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 third chapter of The Drawing of the Three section called “Odetta on the Other Side,” he was starting to get sick again as his fever returned, and Eddie was declaring his undying love for Odetta.
This week, we’ll look at the first half of “Detta on the Other Side,” the fourth chapter of the section called “The Lady of Shadows,” and I’m guessing Eddie’s going to have a rude awakening regarding the love of his new life.
The Drawing of the Three — “The Lady of the Shadows,” Chapter 4 (“Detta on the Other Side”), Section 1
“You must be on your guard,” Roland had warned Eddie before they turned in for the night, but he realizes Eddie agreed without really understanding.
What Constant Reader Learns: Since this short section ends with Roland thinking it’s a good thing he was watching out for Eddie, I’m pretty sure Detta’s about to “mufah” them big-time.
The Drawing of the Three — “The Lady of the Shadows,” Chapter 4 (“Detta on the Other Side”), Section 2
Detta’s “eyes spring open” in the middle of the night, “full of starlight and clear intelligence. She remembered everything.” Only the things she remembers — Eddie and Roland tying her in the chair, taunting her with racist epithets, cooking “a haunch of beef” — are things that clearly never happened.
Detta wakes up lying on a blanket on the beach (out of lobstrosity range) and she sees Eddie and Roland sleeping nearby. Next to Roland is his gunbelt. Detta crawls over and gets one of the guns. She decides she’ll shoot Eddie first, and then turn the gun on the Really Bad Man. She waits until the wind kicks up to cover the noise, cocks the gun, and points it at Eddie’s head.
What Constant Reader Learns: Detta’s annoyingly crude, but crafty, and ballsy. In many ways, I can see how (if she could be tamed) she might be more useful to Roland in his quest than calm, cultured Odetta. That’s a big if, though.
Interesting that Detta (like Odetta) comes up with stories to account for the gaps in time she experiences. So Odetta and Detta might not be aware of each other, but they do have gaps they fill in with stories to explain the inexplicable. Detta was tied in the chair and taunted by Ro and Eddie, she thinks, while Odetta was in charge, where Odetta, who seems less adept at coming up with stories, thinks she was hit on the head in Oxford Town.
The Drawing of the Three — “The Lady of the Shadows,” Chapter 4 (“Detta on the Other Side”), Section 3
Roland, of course, isn’t sleeping but is playing possum and watching to see what Detta will do. We learn that while Odetta slept, Eddie and Roland had eaten some lobstrosity and talked, during which conversation Roland saw himself in the role of Cort, schooling Eddie in the ways of the gunslinger. He knows Eddie only claims to understand what’s going on with Odetta but that he’ll only really understand if he is forced to.
So after Eddie fell asleep, Roland reloaded his guns with spent shells and laid them where Detta could get to them. He watches as she crawls to the guns, and recognizes her as the woman he’d brought across. At one point she reminds him of Marten, which can’t be a good thing.
Detta holds the gun to Eddie’s temple and pulls the trigger. And again and again. And — what a surprise — screams a great big “MahFAH!” when nothing happens. So she reverses the gun in order to beat Eddie over the head with it and still Roland doesn’t intervene — he thinks Eddie needs to get beat over the head in order to take his warnings seriously. “A child doesn’t understand a hammer until he’s mashed his finger at a nail,” he thinks... even though he recognizes that if Eddie doesn’t move fast enough and Detta kills him, then they’re all dead. He gambles.
Eddie does move, though — getting cracked in the jaw with the butt of the gun instead of having it split his head open. Roland figures he’s learned his lesson and intervenes before she can hit him again. Roland tackles her and lies on top of her while she spews obscenities — and finally gets Eddie moving again before Detta can bean him with the gun butt.
What Constant Reader Learns: It doesn’t matter how crafty and ballsy Detta is, because our boy Roland is craftier and ballsier.
So this was weird: “When she (Detta) glanced toward the gunslinger he did more than feign sleep, because she would have sensed sham; he went to sleep. When he sensed her gaze shift away he awoke and opened that single eye again.” I’d love to say something erudite here, but I have no clue whether this is literal or just a way of saying Roland’s good at playing possum.
As Roland watches Detta check the gun to make sure it’s loaded, he thinks “here is another.” Another gunslinger-in-training. He thinks, “God, she’s evil, this one, and she’s legless, but she’s a gunslinger as surely as Eddie is one.” Which is interesting because while Roland might be the “last gunslinger” before the world moved on, there are gunslinger-worthy people from the modern world, and in the unlikeliest of bodies and backgrounds.
All the while the struggle with Detta’s going on, she’s “cursing in a gutter patois so darkly southern that even Eddie couldn’t understand it; to Roland it sounded as if the woman had suddenly begun to speak in a foreign language.” Yeah, we done be talking like that down hyear, y’all. Pick on the Southerners. Go ahead, Stephen King you yankee. Maine. Bah. Who’s from Maine?
Although I do find it interesting that Odetta’s other half is speaking (or at least SK thinks she is speaking) like a black Southerner and not a black, urban New Yorker, which she is.
