called Stiltsville, built high on poles over the waters of Biscayne Bay, received a reprieve from wrecking crews for at least five months.

The extension was to be announced Monday by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Biscayne National Park Superintendent Dick Frost, The Miami Herald reported Monday.

"I'm so excited about getting the breathing room we have long sought," Ros-Lehtinen said.

The congresswoman and owners of the seven Stiltsville homes battled for several months to preserve the landmark aquatic community off the tip of Key Biscayne in the shadow of downtown Miami.

FREE TOURS AIM TO UPGRADE IMAGE OF SITE OF 1960S RIOTS

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Watts, best known as the site of this city's race riots in 1965, wants a piece of the Southern California tourist trade.

Community organizers are attempting to spruce up the image of the impoverished area and attract investment by offering free weekly bus tours.

On Saturday, about 50 people took a jaunt through the neighborhood southeast of downtown.

Poverty and crime long have plagued the area, but Watts is more than "a place of unbridled anger and desperation," said a brochure the visitors received.

The highlight of the tour was a stop at the Watts Towers, the airy, spiraling towers built by Italian immigrant Simon Rodia over more than three decades.

FATHER'S DAY GATHERING URGES DUO TO RECONCILE WITH MOM

PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Paul Keller spent his Father's Day in a futile attempt to persuade two women he's never met to reconcile with their mother.

The West Palm Beach man, his wife and daughter were among some two dozen people who gathered Sunday in a protest outside the home of confessed kidnapper Stephen Fagan.

"We're spending (Father's Day) together as a family and on something that's important to us," Keller said.

Nearby, Keller's daughter, Laura, held a sign that read in part: "Good dads don't lie to their children."

Fagan, 57, pleaded guilty in Massachusetts last month to kidnapping his daughters 20 years ago from their mother, Barbara Kurth. He received five years of probation and was ordered to perform 2,000 hours of community service.

Fagan, who reinvented himself as a Palm Beach socialite named Dr. William Martin, could have faced 20 years in prison. He told his girls their mother was dead.

His daughters, 25-year-old Rachael Martin and 22-year-old Lisa Martin, have stood firmly behind their father and have not made any effort to contact Kurth.

USS KITTY HAWK TO RETURN TO HOME STATION IN JAPAN

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Now that NATO's air campaign against Yugoslavia is over, the Pentagon intends to return an aircraft carrier to the western Pacific in a move made more urgent by renewed tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The Navy has been without an aircraft carrier in the Pacific since early April, when the USS Kitty Hawk carrier battle group went to the Persian Gulf to cover for the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

The Theodore Roosevelt diverted to the Adriatic Sea to bolster allied aircraft striking at Yugoslavia.

With NATO having officially declared its air campaign ended, the Theodore Roosevelt is expected to head to the gulf, freeing the Kitty Hawk to return to its normal station at Yokosuka, Japan.

BOMBSHELL OF PANIC DROPS FROM NEIGHBOR'S GARBAGE

MAITLAND, Fla. (AP) -- Carol Perez just wanted to get rid of a hunk of junk on garbage day. But her neighbors panicked when they saw what she had put out with the trash: a bombshell.

Perez went to work on Friday without realizing she was about to cause a major stir.

Police closed off a section of her street, and several frightened parents took their children home from the Jewish Community Center across the street.

A U.S. Army bomb squad was called to identify it as a shell from a World War II flash bomb that posed no threat.

Perez said the shell had been at the house since she moved in years ago. "My kids and I have picked it up millions of times," she said.

Perez said she had no idea it was a bombshell, but she could tell from the hole in the bottom that it was empty.

N.Y. POLICE KILL CHARGING BULL THAT ESCAPED FROM RODEO

NEW YORK (AP) -- A bull escaped from an illegal rodeo and rampaged through busy city streets for a half mile, charging at several people before police killed the animal.

The bull was among those owned by a North Carolina-based rodeo company that had rented a vacant lot for a Sunday show in Queens. Its operator was ordered to shut down because the rodeo lacked a permit.

As police watched rodeo workers loading the eight bulls on a truck, the one-ton bull named Narco bolted. The confused animal then rumbled through several blocks. In pursuit were officers and a rodeo worker with a lariat.

Officers tried to herd the bull into a parking lot, but it refused to cooperate and was shot dead after police deemed it a menace to the public, a department spokeswoman said.