Three. This is the number of your fate.
Welcome to A Read of the Dark Tower series. Join me each week as I, Constant Reader, tackle the magnum opus of Stephen King’s career for the first time. If you want to discuss in general terms or talk about these first sections, join me by commenting here.
When we last saw Roland in the last half of chapter four of The Drawing of the Three, the section called “Detta on the Other Side,” his fever had gotten the best of him and he “swooned some thirty miles south of the place where the Western Sea’s beach came to an end.” And, finally, Odetta reappeared.
This week, we’ll look at the first half of the next division, entitled “Reshuffle.”
The Drawing of the Three — Reshuffle, Section 1
Now that Odetta’s back, she realizes what bad shape Roland’s in and, unlike Detta, is willing to help Eddie out. He pushes her ahead as fast as he can, looking for the next door, with the plan of having her wait while he returns with the wheelchair for Roland. Eddie has one of Ro’s guns stuck in the waistband of his pants, and Roland has told him to “brain her” if Detta shows up again — he knows (and on some level Eddie knows) that if Detta shows up, she’ll try to kill him.
What Constant Reader Learns: Eddie realizes that he’s the only one in this game who isn’t crippled right now, and he thinks their whole fate hinges on the wheelchair. “The chair was the hope, the whole hope, and nothing but the hope. So help them God,” he thinks. Which brings up a swearing-in at a trial — and they’re all facing trials. But are they also being judged? Hm.
The Drawing of the Three — Reshuffle, Section 2
Flashing back a little, we learn that when Roland passed out, Eddie dragged him into the shade of a rock outcropping. When he comes to, he tells Eddie not to worry about him — he needs to make sure Odetta eats, because Detta sure hasn’t been eating. And that whatever Odetta says, Eddie should go along with it.
When Eddie offers her some chunks of lobstrosity, Odetta says she can’t because “he knows what happens.” Eddie does as he’s told and pretends he has a clue what she’s talking about. She thinks she’s been trying to eat and it’s made her sick, like when she ate scallops one time. Finally, he coaxes her into taking a bite, after which she decides lobstrosity is pretty good stuff and begins wolfing it down.
What Constant Reader Learns: Interesting that Roland tells Eddie to go along with whatever Odetta says about the time while Detta was in charge — not to contradict her. I think this is probably because Roland fears upsetting Odetta will bring Detta back that much faster. When Eddie asks why he shouldn’t contradict her, Ro says he doesn’t know, only that he shouldn’t.
Somehow, the lobstrosity being in chunks just makes it gross, doesn’t it?
Well, since Eddie and Odetta have this instantaneous love, it’s only fitting that they feel an electrical charge jump between them when he touches her hand to give her a chunk of lobstrosity. *eye-rolling ensues on my part*
The Drawing of the Three — Reshuffle, Section 3
Eddie finds his job as “pusher” easier now that Odetta’s helping and they’re not in such deep sand, and they make good time. Finally, they stop, and Odetta tells Eddie to sleep for an hour and she’ll wake him. He’s torn because he’s afraid Detta will come back and either kill him or roll off on her merry way, or both, but exhaustion overtakes him — plus, as Stephen King tells us, Eddie’s “too much in love to do other than trust her.” (cough cough) She does wake him after an hour, and they continue racing down the beach.
What Constant Reader Learns: You really, really don’t want to hear my comments about this, although I must trust Stephen King that there is a reason for this improbable romance and that, at some point, I’ll say “doh,” and be ashamed that I was such a killjoy. I have decided, however, that what annoys me is not so much Eddie’s instantaneous love of Odetta, but phrases like “he was too much in love to do other than trust her.”
The Drawing of the Three — Reshuffle, Section 4
Another flashback while Eddie’s pushing Odetta down the beach. When he left Roland, Ro kept a little water and told Eddie to look for the door, then shelter Odetta as well as he could and come back with the chair. Roland has loaded Eddie’s gun with the shells he think are most likely to work. Eddie needs to “wing” Detta if she shows up again, and use the gun on the big cat they’ve heard yowling in the hills ahead of them, if needed.
What Constant Reader Learns: Roland assures Eddie there’s no “bugger-man” in the hills ahead that he knows about, which is not a fear Eddie expressed but Roland saw in his eyes. This is a good reminder of how out of his element Eddie still is — he’s adapted so well that it’s easy to forget he’s really young and in ridiculously odd surroundings.
