After being deformed and disfigured and finally meeting the prisoner in Part I, we make contact in Eddie Dean's when—and there's gonna be a showdown. Join our discussion of Part II of The Drawing of the Three.
Thank you for joining me on a journey of Stephen King’s The Drawing of the Three (1987), the 2nd book in The Dark Tower series. Several of us have just finished a trek through The Gunslinger (1982), which originally was a collection of short stories, later bound together, effectively capturing a world certainly familiar to us—Wild West background set to modern pop tunes—but stirring nightmarish images where time is out of mind and people displaced in various purgatories. The main protagonist, Roland Deschain of Gilead, is obsessed with locating the Dark Tower, so he shadows the man in black, who seems to have answers when confronted, though they are obtusely revealed with a turning over of Tarot cards. The man in black explained that Roland has caught the attention of his superior, who remains unknown, taking an interest in Roland’s endeavors.
*Remember: While this is a reread, please avoid spoilers in the comments. The point is to get there together!
With Stephen King's chapters getting a little strange, the plan is to read a section a week (about 100 pages), and each Tuesday we will meet to discuss major themes, motifs, and reactions. Make sure to bookmark the HQ page for the schedule and links to all of the chapter discussions as they go live! This week, we finally make contact with the prisoner and join Eddie Dean in his when for a showdown. Join us in the comments for a lively discussion of Part II of The Drawing of the Three: The Prisoner, Chapter 3: “Contact and Landing” – The Prisoner, Chapter 5: “Showdown and Shootout.”
The Prisoner, Chapter 3: “Contact and Landing” – The Prisoner, Chapter 5: “Showdown and Shootout”
Aware that Jane the stewardess has become suspicious, Roland decides to make contact with Eddie, aka the prisoner, because he was part of the man in black’s prophecy. On top of that, the gunslinger needs to get his one good hand on some antibiotics from Eddie’s world to treat the infection—without it he’s facing a slow death, and every day he’s down he risks being further consumed by the lobstrosities.
First problem first though, he needs to get that cocaine off the prisoner and through the portal door where it can be hidden away from Customs. The gunslinger runs a trial, discovering objects like a coin can travel back and forth from Eddie’s world, but when he attempts to take a gun shell from his own realm into Eddie’s, it doesn’t cross the magical transom. Experiments complete and conclusions reached, he’s ready to contact Eddie and enlighten him that all hell is about to be loosed. I chuckled out loud at the thought of trying to reach out to an apprehensive drug addict who’s sweating the authorities and convince him that you’ve inhabited his body!
The voice was saying the game was over. He hadn't even gotten off the plane and the game was already over.
But this wasn't real. No way this could be real. It was just his mind, doing a paranoid little jig at the last minute, that was all. He would ignore it. Just ignore it and it would go awa—
You will NOT ignore it or you will go to jail and I will die! the voice roared.
Who in the name of God are you? Eddie asked reluctantly, fearfully, and inside his head he heard someone or something let out a deep and gusty sigh of relief.
Eddie comprehends remarkably fast, considering the strange circumstances, and he climbs into the gunslinger’s world, startled by the sight of the near-death Roland who sits up to greet him. Both begin untaping the cocaine that’s fastened like a vise around the prisoner—Eddie just manages to get back into the plane’s lavatory when the suspicious crew busts the door in to find Eddie sitting on the crapper feigning a dump. Barely giving him time to pull up his trousers, they hurriedly escort him off the plane and into the waiting hands of Customs.
After some nasty, drawn-out harassment with the authorities, Eddie then has to contend with Enrico Balazar, the man for whom he was transporting drugs. They have already kidnapped Henry, Eddie’s beloved brother, pressuring Eddie to reveal what he did with the blow. Stripped naked, Eddie’s allowed to enter the bathroom with thug Jack Andolini because Balazar is assuming the junkie’s last cards are being played; he’s humoring Eddie. But once in the bathroom, Eddie drags the henchman into the gunslinger’s world where, after Roland Wild West duels him, Andolini is eaten alive by a lobstrosity.
This time, the gunslinger physically walks through the door—which closes behind him—with Eddie (who is palming one of Roland’s guns) and both take on Balazar and his crew. In a passage that cracked me the hell up, Mr. King writes, “… whizzing along like some kid in a disco contest, a kid so jived-up he didn't realize he'd left his entire John Travolta outfit, underwear included, behind; he went with his wang wagging …” And we witness the gunslinger face-to-face with other killers packing matched fire strength for the first time.
Roland managed to get into a crouch, aimed at the first of the new men coming in through the door, and squeezed the trigger. He had rolled the cylinder, dumped the used loads and the duds onto the carpet, and had loaded this one fresh shell. He had done it with his teeth. Balazar had pinned Eddie down. If this one’s a dud, I think we’re both gone.
It wasn’t. The gun roared, recoiled in his hand, and Jimmy Haspio spun aside, the .45 he had been holding falling from his dying fingers.
“Earp & Holliday” win, but Eddie learned his brother Henry had died earlier by an overdose administered by Balazar’s thugs—and his head gruesomely severed from his body. Roland needs to physically touch the prisoner for the door to his world to open again, but Eddie isn’t budging unless he hears the truth from Roland of what awaits him. The gunslinger soberly explains that there’s a better-than-average chance death is in their future. Setting carefully aside his brother’s head that he had been cradling, realizing he has nothing to lose, he joins Roland on the Western beach. Then panics sets in as he realizes he’s left his heroin behind. But Roland slams the door to the prisoner’s wails and downs the medicine for his hand, hoping it will stop the spreading infection.
Such mesmerizing, horrific images in these passages: Andolini being shot by Roland and then devoured by the lobstrosity, Eddie and Roland’s shootout with Balazar, and Eddie mourning his brother in a macabre Yorick way. King upped the ante across the board with these passages.
What do YOU think about Roland and Eddie's showdown with Balazar? Head to the comments and start/join the conversation!
*Remember: Be careful with your comments—NO SPOILERS! We will be moderating the comments and deleting anything we feel is a spoiler, so pause before you post and make sure you're not ruining it for someone else.
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David Cranmer is the publisher and editor of BEAT to a PULP. Latest books from this indie powerhouse include the alternate history novella Leviathan and sci-fi adventure Pale Mars. David lives in New York with his wife and daughter.