There remains a Sasha-shaped clearing on my bed; it’s the debris from the stillness of hours devoted to one book alone—there are (the leavings of lunch:) empty soda cans and bags of potato chips, an ashtray and a hollowed pack of cigarettes, a cellphone guiltlessly ignored. That is: I’ve finished reading Stephen King’s The Dark Tower—meaning, the seventh and last book; meaning, all of it. I can’t remember the last time I was so consumed by someone else’s world for months. The last time I had something constant to turn to, a much-needed something to get lost in.
Someone asked me recently if I had trouble finding my place in the world upon booklessness—that moment or so after turning the last page, and all the words and their attendant worlds settle inside you and here comes the realization that: There—you’re done with this book, you’ll never ever read this for the first time ever again. Probable futures loom before you, most vivid is having to spend the necessary days with books unfortunate enough to follow, books you can’t even let in just yet—but you have to read, that’s what you do, you keep on reading. I don’t know why I didn’t answer his question directly. “Yes, I do,” would have done just fine, no?
* * *
I’d have you see the like this; I’d have you see them very well. Will you? They are clustered around Suzie’s Cruisin Trike, embracing in the aftermath of their victory. I’d have you see them this way not because they have won a great battle—they know better than that, every one of them—but because now they are ka-tet for the last time. The story of their fellowship ends here, on this make-believe street and beneath this artificial sun; the rest of the tale will be short and brutal compared to all that’s gone before. Because when ka-tet breaks, the end always comes quickly. Say sorry.
To the Dark Tower, the Childe Roland came, and we sang all their names.