Deacon King Kong

by

James McBride

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Deacon King Kong: Chapter 17: Harold Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Sportcoat and Hot Sausage talk about the best way to solve Sportcoat’s predicament with Deems. Sportcoat thinks that the best way to solve matters is to speak with Deems in private. He doesn’t think Deems will actually hurt him because he’s built up too much goodwill over the years as Deems’s baseball coach. Additionally, he thinks he can get Deems to give up drug dealing and to start playing baseball again instead. He wants Hot Sausage to help him arrange a private meeting, though Hot Sausage wants nothing to do with his plan. However, after discussing matters a bit more and downing a healthy amount of King Kong, Hot Sausage eventually decides to help Sportcoat.
Despite what everyone else tells him, Sportcoat still has faith in his relationship with Deems. However, it remains unclear whether that faith is justified. Meanwhile, Hot Sausage proves himself to be a loyal friend. He knows that helping Sportcoat is dangerous, but he decides to do it anyway.
Themes
Substance Abuse Theme Icon
Parental Figures and Masculinity  Theme Icon
Love, Hope, and Redemption Theme Icon
Quotes
In the meantime, Deems has other matters on his mind. He is less focused on Sportcoat and more focused on how to get rid of Bunch. He thinks that Bunch and his men are useless and wants to operate his branch of the drug trade without them. He considers the best way to present his argument to Joe Peck. Additionally, Deems thinks it likely that Lightbulb ratted on him. He is also worried about the new hitman that Bunch recruited, who might his gun on Deems after he is finished with Sportcoat.
In the wake of his shooting, Deems is worried that his early success in the drug trade is beginning to go away. As such, he wants to make changes, starting with Bunch. Although Bunch is capable, Deems is correct to point out that Bunch never does anything that is helpful to him. Also, Deems once again proves his intelligence by correctly identifying Lightbulb as the rat.
Themes
Substance Abuse Theme Icon
Race and Power Theme Icon
Quotes
In an attempt to get away from his hectic life, Deems goes on a date with a girl named Phyllis. She is new to the area and has recently begun buying drugs from Deems. She promises Deems that she is just a casual user and is not hooked, unlike many of his normal customers. Deems believes her and is especially interested in her because she, like Deems, was brought up in the church. Because of her upbringing, Deems suspects that she will be more fun and “wild.”
Here, we see Deems finally engaging in behavior that is typical of a teenager, although the nature Deems and Phyllis’s relationship is troubling. Also, this passage demonstrates that Deems is acutely aware of the negative impact of the product he sells. After all, he would not even go on a date with someone who regularly uses it.
Themes
Substance Abuse Theme Icon
Deems and Phyllis have a conversation on a pier that begins to turn sexual. Nearby, Deems has one of his men standing guard in case someone tries to sneak up on him. Before Deems and Phyllis can get anywhere, Hot Sausage appears, clearly inebriated, and dressed in an umpire uniform. Deems tells Hot Sausage to go away, but Hot Sausage insists on talking to him in private. Deems refuses, but Hot Sausage relates his message anyway. He tells Deems that Sportcoat wants to meet with him to get rid of any bad blood that may exist because of the shooting.
Apparently, Hot Sausage has put on the umpire uniform in an attempt to appeal to Deems’s nostalgia for his baseball days. Ultimately, though, he just looks ridiculous, and his drunkenness doesn’t help matters.
Themes
Substance Abuse Theme Icon
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Before their conversation can go any further, Phyllis takes a gun from her jacket and shoots Deems’s bodyguard. She then turns the gun to Deems and Hot Sausage and shoots both of them as well. Hot Sausage gets hit in the chest, and Deems takes a bullet to the arm. In desperation, Deems hurls himself into the water to try to escape. Unfortunately, Deems cannot swim, and his broken arm makes matters even worse. However, just as he thinks he will drown, Sportcoat, who has been hiding under the pier, appears and pulls Deems’s head above the water. Sportcoat tells Deems to be quiet until Phyllis vacates the scene. After Phyllis is gone, Sportcoat takes Deems to shore and goes to attend to Hot Sausage.
Evidently, Phyllis is not who she pretends to be. Rather than a heroin addict, Phyllis is the new assassin in town who’s been hired to take out Deems and Sportcoat. It is very likely that she would have been successful Sportcoat hadn’t been hiding under the dock. This is the second time that Deems is shot in only a matter of weeks. This time, instead of doing the shooting, Sportcoat emerges as the hero.
Themes
Substance Abuse Theme Icon
Love, Hope, and Redemption Theme Icon