Roland and Eddie argue about leaving the gun with Odetta when Eddie comes back with the chair. Roland orders him not to do it, which makes me pretty sure he will do it. So theoretically, we could have Detta near the next door with a gun. NOT a happy scenario. Yikes. Hope I’m wrong about that but bet I’m not.
The Drawing of the Three — Reshuffle, Section 5
Eddie and Odetta make good time, but by sundown they still haven’t seen the door. Eddie gets Odetta out of the chair and settles her on the beach. Odetta, who has admitted she’s afraid of Roland (but doesn’t want Eddie to tell him so), asks who Ro is. What he is. And why he shouts so much. Of course, Roland doesn’t shout much, so Eddie realizes it’s more of Odetta’s false memories.
Eddie catches some lobstrosity and cooks it, and Eddie and Odetta have a tearful moment looking at the stars. Eddie has a real moment of clarity as he looks at the purity of the night sky and Odetta’s face. “Just where had been been all of his goddamned life? Where had he been, what had he been doing, who had been with him while he did it, and why did he suddenly feel so grimy and abysmally beshitted?”
They both make a wish. Eddie wishes “Always you.” Odetta wishes: “If I must die in this odd place, please let it not be too hard and let this good young man be with me.”
What Constant Reader Learns: It really was a sweet scene watching the stars, if a little melodramatic, but I can’t help but fear that this is going to end badly for them. Perhaps I’m wrong, however, and Detta won’t show up and bludgeon Eddie with a lobstrosity claw.
The Drawing of the Three — Reshuffle, Section 6
I’ll just quote the entire section: “Later, with strange galaxies turning in slow gavotte overhead, neither thought the act of love had ever been so sweet, so full.”
What Constant Reader Learns: Dear god of strange galaxies, thank you for sparing us a long, painful love scene written in overwrought language. Amen.
The Drawing of the Three — Reshuffle, Section 7
At dawn, Eddie and Odetta take off again, and Eddie fears they aren’t going to find another door. But about nine-thirty, Odetta thinks she sees something. So he begins pushing again, despite his aching lower back.
What Constant Reader Learns: How long is Eddie going to hold out with all the pushing he’s having to do? This scene is very reminiscent of the one with Roland and Eddie earlier on the beach, when Ro spotted The Lady of Shadows door a long time before Eddie did. I guess if I wanted to get all English teacher-ish, I could read into that that Eddie is not a visionary but a yeoman. But I won’t.
The Drawing of the Three — Reshuffle, Section 8
Half an hour later, Eddie sees the door, too, and he thinks in amazement that Odetta’s eyes are as good as Roland’s, maybe better. He’s concerned that by the time they reach the door, they’re going to be off the beach and into the hills — hills that are too steep for a wheelchair.
What Constant Reader Learns: I wonder if Odetta’s superior vision is going to play into the story to come, and if it will be in a way that’s advantageous to Eddie or Roland?
So, how are they going to manage going into the hills with Roland incapacitated, Odetta legless, Eddie exhausted, and one wheelchair between them? Maybe they don’t go into the hills, although Roland’s been pushing them in this direction all along.
When they reach the door, Odetta says it’s about four o’clock, which Eddie believes “because she was his beloved.” *Sigh.*
The Drawing of the Three — Reshuffle, Section 9
There’s an echo of the scene where Eddie and Odetta are staring at the stars, only this time they’re staring at the door on the beach, and the two words written on the door.
“What does it mean?” Odetta asks.
“I don’t know," Eddie says, but those words had brought a hopeless chill; he felt an eclipse stealing across his heart.
They explore the area around the door, and Odetta urges Eddie to go back for Roland. He doesn’t want to leave her, especially after they hear the big cat growling in the hills above them again. Eddie offers her the gun. Odetta realizes Roland told him not to leave her armed, and refuses to take it. She tells him just to take her up the slope a ways and give her some lobstrosity and some rocks.
What Constant Reader Learns: Eddie is horrified to see the words. We aren’t told what they are, but I assume they are “The Pusher.” Which, considering Eddie’s past and the fact that Roland’s in dire need of medicine, brings up all kinds of horrific scenarios.
The door will not open for Eddie, so apparently unless Roland is doing the door-opening, they’re stuck. Which is good; it takes away the option of Eddie and/or Odetta running off into what could be another version of NYC and leaving Roland to rot on the beach.
That’s it for this week! Next week — same time, same place — we’ll complete the section of The Drawing of the Three titled “Reshuffle.”