24.2.12

The Quest for the Dark Tower Pt. 8: The Vacant Lot - Part I

***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! ***

Jake walks the entire eight blocks of Second Avenue, from Fifty-forth Street all the way down to Forty-sixth Street. In Eddie's dream, when he arrives at the corner of 46th and 2nd he finds Tom and Gerry's Artistic Deli (Party Platters Our Specialty!). When Eddie inserts the key he's been carving into the door's lock, it opens onto the Dark Tower standing at the center of a field of blood red roses.

Jake's experience though, like the House Of Cards magic shop that was actually a diner named Chew Chew Mama's, is somewhat different. Rather than the deli, which somehow he fully expects to find after walking past a stationary store named The Paper Patch, he comes instead to a vacant lot containing weeds, piles of bricks and other trash, like beer bottles and empty wrappers.

The board fence surrounding this vacant lot is plastered with handbills featuring advertisements for Olivia Newton John performing at Radio City Music Hall, a band called G. Gordon Liddy and the Grots performing at an East Village club and a movie poster for War of the Zombies.

War of the Zombies is a 1964 Italian film originally released internationally under the title Roma Contra Roma (Rome Against Rome).

It was distinct from other "sword and sandal" epics of the time because of it's use of a legion of living dead zombie soldiers warring against the Roman armies they once fought for. It stars John Drew Barrymore as Aderbal, a villainous enchanter who bears a striking resemblance to Gilead's own traitorous sorcerer, Marten Broadcloak.

Among all these handbills, Jake also notices a sign:

MILLS CONSTRUCTION AND SOMBRA REAL ESTATE
ASSOCIATES
ARE CONTINUING TO REMAKE THE FACE OF
MANHATTAN!
COMING SOON TO THIS LOCATION:
TURTLE BAY LUXURY CONDOMINIUMS!
CALL 555-6712 FOR INFORMATION!
YOU WILL BE SO GLAD YOU DID!

which has been tagged by a graffiti artist known as Bango Skank. This isn't the last time this type of graffiti will show up. Several times throughout the course of the Dark Tower series Bango Skank's name is found, but what's most interesting is that this isn't the first appearance of this signature tag, either.

Bango Skank first showed up alongside another graffiti tagger by the name of Jeepy, in The Buffalo Hunter, a short story in the collection Houses Without Doors by Peter Straub.

Bev Vincent dedicated an entire sidebar entitled The Ubiquitous Bango Skank in his The Road To The Dark Tower, which mentions how Bango Skank was originally created by Straub for The Talisman, but was never used. Strangely, despite a lengthy list of appearances elsewhere in the Dark Tower series, the appearances in The Buffalo Hunter aren't mentioned at all.

Continuing to explore the vacant lot, Jake sees more graffiti art, one reads:

See the TURTLE of enormous girth!
On his shell he holds the earth
If you want to run and play,
Come along the BEAM today.

Another, on the old Tom and Gerry's Artistic Deli sign simply says:

HE HOLDS US ALL WITHIN HIS MIND.

Eventually Jake comes across a key which he picks up and puts into the Charlie the Choo Choo book . . .

. . . and then, just beyond where the key was resting Jake finds a single, beautifully alien wild rose growing in the shade, just out of sight from the street. He gazes at the flower, entranced by it's beauty, and feels an overwhelming urge to protect this rose from any harm that may come to it. Before he can do anything else though, he realizes the hour has grown late and reluctantly decides to head for home.

Long days, pleasant nights!

-DE

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