Friday, September 24, 2010


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

Snakeland still sprawls across the edges of my imagination, casting its dusky shadow over the unnamed suburban sidestreets of my mind. It shows up in my writing, still, more than twenty years since I graduated from Kenton North. I used it in this chunk of flash fiction from 2009 as a setting for a dippy vampire exercise.


The girl was heavy into Jeff; she knew it, we knew it. Much beers later, you had half a mind to tell the kid because he obviously wasn't gonna get it on his own. Snakeland was good for beers and bong hits - no one ever there except homeless dudes. And snakes. The part by the water you could huck the bottles in; dig the splash, then the echo of the splash. The empty grain elevators were a wall between us and the cops, all floor holes and broken glass. Pretty sweet.

The girl was totally listening to Jeff and all his World of Warcraft bullshit which he never would've been talking about to a girl unless he was totally high. Which he was, but that's still no excuse to be blabbering that geek noise to some piece of ass that followed us to Snakeland. So we all give Jeff the eye and the nod and he finally gets it and he's like you wanna go down by the water? and she's like yeah, sure and they grab a couple of beers and they go and we laugh a little and they laugh a little. And then Tony's all Let's build a fire! and Dez is all No, let's just cut out the middleman and actually tell the cops where we are, and then it's Fuck You but bong hits later no problem.

Jeff or the girl whips a bottle in the water but it must've been a big one because the echo is even bigger than the splash, or at least it sounds that way. From where we are. The girl walks up, hours later maybe, feels that way, wiping her mouth says Jeff fell asleep. Dez waits until she leaves, looks at us, goes Is that a good sign or a bad sign? And Tony goes Who cares, where did they get wine? Dez is like The fuck you talking about? And Tony says Her mouth was all red, dude. Her lips were all red.

Friday, September 17, 2010


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

Perhaps this can be considered my attempt to kill the victims all over again, but this time in a way that makes sense. To give Katie a murderer who could be caught, who could confess, who could tell us what happened that night, who could pinpoint the moment when he could see in Katie's eyes that she realized that everything wasn't going to be OK, that getting caught by her parents or the police was nothing to fear, that here was fear, was Death.

And Jeremy Janks would still murder his brother, his mother, his father - but would've composed some manifesto, some quasi-political treatise to explain it all after they found his body along with the others. Because if this is to make sense, if this part of the story can make any sense, Jeremy Janks has to die. This is reasonable. This is an end. This is not some doughy-faced psychopath with nothing to say. This is multiple murder/suicide with an accompanying libretto. This is the drama we make of the real.

But Will Haynes does not die. That never made any sense to me. Even by the ludicrous standards of Kenton in the 1980s, it doesn't make any sense. A collateral car-crash victim? It is a stupid and useless death, it has no manageable dramatic effect and it has got to go. Maybe it happened in real life but not here, not now. Here things happen for reasons; here things make sense. Will Haynes is 51, divorced, lives in the Town of Towaphna with his girlfriend Cindy, 48, also divorced. She's a nurse; he works at Cole Muffler. They see their kids on the weekends.

But what of Kenneth, Gene, Carolyn, and Hugh? All still suicide, of course, but now with reason, explained reason, notes, connections between. A common cause. A cause that connects the 4 suicides to the murders of Mike Janks, Marge Janks, John Janks and Katie Hoehner. A cause that lives in Kenton, NY, in the dark, in the only evil place that ever existed in Kenton. In Snakeland.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


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

These are the actual facts of the matter:

This is an elegy, but if I’m being honest I didn’t really know any of the people who died. I attended Kenton North Senior High School from 1984 through 1988. At some point in my freshman year, another Freshman named Kenneth Coloiacovo (14 years old) killed himself with a shotgun blast to the head. Over the summer of 1985 a Sophomore-to-be named Katie Hoehner (15 years old) was strangled to death and her body left on the railroad tracks behind a series of abandoned grain elevators in Kenton that had been nicknamed “Snakeland”. Katie Hoehner sat in front of me in Homeroom freshman year but if we ever said two words to each other it was a lot. Her killer was never brought to justice and the crime remains officially unsolved to this day.

