“There they stood, ranged along the hillsides, met
To view the last of me, a living frame
For one more picture! In a sheet of flame
I saw them and I knew them all.”
—Robert Browning, “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came”
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 or preceding sections, join me by commenting here.
Last week, we said our sad farewells to Jake, leaving Roland and Oy to rejoin Irene Tassenbaum for a trip to NYC and a door.
The Dark Tower, Part Three: In This Haze of Green and Gold; Chapter 3: New York Again (Roland Shows I.D.), Section 1
Susannah is sitting on a train, riding from Thunderclap to Fedic. She hasn’t been able to cry over Eddie yet, and she has a feeling that things are “worse than she knew.” Detta assures her it’s not just a feeling—that someone else has, indeed, died, but she doesn’t know whether it’s Roland or Eddie.
What Constant Reader Learns: It’s ironic to me that of all the characters in this long journey, Susannah is my least favorite and is the only one other than Roland to have survived. But I guess the parents of Mordred will need to be the ones to deal with him…or be dealt with by him.
The Dark Tower, Part Three: In This Haze of Green and Gold; Chapter 3: New York Again (Roland Shows I.D.), Section 2
Irene Tassenbaum arrives in New York and parks in a spot she and her husband rent on a yearly basis. She has bought Roland some new clothes, and offers to let him rest up (and maybe spend more time with her) in her nearby apartment. But he declines, saying he needs to do one more thing and be on his way.
What Constant Reader Learns: A rare physical description of Roland here: “With the unruly mop of gray-flecked hair combed straight back from his brow, she had revealed the spare good looks and angular features of an interesting crossbreed: a mixture of Quaker and Cherokee was what she imagined.”
Irene is pretty realistic. As exciting as her time with Roland has been, she’s really ready for him to be on her way and get back to her life.
The Dark Tower, Part Three: In This Haze of Green and Gold; Chapter 3: New York Again (Roland Shows I.D.), Section 3
A short walk later, Roland is standing across the street from Hammarskjold Plaza, shocked at the sight. “It wasn’t the Dark Tower, not his Dark Tower, at least, but he had no doubt that it was the Tower’s representative in this Keystone World.” He can hear the voices.
Irene wants to visit a little park on their side of the street and Roland knows it’s the same one Susannah-Mio visited on her last trip.
What Constant Reader Learns: A joke in the circularity of time: there are people working in “yon sky tower” who refer to it as the Dark Tower because they’ve read of Roland’s adventures in Stephen King novels. Which means, in the future, of course, they’ll read about themselves calling their building the Dark Tower when Roland visits it. And won’t they be ticked that they didn’t know? Or will they, too, wonder if they exist at all or if they, too, are simply unnamed characters in a massive book?
The Dark Tower, Part Three: In This Haze of Green and Gold; Chapter 3: New York Again (Roland Shows I.D.), Section 4
Once in the little park, Irene can hear the voices, and they both see the turtle statue next to the bench. Irene can’t make out the words on it, but Roland remembers them. He doesn’t have time to tell her, he says, but asks if she’ll wait for him in the park while he goes into the building.
Irene asks if he will really be back, or if he’s planning to dump her there. He assures her he’d never do that, so she sits down with Oy beside her and waits. Before Roland leaves, he quotes the verse of “See the turtle of enormous girth.”
What Constant Reader Learns: Roland warns her that if someone she doesn’t trust talks to her, she should concentrate and call for him in her mind—although he considers the park a safe spot because of the turtle. I guess he’s on the lookout for low men?
The Dark Tower, Part Three: In This Haze of Green and Gold; Chapter 3: New York Again (Roland Shows I.D.), Section 5
Roland gets inside the building, and the singing voices are louder. The people coming and going from the building are drawn to it as well. And in the middle of the huge lobby is a little garden surrounded by ropes, and in the center of the garden is the rose. Roland can tell it’s in its original spot of earth, and the building had been erected around it, as a shrine.
What Constant Reader Learns: The marble floors are rose-colored…of course. And the ropes around the rose aren’t necessary: “No one would transgress that little garden, not even a suicidal can-toi desperate to make a name for himself. It was holy ground.”
The Dark Tower, Part Three: In This Haze of Green and Gold; Chapter 3: New York Again (Roland Shows I.D.), Section 6
Someone taps Roland on the shoulder, which startles him because no one since he was a teenager still in Gilead had been able to sneak up on him. Then when he whirled to grab her, he missed. He realizes that she’s a gunslinger of the Keystone World.
