Wormwood Tales are stories written by the Wormwood creative team, designed to tell stories before, after and around our central tale. These stories may contain clues to the mysteries of Wormwood. Or they may not. We’ll never tell.
We hope you enjoy.
Wormwood Tales: The Secret Origin of Jimmy Details
by Jimmy Details (as told to David Accampo)
Rebels are made; they are not born, my friends. Listen to me now, and I’ll tell it true. As with all great legends, Jimmy Details was borne of fire and honed on the forge. Listen and I will reveal secrets never before told.
This is the origin of Jimmy Details, for our young Master James was not always the guitar-wielding hero who stands before you now.
He was actually kind of a nerd.
Young James entered the second decade of his life just as the first, distant growls of grunge marked the death knell of hair metal. But grunge was not for Jimmy, no.
Jimmy listened to Roxette and Wilson Phillips on a top forty radio station.
Jimmy liked Madonna.
You’ll ask yourself why, but the answer is simple. Jimmy’s only exposure to metal was his older cousin’s basement bedroom in Lyonsville. The basement room was dingy, unkempt. Faded posters of women in bikinis and lingerie were taped and re-taped to the walls. He had slippery piles of Playboy magazines and hundreds of cassette tapes stacked in tall rows of an old metal bookshelf. Slayer, Ozzy Ozbourne, Motley Crue. There, in the darkness, in the basement’s permanent gloom, these savages shrieked and howled with rage and pain. These angry masks terrified the boy. This chaos, this terrifying dungeon of gloom was a testament to his parents claims that his cousin was a “loser,” was “headed for trouble”, was “bad news.” Jimmy didn’t wish to be bad news. His cousin would turn on the stereo in his room, pop in a cassette, and turn the volume all the way up. Guitars shrieked and chewed the air, drums exploded like staccato gunfire, throats screamed and teeth gnashed, and upstairs…upstairs in the living room, his aunt and uncle would yell uselessly and stomp their feet.
After that, Jimmy had mostly stayed away.
His cousin was arrested several months later, anyway, for possession of drugs. Which is exactly what his family expected. “No surprise there,” said Jimmy’s father at dinner that night.
Jimmy went on, playing video games and listening to pop music. He played Frisbee. He watched cartoons. He was, in short, blissfully unaware.
That is, until Bobby Schmidt.
Bobby was fourteen and in the 8th grade, two years older than our now twelve-year old Jimmy. Grunge was in full swing, and Bobby seemed fueled by the rage of angry musicians in Seattle. Bobby didn’t want to smell like teen spirit. Instead, he perched himself on the chain-link fence in the school parking lot, cranked the volume on the Alice in Chains disc in his portable CD player and snarled at younger children passing by.
Jimmy took no part in grunge. It was angry and sad and it made him clench his teeth and remember his cousin, who was now working at a gas station wearing a shirt that said “Hal” and a teardrop tattoo on his cheek. Jimmy played Boys II Men on a CD boombox, singing in the shower or his bedroom where no one could make fun of him. He also sang one other place, which perhaps he should have reconsidered.
Jimmy’s favorite time to sing was on the walk home from school. He lived two miles from Wormwood Elementary, but on those breezy spring days, he didn’t like to take the rickety yellow bus that grunted and groaned as it struggled up the rolling foothills of Griffin Lane. It was easier to cut through old man Bloomington’s orchards, cut over the dry fields with their tiny worn paths, visible only to the natives who knew where to look.
And so it was, in the straw-yellow hills beyond Bloomington’s orchard, that Jimmy Details met his destiny at the fists of Bobby Schmidt. He was crooning along to TLC’s “Baby-baby-baby” when Bobby stepped from behind a tall oak tree, smoking a cigarette.
“Hey fag,” said Bobby Schmidt. His eyes were the color of honey. His face red and freckled. He face always seemed like his head was about to explode. His hair was long and fiery orange, it blended with the bright yellow of the field, as though a match had been taken to it.
Jimmy couldn’t look him in the eye.
“Why’d you stop singing, queer-boy?”
“I’m not,” said Jimmy.
“I’m not gay.”
“That’s not what your boyfriend said.”
“Leave me alone.”
“Yeah, I hear you sucked Mr. Spirelli’s dick,” Bobby smiled, pleased with the course of the conversation.
“You did it.”
“I did not!”
Bobby laughed and closed in, circling slightly in Jimmy’s well-trodden path. “You yelling at me, kid?”
