Nothing begins, and nothing ends That is not paid with moan; For we are born in other’s pain And perish in our own.
~Francis Thompson “Daisy”
“Jacob really changed after forensics,” said Charles. “I couldn’t place my finger on it at the time. It’s hard to give an outside observation when you’re in the picture. I knew what was going on, but I wasn’t sure. I didn’t want to see it happen again. I didn’t have the inclination to do anything about it anymore. At that point I was so drained with everything else… Whatever happened when we were in North Dakota, (Jacob) blocked out, but not the feelings. You can’t block out feelings.”
Before the trial, Charles would awaken to the sound of Jacob screaming in his brain, the same way he’d screamed when Kermode raped him. But throughout summer ’92 it was Jacob’s face that haunted his older brother.
“That’s when I started planning to kill (Kermode). It fluctuated on my part, how I would plan it. And that’s after I’d be drinking. I’d be writing down all the details. I even started doing time lines. I started getting really depressed. I thought about killing them both. Pamela because she should have known. I mean, come on! She was our mother! It was her fucking job to protect us! I tried to protect Jacob but I couldn’t do it. I mean at the age that I was at (when so much of this began)—what could a nine year kid do? When this happened at forensics I felt weak again. I felt incredibly weak. No matter what I did it wouldn’t change anything. It wasn’t the punishment. It always came across, the hatred is what we’d really discuss. I never told Jacob that I sat up drunk plotting their deaths. Never told him that.
“I had to get out. I started getting really violent thoughts. I started visualizing throwing them out windows, something like that. Kermode…it just seemed like it almost obsessed all my time. Every time I was in the house. Like right now, every second, How can I kill Kermode? I’d be sitting down, watching TV and it was in the summertime and I just got off work and sometimes it would be one or two in the morning, and I knew they’d be sleeping in the house and I’d be thinking, How can I kill them? Then I started thinking that. Every time I was in the house I started thinking about it.”
Charles and Jacob never discussed their plans. According to Charles, the most Jacob said was, “I just wish they would leave, go away.”
“And I would say, ‘Unfortunately Jacob, we have to stay. There’s nothing we can do.’
“I never, never heard Jacob say, ‘I’ll kill them,’ but I did hear him say, ‘I wish they were dead.’ And I said that once. But when I made those plans, I passed out right after. Then when I woke in the morning and saw those sheets of paper and then I’d throw them in the fireplace. I’d wake up and I’m hung over but I’d just shake my head and say, ‘It was all a dream. That didn’t happen.’”
Jacob started suffering from insomnia. With David Mabie he broke into a few houses. Jacob also started smoking pot and anything else he could get his hands on. Hoping for a cheap high, he and his friend Jeremy even smoked some kinnikinnick they picked in his backyard. More ominously, Jacob began playing Russian Roulette. It certainly seemed that something had happened to precipitate his self-destructive behavior. However, Jacob doesn’t believe in cause and effect, at least when it comes to his own actions.
“Nothing happened. Summer ’92 was the best summer of my life. For one thing, I was depressed all the time, and I like the feeling I get when I’m depressed. Also, I had my first job so I was away from home a lot more.”
Jacob was thrilled to have his own money, even though it was in a joint checking account so he couldn’t touch the funds without his mother’s signature. Though Jacob really enjoyed working as a dishwasher at Jan’s Cafe he tried not to act too happy or Pamela would have made him quit.
“Any time I had something I liked, my mother would take it away from me. That’s why I never wanted any privileges.”
In July Kermode, Jacob and Pamela spent a week camping in Cortez. Jacob loves to fish and he cherished any opportunity to indulge his passion. Kermode and he fished together, or Jacob wandered off on his own. He enjoyed sleeping out under the stars, watching the moon inch across the sky, and tracking the clouds, listening to the whisper of insects and the nearby stream.
This time, however, Pamela pretty much spoiled everything. Her ulcer had started acting up, and as usual she took her frustrations out on Jacob. If he wanted to go downstream, she said no. “You might get lost.” If he asked to sleep outside, she said, “Who do you think you are, Davy Crockett?”
It really embarrassed Jacob when she continually told relatives, “He’s just in a Davy Crockett stage.”
