A Read of The Dark Tower

A Read of The Dark Tower: Constant Reader Tackles The Drawing of the Three, The Prisoner: Chapter 2

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. If you want to talk spoilers, please head over to the Tor.com forums for the spoiler discussion for the spoiler discussion so my Dark Tower-virgin ears won’t hear anything before I read it.

When we last saw Roland at the end of Chapter 1 in the section of The Drawing of the Three called “The Prisoner,” he had looked through the door on the beach and realized he was seeing through someone else’s eyes — the eyes of the prisoner (who, as the Oracle said, was possessed by a demon named heroin).

This week, we’ll look at the second chapter of “The Prisoner,” entitled “Eddie Dean.”

The Drawing of the Three — The Prisoner, Chapter 2 (“Eddie Dean”), Section 1

Roland confirms that he is, indeed, seeing through the eyes of another as the person he’s inhabiting turns its head and begins to move down the aisle of what appears to be an airplane, past several women wearing red uniforms and standing by steel things we know are probably ovens and fridges in the galley kitchen. Roland wishes his host would stop so he could examine the machines.

Host walks to a metal door with a lighted sign that Roland can read: VACANT. (Suzanne has flashbacks to the pilot episode of Lost where Charlie goes into the bathroom and snorts a snootful.) And Roland sees through his host’s eyes as he looks down and turns the doorknob. He sees a hand with long fingers, a ruby ring (or a “firedim” or a piece of “trumpery trash”), and the cuff of a blue shirt. Then the host looks in a mirror and Roland sees the face of the Prisoner that had been on the man in black’s tarot card. Young, tall, with long dark hair.

Up to this point, Roland has been watching the world through the Prisoner’s eyes from his side of the door on the beach. Finally, “with the single-minded and incurious resolve that had driven him across the desert and all the years before the desert in the wake of the man in black,” Roland steps through the doorway.

What Constant Reader Learns: Roland seems to have left the pains of his body behind and shows a lot of curiosity about his new surroundings — although not a lot of freakout surprise. (As opposed to what I, in this situation, would have been feeling as I screamed like a girl.) He doesn’t recognize the airplane as being such, nor the “glasslike” plastic cup the flight attendant pours the gin into. He does seem to know what gin is, however.

What he doesn’t know the meaning of, as we know from The Gunslinger, is heroin. But he sees the man’s reflection in the mirror and immediately connects him with Nort, the man in Tull who’d been addicted to devil-grass. So he knows his host is sick from an addiction to something called heroin.

Interesting that Roland screamed in terror when he first looked through the door and saw the Earth as from a distance, yet he doesn’t hesitate to step through the door and fully inhabit the Prisoner’s head. Then again, what are his other options: stay on the beach until night falls and the lobstrosities come back to eat some more body parts? Roland is practical and determined.

The Drawing of the Three — The Prisoner, Chapter 2 (“Eddie Dean”), Section 2

Now we’re in Eddie Dean’s head as he reflects on the wisdom of ordering a gin and tonic while he’s smuggling drugs into New York. He has baggies of heroine taped to both armpits with strapping tape, and imagines all the horror that can go down as he tries to go through customs. He’s shaky and sick, and realizes he’s not quite at the “cold turkey” stage but is definitely going through “cool turkey,” a phrase he learned from his older brother and fellow junkie, Henry.

But suddenly, as Eddie looks at himself in the mirror, he sees eyes looking back at him that aren’t his green ones but are light blue, “Bombardier’s eyes.” He briefly sees the ocean in Roland’s eyes before he decided that, yes, cool turkey or not, he’s going to throw up. But not before an alien thought comes into his mind: “I’ve come through. I’m in the sky-carriage.”

What Constant Reader Learns: Did we know Roland had pale blue eyes? If so, I’ve forgotten.

Apparently, Eddie and Henry have recently, within the last sixteen months, progressed from snorting heroine to shooting up despite vowing they’d never become “needle junkies.”

I freakin’ love this scene where Eddie looks in the mirror and Roland looks back at him. Not only are Roland’s eyes cold and pale blue, but Eddie can see reflected in them the ocean and a seagull diving for something in the water. And before he throws up and feels Roland retreat, he feels possessed like Reagan in The Exorcist. Eddie my man, I have a feeling you haven’t even started with the weirdness.

So, Eddie’s finished throwing up and then he has a “frightening moment” when there is a blank interval. Which freaks him out and he starts throwing up again. So, what was the blank interval? When Roland withdrew or turned away? Or for a moment did Eddie “go” with Roland? Not sure about this.

The Drawing of the Three — The Prisoner, Chapter 2 (“Eddie Dean”), Section 3

Roland realizes that when he was in the front of Eddie’s mind, he had almost become Eddie. He felt the man’s sickness and knows he could take control of his host if he wants to.

As soon as Eddie stops retching, Roland moves to the front again, because he needs to know if the door behind him — back onto the beach and into his world — is still there, and it is. He turns and looks, and can see his physical body through the door, collapsed on the beach.