Soon after the beginning of my sophomore year a Senior named Jeremy Janks (17 years old) murdered his younger brother, mother and father (in that order) by stabbing them to death. Jeremy then unsuccessfully attempted to kill himself by slashing his wrists and, in the confusion following blood loss, drove the family car into the back of a restored ’68 Camaro stopped at a traffic light in Kenton. The driver, Will Haynes (25 years old) was killed. Jeremy survived, and served 25 years in jail for the murders. I believe he has recently been released to a halfway house somewhere in Western New York.

I am fuzzier on the next series of dates as I have not been able to retrieve any records from the period but am relatively certain that the suicides of Gene Marsten (17 years old, pills), Carolyn Brewster (15 years old, hanged) and Hugh Corwin (16 years old, gun) all occurred in succession between the winter break of sophomore year and my graduation in May of 1988.

There was no uproar, no village meeting, no systematic investigation into any potential connection between the murders and the suicides. No experts were flown in to consult with Kenton North staff, no team of trauma specialists were dispatched to administer Crisis Counseling to the vulnerable student body. The only thing that was ever publicly discussed by the adults of Kenton is whether or not the name of the Kenton North football team, the Blue Devils, should be changed as it could be interpreted as a reference to Satanism.

All this shit actually happened.

Friday, September 3, 2010


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

I learned the meaning of the word “elegy” from the title of Issue #138 of The Uncanny X-Men, the comic book in which the funeral of Jean Grey, Phoenix, takes place. October, 1980: this is where the 1980s truly begin. “Elegy” was the first X-Men comic I ever bought – I missed Issue #137 (headed “Phoenix Must Die!” on the cover – I guess they meant it) by a matter of days. #137, the “Death of Phoenix” issue, went on to become worth hundreds of dollars, one of the most valuable modern-age comic books ever – Issue #138 did not. Story of my life. However, “Elegy” began the eternal autumn that haunted Kenton, NY and most especially Kenton North Senior High School, until the end, until the apocalypse that never came, until that one day when we all kept on breathing and shouldn’t have, couldn’t have.

So, “Elegy”: black leaves blowing across its splash page, Scott Summers’ black thoughts blowing across the other 31 – “ pain beyond pain. I never knew a body could hurt so much and still function. I’m not sure I want to call this ‘living’.” We were kids reading a superhero comic. Biff. Pow. Bam. It’s Clobberin’ Time. If X-Men #137 ripped something open in our lives and “Elegy” is what crawled in, X-Men #142, the conclusion of the “Days of Future Past” storyline, is that great beast matured and now slouching toward Babylon to be born. They didn’t even need to give us the actual comic book, the cover was sufficient: a huge mutant-killing Sentinel robot holds Storm in his right hand with a big spear in her back and uses his left hand to incinerate an airborne Wolverine. The tagline? “This Issue: Everybody Dies!”

“Everybody Dies!” Imagine that. That was the selling point. “C’mon, kids! Everybody Dies!” And it worked – Issue #142 sold like crazy. After #137 went through the roof none of us were going to miss out – I wasn’t going to miss out again. If somebody (Phoenix, Gwen Stacy, et. al.) dies and the comic book’s value goes through the roof, what happens when “Everybody Dies”? What is its worth then? How do you calculate that?

Except, if you read X-Men #142 (and I did, literally hundreds of times) you found out that really, nobody dies. Or they did, but it was in the future – 2013 to be exact. That totally super-futuristic time, the year 2013. Storm gets speared in silhouette, Colossus gets killed offstage, but Wolverine gets the flesh burned off his adamantium bones even more graphically than on the cover. That was pretty insane. That was February 1981.

C’mon kids. Everybody dies.