Last week, we learned about what happened to Father Callahan after Salem's Lot. This week, we discover the Sisters of Oriza.
Our previous read, The Wind Through The Keyhole, waylaid us in a town hall as a starkblast trapped our ka-tet with freezing conditions. Roland of Gilead spent the time palavering with Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Oy about long ago when him and fellow gunslinger Jamie tracked down and killed the shapeshifter Skin-Man. Intertwined in the narrative, we discover that Roland’s mother Gabrielle had learned from Randall Flagg that her son would murder her, and so in a letter she’d written in advance, she absolved Roland of the deed. After the icy weather passes, the ka-tet emerges and heads along the Path of the Beam toward Thunderclap.
*Remember: While this is a reread, please avoid spoilers in the comments. The point is to get there together!
We're back to wacky Stephen King chapters, so the plan is to read a section a week (about 100 pages) and meet here at our usual time (Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET) 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 is a short but important read as we learn about the Sisters of Oriza! Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part IV of Wolves of the Calla: Part Two Telling Tales, IV: “The Priest's Tale Continued (Highways in Hiding)” – Part Two Telling Tales, VII: “Nocturne, Hunger”!
Part Two Telling Tales, IV: “The Priest's Tale Continued (Highways in Hiding)” – Part Two Telling Tales, VII: “Nocturne, Hunger”
On the other side of the George Washington Bridge should be Fort Lee, but Father Callahan can see it’s now being called Leabrook, and a newspaper claims Spiro Agnew—Nixon’s disgraced VP—is president. With next to nothing to look forward to, especially in the America where Gerald Ford is president, he steps across the magical portal into … what? He’s not sure, and he has no idea if he can get back, but he doesn’t care and keeps forging ahead—becoming addicted to the endless highways like he is to the alcohol.
He gets a job as a short-order cook working for Dicky Rudebacher, and he sees the first of three types of vampires, servants of The Crimson King, standing in line at the cinema. Though Dicky is compassionate to Callahan, the priest—who has lost his faith in God—needs to travel … and he does. Five years (though, really, how can one tell) on the road with a string of jobs from digging graves to picking oranges, etc. The 1970s turn into the ’80s, and danger is always tracking: “The men with the red eyes and big hats and long yellow coats are on their way.” Having killed as many vampires as he could along his course, he has undoubtedly gained the attention of a powerful force.
Callahan stops his traipse down the bloody memory lane to show Roland the crystal ball. Roland has Callahan take him to Black Thirteen without Susannah present, afraid that the demon in her belly will grow stronger.
Faintly, Roland heard the chime of bells—a sound so beautifully hideous it made you want to grind your teeth against it. For a moment the walls of Pere Callahan’s church wavered. It was as if the thing in the box had spoken to them: Do you see how little it all matters? How quickly and easily I can take it all away, should I choose to do so? Beware, gunslinger! Beware, shaman! The abyss is all around you. You float and fall into it at my whim.
On a lighter note, Benny Slightman and Jake continue to be kids hanging out and having fun, swinging from a rope into a giant haystack (while Andy, the possibly not-so-innocent robot, looks on) as Roland is entertained at Vaughn and Margaret Eisenhart’s home. There we—and Roland too—learn that Margaret is a disciple of Lady Oriza of the legendary “Tale of Gray Dick.”
Dick was an outlaw prince who had killed Lady Oriza’s father. She tempted Dick into joining her for dinner, but he was obviously suspicious that she just wanted to kill him in the name of revenge. To ease the man’s fear, the comely woman suggested they have dinner in the nude, to which he agreed. Unbeknownst to him, she had a special razor-sharp plate designed that she zinged at the prince during dinner and beheaded him. Margaret tells Roland that there are three other women in Calla who, like her, have deadly throwing dishes.
Gran-pere Jaffords tells Eddie Dean the story of how, when he was younger, he and his friends took on the wolves and his friend Molly managed to kill one.
But the wolf at which Molly has aimed actually rides into the rising dish. It strikes at just the point where the thing’s green hood crosses the wolf-mask it wears. There is an odd, muffled sound—chump!—and the thing falls backward off its horse with its green-gauntled hands flying up.
Short reread this week but many pivotal passages: Eddie has found an Achilles’ heel in these seemingly invincible wolves (who carry what sounds to be a variation of a lightsaber), and Roland has begun to assemble a more robust defensive force with these bladed-disc wielding Sisters of Oriza. Susannah continues to be a wild card, and it’s looking like Father Callahan is quickly becoming a permeant member of Roland’s ka-tet.
What did you think of this week's read? 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.