“Just shut up!” That was the last thing Jimmy said before the whole world turned white. After a moment, he heard Bobby laughing. It sounded faint, far away. The white turned back into the yellow weeds of the hill, and our young hero realized that he was face down, his open mouth sucking on the dry brush.
Bobby Schmidt had hit him.
All Jimmy could think to do was run. And so he did. He ran off the path, deeper into the brush, heading for the small thicket of oak trees further up the hill. He darted into the cool shade of the trees. The clearing was punctuated with the large granite boulders that marked an area near the old Wormwood Quarry.
Jimmy scrambled behind a rock. He tried to stop from breathing, but his chest felt like it was going to burst. His hands clutched the lush green moss growing on the side of the boulder. The thick green carpet somehow relaxed him. He heard a few footsteps cracking dry twigs, and then nothing.
After several minutes, he peeked over the rounded edge of the boulder. A small brown bird landed on a tree branch, twittered and took flight again. Jimmy let out a long sigh.
He stood up.
He felt a hand on his shoulder. His heart renewed its maddened beat.
“You trying to run from me, fag?” Bobby Schmidt’s eyes were gleeful slits of malice.
“Leave me alone!” screamed Jimmy. His voice cracked, which just made Bobby laugh even harder.
And then… like that, the laughter stopped. His eyes widened into drops of honey. He was looking past Jimmy Details.
He didn’t know what he expected, but he didn’t expect the boy. The boy was older than either of them. Sixteen. Maybe seventeen. He was wearing a dirty denim jacket covered with patches…pentagrams and skulls and leering devils. He wore tight jeans and muddy boots. His skin was as pale and white in the shade as Bobby was red. He launched himself past Jimmy, his long bony fingers clasping quickly around Bobby’s neck.
The boy’s voice, when he spoke, was little more than a whisper, but they both heard it very clearly, “Leave him alone.”
The pale fingers slide from Bobby Schmidt’s throat, and Bobby fell backwards, sitting the ground hard. Jimmy noted that the color had left Bobby’s face. Bobby slowly stood, his eyes focused on the boy. He didn’t remove his eyes from the boy as he slowly back out of the thicket of trees. Only once, right before he finally turned to run away, did he look at Jimmy. His eyes seemed to apologize.
“Thank you,” said Jimmy to the boy.
“Whatever,” he replied.
“I’ve never seen you at school before.”
At this, the boy cracked a smile. His teeth were yellow and crooked. His laugh was like a hiss of air escaping from the recesses between the teeth.
“Nah,” he said, “I dropped out.”
“What’s your name?” asked Jimmy.
“Scott,” said the boy.
“So,” asked Jimmy, “what do you do now?”
Scott, who was leaning back against the granite boulder that loomed over both their heads, looked at the ground. He didn’t say anything. Jimmy wasn’t sure what to say next.
Then he turned and looked at Jimmy. “Don’t ever let ‘em push you around,” said Scott.
This gave Jimmy the courage to speak. He had been staring at Scott’s denim jacket the entire time, fascinated by the patches and stickers and what appeared to be hand-drawn logos written with black felt markers. “What’s that on your jacket?”
“This,” he said, pointing to one, “is Megadeth. They fucking rock. This is Judas Priest. This is Black Sabbath. Don’t tell me you don’t know Sabbath. Don’t listen to that Warrant, Cherry Pie hair metal crap, man.”
“I don’t listen to Warrant,” said Jimmy. He didn’t know who Warrant was, but he was certainly not going to listen to him.
And then Scott started to tell him about all the metal bands he loved. AC/DC, Motley Crue, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden…he even accepted early Van Halen as “relatively decent.”
Jimmy only knew some of these names from a couple of short visits to his cousin’s room. But now the names took on new and magical meanings. They were the keys to power.
As the afternoon became dusk, a slowly spreading bruise, Jimmy said goodbye to Scott, who simply nodded in return, and walked home. His mother yelled at him, but when she saw his black eye she took pity, cuddling him in her arms and frantically asking who had done this.
But Jimmy didn’t spill.
Instead, the next day he took his allowance to Cheshire Records in Lyonsville and bought a Judas Priest album. The cover was a hand holding a giant razor blade. Jimmy felt like he was this razor blade.
Thus, Jimmy took his first steps on the path to glory… by going backwards into the heart of metal and exploding out into the dwindling rock scene with a new cause: to bring metal back into the hearts and minds of the down-trodden.
