Thursday, June 16, 2011

RETURN TO SNAKELAND - Forty-Second Fragment

* This is a fictionalized account of some shit that actually happened. All the names, locations, etc. have been changed to protect the innocent as well as the guilty. – JG *

And what about the parents in this scenario? I don’t mean the Janks, or poor Mrs. Hoehner, or even the parents of Rand and Carolyn, or Tim and Chris. I mean everyone else, safe in their homes, kids asleep upstairs or pretending to be, watching the news, hearing the gossip, seeing that encroaching shadow from Snakeland reach down Mansfield Avenue toward all the others, towards them. Did they wonder, were they afraid, did they just ignore it and hope it went away? All gone now, all those memories – all the adults from that time period that I have spoken to claim to remember nothing of the suicides, and perhaps only a vague recollection of that poor Katie Hoehner or that awful Jeremy Janks. And Snakeland? Nothing. “Oh, the grain elevators? I was so happy when they tore that down. I’m surprised no one died in there.”

Someone did. Katie Hoehner was killed in Snakeland. Her body was moved to the railroad tracks.

“Oh. Well then, I’m surprised it was only one person.”

Another question wafts in on the autumn wind: why did it all stop? By the time Chris Coloiacovo killed himself, early in 1986, a little more than halfway through our sophomore year, it was all over. There were no more deaths at Kenton North, and certainly none related to Snakeland. What changed? By the beginning of junior year, September 1986, I don’t have any further memories of Mike Guerrasio either. Did he graduate? Drop out? I don’t know. I don’t even remember the Heads as a real presence after that either – maybe their musical allegiances were already beginning to fragment, in the same manner as ours. Mostly what I remember is that something in the air had changed, that electric friction had diminished somehow, had started in on the normalization process that would eventually lead us all into adulthood and the requisite disappointments, small triumphs and more subtle and consistent pleasures that came with it.

One thought though: if somebody actually did something, if someone killed the Snake in Snakeland, or dug some displaced soul a grave, or one of those other things that people do in horror movies to send the Bad Spirits away, let me know, okay? Credit should go where credit is due. Thanks must be given for ending the murders and suicides, with just a little held back for dispersing that extraordinary friction, so brief, so rare.


Aaron said...

Dial back the clock to the early 80's. Before the internet, before Oprah was an icon, before cell phones. I think we had a 1950's culture still but with the birth of cable television. My point being, the adult population were pretty ignorant. Think back to Kitty Genovese - that poor girl screamed for an hour while she was raped and murdered. Finally someone called the police. I don't even think that the title "serial killer" was a common phrase or thought for most. Adults looked the other way for the most part. They saw bad things and many thought: "that's none of my business". Suicides were hushed up and shameful. I think that adults at that time didn't watch out for those type of things. Which seems foreign to us 25-30 years later. Face it, our culture has changed quickly.

Brad Frederiksen said...

Bad spirits done away with. Something in the air has changed... almost ...

tipota said...

"Oh. Well then, I'm surprised it was only one person."
too (not) funny. the obvious and the hidden, and the
different personalities that stand out in the story, and a history of the time/place from an original perspective.
the way it weaves imagery that makes snakeland seem familiar. great, big J!