Thursday, May 26, 2011

RETURN TO SNAKELAND - Thirty-Ninth 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 *

-Jason. Wake up.-

I sit up, still dreaming, my wife asleep at my side. They are arrayed at the foot of our bed, the women sitting, the men standing behind them. They are five in number, a little family – although I remember later that only three of them are actually related. The last – that other teenage boy, the Suicide – is a little older than the Son but, admittedly, it is hard to determine his age because half of his face is gone and his jaw hangs awkwardly from the right side, the intact side. The shotgun took care of the rest. It appears that there may be another two or three figures standing behind him but the outlines are vague, ghostly.

-Jason. Wake up.-

Oddly enough, I am more irritated than scared, which is strange considering how much anxiety fills my waking life. I must still be asleep.

-What. What do you want.-

Rand, the Suicide, leans in. –It’s time to talk about me, to talk about us.- He gestures to the shadows that lurk in the darkness behind him.

I exhale roughly. –Why, Rand. What is there to tell. You four all killed yourselves. I don’t know what I can write about that.-

Rand is taken aback. –Well, you can tell about why we did it, how it related to Snakeland. You know, how you did with the others.- When Rand moves his head the loose jaw sways slowly back and forth over the mass of old black blood coagulated over the remains of the left side of his face.

-Rand, I’m not sure any of it did relate to Snakeland. Maybe my initial theory was wrong. Maybe all of you just killed yourselves because that’s what teenagers do, what they’ve always done.-

-Yeah, but all four of us, in that short time period. And all the murders too. It doesn’t add up.-

I whistle through my teeth. –I’m sorry, man. I don’t know, it’s’s getting kind of depressing or something. All this death. I just don’t know...I don’t know if I’ve got it in me.-

Rand is getting pissed, in the way only a 14-year-old boy can. –That’s bullshit. You better have it in you or you’re not gonna be getting much sleep for awhile. We’re dead, goddamnit, and we need somebody to speak for us. And that somebody is you. So get speaking.- The loose jaw flaps wildly as Rand gets more and more agitated.

-Okay, buddy, okay. I’ll tell the story.-

-And tell it good. None of this half-assed, don’t know if I’ve got it in me shit.-

I chuckle. –Okay, Rand, okay. I will.-

Thursday, May 19, 2011

RETURN TO SNAKELAND - Thirty-Eighth 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 *

There was always a mysterious friction in the air in Kenton, especially in the evening, in all the dusks that haunted that strange season of new sex and old death. Some of it was just the reliable excitement prior to going out, that scratchy rush of the unknown, of possibility, of Innocence rubbing up against Experience. But it seemed like there was more to it than that in Kenton, in that autumnal adolescent dusk-world, the shady place between adulthood and childhood. Two poles created that electricity, the good and the bad, the white and the black – two literal places: the Record Mine and Snakeland. Why Kenton? Why those two places? I don’t think we’ll ever know but of all the experiences I have had in my life, in all the places that I have ever been, nothing quite compares to feeling that teenage electric charge running through me, through us, between those two channels, crackling in the air, radiating out and down, in me, through me, back around twenty years later, here to you, the circuit complete.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

RETURN TO SNAKELAND - Thirty-Seventh 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 *

One of the odder experiences I had at the Record Mine involved Jim, the owner, and a bunch of Heads. It was some early evening, a weekend I think, and I was in there doing the record-store hunch with D-Man and Griffin. I can’t remember what Jim was playing on the stereo, some teen-scene ramalama probably. I think it was fall, but then, in all of my memories of Kenton it seems to be fall. While we were doing our usual record store routine – waving each other over for judgement calls, holding up cheesy Metal album covers featuring sparks, power tools and titties – Mike Guerrasio and 4 other Heads came up to the Record Mine and started banging on the window until we looked up. Then it was the typical thing, calling us faggots and giving us the finger and laughing. We tried to shrug it off, gave them the finger back, kept looking through the records. Jim looked up, shook his head, and then turned the stereo up some more. The door was propped open as it always was in the warmer months and Guerrasio came over to stand in the doorway and call out to us.

“Hey faggots. Yeah, you. You’re gonna fucking die. We are gonna kick your fucking asses as soon as you step outside.”

At this the other Heads hooted and banged on the window some more. Jim turned down the music and walked over to the doorway where he stood directly across from Guerrasio. His voice was even and calm.

“You can’t come in here.”

Mike Guerrasio spat on the ground, just outside the doorway. “It’s a free country, man. What the fuck you gonna do about it? I can do whatever I want.”

Jim almost smiled, and replied softly, “I know. But you can’t come in here.”

So then Guerrasio did that chest-out punk-off thing but Jim didn’t flinch and Guerrasio just called us faggots one more time and then went outside and stood with the other Heads, peering in the window and giving us the finger if we looked up from the records. And they did that for awhile longer until the three of us started kind of circling around each other and looking through the Jazz records which we never did and then a Kenton cop came cruising by and slowed down and the Heads banged on the window one last time and one of them scrocked on it, a real lunger, and then they went off down Mansfield Avenue laughing, probably to Snakeland. And Jim just acted like none of it happened, checked us out happily (we bought way too much, in gratitude) and we only looked over our shoulders once as we left his store.

It should be obvious at this point that I tend to turn every little teenage incident into high drama, but I’ll be goddamned if that isn’t how it felt at the time, especially the endless conflicts with the Heads. But this one was even more dramatic than most, especially Jim’s strange pronouncement about Guerrasio not being able to “come in” even though he possessed the freedom of movement to do so. It was almost as if there was something in the Record Mine that Guerrasio wasn’t allowed to touch, something special about being in there that he wasn’t allowed to experience, something else, something good.