Doc Holliday: “A man like Ringo has a great empty hole right through the middle of him. He can never kill enough or steal enough or inflict enough pain to ever fill it.”
Wyatt Earp: “What does he need?”
Earp: “For what?”
Holliday: “For being born.”
~Val Kilmer and Kurt Russell Tombstone
What was Kermode thinking when he met Pamela? For one thing, at 46, he must have been flattered that someone nearly two decades his junior would find him attractive. Not that Kermode Jordan had ever had any difficulty attracting women. The first love of his life had been his mother, Thora, a tall angular woman with a hatchet face and a cap of badly dyed black hair. Thora adored her only child, Kermie. Kermode was breast fed until he was three, and there was no doubt that the number one man in Thora’s life was not her husband but her son. Thora saved all Kermie’s drawings, school programs, report cards, even scraps of paper with one or two words on them. Convinced her son would grow up and accomplish great things, she hoarded his childhood mementos as if they were precious jewels. Kermode returned Thora’s love with slavish devotion. Should one of his wives make a negative comment about her mother-in-law, Kermode responded with a tongue lashing or a beating. He even emulated Thora’s drinking problem and adopted her excuse to explain away his staggering and slurring.
“My mother’s side of the family has Indian blood, which makes us allergic to alcohol. We don’t drink very much, no more than anybody else, but that condition makes any alcohol have an exaggerated effect on our nervous systems.”
Thora was what today some people call a “New Ager.” Her letters to her son are filled with positive affirmations and spiritual teachings from gurus, Christian mystics, Scientologists and just about anyone who was a little outside the mainstream. ‘We are what we think.’ ‘We need only desire something and put that desire out to the universe and it will be fulfilled.’ ‘All things are possible.’ ‘We create our own happiness, just as we create our own sorrow.’ Thora never lost an opportunity to tell Kermode what a special person he was, what a unique and blessed being. If he would only take her principles to heart he would achieve the full potential God intended.
The Jordans were ranchers and miners from around Cortez, Colorado. Kermode spent part of his childhood on a farm, which accounts for many of the stories he told Jacob about having sex with animals. Like Pamela, he didn’t talk much about his childhood, though it was obviously violent. While beating Charlie and Jacob, he taunted, “What’re you crying about? My father used to beat me with a knife-sharpening strap.”
Kermode had his first real sexual experience when he was eight years old. He and the neighbor girl, an older woman in her early teens, touched and fondled each other. Hoping for more, the girl tried to bribe Kermode with chocolate chip cookies, but “he was too young to do anything.” Not for long. By the time he and Pamela met, he had been married four times and had enjoyed numerous affairs. 120 Ridge Drive contained hundreds of letters, many from various romantic liaisons spanning thirty years. In the early sixties, when abortion was still illegal, he persuaded two girlfriends to terminate their pregnancies. Both wrote of their fear, unhappiness and pain when Kermode cast them aside afterward. He even reneged on a promise to pay for one’s abortion.
It is impossible to know how much Thora realized concerning Kermode’s promiscuity. Blinded by love, she generally only saw the best in her son. She blamed all those awful women for chasing Kermie and when the relationships turned sour, THEY were responsible. Occasionally, a certain amount of disapproval does slip through. In a letter from the 1970′s Thora accused Kermode of being sick and perverted. ‘You treat women shamefully. You’re cruel and your morals are disgraceful. You’re dishonoring the Jordan name. You must get help or you’ll end up in the gutter…’
Thora didn’t specifically state what he had done to so disgust her, but it apparently involved a much younger woman. Kermode was between wives at the time. Wife number one had suffered through numerous infidelities and his indifference to their baby girl, Justine. Kermode only saw his daughter once or twice a year. In a conversation with Charles after the murders, Justine remembered watching her father try to strangle her mother. 
