The Quest for the Dark Tower Pt. 2: Katz's Pharmacy and Soda Fountain

***Spoiler warning! Though I've made every attempt to avoid giving away key plot points during this quest, it's still very possible that information discussed herein may spoil a new reader's experience, so consider yourself warned! ***

Finished with his business at Clements Guns and Sporting Goods, Roland then focuses his attention on the next hurdle to cross: acquiring the antibiotic Keflex for the infection poisoning his body in another world. He makes his way quickly down Forty-Ninth Street to the nearest drugstore. Fat Johnny had told him there was one around the corner and half a block down. In the following chapter ("Code 19, Code 19 . . ."), we learn the exact location: 395 49th St., Katz's Pharmacy and Soda Fountain (Sundries and Notions for Misses and Misters).

In the New York of our where and when, the address 395 West Forty-Ninth Street doesn't exist, but directly across Ninth Avenue from 393 W. 49th there is a drug store, not half a block but exactly two blocks from 7th and 49th (I like to think Fat Johnny gave inaccurate directions to throw Roland off, maybe give the cops a chance to catch up to him, but since Roland really has no concept of city blocks anyway, it's sort of a moot point).

Though technically located at 721 9th Ave., it's amazing that a Duane Reade pharmacy actually stands on the spot where Katz's would be (or is it? 7+2+1+9=?). As Roland enters the pharmacy wondering what to expect, he thinks about all the magicians, enchanters and alchemists he has encountered in his long travels. Of the most dangerous, three names come to mind specifically: his father's advisor (and mother's seducer), Marten Broadcloak; the man in black, known only as Walter 'O Dim; and Flagg, who Roland believes may really have been a demon dressed up as a man. Roland had seen Flagg only briefly, as he was hunted down and confronted by two desperately grim young men named Dennis and Thomas, just before The Affiliation's final collapse.

The memory of Dennis, Thomas and Flagg during this chapter of The Drawing of the Three is a reference to an earlier novel of King's: The Eyes of the Dragon. Dennis and Thomas are also mentioned in passing in the Afterword to the fourth Dark Tower novel, Wizard and Glass, but the adventures involving Roland and these characters still has yet to be told.

When the Marvel Comics series approached this era in Roland's life, I was disappointed when it wasn't included, but not very surprised. Robin Furth explains her hesitation to include this chapter of Roland's past in Appendix IV of Stephen King's The Dark Tower: A Concordance Vol. 2). However, there is a gap in the narrative between The Fall of Gilead and The Battle of Jericho Hill of close to nine years, and with the upcoming release of The Wind Through the Keyhole, I'm hoping that this loose end in the DT-cycle will finally be tied up by none other than the King himself.

Once again, this time in Katz's Pharmacy, Roland creates havoc and mayhem as he relentlessly pursues his goals. Even so, he always pays for the items he needs. Having spent the last of Jack Mort's cash "buying" ammunition at Clements Guns, he offers the pharmacist (the long-suffering Mr. Katz himself) a Rolex watch in exchange. A watch worth over one hundred times the value of the antibiotics Roland takes. After a brief scuffle with the same two police officers he had enlisted in his earlier ruse involving Fat Johnny, Roland commandeers their horseless carriage (or cartomobile, as he will later think of these vehicles) and heads to the next stop of his first adventure through New York in the spring of 1977 . . .

Long days, pleasant nights!


No comments:

Post a Comment