Murder on Knik River Rd: Lord of the Flies

In the Mat-Su jungle of Erick Almandinger, Dominic Johnson, Austin Barrett, Bradley Renfro and Devin Peterson, it was the kids who had taken charge. By the time David Grunwald wandered onto their island, they’d become a lawless pack, a faded facsimile of characters that was more Lord of the Flies than Lord of the Rings.

The adults had mostly abdicated. Even the Grunwald’s had ceded some control. David had earned their trust, true; but part of him was drawn to that wild place, inhabited by the savages, not the Lord. Some might say he was there only for the video games and Rodney Almandinger’s pot, but it was island rules as soon as he landed.

David’s remorseless beating at the hands of Dominic Johnson and Austin Barrett was pre-ordained by their creed as the “pale Crips,” an assertion of their clan’s superiority over anything David Grunwald could see, hear, feel, smell, touch — or think. That which was not of them was the enemy and must be destroyed.

As in Golding’s novel, the sniveling began when the Officers arrived. The bravado of this posse was tinsel thin. Their alibis, bits of dander, floating on random gusts of pretense. Their “genius” nothing more than a shamboozlement of self-deception, a boondoggle of the ego and the id.

When they woke up, these kids were in chains.


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