Thursday, February 24, 2011

RETURN TO SNAKELAND - Twenty-Sixth 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 *

A real issue struck me when reviewing the previous post on Jeremy Janks and the murders he committed: why am I so angry at him? Over the course of that chapter I refer to him as a “pussy”, a “coward”, “cowering”, and having to consume “girl drinks” in order to find the courage to kill himself (which is as snottily unkind to women as it is to Janks). In earlier fragments I don’t seem nearly as angry at Katie Hoehner’s murderers and I couldn’t figure out why that would be until I realized that I have nothing in common with them and, conversely, it’s only by the grace of god that I didn’t end up as lost and crazy as Jeremy Janks.

I drove past the old Janks house on Mansfield Avenue on September 16, 2010, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the murders. The house remains a tiny ranch-style monstrosity on a tiny single lot with a postage-stamp front lawn and a backyard bordered by the one-car garage and the back of the house. I lived in a similar ranch-style house in Towaphna with three other people and if I didn’t have the roof to climb up on it probably would’ve driven me crazy, too. In fact, I’m sure it would’ve during the Towaphna winters except for the blessing of my parents’ finished basement and my ability to tune in WQCC down there.

Awkward, outsider, creepy, outcast – all these terms could have been attached to me at various times in my adolescence and I might’ve ended up as alienated as Janks except for two things – the first being rock and roll. In the same way that it cursed me to continually look throughout my adult life for a way to feel that free all the time (and thusly retarded my vocational and romantic lives), it set me free as an adolescent to express my confusion, my lust, my anger and my brief moments of transcendence all at once. I remember the first time I heard the Sex Pistols – the end of Music class in 8th grade. I was 13 years old. Jamie Cruz put it on, Song One, Side One, during the “Free Play” we had in the last five minutes of class. “Holidays in the Sun” came roaring out of the speakers and I couldn’t believe that human beings could make a sound like that. I felt like someone had come up and set my hair on fire. I actually began to move out of my body, but then came crashing back with a thud as Ms. Kazmierczak pulled the needle off the record with a heart-rending screech. “Well, that’s about enough of that!” she said huffily while handing Jamie back his record. I wanted to tear her fucking head off. I made Jamie take me back to his house that afternoon and play Never Mind the Bollocks for me, front to back, three times. Things were never the same.

The second advantage I had over Janks was my small group of friends, the “Core”, the so-called “Best and the Brightest”. Notwithstanding the obvious ego-games played by naming yourselves these elevated sobriquets, we used each other as a defense against bullies, against reality, against our anxiety over the young women we claimed we understood completely. I believe that this, combined with rock and roll, was about the best defense a teenage boy could muster.

But enough about me – we were talking about Jeremy Janks. It is said that we hate most in others what disappoints us most in ourselves, and if anything Jeremy Janks reflects to me the most disgusting aspects of myself – my cowardice, my ineffectuality, my inability to see anything more than one answer to any problem and then respond with childish rage when that answer is dismissed. This probably explains why I came to call him everything but “punk rock faggot” in the previous post. The bullied becomes the bully.

But probably the most telling detail was the Jeremy Janks quote reported by the psychologist who examined him the night of the murders. Janks asked the doctor repeatedly, “What kind of an education can I get in jail?” One might hear the question as a despairing whine, but I think he meant it genuinely. I killed them all, destroyed everything that was in my way – isn’t there some sort of reward now, a consolation prize? What kind of an education can I get in jail? I guess he found out.