Badass Once Removed
Monstrous was unable to be all things and approaches at the same time. And a few worthy nuggets got left out entirely, never once getting picked up for all the crossing and crisscrossing of my mental landscape from when my book’s raw material was being compiled. Two memories in particular really screamed out for inclusion, except that they were islands which I could find no way of connecting to the mainland of my life. One was a memory– the only one I care to go into at this point– third grade or so, of me kiddingly pretending to push a girl into the street, not knowing whether there were any cars coming, by actually pushing her into the street. The phenomenon is introduced and discussed in the abstract where this memory would have fit chronologically, but there is nothing within miles of it that hints at a potential for violence on my part, and so I guess I thought its inclusion would unnecessarily orient the reader toward the supposedly violent nature of an eight- or nine-year-old boy, rather than toward a murky line between what is real and imagined that could lead to violence much later on.
If another memory had made it in, though again, not the second screamer– to hell with it, at fifteen I had a vivid fantasy image of stumbling across in the stickerbushes a fresh, blonde, young female corpse that I could have my way with– it would have made inclusion of the third grade pusher look a bit less weird.
Reading up on Israel Keyes is what’s brought it back to me. He was raised a white supremacist within a Christian Identity enclave, and it happens that two brother neighbors of his– though I don’t know about next door– also became murderers, like there was something synergistic in the neighborhood. As an aside, there doesn’t seem to be anything racist about Keyes’ murders, except to say that they were committed against the human race, which is overwhelmingly opposed to racism.
When I was in sixth grade I got really mad once at “Albert Bergerson”, who warrants mention in my book for perennially coming in last place on my Friends List. Actually, I got really mad at him twice, but I am not proud of the draw we fought to in a hair-pulling contest. Albert was this huge kid who beyond his hugeness for his age also had to repeat a grade, and one time I got so pumping mad that I threw him three feet up against a wooden fence from a release point of I’m thinking six feet away. But if I were to include that one, then I’d have to include my best friend “Phil Levine” punching me in the gut for I don’t remember why, and I just don’t feel that these incidents were representative of who I was or who my friends were; I left room for boys to be boys.
One of the overarching choices made in constructing Monstrous was not to run a lot of tracers on lives outside my own. Tracing cause and effect could quickly have become unwieldy if I attempted to explained myself too much in terms of my parents, and my parents on their parents and so on. But if I had allowed such digressions, there’s an interesting thing or two I could have said about Albert, and to a lesser extent his sidekick “Rocco Leonhardi”.
I learned at one point that when Albert was fifteen, a few years removed from when we were neighbors, he had gotten into trouble for assaulting a police officer, and my impression is that he had won the initial round handily. It’s something that makes me feel all glowy inside for when I need a pick-me-up that I’m not a total wimp, running my formula of A>B>C. What a lion it makes me for a day, to know that I had once dominated a full-blown felon.
Albert could well have written my book, or a valid book of the same title, except it’s doubtful he was much of a writer. His relationship with his mother actually looked more like one of boyfriend and girlfriend. He was deep into pornography before I ever was, and in fact a darker form of it than to which I ever grew accustomed, starting with grainy black and whites of topless National Lampoon girls with bags over their heads that I never thought made it to funny. Once, I was treated to a display of medieval weaponry that he had laid on the family car. I briefly met up again with Albert and Rocco when we were high school age, and by that time they were both juvenile delinquents heavy into Dungeons and Dragons.
None of this is whispered in Monstrous, and maybe it should have been, but I didn’t experience there being anything amiss when I was a kid among them, and generally I tried to write from my perspective at the time.
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