Friday, July 8, 2011

The Protocol: A Death Down by the River, Part II

"When I was in elementary school I found a book in the library...about a boy and his pet raccoon, but it was also about the troubles that accompany childhood. I immediately related to the book and its protagonist. I was always looking for animals out in the woods and the cornfields of my hometown...and the book led to an intense interest on my part in raccoons...My cousins...kept one as a pet. The first time I saw their raccoon it was hiding behind the couch. And raccoons were always around my house...[P]art of me is guilty of the same desire to capture and own something wild and strange from the forest. I won't own a raccoon so I collect...photographs instead, as a way to connect to the animal that most reminds me of my childhood."
--Photographer/Musician Scott Daniel Ellison

Danny couldn't be sure why, but Tommy was becoming enraged. He'd been drinking beer and some whiskey throughout the drum lesson, which was more of a jam session than a structured tutorial. There were several instruments in addition to the drum set - an electric bass, a Roland keyboard, and Danny's favorite, a 1964 Guild acoustic guitar, a rare and valuable beauty that he played constantly.

The situation reached a breaking point, at least in Tommy's mind. He began yelling incoherently and then grabbed the Guild, swinging it multiple times at Danny, pummeling his head and upper torso. The force of the blows was causing the guitar to crack, but as Danny cried out, Tommy turned his attention to the drum kit, which he began to demolish with what was left of the guitar.

Across the street was the warehouse/art studio and home of Paul Ganne, a 65 year old artist who mainly worked with metal sculpture. Ganne was a bright, stocky, passionate man, a neighbor and friend of Danny's. Separating his warehouse and home was a walkway that had a gate on the street side. Danny's house and the warehouse across the street were the last buildings on Basler - beyond them was a dirt area and path that led up to the levee, beyond that was the bike trail, and beyond that was the river. Scattered throughout the area were quite a few homeless persons - they lived and camped where they could amidst the bushes, trees, and ravines.

Ganne would often peer thru the gate between his properties - he was pretty fed up with what he considered the fairly constant presence of homeless people trespassing, defecating and selling sex on and/or too near his property. On this particular afternoon, he heard a commotion across the street, and decided to check up on his friend. He crossed the street and walked thru the now unlocked chain link fence and up to Danny's front door. By the noise inside, he knew there was trouble, so he called out Danny's name and entered the house.

When Tommy saw him, he stopped his rampage. This wasn't a frail peacenik who entered the kitchen. Though twice Tommy's age, Ganne was well built and knew how to handle himself, a confidence that no one who saw him could doubt. Ganne spoke to Danny, asking how he was and trying to decide what needed to be done. As was his nature, Danny, thought upset, instructed Ganne not to harm Tommy - that would violate Danny's Protocol. So Ganne began talking to Tommy - calming him - slowly, but effectively. Forty-five minutes later, Tommy walked out the front door, got on his bicycle in the front yard, and rode away.

To Be Continued

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