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.