Wife number two termed herself the classic battered wife. Kermode attempted to kill her after she made a comment about his mother. Barbara Turrentine also had a baby boy that Kermode sometimes acknowledged as his and sometimes didn’t. That son is now in prison. Wife number three is a mystery. Wife number four, Shannon, bore Cameron, Kermode’s only biological son. Shannon was great in bed but stupid out of it, according to Kermode, and that marriage only lasted a few years.
During and between his many marriages Kermode had a string of girlfriends—almost exclusively with dark hair. He also frequented strip joints and porno shops. He recounted a story to Jacob about spending time in the x-rated part of Tijuana, watching a naked woman on stage having sex with a Great Dane. Thora would have had much to be disgusted about.
Never having known Kermode, save through Jacob’s eyes, it is hard for me to be objective. In his early years, before the ravages of booze became undeniable, he would probably be called handsome. Pictures of him taken during a stint in New York when he wanted to become an actor (He got out of the profession because there were too many “faggots”) show an almost pretty young man. His voice, which I heard on various tapes, is rather deep and pleasant. When contesting a drunk driving charge before a California judge, it is openly sarcastic, supercilious. I can imagine him lashing Charles and Jacob or anyone unlucky enough to encounter his wrath. Kermode was facile with words and he used them to wound—and wound and wound. In a tape where he is reciting his poetry, accompanied by a saxophone and various beatnik type music, he is heavily dramatic. After the poetry drifts into conversation he also sounds drunk and pompous. His voice is slightly slurred, as if he had to be wary of false teeth or inebriation. Pamela can be heard making admiring comments. She often expressed awe of Kermode’s education and vocabulary. When he started pontificating, she clung to his every word the way a student would an adored professor.
After Kermode graduated from his pretty boy phase, he could probably be described as “ruggedly handsome.” By the time he died, a common adjective was “professional.” Kermode was tall, 6’2″, with long, skinny legs and an unimpressive torso. If he was the golden glove boxer he claimed to be, it must have been through some sort of innate talent. He clearly spent little or no time working out. He had light brown curly hair and, depending on the fashion of the time, generally wore it long. He often sported a beard or a mustache.
One of the most interesting things about both Pamela and Kermode was the way they changed their appearance. Many times they can’t be recognized from one photograph to the other. Kermode had long hair, stylishly cut. No, unkempt and more like a bush. Here his hair is short. He’s clean shaven and looks like a non-descript businessman. No, he has shoulder length hair, a full beard and would be right at home in a daguerreotype of a mountain man. Sometimes his clothing is flamboyant; sometimes it’s conservative.
In the mid-sixties when Kermode was thirty, he returned to college for a master’s degree in philosophy. Every campus newspaper, every term paper, every notebook from that time was boxed up inside the shed next to 120 Ridge Drive. Despite his highly touted intellect, most of Kermode’s grades were C’s. No professor seemed impressed with his abilities, and when reading his work, the word “pretentious” often came to mind. Kermode also dabbled in the literary, writing several chapters about a black man who was stopped by the police. The writing is pompous and windy and amateurish. “Here,” he seems to be saying, “I will give you my views on authority.” “Here I will give you my philosophy of life.” “Here I will give you some big words.” “Here I will give you both my philosophy and big words.” 
Studying wasn’t the only thing Kermode did on the college campus of Berkeley. Lyndon Johnson was president and Vietnam was heating up. More young men were being drafted and more body bags being shipped back from Southeast Asia. Although Kermode had quietly allowed himself to be drafted into the Army back in the fifties, he was now one of millions protesting the Vietnam war. He wrote anti-war columns for the student newspaper, smoked pot, dropped acid, staged protest rallies, and helped bomb a couple of recruiting offices.
In addition to being a revolutionary and a philosopher, Kermode fancied himself a painter. His paintings are bizarre—a devilish looking figure, all angles and planes, in a dress; a picture of a skull with a rose between its teeth and a crown of thorns on its head. A sketch of a naked man with something, possibly a woman, emerging from his stomach, and oil paintings of green-headed demons. The margins of his college notebooks are filled with grotesque figures and naked women.