As the week progressed, Jacob grew increasingly irritated with Pam. “Everything she did bugged me.” Kermode allowed him to go do “man things” and didn’t hassle him, but Pamela wanted to treat him as if they were back in the kitchen at Ridge Drive. No allowances for the fact they were on vacation. She constantly accused Jacob of talking back and being disrespectful. She slapped him often and belittled him continually.
Jacob also spent one or two weeks that last summer with his real dad, but he never confided anything to Frank. As far as Jacob and Charles were concerned, Frank wouldn’t help them so both boys kept their mouths shut and suffered in silence.
Kermode’s drinking worsened. For five years he had controlled his binging to the extent that few outsiders were aware of his behavior. He largely stayed away from bars and confined his public displays to business trips. But Kermode seemed to be losing control. He started frequenting Jan’s Cafe. Jan’s is a two story restaurant with family dining downstairs and a bar/lounge on the second floor. A couple of times Kermode was kicked out of the lounge for being belligerent. One night while Jacob was busing tables he heard the help discussing some old drunk who had just fallen down the stairs. He later discovered it was Kermode.
The fighting between Kermode, Pamela and Charles escalated. Charles threw Kermode’s drinking in his face and held his ground until the house reverberated with the trio’s shouting. Jacob was like a ghost in the house. Whenever there was any sort of altercation, he disappeared into the computer room or his bedroom.
Near the end of August 1992, the Lofthouse Incident occurred. Kermode had all his teeth pulled. When his dentures were put in, they weren’t the right pair and the dentist was forced to chip away some of his bone. The procedure was extremely painful. Kermode loaded himself down with pain killers. With the weekend he started mixing alcohol with the pills. That Saturday morning he, Jacob and David Mabie had decided to go fishing. Waiting for the boys to finish football practice, Kermode spotted Charles outside WPHS’s commons. Much to his horror, Charles was wearing an earring. One of the Jordan rules was, “No earrings.” While the eighteen-year-old wanted one for fashion reasons, a furious Kermode said, “Only homos have earrings. Either you give that thing to me or I’ll rip it out. You can’t follow fucking directions.”
Humiliated, Charles obeyed. Afterward, his coach, Victor Smith, saw the teen walking along the road and picked him up. Charles poured his heart out to Smith, telling how miserable he and Jacob were, about Kermode’s alcoholism, and both parents’ emotional abuse.
Meanwhile, Kermode picked up Jacob and David to go fishing. As the mixture of drugs took effect, Kermode’s driving became increasingly erratic. He nearly veered into a ditch.
David screamed, “Look out!”
At the last minute Kermode over-corrected and headed for the opposite shoulder. That’s how it went throughout the eight mile trip. After reaching their destination, the trio fished for a while but Kermode’s behavior worsened. He began playing with one of his hunting knives.
“This goddamned thing probably needs sharpening,” Kermode said. He tried unsuccessfully to pull a hair out of his head in order to prove his point. After finally managing to remove a small clump, Kermode attempted to cut an individual hair. Instead, he sliced his finger. As he stared at the oozing blood he reminded Jacob of a small child who’d just skinned his knee.
After dropping the boys off at 120 Ridge Drive, Kermode drove to Jan’s Cafe where he continued drinking.
Meanwhile, back at the Jordan residence, Charles returned from his job at Wendy’s. Kermode had left a note to Pam, telling her about Charles’s earring, and that he was off fishing.
Before Pam could really question Charles about his disobedience, Charles deflected her attention with, “I smelled whiskey on Kermode’s breath.”
Now Pam would have to deal with a drunken husband. She and Charles went to Jan’s where the bartender informed them that Kermode had already left.
“He tried to pick a fight with our customers. I gave him a choice. ‘You either take a cab or I’m calling the police.’”
Charles drove Kermode’s white Ram home, while Pam followed in the other vehicle.
Once the Jordans were all together, events turned ugly. While trying to maneuver the stairs from the bedroom level to the main floor, Kermode missed the landing and tumbled down the seven steps. He sprawled at the bottom, bleeding from a gash in his head.
Jacob and Charles looked at Kermode. He didn’t move. They both figured he was dead, that he’d broken his neck. Charles kind of smiled.
Pamela said, “Just get a towel and some ice and give them to me. I’ll try to staunch the blood.”
At that moment Kermode groaned and shifted position. Jacob thought, Oh no, he’s alive. Charles thought, Shit.
