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13 March 2014


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Yours Truly

I had most troubling adolescence...

No love anywhere, at home or in school.

I'm mighty glad I didn't turn out to be like the protagonist, Jack.

[But sadly, till this day, I'm still tryin' to make my Ol' Lady proud...]

Thank you, Mr. Sale for understanding the troubled youth of to-day.

William R. Cumming

Don't ask for whom the bells toll?

Charles I

Thanks Mr Sale. I was a miserable escaping adolescent. Took a lot of people a long time to teach me anything healthy that took. I care.

Yours Truly

Ha, ha. (irony...)

From North Dakota

Hmm ... sorry, but Mr. Sale misses it. Pathological killers have no feelings, its true, but those who grew up under a more natural order of things understand that humans lives are not comparable with other animals. That's not to say they are not concerned with animal suffering or needless death.

Almost no one now days had a mother that said "boy, go fetch us a chicken for supper". Most get their chickens already killed, cleaned, cut, and wrapped. They are the result of 3 or 4 generations doing their hunting and gathering in the supermarket.

I do agree that needless killing of animals with no remorse is indicative of a psychopath, but killing a skunk in a trap is something that any and all trappers do. And killing coyotes, coons, skunks, and other varmints which prey on favorite game animals is something many many hunters do who are NOT psychopaths.

Paul Escobar

Mr. Sale,

I think this should be distributed in schools. It incites empathy and an understanding of tragedy in the reader...in ways that mass assemblies & sermons cannot.

I know the recent movie 'Chronicle' attempted to convey something similar to its audience...but sometimes the spectacular elements in films allow the audience to disengage from the core.

Thanks for this,
Paul Escobar


Abandoned by dad, betrayed by mom, ignored by the system. A sad tragedy.

nick b


I see your point, but Jack seems to justify his killing because his targets 'have no soul', not for a pragmatic reason like being a 'varmint'. To me this indicates that he believes there are creatures or beings with a soul. Otherwise, why make the distinction?

There are confines to the short story medium, so much is left to one's imagination/speculation. I wondered about when Jack made the transition to perhaps thinking his human victims were soulless as well. Therefore, who would 'care anyway?' He hadn't completely made the decision that humans are soulless, if that was his internal justification, because he spares his friend Roger, albeit violently.

Still, very dark stuff. Left me with many things to think about, like a good short story should.

From North Dakota

Good points nick. I missed that part. Sorry for the criticism Mr. Sale.

ex-PFC Chuck

"Criminal violence emerges from social experience, most commonly brutal social experience visited upon vulnerable children, who suffer for our neglect of their welfare and return in vengeful wrath to plague us. If violence is a choice they may make, and therefore their personal responsibility, as (Lonnie) Athens demonstrates it is, our failure to protect them from having to confront such a choice is a choice we make, just as a disease epidemic would be implicitly our choice if we failed to provide vaccines and antibiotics. Such a choice -- to tolerate the brutalization of children as we continue to do -- is equally violent and equally evil, and reap what we sow." From "Why They Kill," by Richard Rhodes.

Rhodes' description of sociologist Lonnie Athens' work in identifying a four-step process of "violentization," as he calls it, is fascinating. The story of Jack could have been one of his examples. Athens' family was dominated by a very violent father who had totally cowed his mother and siblings. But as Lonnie remarked later in life his father came to know that if it came down to Lonnie or him, his son wouldn't hesitate to kill him. Rhodes also had a tumultuous upbringing. He and his brother were held captive and almost starved to death by an archtypically evil step-mother until the older brother managed to escape and notify the police. Among other things Rhodes has written are the go-to books for lay people about the development of nuclear and thermonuclear weapons.

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