Day Two Hundred and Fourteen: The Angry Puppet
For the month of December, I’ll be world-building. This means taking a look at the people, places, and institutions that I have created over the last six months and trying to figure out more about them. This will involve a look at the stories in which they’ve appeared, and then some speculation, stream-of-consciousness writing, and with any luck a few revelations. In addition, I may come back and add new material as the Elves in my unconscious ship out new ideas, so I’ll be sure to link them up.
Your feedback as readers is, of course, more than welcome. There are probably questions that I’m forgetting to ask and holes that I need to fill.
Wish me luck!
Okay, time for another character sketch. This one will likely be short, for two reasons. First, I have to record my podcast tonight, so there’s lots of things to do, and I can’t do that until The Boyfriend takes The Dog out for a walk. Secondly, I don’t really know a whole lot about the character that my random number generator gave me: Kurt Brannon, from the story on day 26, Confrontation. Here’s what we know about him:
- He was really ready to kill Jenna Birch.
- He was nearly a state wrestling finalist in high school.
- He was accused of throwing wrestling matches. Some classmates got into his emails, reported him, and he was thrown off the team. He also lost his college scholarship.
And that’s pretty much all we know about him. That, and he was so convinced that Jenna had been part of a plot to ruin his life that he was just about ready to shoot her in the head.
The natural question, then, is what would drive someone to such a level? I mean, stalking this girl to figure out the best time to strike, breaking into a university biology lab, and holding her at gunpoint is not the behavior of a rational individual. It’s pretty clear that Kurt has problems, and fixing wrestling matches is just one of them.
When I think of high school wrestlers, I think of Breakfast Club, which pretty much dates my teenage years right there. In that movie, the Jock was dealing with his father’s disappointment over a stupid prank, and that was the last straw on top of years of pressure and expectations. Kurt has something like that going, only worse. His father was a slightly less pathetic version of Al Bundy – a guy whose last major accomplishment was when he was in high school, and he hasn’t done anything since. Kurt’s father was a wrestler, and he went to State, and would have gone further if he hadn’t been injured. His wrestling career was over, leaving him only with the dreams of what might have been.
Dreams he naturally transferred to his son. The pressure for Kurt to be a wrestler and to be a winner was immense and unrelenting. But no one can withstand that kind of pressure for very long, and the way Kurt dealt with it was by fixing matches to make money off them. Not a lot of matches – just enough that he could make some cash on the side while not jeopardizing the future that his father wanted so very much.
Unfortunately, bad luck and the persistence of the Internet worked against him. Perhaps he didn’t log off a library computer, or he autofilled an address wrong – whatever it was, his emails regarding fixing matches got out. Some of his classmates turned him in, enlisting Jenna in their cause to give them credibility. With her and the evidence on their side, they were able to convince the principal and the coach that Kurt had in fact been cheating, and his dream was crushed.
His father didn’t react well. His dream had been taken away by bad luck. His son had thrown it away. It got so bad that Kurt had to leave his house. He stayed with friends, barely finished school, and then disappeared before graduation. No one heard from him or saw him again until he went after Jenna.
Kurt is a damaged boy, to say the least. He can’t accept responsibility for what he did, probably because he never really thought that he had the power to make any real decisions about his life. His father and his coach pretty much orchestrated his days and nights, so Kurt already saw himself as bereft of any kind of agency. That made it easier to blame other students for his downfall. He didn’t think he’d really been responsible for his own success – why should he be responsible for his failure?
Jail, of course, won’t do him any good. A shame, because that’s where he’s going. Best case scenario, he finds Jesus and repents, but then he’s just transferring power over his life to someone else. He won’t be whole until he can accept responsibility for himself and his actions – good and bad – and let go of the dream that was never his to begin with.