The Drawing of the Three — “The Lady of the Shadows,” Chapter 4 (“Detta on the Other Side”), Section 4
It takes both men to finally get Detta restrained, first using one of Roland’s gunbelts to bind her wrists (all the while she’s trying to bite them). Eddie drags her back to her wheelchair, trying not to hurt her because of the beautiful person inside her somewhere.
What Constant Reader Learns: Not for the first time, Detta is compared to the lobstrosities. Eddie thinks she’s even more of a monster because of “the greater intelligence which informed it.” But he still is aware of Odetta inside, and wants to take care of her, although we see that resolve starting to crack a little.
The Drawing of the Three — “The Lady of the Shadows,” Chapter 4 (“Detta on the Other Side”), Section 5
Although Roland’s mule died back in the desert and he donated its eyeballs to a crow, he still has a bit of its tether, and he uses some fancy, gunslingerly slip-knots to tie Detta into her wheelchair so that if she struggles (and we know she will) they tighten.
Eddie’s feeling queasy, Detta’s screaming obscenities, and Roland’s saying I told you so. Eddie starts to cry, and Roland wants to comfort him but he thinks of Jake and walks away instead. These Detta sections are kind of painful to read, so I want to cry, too.
What Constant Reader Learns: Poor Roland. He wants to be close to Eddie, to comfort him, but he also seems reluctant to get closer than he should and be left feeling like a monster himself if and when he has to sacrifice Eddie like he did Jake. I’m worried about Ro’s infection that’s spreading again. How are they going to get more astin?
I’d like to feel sorry for Eddie but really. It’s kind of what you get for falling in love with a woman after talking to her for a half hour. Jeez. I’m a heartless wretch, I know.
The Drawing of the Three — “The Lady of the Shadows,” Chapter 4 (“Detta on the Other Side”), Section 6
Earlier in the night, while Roland and Eddie are talking, Eddie tells Roland he thinks O/Detta might be schizophrenic, based on his knowledge of psychiatry gleaned from soap operas. Roland agrees that it sounds like what she has.
Aha. Eddie says that “schizos” always know something’s wrong with them, even if they don’t know their alters, because they’re aware of the blanks. Roland is pleased that Eddie’s perceptions are sharpening — Eddie noticed that people in Macy’s were wearing coats, so it had to be winter.
What Constant Reader Learns: Today’s trivia: Eddie and Henry used to watch soap operas, which is where Eddie learned about “schizophrenia,” which is actually Dissociative Identity Disorder, or DID. The ABC soap One Life to Live has a character, Victoria/Viki/Nicki, whose DID storyline goes back at least to the 1970s and has manifested seven or eight personalities — which comes in handy for committing murders and bigamy and other fun things and not being blamed for it. So Eddie and Henry likely spent their stoned hours watching One Life to Live. (Thank you, Mom.)
Ever since he brought O/Detta through the door, Roland’s been struggling to put his finger on something he thought was important but couldn’t remember. Eddie finally jogs that memory by saying how weird things were when Roland and Detta came through — that it was, for a flash of a moment, like looking in a mirror and being on both sides of it. Roland realizes that what he’d forgotten was this: that for a split-second, Detta and Odetta had looked at each other not as if it were a mirror reflection but as if they were separate people. And that both had been horror-struck. “They each know,” Roland thinks. “They may not have known before but they do now.” What that knowing will mean — and whether it will mean Odetta and Detta can be “combined” — remains to be seen.
The Drawing of the Three — “The Lady of the Shadows,” Chapter 4 (“Detta on the Other Side”), Section 7
Finally, Eddie and Detta both go back to sleep but Roland is thinking he needs to bring Detta and Odetta to battle, but he realizes that if it were a fight to the death and Detta won, they’d be in trouble. So what they need to do is not bring them to battle but to join them (feeling kinda psychic now).
What Constant Reader Learns: Roland knows Detta thinks of Eddie and him as a kind of monster species called “Honk Mafahs.” LOL.
Interesting that even though he thinks she’s evil and dangerous, Roland recognizes the strong qualities of Detta could come in very handy in a fight against the real monsters (as opposed to the “honk mafahs”) they will undoubtedly encounter on their quest.
Roland’s getting sicker. What oh what are they going to do?
The Drawing of the Three — “The Lady of the Shadows,” Chapter 4 (“Detta on the Other Side”), Section 8
Eddie awakens before daybreak and sees Roland still awake. He’s worried about Roland’s fever (me too). They watch the woman in the wheelchair, wondering who will be behind those eyes when she wakes up. And it’s... Detta, back for round two, picking up where she left off with the nasty talk.
Ro and Eddie are resigned to having to listen to her all day, and they set off down the beach, looking for “Door Number Three.”
What Constant Reader Learns: Detta’s up to something. She tells Eddie she might be going with them — but they won’t get as far as they think. This probably isn’t going to be fun. Okay, I’m ready for Odetta again. Eddie can even profess his love for her and I won’t complain (much).
That’s it for this week! Next week — same time, same place — we’ll finish Chapter 4 of “The Lady of the Shadows,” titled “Detta on the Other Side.”