The Education of the Damned

The most successful serial killers are always the boys next door—gentle children of summer, flashing smiles like soft breezes through a park, sharpened knives wrapped in grass-stained Levis. I was akin to these monsters. I was camouflaged and deadly, a viper smiling in the dark.

To be a truly great demon you’ve got to be attractive—no one sensible gets taken in by a goon. I was born with summer-blond hair, a soft evening smile, and the sweetly dark taste of defiance slashed across my lips—a scrawny, scuffed up teddy bear with a voice that could string words like lights across a carnival midway. Believable, that’s what I was: a perfect distraction for the careless mark.

They never saw me coming.

Some of the evil fucks I later ran with were way too ugly to be of any real use. The cops read them like a beacon flashing on a street corner. But not me—the code of the demon, my code, was to fit in, to move from the inside out, to slide into their world, to lodge myself against their love, and then to attack from beneath the skin.

When people refer to demons, they invariably claim we come from the underworld. God, I hate that cliché. It makes us sound like we’re all hanging around in a bondage cavern, trying on leather gear and waiting for tricks. And while I do love the smell of leather and I thoroughly enjoy caves, I tortured people for fun, not profit. The concept of a demon coming from underground is pure shit.

If you want to know where demons truly come from, I’ll tell you: we’re from right here. We exist in a shadow that lies over your world—a kind of transparency of evil that some demented teacher laid out on an overhead projector. We move around you, through you, in you. We are your fathers, your sisters, your lovers. We are your next-door neighbors. We come and go as we please—although it’s a bit harder to leave when we’ve taken residency in a body. The old Hebrews used to call their angels “Those who stand still,” and the name they gave themselves was “Those that walk.” If a demon was ever called anything, it was usually prefaced with a very terrified “Oh my God!”

 

I I I

I think, before we go any further, I should take a moment to clear things up. This is a memoir, not a biography. If you want facts, I suggest you call the local authorities—they’re loaded with trivial information on my human form. If you’re looking for a discography, or yet another failed rocker’s tale, then grab your laptop and pop my name into your search bar—I’ve left a trail of electronic dust from here to Mars. I’m not going to give you those things or comfort you with what you think is the truth. This story isn’t for you—the voyeur feeding on the destruction of a man. This is a story for those that find themselves too far from home, a traveler’s tale of monsters and bad ends. It’s a story for those that think there’s something golden at the end of the road—when there isn’t.

 

I I I

I stepped onto your world in the Bay Area of San Francisco in 1961, but I didn’t stay there long. I was quickly shuttled down to Long Beach—a working-class town chock-full of blue-collared laborers, retired navy men, hustlers, homosexuals, and squares.

My human father was in the military so they’d moved often. He was a junior officer with, at the time, three other children—two boys and a girl. Biologically speaking, I was the sport: a spiritual mutation that crawled out of hell into humanity.

 

 

From the book An American Demon: A Memoir by Jack Grisham

Copyright © Jack Grisham, 2011. Published by ECW Press.

 

Your glasses seem to be devoid of glass, why?

I didn’t think you’d notice, and the frames look good on me.

 

But aren’t you the one conducting this interview?  How wouldn’t you notice?

Yes, I am interviewing me, but as you know, I often live in a world of self-delusion. Let’s move on.

 

You claim to be a demon.  How’s that going for you?

It’s better than a few other things I could claim, and fear is a tall fence. The average man finds it prudent to steer clear of demons so calling myself ‘demon’ keeps the conservatives away and boring conversation at a minimum.

 

Do you have a tail and horns?

I said I was a demon, not a goat.

 

Your memoir, An American Demon, has been filed as nonfiction in the Library of Congress.  Does this mean they acknowledge the existence of demon kind?

Well, if you’d ever seen Miracle on 34th Street, that old Christmas film, Kris Kringle’s lawyer proves that Kris is Santa Claus by submitting a letter delivered to Mr. Kringle by the U.S. Postal Service. The letter was addressed ‘To Santa,’ and nothing else. I wrote a book claiming to be a demon, and the Library of Congress filed it as ‘nonfiction,’ true as honest Abe himself.  So therefore, if the U.S. Government says it’s true, it must be — right?

 

Does this mean that any children wishing evil on their parents should write to you?

Only if they include a little something for the effort.  Unlike Santa, I don’t work for free.