She also looks familiar, but Roland can’t quite place her. “I see your father in your face,” he tells her, but she won’t tell him until later—there’s someone upstairs who wants to palaver with him. First, though, she asks him to read the sign in the Garden of the Beam, as they call it.
Roland doesn’t expect to be able to read it, but eventually it reforms itself into the Great Letters of Gilead. She explains that the sign will always be understood, changing into whatever the viewer needs it to be in order to read it.
What Constant Reader Learns: It wouldn’t have killed them to tell us what the sign said, but I guess we’ll learn in time.
Again, Roland takes note of all the people coming and going around the rose and it with no obvious protection, but realizes it doesn’t matter: “If anyone made a threatening move, everyone in this lobby…would converge upon the would-be assassin of the rose. They would do so swiftly, and with absolutely no regard for their own safety.”
The Dark Tower, Part Three: In This Haze of Green and Gold; Chapter 3: New York Again (Roland Shows I.D.), Section 7
As they’re riding in the “elevaydor,” Roland finally places who the woman looks like, and he asks if she is sai Deepneau’s granddaughter. She replies that Aaron never had children, but she’s the granddaughter of his older brother, and “Airy” raised her. Her name is Nancy Deepneau.
What Constant Reader Learns: The elevaydor, of course, stops at the 99th floor.
The Dark Tower, Part Three: In This Haze of Green and Gold; Chapter 3: New York Again (Roland Shows I.D.), Section 8
The elevaydor doors open on a large round foyer with glass doors leading to The Tet Corporation. Roland sees a receptionist he thinks is talking to herself, as well as a couple of guys he recognizes as guards. On the wall to his left is a wall-sized photograph of three men in jeans sitting on a rail. It’s John Cullum, Aaron Deepneau, and Moses Carver. Nancy tells Roland the photo of the “founding fathers” was taken on a retreat in 1986.
Nancy tells him that John Cullum died in 1989 of a gunshot wound he got during a mugging, although they suspect it was an agent of either Sombra Corporation or North Central Positronics. Aaron Deepneau died in 1992 when his cancer came back.
When did Moses Carver pass, Roland asks, and he turns to look through the glass doors into a very tall, very old, man accompanied by an even taller woman with the face of a gunslinger.
What Constant Reader Learns: The carpet outside the corporation offices? Rose-colored, of course.
Roland’s thinking Moses Carver looks pretty spry in the photo even though he had to have been eighty or older. But the rose, while not a fountain of youth itself, had certain healing qualities. Maybe the rose showing its gratitude.
The Dark Tower, Part Three: In This Haze of Green and Gold; Chapter 3: New York Again (Roland Shows I.D.), Section 9
Moses Carver is old and filled with good humor. He does a shaky Gilead-style greeting, and Roland gives him one of deep respect, going to one knee. The woman, born in 1969 when Moses was seventy years old, is his daughter Marian Odetta Carver, who serves as president of the Tet Corporation.
Marian’s all business, and she demands to see proof of Roland’s identity. He shows her his gun, and approves of her caution. She asks him the meaning of the scrollwork near the gun’s muzzle, and he explains that it is Arthur’s mark, the only mark on the door of his tomb. “’Tis his dinh mark, and means WHITE.”
They tell Roland they are sorry for his sorrow, and are able to tell him that Susannah is alive.
What Constant Reader Learns: Ah, sai King just can’t resist trying to write out how he thinks African American people are gonna talk. “Dis bid’ness, now wuth jus ‘bout tin binnion dolla.” It’s a bit offensive and I’m not sure why it’s necessary but he does seem to enjoy it. Maybe he missed Detta Walker.
The Dark Tower, Part Three: In This Haze of Green and Gold; Chapter 3: New York Again (Roland Shows I.D.), Section 10
Roland looks out the office window, amazed at the view. He recognizes the bridge where Jake had been kidnapped by Gasher, and realizes this was Lud as it must have been “in its prime.” It’s also the bridge Pere Callahan used when he walked out of New York to visit other times and places.
Roland also reveals what the sign next to the rose said: “Given by the Tet Corporation in Honor of Edward Cantor Dean and John “Jake” Chambers,” plus language that means “White over red, thus Gan wills ever.”
As they have tea, Marian explains that they’d been watching the plaque as June 19, 1999, approached. Until 4:45 that day, it read: “Given…in honor of the Beam Family and In Memory of Gilead.” She also assures Roland that Stephen King is going to live and to write again, and that his work in the matter of the Beams is done.