What Constant Reader Learns: I guess the blank moment Eddie experienced was when Roland pulled back because as soon as Roland has the thought about being in the sky-carriage, he realizes Eddie can see him in the mirror. So he retreats to a corner of Eddie’s mind. Is Roland aware that Eddie heard his thought about the sky-carriage?

Roland’s got his wits about him. He’s methodically figuring out his options, first by noting that if he wanted to he could fully possess Eddie Dean’s body, and second by looking back to make sure his own physical body is still reachable and is still breathing (albeit maybe unconscious).

The Drawing of the Three — The Prisoner, Chapter 2 (“Eddie Dean”), Section 4

Eddie’s hanging over the sink in the airplane bathroom, thinking about his blank period of time and running cold water over his face. He finally gets up the courage to look in the mirror again and is relieved to see his own eyes looking back at him, and no feeling of being possessed or watched.

Henry’s voice in his head tells him he had a momentary fugue, a junkie blackout not uncommon to a person going cool turkey.

Eddie notes that his flight is about 90 minutes out of New York and goes back to his seat. He takes a sip of his drink. The flight attendant comes back to ask if he wants anything else and he blanks again….

What Constant Reader Learns: Okay, so Roland can hang in the back of Eddie’s mind undetected, then step forward and take control whenever he wants. And when Ro’s in control, Eddie blanks out. Or at least that’s my read on this sitch so far.

We know Eddie can pick up an occasional thought from Roland, but it’s not yet clear if Roland can hear Eddie’s thoughts — does he know Eddie hears Henry’s voice?

The Drawing of the Three — The Prisoner, Chapter 2 (“Eddie Dean”), Section 5

Roland’s back in Eddie Dean’s frontal lobe now, and tells the flight attendant yes, he would like something else — he’d like something to eat. The stewardess tells him a snack will be coming up soon, but he says he’s starving and needs something now — because, of course, Roland is starving. He tells her even a popkin would be good. The stewardess has no idea what a popkin is, of course, so Roland’s able to dig around in Eddie’s mind and comes up with “sandwich.” She goes off to fix him one.

What Constant Reader Learns: Roland’s interpretation of what he’s seeing and hearing is hilarious. He thinks of the stewardess as the “army woman” because she’s wearing a uniform. And of course there’s the “tooter fish” sandwich, which I will forevermore call tuna fish. And when the “army woman” says she’ll “russel” up some “tooter fish,” poor Ro is really confused because, in his world, “russel” means “rape.” So I guess the army woman’s off to rape a tooter fish.

My extreme amusement over this section confirms that I do, indeed, have the sense of humor of a 12-year-old boy. *sigh*

The Drawing of the Three — The Prisoner, Chapter 2 (“Eddie Dean”), Section 6

Eddie’s back in control again for a while, and feels oddly sleepy — not how he should feel during cool turkey. He should feel antsy, itchy, shaky. He realizes his right hand is throbbing also. But he convinces himself again that the “blank-outs” are part of the drug withdrawal, even as he drifts off to sleep.

As Eddie drifts, he thinks of the trip he’s just made. He’s been to Nassau to make a drug buy for someone named Balazar. He’s supposed to get the cocaine in exchange for the key to a safe-deposit box. But the guy delivers some poison crap that Eddie can tell isn’t the real so he gives the guy until eleven to come back with the real thing.

What Constant Reader Learns: Okay, it’s two pounds of cocaine Eddie’s got tucked under his arms, not heroin. Still not something customs will be pleased about.

Interesting that yes, Eddie’s starting to feel some of Roland’s sensations as well. Wonder if the sleepiness is coming from Ro, since Eddie is feeling the throbbing right hand.

We don’t know who Balazar is yet, but I’m gathering he’s a drug dealer and all-around Bad Dude. And that Eddie was sent to do the drug buy because he’s tough and smart. He outwits the idiot with the British accent who delivers the faux drugs. “There was deep steel in Eddie Dean, junkie or no junkie,” Stephen King tells us. And Henry and Balazar know it, too.

The Drawing of the Three — The Prisoner, Chapter 2 (“Eddie Dean”), Section 7

We’re still in Eddie’s dream/memory. The drug guy’s back well ahead of his deadline, and this time he brings the real thing. Eddie tries it out, but won’t let the guy leave until he knows for sure it’s okay. He feels it taking hold and finally tells the druggie he can leave, after which he shoots up and goes to sleep.

What Constant Reader Learns: We learn that “Balazar” is Emilio Balazar, a “high-caliber big shot” in the New York drug world.

We also learn how heroin works, in case we need to know that, although I’m not sure why Eddie’s snorting coke and thinking about heroin. Do they work on the same bundle of nerves at the base of the spine? *Suzanne shows her complete ignorance of drugs beyond what she’s read in Keith Richards’ biography.* Maybe Eddie’s just thinking about H because he needs to shoot up, which he does as soon as the drug guy leaves.

