today I am in emporium, a town that to get to I needed to drive up and over a mountain, passing through flyspecks like keating summit and portage, unincorporated areas with few yearround residents but many camps and cabins and lodges, most of them looking abandoned in early summer. the library here is on the main street but I passed it 4 times before finally locating the sign camoflaged into the surrounding wall.
about a week before I arrived a teenager's body was found in prouty run, the creek running through the edge of austin. the kid was 18 and had been there a week. he was almost immediately identified as were his accused killers. it's made for interesting reading for me, and here are some articles.
of the 3 people charged, 2 lived in coudersport and 1 in austin. no one I've spoken to admits to knowing the kid from austin, though it's a tiny enough borough he'd have to have been living under a tin sheet in the woods and come out for 10 minutes at a time, and then wearing a tattooed dog costume, to have been so utterly unknown. the 15 year old girl, however, is related to a friend of my father's, or her grandmother is.
the kid from austin bragged on his facebook page of his affiliations with the crips although that seems to have been at best fantasy and at worst self-destructive delusion. that's what's gotten me thinking harder about this situation. this little area, a godsend for people like my dad and my cousins and, to some extent, my wife and me, is a hell for kids to grow up. the old refrain "there's nothing to do," heard everywhere by every kid no matter the situation, crops up even more handily here. sure, there are places to hunt and fish and ride 4-wheelers--this last an aural invasion to those living in town and within spitting distance of the street--and woods and creeks and hollows to explore and bikes to ride and so forth. and there's tv and internet connections and dvds and books (although precious few of those), and there's alcohol when all those don't make it and meth and some pot.
but there's not much else. there's sports and music and plays when school is going but a lot less of those with budget crunches. there are libraries available, but less so as money dries up. there are ymcas and boys and girls clubs and the such but you often need your own car or your mother to drive you to those places. cycling and walking to many places have become less prominent the more adults worry. the sad truth is there are fewer and fewer places for kids to congregate with other kids where there is no pressure on them to spend money or behave like anything other than kids.
that might not have had any effect on this case. for all I know, kaylyn and her salt lake city boyfriend accused of pulling the trigger may have met as part of a church group. but that these kids managed to find one another in such an otherwise huge expanse, and that the 2 planning the murder could talk about it publically for a couple weeks and have it not somehow make it back to the target of their talk, and how they could have come together without the benefit of cars and cell phones and the internet and a .22 rifle, I can't say. another sad truth is that sometimes kids commit destructive acts no matter what's available to them.
echoing myself from the other day, sometimes the honest answer is "I don't know," and I think when it comes to such experiences as an 18 year old shot in the head by a couple guys and a 15 year old girl because they suspected him of being "a snitch and arrogant"--the girl's boyfriend having warned her off telling what they'd done because "snitches get stitches"--in such circumstances "I don't know" may be the only possible answer.