Backyard Bloodbath

Family dysfunction in Coral Springs means body slams, barbed wire, and thumbtacks in the head

Lister fervently denies her son's claims and counters that she devotes her entire life to her children. Her only parental sin, she says, may be spending too much time in Internet chat rooms in the evenings. "I don't even date anybody," she explains. "I'm lucky if I sit down on the computer and talk to people that way. Since my husband left, my kids are my world."

But that world sometimes seems about to implode. John, she says, is becoming increasingly aggressive. He demands to have his own way, and if he doesn't get it, he storms about the house, banging on walls and occasionally breaking things. "He's never struck me, but it's getting to that age where I'm afraid of him," she says. "I guess it comes with the territory when you have boys."

Hence her dream."If I had the money, I would send Jonathan's butt to a military school," she says. "That's where he belongs."

John's backyard odyssey from the ground to the toilet to the ambulance.
Colby Katz
John's backyard odyssey from the ground to the toilet to the ambulance.

John, however, is bent on staying in one place: his own back yard.


On February 24 a racially mixed crowd of about 40 teens gathers in John's back yard. Girls in loose-fitting T-shirts over bikini tops lounge on boys' laps as a CD player rips out Nirvana, Kid Rock, and Metallica. A teen named Parker Tindell is there to videotape the show, which he sardonically terms "an adventure in boredom."

EFW's set consists mainly of a large plywood wall, which the wrestlers have set up next to the screened enclosure around the pool. Other than that, there's the stage, the barbed wire, the thumbtacks (they've purchased 1000 for this show), and their other torturous trappings. A half dozen tables wait to be smashed, and a can of lighter fluid is on standby. There is no parent here, no authority figure; just kids and their tools of destruction.

To open the show, Kid Suicide is scheduled to wrestle his brother, who goes by Extreme D. David begins the damage when he slams John's head with the garbage can. As the younger boy falls to the ground in mock pain, David staggers around, exhorting the crowd. With the spectators diverted, John deftly pulls out a razor blade and slices his forehead. He knows instantly he's gone too deep, but he isn't about to stop the show.

In the next few minutes, as the blood starts dripping down John's face, David pummels him with the barbed wire- wrapped baseball bat. Then David does the unthinkable: He takes the barbed wire in his hands and presses it against John's forehead, right across the cut. David didn't want to do it, he says later, but it was scripted, and John would "hate" him if he didn't follow the plan. Blood is now spurting out of John's head. But that doesn't keep John and David from climbing the ladder to the top of the screened enclosure over the pool, which is a little more than eight feet high. Two tables are stacked below. John, pretending that he's been thrown, dives onto the tables, breaking them in half. As he lies motionless on the ground and blood pools in the grass beside him, the crowd is loving it. A spectator screams, "Holy shit!" John, who landed well and isn't in much real pain, loves to hear it; he knows he's succeeded in making the crowd believe that he's seriously injured.

David slowly climbs back down, and soon the brothers are body-slamming each other, hard, on the wooden stage, leaving dozens of tacks stuck into their arms and back. David finally pins John, ending the match. John then staggers over to the video camera. It looks as if a can of red paint has been poured over his head.

"Intense," Parker mutters from behind the camera.

"Film it!" John orders.

"You just spit blood on me," replies Parker, while dutifully videotaping.

Then John stumbles past his family's pool, which is filled with green, murky water. He enters his house and walks across the bare cement floor of his family room, which his mother has been planning to tile for weeks. From there he stumbles into the bathroom, where he can bleed in relative peace. Other than his brother and a few other teens, the house is empty. Lister doesn't see her son until later, at North Broward Medical Center's trauma unit, where doctors stitch his head back together and nurses stick him with IV needles to replenish his fluids. She's told that John lost about a gallon of blood.

But now, as he sits on the toilet with the blood still flowing, John rests. His performance is done.

The show, however, has just begun.

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