She explains that they have a version of the Breakers themselves—a group of telepaths that work for them, pooling their talents. Ironically, she says, it was Calvin Tower’s idea, which he’d gleaned from a science fiction book written by Benjamin Slightman, using the pen name Daniel Holmes, Susannah’s father.
What Constant Reader Learns: LOL. Moses keeps carrying on with the “Gawd-bombs,” and Marian says he’s struck up a recent friendship “with the Reverend Harrigan, who holds court down below.” This is sort of like Roland’s farewell tour to New York. Wrapping up all kinds of loose ends.
Interest that they all knew, and Roland acknowledges, that saving the Beams was never his goal. It was the means to an end. If the Beams had broken, the Tower would have fallen, and if the Tower had fallen, he’d never have climbed to the top. When Nancy Deepneau asks, horrified, if he means he cared more about climbing the Tower than saving the whole of existence, Roland chastises her and says he’s sacrificed his own soul in the bargain.
Roland’s soul has been regenerating, however, so I wonder if in order to save it completely he will have to choose to not pursue the Tower at the final moment, or if as soon as he reaches it, the whole cycle begins again.
Before he continues on his quest, Galadriel, er, I mean Marian, says she has three gifts to send him on his way.
The Dark Tower, Part Three: In This Haze of Green and Gold; Chapter 3: New York Again (Roland Shows I.D.), Section 11
First gift: the modern Breakers say they believe Eddie told Jake something before he died, but they don’t know what. They also think Jake passed that on before he died, maybe to Irene. But Roland, to himself, thinks it most likely that if Jake had left an important message it was with Oy rather than Irene.
The next gift is a padded envelope, from Nancy. She tells him that Stephen King has written nearly forty books, and an amazing number of them touch on the Dark Tower. As a result, there are a group called the Calvins who do nothing but analyze King’s work and cross-reference them. If King ever wrote a Keystone book, she says, it is this one, and in the envelope he finds Insomnia. At the end of the story, where the Crimson King is attempting to kill a boy named Patrick Danville, the boy draws a picture that shows Roland and the Crimson King, imprisoned at the top of the Tower. Roland’s shocked at that; he’d thought the King was locked out of the tower.
They bring out their final gift, a hinged box that he’s almost afraid to open, lest it be a “primed sneetch,” and all those here agents of the Crimson King.
What Constant Reader Learns: Just in case anyone needs to go out and re-read Insomnia. In it, there’s a villain named Ed Deepneau, who tries to turn an airplane into a bomb and crash it into a building, killing thousands. “Pray it never happens,” Moses says. “God knows it could.” Which is pretty chilling in light of 9/11. They thought it was sai King subconsciously sending a message to Roland.
“Dandelo” and “Danville”….just sayin’.
The Dark Tower, Part Three: In This Haze of Green and Gold; Chapter 3: New York Again (Roland Shows I.D.), Section 12
Inside the box is a pocket watch; on its cover is carved a key, a rose, and a tiny tower. Roland surprises himself to find his vision blurred with tears. Inside is engraved: To the Hand of Roland Deschain from those of Moses Isaac Carver, Marian Odetta Carver, Nancy Rebecca Deepneay, with our gratitude. White Over Red, Thus God Wills Ever.
Finally, Moses pulls the old cross from Aunt Talitha from around his neck and hands it to Roland. He’d once promised to lay it at the foot of the Dark Tower, so he takes it. Mose sends a kiss to Susannah, which she feels far away on her train ride, and Roland prepares to leave.
What Constant Reader Learns: According to one of the modern breakers, once Roland nears the Tower, the $19,000 Patek Philippe watch will stop or begin to run backward. Roland needs to watch for it. He also needs to watch for Mordred; they believe he’s murdered Walter, which doesn’t surprise Roland at all.
The Dark Tower, Part Three: In This Haze of Green and Gold; Chapter 3: New York Again (Roland Shows I.D.), Section 13
When Roland gets back down to the lobby, he isn’t surprised to find Irene standing beside the little garden, Oy at her side. Roland picks Oy up and asks, “Friend of Jake, what message did he give?” Oy tries, but can’t quite get the words out right, so Roland touches his own forehead to Oy’s and then he hears Jake’s voice clearly: “Tell him Eddie says, ‘Watch for Dandelo.’ Don’t forget.”
What Constant Reader Learns: Aw, sad. We’re told that this is the last time Roland will hear Jake’s voice.
The Dark Tower, Part Three: In This Haze of Green and Gold; Chapter 3: New York Again (Roland Shows I.D.), Section 14
Outside the building, a chauffeur waits beside a black stretch limousine. “Who’s sent us a funeral bucka?” Roland asks. Irene has arranged it, and explains the whole limo concept to Roland as they get in and she tells the driver where they need to go, adding that she needs airline info for Portland, Maine. Irene has a drink and toasts Roland and, to herself, his sexual prowess.