The Drawing of the Three — The Prisoner, Chapter 2 (“Eddie Dean”), Section 8

We’re back with Roland inside Eddie’s head again, hanging toward the back. Ro reflects that he still doesn’t know the man’s name. He watches the drug-buy memory, then notes that Eddie’s addiction is a weakness, but there’s also “steel buried inside that weakness, like a good gun sinking in quicksand.”

Someone approaches, and Eddie’s asleep, so he doesn’t realize it. But Roland’s not asleep so he moves forward again.

What Constant Reader Learns: The question of what in Eddie’s thoughts Roland is privy to is answered: everything. He apparently watched Eddie’s whole drug-buy memory like one would watch a movie — or the plays Roland watched as a child. I already kinda like Eddie, so it’s good to see Roland acknowledge the man’s strength despite the addiction. I’m really curious to see how this all plays out. Interesting also that as Roland looks at Eddie, he’s “reminded achingly of Cuthbert.”

Eddie’s asleep and Roland’s not, so the inexplicable sleepiness Eddie’s feeling doesn’t seem to be coming from Roland after all.

In one of those annoying author intrusions we’re told that if Roland had ever seen a moving picture he would have thought about that first. So if he hasn’t seen or heard of a moving picture how is he thinking this? Okay, okay. I’ll let this one slide because Roland could be pulling the whole moving picture analogy out of Eddie’s brain. Convenient, that, Stevie.

The Drawing of the Three — The Prisoner, Chapter 2 (“Eddie Dean”), Section 9

We get inside the stewardess’ head for a while. Her name is Jane, and she’s ticked because as hungry as the guy said he was, and after she was nice enough to make him a tooter-fish sandwich, he’s gone to sleep.

But then the guy wakes up and looks at her — and says, “Thankee sai.” Jane writes it off to sleep-fog and goes back to the galley to smoke. She starts thinking about the passenger Eddie Dean, who she’d thought was a bit cute because of his hazel eyes. Now, she could swear when he’d thanked her, the eyes were blue. Not pretty Paul Newman blue, either, but the color of icebergs. She decides she needs to listen to her gut, which is telling her something is off. She goes through a whole thing about how the guy could be wearing colored contacts.

What Constant Reader Learns: We get another description of Eddie (tall, wearing clean faded blue jeans and a paisley shirt).

Signs the World Has Moved On, # 1: The stewardess goes to the galley and lights a cigarette. Where is TSA when you need them?

Signs the World Has Moved On, # 2: Jane spends a lot of time thinking about how really unusual and expensive colored contacts are. Not in the last decade or two.

Signs the World Has Moved On, # 3 (Yes, I’m starting a series that will continue for a while, so live with it): Jane’s concerned about Eddie being a hijacker. These days, it would be suicidal terrorist.

The Drawing of the Three — The Prisoner, Chapter 2 (“Eddie Dean”), Section 10

Roland wants to know if he can take things from Eddie’s world through the door and back into his. He thinks maybe he can find medicine to save himself so he doesn’t die of infection from the lobstrosity wounds. So he tests it with the “tooter-fish” sandwich. He picks a half of sandwich up in each of Eddie’s hands (is Eddie aware of this at all?), turns back toward the door to the beach, and goes through.

What Constant Reader Learns: Roland likes who he is. He doesn’t want to let his own body die and continue to inhabit Eddie Dean.He hears the man in black’s voice in his head, telling him he could just live in Eddie Dean’s body and leave his own back on the beach for the lobstrosities to eat. But he rejects the notion. First, it would be “the most murderous sort of thievery” to steal another man’s body. Second, he was Roland. “If dying was required, he intended to die as Roland. He would die crawling toward the Tower, if that was what was required.”

The Drawing of the Three — The Prisoner, Chapter 2 (“Eddie Dean”), Section 11

First, Roland hears the waves, then the birds, and then becomes aware that the half of the sandwich (popkin) that’s in his right hand has fallen on the sand because it’s now not in Eddie’s hand but his own, and two of his fingers are gone. He picks it up, and practically inhales it. “The gunslinger had no idea what tooter-fish was — only that it was delicious.”

What Constant Reader Learns: So physical matter can travel between the two worlds, which opens up all kinds of interesting possibilities. Will Eddie finally “meet” Roland before he goes nuts? Will Roland somehow help Eddie smuggle his drugs through customs? (Maybe the drugs can sit on the beach until he gets through.) Will Roland save Eddie from his addiction? Inquiring minds want to know!

Tooter-fish is good.

The Drawing of the Three — The Prisoner, Chapter 2 (“Eddie Dean”), Section 12

In the plane, no one saw the sandwich disappear from Eddie’s hands, including Eddie — who apparently slept through the whole thing. Stewardess Jane looks out and sees him still asleep — but the sandwich is gone. She still thinks something about Mr. Hazel-Now-Blue-Eyes is way off.

What Constant Reader Learns: Jane is going to be trouble. I don’t know what kind of trouble yet, but it’s coming.

That’s it for this week! Next week—same time, same place—we’ll read “Contact and Landing,” chapter three of The Drawing of the Three’s first big section, “The Prisoner.”


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