Sometime during his time at Berkeley Kermode also started dabbling in the occult. In one of his books, The Black Arts, he scribbled, ‘I’ve tried these spells and they work.’ He talked about how there is a dark side in every man and how evil is better than good. Kermode was always fascinated by the satanic, and engaged in various minor rituals over the years. Thora’s belief in the metaphysical was bastardized by her son into something far darker. Although Kermode had many books in his library on Christianity, eastern religions, reincarnation, the power of mind over matter, healing and magic, whatever he was looking for, he didn’t find it in the spiritual.
By the time Kermode and Pamela met, Kermode may have been able to project the image of the prosperous businessman but his success was bogus. He had been fired from various positions for drinking binges and had a checkered employment record. Even when he held down a job at various engineering firms, his performance reports were dismal. ‘You are not a team player,’ his superiors wrote. ‘Your work is sloppy.’ ‘You are arrogant and uncooperative. Nobody wants to partner with you.’
As far as his statement that he was a hundred thousand dollar a year man, any union carpenter or even a manager at Burger King, made more money than Kermode Jordan. He had been through at least one bankruptcy and he was forever late on his child support payments. It seems a bad joke that while Pamela viewed Kermode as a meal ticket, he regarded her in the same light. Pamela made around fifty thousand in 1981. Kermode made half that.
When Lupe Thorson was first introduced to Kermode, she was appalled. Pam had raved so much about her “dreamboat,” but Kermode, who was in the middle of a serious drinking binge, looked closer to sixty than forty. He had an old man’s film over his eyes; he was unkept and seedy looking. Pam gushed about his salary and position and education, but all Lupe could think was, He gives me the creeps.
“What do you know about this guy?” she asked. “You met him in a bar. How do you know he isn’t a pervert?”
Lupe had always stood by her friend and her decisions, but Kermode was different. He made Lupe uneasy. “I wasn’t impressed by either his degrees or his intellect. He seemed like any other drunk to me. And Pam was moving way too fast. She’d only met him a couple of nights ago and they were already talking about moving in together?”
Pamela was so angry over Lupe’s negativity that she threw her friend’s gifts and belongings on the front lawn and refused to speak to her for several months.
There was also the matter of Al, Pamela’s fiance. What was she going to do about him? Apparently nothing. Al had served his purpose. Pamela didn’t owe him an explanation. She didn’t owe him anything. Pam took her phone off the hook and told Lupe, “Tell him the engagement is off.” She forbade the boys to ever utter his name. Charlie and Jacob were to wipe Al Gonzales out of their memories. He had ceased to exist because Pamela had said so.
After her marriage, Jacob once met Al in the supermarket. Jacob ran over to him, thrust his little hand in his, and said, “Come home with us, Al. Come home.” All these years later, Al still cries when he remembers.
After receiving news of the breakup, Al returned from Saudi Arabia as soon as possible, but it was too late. Now that Pam is dead and St. Pam is being resurrected, Al maintains that they always remained friends.
“When we broke up, Pam went off to meditate for a while, and then returned to say our relationship wasn’t working. We parted amicably.”
The idea of Pam “meditating” over anything brings derisive snorts from those who knew her. Pam introspective? Not in this lifetime. And how she and Al could have conversed from a distance of several thousand miles is another mystery. Al’s romantic version is also contradicted by his own children. In fact, he was so angry over Pamela’s betrayal that he broke into her house and stole some sculptured butterflies he had given her. Only Pam’s threat to call the police prompted their return.
Four days after meeting Kermode, Pamela brought him home to her small house on Woodmont Avenue. She had been reluctant to reveal the fact that she had two small sons. She didn’t want anything to louse up this relationship and she worried that a man who was old enough to have grown children would react negatively to Charlie and Jacob. She was relieved when Kermode told her that he loved little boys. So many men were turned off by family responsibilities. It further reinforced her belief that she had found someone very special.