What Constant Reader Learns: I’d like a story of nothing but Roland walking around the modern world, misunderstanding and interpreting. It would be very entertaining! While riding in the funeral bucka, he is quite astounded to hear that Irene’s car is called a Beamer.
Love the conversation Irene and Roland have about Stephen King. “How does it happen that a writer who’s not even very good—and I can say that, I’ve read four or five of his books—gets to be in charge of the world’s destiny?” she asks. Roland asks if he’s that bad, why didn’t she stop after just reading one book. “He’s readable,” Irene responds. “But has a tin ear for language.” Roland’s explanation is simple: “He hears the right voices and sings the right songs, which is to say, ka.”
The Dark Tower, Part Three: In This Haze of Green and Gold; Chapter 3: New York Again (Roland Shows I.D.), Section 15
The limo pulls up in front of the Dixie Pig, which still has crime-scene tape stretched across the steps. Although he’d passed on having a drink with Irene in the limo, Roland decides he might need it and finishes draining her glass. There’s a guard at the door who, again, asks Roland for I.D., and, again, he unwraps the gun. “I’ll unlock the door,” the guard tells him. “Once you go inside, you’re on your own.”
Irene says her goodbyes, and Roland reminds her about planting the rose on Jake’s grave. He gives her the copy of Stephen King’s Insomnia. “Feels like a Stephen King book,” Irene notes. “He sells by the inch, America buys by the pound.”
What Constant Reader Learns: In Keyworld time, it has been three weeks since the events at the Dixie Pig. Jeez, seems like books and books ago.
Interesting that the copy of Insomnia gives Roland the creeps—he wants to get rid of it and, when he does, feels safer.
The Dark Tower, Part Three: In This Haze of Green and Gold; Chapter 3: New York Again (Roland Shows I.D.), Section 16
Inside the Dixie Pig, the emergency lights give everything a creepy glow. The tapestry of the dining dead is gone, but Roland can still smell the after-aroma of charred meat. There are bloodstains on the rug. And he can hear the echoes of Pere Callahan.
What Constant Reader Learns: Roland kind of wishes he had the skoldpadda, but figures whoever made off with the tapestry has it as well.
The Dark Tower, Part Three: In This Haze of Green and Gold; Chapter 3: New York Again (Roland Shows I.D.), Section 17
Roland and Oy pause in the kitchen, where the smell of roasted meet (“some of the variety known as long pork”) is stronger. There are more signs of fighting here, and blood.
What Constant Reader Learns: Roland hears the voices of the dead, not memory, we’re told, when he hears Jake asking “What’s your name, cully?” of the cook’s boy. Although earlier, we were told he’d never again hear Jake’s voice.
The Dark Tower, Part Three: In This Haze of Green and Gold; Chapter 3: New York Again (Roland Shows I.D.), Section 18
Oy takes the lead through the kitchen, leading “Olan” to the pantry and the secret door. “Ake had gone on ahead now, but not so very far; he was good,” Oy thinks. “Ake would wait, and when the time came—when the job Ake had given him was done—Oy would catch up and go with him as before.”
What Constant Reader Learns: I suspected Oy wasn’t going to hang around for long once he’d done whatever “Ake” had asked him to do. Sniffle.
The Dark Tower, Part Three: In This Haze of Green and Gold; Chapter 3: New York Again (Roland Shows I.D.), Section 19
Roland and Oy are in the underground passage, passing the signs warning travelers that it’s time to visit Sept. 11, 2001, and eventually come to the door to Fedic. Roland touches the door and feels the “low and troubled vibration” within. His mind goes back to his mother, singing the song with “chassit” in it. “So far I’ve traveled,” Roland thinks. “So many I’ve hurt along the way, hurt or killed, and what I may have saved was saved by accident and can never save my soul, do I have one. Yet there’s this much: I’ve come to the head of the last trail, and I need not travel it alone, if only Susannah will go with me. Mayhap there’s still enough to fill my basket.”
He says “Chassit,” and the door opens. He and Oy step through.
What Constant Reader Learns: Oy has to bark at Roland to stop squeezing him so tightly when Ro’s mind wanders to Bryan Smith, “a man too stupid and too careless to do the simple job of driving his bucka on an empty road.”
And…that’s it for this week! Next week—same time, same place—we’ll continue our read of the final book of the Dark Tower saga.