Last week, Susannah's pregnancy became increasingly distressing. This week, Jake confirms the truth about Slightman the Elder, while Eddie finally takes out that traitor Messenger Robot.
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, Roland lies and schemes his way through his plan, while Eddie takes care of the traitor Messenger Robot! Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part VII of Wolves of the Calla: Part Three The Wolves, III: “The Dogan, Part 2” – Part Three The Wolves, VI: “Before the Storm”!
Part Three The Wolves, III: “The Dogan, Part 2” – Part Three The Wolves, VI: “Before the Storm”
Jake is feeling unsettled about spying on Ben Slightman The Elder and Andy while they’re conversing in private. After Ben Slightman the Younger falls asleep, Jake slips away with Oy—sniffing like a bloodhound—to follow their trail to a seemingly abandoned building. It’s labeled Outpost 16, which Jake assumes was erected by the Old Ones. There, he finds more North Central Positronics, LTD signs and tech. On the door itself: WELCOME TO THE DOGAN. Uh-oh. Here we go, as they say.
Inside, fluorescent lights snap to life, revealing skeletons in tattered brown uniforms—soldiers of sorts who’ve long since given a damn about what they were guarding. More shocking than the gruesome remains are the 31 screens monitoring various locations in the region, including Calla high street, Our Lady of Serenity Church, and Took’s General Store.
Where in hell’s name are the cameras? Jake wondered. How come nobody sees them?
Because they were too small, he supposed. And because they’d been hidden. Smile, you’re on Candid Camera.
But the church … the rectory … those were buildings that hadn’t even existed in the Calla until a few years previous. And inside? Inside the rectory? Who had put a camera there, and when?
Jake didn’t know when, but he had a terrible idea that he knew who. Thank God they’d done most of their palavering on the porch, or outside on the lawn.
As he’s contemplating the weight of what he’s discovered, he spots Andy and Ben Slightman the Elder onscreen walking toward the building. He hides with Oy in a closet with his trusty Ruger, ready to shoot his way out if need be. Luckily, it doesn’t come to that, yet he does confirm the suspicion that his best friend’s father is in cahoots with the wolves and that no-good bucket of bolts, Andy. He muses how the truth was stamped—Messenger Robot—plain as day on the “C-3PO” turncoat’s chest, right in front of their eyes.
Roland leads what will be their final ka-tet palaver before the wolves arrive. Father Callahan agrees to go through the doorway and help protect Tower and Deepneau. He makes two trips. In the first, back in 1977’s New York, he discovers that Tower’s The Manhattan Restaurant of the Mind has been torched but also the zip of where Tower and Deepneau have fled to. While Roland is holding open the doorway for Callahan, he notices a book and begins leafing through the pages, recognizing names. He chooses not to tell Callahan when he comes back through (I “accidentally” skimmed ahead to find out what book had captured the gunslinger’s attention, Constant Readers, and went “ugh!” Though I trust King will make it all work, and soon enough we will discuss said book).
Another huge Calla town gathering, one that is significantly more important than before because Roland begins spinning lies of how they plan to kill the wolves. Afterward, he “confides” in Ben Slightman the Elder additional lies of their plans to protect the children. He asks Elder for help, and the conspirator readily agrees. These passages were kind of well-worn, and it’s starting to feel like “bring on the wolves, we want to see the wolves, where are the wolves?”
And, since Roland is busy lying through his butt, Eddie holds the door open for Father Callahan, who ducks to ’77 in East Stoneham, Maine, to leave a note for Tower and Deepneau. But when he checks over his shoulder to the open doorway, there’s no Eddie. Under the spell of Black Thirteen, Eddie was about to walk off a steep ledge. Callahan dives back through and pulls Eddie away from harm just in time, saving his life.
Highlight of our read was Andy, that congenial bot, getting his comeuppance when Eddie Dean waylays him with the promise of some phony guns.
“Cry your pardon, Eddie of New York, but I see no guns.”
“No,” Eddie agreed. “Me either. Actually all I see is a fucking traitor who teaches songs to the kids and then sends them to be—”
Andy turned with terrible liquid speed. To Eddie’s ears the hum of the servos in his neck seemed very loud. They were standing less than three feet apart, point-blank range. “May it do ya fine, you stainless-steel bastard,” Eddie said, and fired twice. The reports were deafening in the evening stillness. Andy’s eyes exploded and went dark.”
About time! And I enjoyed how King kept hammering in that Andy was laughing at everyone behind his eyes. Blue eyes. Then, that’s right where Eddie shoots to disable him. A highly satisfying, gunslinging ambush.
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.