You would think that was the end of the story, my friends, but it is not. There just a bit more to tell.
Jimmy Details, after buying his Judas Priest album, went back to try and find Scott.
He walked back through the Bloomington Orchards and up into the hills. He searched all around the little thicket of trees, all the way to the quarry’s edge. He never found Scott. He tried at different times during the day. Once, he even crawled out of his window, which was on the second floor, dropped to the lawn, and walked to the orchards in the middle of the night. He was terrified to be out in the dark, but he carried the Judas Priest cassette in his pocket, and he felt armed. He felt dangerous.
But Scott never returned.
Once, Jimmy found a Black Sabbath logo that had been carved into a tree with a knife. But it couldn’t have been Scott. The scar was old; it had been carved years ago.
Several years later, when Jimmy was forming his first band, Princes of Darkness, Scott’s name came up again. Jimmy and Tyler, who played a decent bass, were talking about heavy metal, and Jimmy mentioned “the guy who had gotten him into metal in the first place.”
“Scott was his name. I don’t know his last name, man. He dropped out of Wormwood, like, 4-5 years ago.”
“My brother might know him,” said Tyler. “We should look him up. See if he wants to jam with us.”
“That’d be cool,” said Jimmy calmly, though his heart danced at the thought.
At Tyler’s house, his brother Perry was high or drunk or possibly both. He was in community college.
“Anthropology is awesome, dudes,” he said, his eyes never leaving a documentary about apes on the discovery channel. “It’s totally going to be, like, a career for me. It’s all about people, you know? And, like, what people do.”
He smiled and turned to them. Jimmy thought anthropology sounded pretty cool. He couldn’t wait until college when he could stop worrying about fucking geometry and study the shit that mattered.
“Hey,” said Perry, “you guys got any snacks? I’m fuckin’ starving over here. I need brain food.”
Tyler gave Perry a packet of Skittles and asked him about Scott.
“Scott. Scott. Scot-ty!” he said. Then, “No. Doesn’t ring a bell. Who is he?”
“Guy who Jimmy met once. Thought he might jam with us. Totally into metal.”
“Totally. Hey…you don’t mean…Scott Hambrecht, do you?”
“I don’t know,” said Jimmy.
“Was he in your class?” asked Tyler.
Perry laughed. “No, man. No fucking way…” he trailed off into laughter. It was a minute before he regained his composure. When he did he looked right at Jimmy.
“You guys have heard of Scott Hambrecht, haven’t you?”
“No,” they both said.
“Oh yeah, you have,” said Perry. “You know Suicide Scott.”
“What?” said Tyler, “that’s just a fucking story.”
“Oh no it ain’t,” said Perry.
“The kid who killed himself in 1984?” said Jimmy. His stomach felt funny.
“Hell yeah. That weren’t no story, man. He was older than me, but Greg’s brother was in his class. I don’t really know why he killed himself, but he did. Some guys said it was because the jocks were picking on him all the time. Some guys said it was because he was in love with Anna Gordon, the cheerleader. And some guys said it was because his dad beat him up all the time. But everyone always said that he had hung himself in the woods.”
As Perry completed his thought, Jimmy’s stomach dropped out. His knees felt weak. He sat down quickly. He didn’t know what to think. His mind was filtering through the memories from years earlier. Bobby’s punch, his heart in his chest, Scott’s pale fingers around Bobby’s neck. Scott laughing as he talked about Ozzy Ozbourne and whether or not he really bit the heads off of bats. Laughing and looking up, and in that moment, Jimmy remembered noticing the dark bruise around Scott’s neck. In his memory, the bruise had become a shadow, a trick of the light, but Perry’s last words had brought it back into focus.
Suicide Scott, who had hung himself in the woods.
He had come back, my friends, to deliver our hero a message. Don’t be mistaken by this dark turn of events. This is not a ghost story. This is not a cautionary tale. This is an origin. Like the mythic gods of yore, the very spirit of Heavy Metal had chosen Suicide Scott as their messenger. He was Heavy Metal’s front man, and he was bestowing upon young Jimmy a blessing…a blessing from Metal itself. Jimmy Details would be Metal’s Second Coming.
This is the truth as I know it.
This is the secret origin of Jimmy Details.
And I should know, for I am he.
Would I lie to you?
Album Cover: Princes of Darkness “The Ballad of Suicide Scott” (1996 Details Records)