Kermode started yelling, “Where’s Charlie? Where’s Charlie?”
Charles was overwhelmed with hatred. The feelings of killing Kermode were so intense that he knew he had to leave. He could no longer live in that house or ever again associate with his parents.
“I’m outta here!”
Charles stalked to his room where he threw a bunch of clothes into a bag. By the time he returned, Pam had helped her husband to a recliner and Jacob had retrieved ice for Kermode’s cut.
Charles slammed the door on his way out.
When it was just the three of them, Pam helped Kermode up to the bedroom. Once there, the trio rested on the bed until Kermode suddenly jumped up, yelling, “I know what you’re trying to do!” He staggered back downstairs to the kitchen.
Jacob and Pamela followed.
“We’re leaving,” Jacob said to his mother.
“No. Just hide the knives.”
Jacob whisked the knife block off the counter. Then he hid the .357 and the other weapons in the secret room.
Kermode noticed that the knives were missing. “I’m gonna crush your head in,” he screamed at Jacob.
“Bitch!” he yelled at Pamela before collapsing in a kitchen chair. While muttering to himself, he groped in his pants pocket for his pocket knife, which he flourished in front of them.
“You forgot one!” Kermode threw the knife at the window. It fell harmlessly to the floor.
“Mom, let’s get out of here!”
Pamela refused. “He’ll calm down soon.”
But Jacob had endured enough. His number one priority was to protect his mother. Kermode was worse than he’d ever seen him. What would he do next?
Finally, Pamela agreed that Kermode was going to have to fend for himself. Taking the knives with them, she and Jacob checked into the Lofthouse, Woodland Park’s only motel.
The Lofthouse is located downtown, a block off the highway, and three miles from the Jordan residence. The rooms are dated but serviceable and Jacob and Pamela rented a single. The police arrived and filled out a report. ( Kermode had called in that the family guns were stolen.)
“Maybe I should go back and check on Kermode,” Pamela kept saying.
Jacob thoroughly relished his role as Pamela’s defender. For the first time he felt like a real son. His mother was uncertain, vulnerable. She needed him and he wouldn’t let her down.
They turned on TV. Pamela paced the room while Jacob sprawled on the double bed. Alternately she worried about Kermode and cursed him. “If he doesn’t quit drinking I’ll leave him. I promise you I won’t go back to him.”
Jacob felt wonderful. He had long dreamed of this moment. Pamela was manageable without Kermode. She was also beginning to bear some resemblance—though not much—to a regular mother.
After dark Jacob decided that he’d like to walk down to McDonald’s, approximately a half mile away, for something to eat.
“No,” Pam said. “Kermode might come along. He might see you.”
“Mom, I’m going. That’s how I have to deal with this. Don’t worry.”
“Well, be careful.”
He couldn’t believe how easily he asserted himself. Pamela didn’t say another word. Jacob strolled along the dirt roads behind the highway toward the golden arches and with each step his heart lightened. He’d never dared say no to his mother before. Now he had and she hadn’t done anything about it. Things were going to get better. Finally, his mom was going to leave the bastard. He and Pam would be a family, just the two of them.
Once at McDonald’s Jacob’s euphoria increased. He’d never been allowed to go anywhere by himself. He watched customers enter and leave and it felt so good because he didn’t have to account to anybody for his time and he didn’t have to worry about getting in trouble for some real or imagined wrong. Jacob ordered a coke and a Big Mac. That felt good, buying his own food with his own money. And being able to sit in a booth alone and eat just like an ordinary person.
For the first time in his life, Jacob felt as if he had something in common with other people, that he was actually connected to the human race. For the first time, he felt normal.
“I already started to daydream about helping, to carry my weight, and pay rent on where Mom and I would live and… But it didn’t end up how I wanted it to.”
The next morning Jacob went to a friend’s house and then to work. Pamela returned to Ridge Drive. The incident was never mentioned again. Kermode swore he would quit drinking, Charles moved out, and the countdown to murder began.
 The following is a combination of Jacob’s and Charles’s recollections. Charles testified to the incident at Jacob’s trial. Others, such as teacher Victor Smith, mentioned portions of that day.
There’s no better way of exercising the imagination than the study of law. No poet ever interpreted nature as freely as a lawyer interprets truth.
~Jean Giradoux Tiger at the Gate
Chapter 25 (Click to entire chapter.)