Home > The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower #3)(5)

The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower #3)(5)
Author: Stephen King

He came this time not to take revenge for some petty wound but to stamp them out entirely before their poison could finish having its way with him . . . and as he travelled, all thought ceased. What was left was red rage, the rusty buzz of the thing on top of his head—the turning thing between his ears which had once done its work in smooth silence— and an eerily enhanced sense of smell which led him unerringly toward the camp of the three pilgrims. The bear, whose real name was not Mir but something else entirely, made his way through the forest like a moving building, a shaggy tower with reddish-brown eyes. Those eyes glowed with fever and madness. His huge head, now wearing a garland of broken brunches and fir-needles, swung ceaselessly from side to side. Every now and then he would sneeze in a muffled explosion of sound—Ali-CHOW!—and clouds of squirming white parasites would be discharged from his dripping nos-trils. His paws, armed with curved talons three feet in length, tore at the trees. He walked upright, sinking deep tracks in the soft black soil under the trees. He reeked of fresh balsam and old, sour shit. The thing on top of his head whirred and squealed, squealed and whirred. The course of the bear remained almost constant: a straight line which would lead him to the camp of those who had dared return to his forest, who had dared fill his head with dark green agony. Old People or New People, they would die. When he came to a dead tree, he some-times left the straight path long enough to push it down. The dry, explo-sive roar of its fall pleased him; when the tree had finally collapsed its rotten length on the forest floor or come to rest against one of its mates, the bear would push on through slanting bars of sunlight turned misty with floating motes of sawdust.

Two DAYS BEFORE, EDDIE Dean had begun carving again—the first time he’d tried to carve anything since the age of twelve. He remembered that he had enjoyed doing it, and he believed he must have been good at it, as well. He couldn’t remember that part, not for sure, but there was at least one clear indication that it was so: Henry, his older brother, had hated to see him doing it. Oh lookit the sissy, Henry would say. Whatcha makin today, sissy? A dollhouse? A pisspot for your itty-bitty teeny peenie? Ohhh . . . ain’t that CUTE? Henry would never come right out and tell Eddie not to do some-thing; would never just walk up to him and say, would you mind quitting that, bro? See, it’s pretty good, and when you do something that’s pretty good, it makes me nervous. Because, you see, I’m the one that’s supposed to be pretty good at stuff around here. Me. Henry Dean. So what I think I’ll do, brother o’ mine, is just sort of rag on you about certain things. I won’t come right out and say, “Don’t do that, it’s makin me nervous,” because that might make me sound, you know, a little f**ked up in the head. But I can rag on you, because that’s part of what big brothers do, right? All part of the image. I’ll rag on you and tease you and make fun of you until you just . . . f**king . . . QUIT IT! Okay? Well, it wasn’t okay, not really, but in the Dean household, things usually went the way Henry wanted them to go. And until very recently, that had seemed right—not okay but right. There was a small but crucial difference there, if you could but dig it. There were two reasons why it seemed right. One was an on-top reason; the other was an underneath reason. The on-top reason was because Henry had to Watch Out for Eddie when Mrs. Dean was at work. He had to Watch Out all the time, because once there had been a Dean sister, if you could but dig it. She would have been four years older than Eddie and four years younger than Henry if she had lived, but that was the thing, you see, because she hadn’t lived. She had been run over by a drunk driver when Eddie was two. She had been watching a game of hopscotch on the sidewalk when it happened.

As a lad, Eddie had sometimes thought of his sister while listening to Mel Alien doing the play-by-play on The Yankee Baseball Network. Someone would really pound one and Mel would bellow, “Holy cow, he got all of that one! SEEYA LATER!” Well, the drunk had gotten all of Gloria Dean, holy cow, seeya later. Gloria was now in that great upper deck in the sky, and it had not happened because she was unlucky or because the State of New York had decided not to jerk the jerk’s license after his third OUI or even because God had bent down to pick up a peanut; it had happened (as Mrs. Dean frequently told her sons) because there had been no one around to Watch Out for Gloria. Henry’s job was to make sure nothing like that ever happened to Eddie. That was his job and he did it, but it wasn’t easy. Henry and Mrs. Dean agreed on that, if nothing else. Both of them frequently reminded Eddie of just how much Henry had sacrificed to keep Eddie safe from drunk drivers and muggers and junkies and possibly even malevolent aliens who might be cruising around in the general vicinity of the upper deck, aliens who might decide to come down from their UFOs on nuclear-powered jet-skis at any time in order to kidnap little kids like Eddie Dean. So it was wrong to make Henry more nervous than this terrible responsibility had already made him. If Eddie was doing something that did make Henry more nervous, Eddie ought to cease doing that thing immediately. It was a way of paying Henry back for all the time Henry had spent Watching Out for Eddie. When you thought about it that way, you saw that doing things better than Henry could do them was very unfair.

Then there was the underneath reason. That reason (the world beneath the world, one might say) was more powerful, because it could never be stated: Eddie could not allow himself to be better than Henry at much of anything, because Henry was, for the most part, good for nothing . . . except Watching Out for Eddie, of course.

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