While Kermode professed to be pleased about having an instant family, Pamela wasn’t thrilled with the idea of getting stuck with a third boy in the form of Kermode’s son, Cameron. Cameron’s mother, who lived in San Francisco, had full time custody, so Pamela would tolerate the eight year old, but only until she’d firmly hooked her fish.
Jacob doesn’t remember much about his first meeting with Kermode other than that he was big and friendly and he had a nice son. Charles was quiet, sizing Kermode up, and what he saw he didn’t like.
“Kermode was just too nice. I didn’t trust him.”
Charles didn’t really want anybody moving in on him and Jacob and his mother. The three of them were just fine, at least until Al returned. Charles resented suddenly having to share his mother with somebody else, and he was confused by the way he and Jacob were supposed to pretend that the past year with Al hadn’t existed. Kermode was an intruder. He was making their life more difficult and Charles didn’t want any part of it.
Kermode could hardly believe his good fortune. Here he had a lovely young woman, in the prime of her life. Pam was dark-haired and dark-eyed like his mother, and Kermode felt as if he’d just met a kindred soul. She was strong the way he was strong and their outlook on the world was similar. On a multitude of levels, many of them unspoken or even unconscious, they seemed a perfect fit. Kermode always maintained that Pamela was “the most phenomenal woman that he had ever known.”
But there was more to Pamela Jean than just her face and her body and her good paying job. There was also the matter of her sons. Kermode was always good with kids, especially boys, staying up half the night to play Monopoly, or taking them fishing, skiing or camping. One Christmas he and son Cameron had shot out all the Christmas tree bulbs with Cameron’s Christmas present, a pellet gun. Sometimes Kermode was like a big kid himself. So why would he mind two such attractive boys? Charles, so bright and articulate, was eight years old, with dark, curly hair and a mischievous smile. Then there was Jacob, who had to be one of the most beautiful children ever created.
I often imagine Kermode’s meeting with Jacob. Jacob was shy and hung back, gazing at the big man through those magnificent brown eyes.
Pam pushed him forward. “This is your new daddy,” she said.
Jacob wanted a daddy more than anything. He smiled hesitantly at Kermode. He guessed it was okay to have another daddy, especially one who seemed so friendly and enjoyed picking him up and holding him close. Jacob wanted only to please everybody and to be loved, and here was this big man, touching him and being so nice.
And Kermode, what was he thinking? That he’d just died and gone to heaven. Forget Pamela. Forget Charlie. Forget everyone and everything. Four times married, a ladies’ man, Kermode had his own dark secret, and that was he lusted after little boys. He took one look at Jacob, with his blond beatle-styled hair, round cheeks, soft mouth and charming baby voice, and Kermode fell in love. Someone like Jacob came along once in a lifetime. You might glimpse him at a baseball game or in a department store toddling beside his mother, or if the gods were kind, he might move in next door. But to be able to tuck him in every night and bathe him and hold him any time he pleased, and have it all be legal… Well, it was DESTINY!
Five minutes with Jacob and Kermode made up his mind. Not only was he going to move in with Pam, he would marry her—and have unlimited access to his own private harem. Pamela and Charlie and Jacob. But the others were merely incidentals, side trips on the great journey of Kermode’s life. The true object of Kermode’s desire stood before him, four years old, trusting and totally unaware of the fate that was about to befall him. Kermode had just met the love of his life, and it wasn’t Pamela Jean.
It was Jacob.
 At the trial, both mother and daughter said that he was a model parent and father.
 In one of the many ironies of Jacob’s and Kermode’s relationship, Jacob is a far more naturally talented writer than his mentor.
A survivor may leave his hometown, leave his family, never see the abuser again. But he cannot leave his body forever… Eventually, awareness of the body returns, and with it awareness of the pain and humiliation of the past.
~Linda T. Sanford – Strong At The Broken Places
Chapter 17 (Click to entire chapter.)