Inciting moment: Roland Deschain’s gunbelt, 54 Express, and a construction site

Hey, I just finished Bad Luck and Trouble, by Lee Child. I dig Jack Reacher. Still my favorite is Without Fail. It will always be hard to beat. Followed closely by Killing Floor, and Echo Burning. I read Tripwire and Running Blind this spring, evidentially in reverse order. It’s funny the book that introduced me to the Reacher series, and the crowbar in the field moment that made me a lifelong fan, The Enemy, was essentially a flashback. The memory of the crowbar moment is so vivid, I was reading on the same couch I’m sitting on now, except the couch resided at the time with my wife and our daughter in West Seattle. It was late fall. Janet was putting Reese to bed, and from the sound of things, it wasn’t going well. I remember feeling a little selfish, but could not put the book down.

The recollection got me to thinking about my own inciting moment for my manuscript, working title, Strain.

It was a July morning in 2004. I was riding the 54 Express from West Seattle into Downtown to my regular gig as a freelance writer for an up and coming – and they’ll arrive any day now – agency.

I was reading Stephen King’s, The Dark Tower; the scene where the protagonist, Roland Deschain, is gunning down the entire town of people – a pile of bodies – with a pair of six-shooters. And I got to wondering: where’d he get all the bullets?

I appreciate the suspension of disbelief. It’s a major component of any good story – the contract between artist and audience – the promise that the audience can trust the storyteller. So I was on board with the bullets, the mythic training, the epic quest. Still, as the bus slowed for my stop, I was left feeling like I’d stepped into a Schwarzenegger movie, were the ammunition is plentiful and guns never jam.

The 54 makes limited stops (at least, it did) between West Seattle and 1st Ave. in Downtown. My stop was the second Downtown across from Pike Place Market. I’d walk up Pine towards Fifth Ave. As I walked, I was caught in a reverie: if the crap hit the fan and I was stranded like Roland, what weapon would I choose?

As Dark Tower series readers will know, Roland does become concerned about his stores of ammunition. Still, he’d gunned down an entire town with a single belt of bullets. I mean, c’mon.

So I was thinking about guns and calibers and whatnot. I was thinking about the quick draw, the reload, and the supply. I arrived at the question: if all the bullets were gone, and you needed a single handed projectile (yup, it sounded just like that in my head. It’s the years of D&D (Dungeons & Dragons for the high school popular people audience members) immersion) **a pause to reflect and respect the double parenthetical** what would be a common, reliable, accessible projectile weapon?

My answer: a nail.

Specifically a 50p framing spike. From my summers of construction in Columbus, Ohio, I’d farted around with plenty of framing spikes. During lunch breaks, we’d lean a piece Styrofoam against our truck and throw nails at it. Not pub darts style, more like a carnival knife throwers act.

So…I’m running out of steam. I’ll edit this to completion in the morning…

Oh, here’s a side-by-side comparison of two social networking profiles for you to consider:

http://www.myspace.com/peteosbornewastaken

http://virb.com/peteosborne

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2 Responses to “Inciting moment: Roland Deschain’s gunbelt, 54 Express, and a construction site”

  1. Ap Says:

    You said guns that never jam? Roland uses revolvers. Revolvers do not jam. As to where he got his bullets…obvious…from before..

  2. brightmidnight Says:

    As Ap said, revolvers do not jam.
    And you have to remember, we’re talking about a man who never misses. Ever. And when a .45 slug doesn’t miss…the damage is considerable. My point is, how many people do you think lived in Tull? 30? Maybe 40, max?

    Say Roland had 40 rounds on him, 20 in each gunbelt, and probably some more in his satchel. With each gun also fully loaded, that’s another 12 rounds so that brings it to a possible 52 rounds on his person. I think that’s more than enough to dispatch the residents of Tull. And say he had 20 rounds, a full gunbelt’s worth in his satchel…that’s makes sense when you think about how few he has left after the wave gets to him.

    He talks about having reloading shells over and over in later books. It would be difficult to imagine how he accomplished this for modern revolver ammunition without available primers, cordite and bullets…but he never actually does it in the books so it doesn’t really matter. Whatever shells he has left over after Tull, they all fit in his gunbelts and most of them get wet on the beach at the beginning of Drawing of the Three, so I think it’s pretty realistic, within the realm of this story.

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