Friday, August 5, 2011

The Protocol: A Death Down by the River Part IV

"Upon arriving home, Justin found his window screen had been pried out, and there were bloody [raccoon] paw prints on the window sill. After a short investigation, he also found paw scratches on a jar of kitty treats and a bag of treats on the roof. But nothing compared to what was in the bathroom, where he found his six-month old cat blood spattered and dead, with his intestines ripped out of his stomach. Heart-breakingly, the bathtub was where his cat ran when he was scared." Nigel Chiwaya, The Funky Apple

In February, Danny was contacted by a friend of his in Los Angeles, Jay Halford. Jay was a playwright and was working on a piece that needed some music. Eventually, they decided that the following month, Jay would come up and spend some time at the house; he would continue his writing and Danny would help compose some music for the production. He moved into the house in late March for what was to be a five or six week stay. He bunked in the studio, the only place with any room for a sleeping bag and cot. Jay was a tall, 65 year old man, a little crazy looking as his eyes were not quite aligned, thin but still pretty healthy. He hit it off well with Mark. He had little patience for the homeless in the area, but contact was rare. He settled into a comfortable routine: up at 6:00, out the back door around 6:30 to his car, which was parked in the backyard: open the gate and off to a coffee shop for some caffeine and writing until around noon, then back to Danny's for lunch and some work in the studio trying to fit the music with his words. He was warned about Tommy Duke and saw him a couple of times, but didn't have much contact until April 25.

Tommy was extra frustrated that day. His musical aspirations weren't working out well and he partially blamed Danny, who refused to help him. So he figured he'd pay Danny another visit, maybe talk to him, maybe use a little "persuasion" to convince him to give him some lessons. But this time he wasn't going to let Danny stop him at the front door, plus he didn't want Danny's new caregiver in the picture. So he decided to break thru the backyard fence and come in the back door, maybe surprise Danny, and then talk some sense into him.

It was the afternoon; Danny and Jay had finished their work for the day. Danny was back in the house, in the kitchen, and Jay was taking a nap in the studio. Mark was out, running errands. Tommy found a loose piece of the wooden fence and pushed himself thru. He walked up to the backdoor which was unlocked. He came in and went into the kitchen, where Danny was sitting at the table. Danny had heard someone enter, but thought it was Jay, and when he saw it was Danny, he panicked. Tommy started talking to him, telling him he needed to get some lessons and Danny was the only one who could help him. Danny quickly picked up his cell phone and called Jay in the studio. Tommy came up to Danny and knocked the cell phone out of his hand, his voice getting louder, his manner more forceful. Almost immediately, Jay came into the room, grabbed a large kitchen knife, and pinned Tommy to the wall. He brought the knife right under Tommy's left eye and told him, "The only reason you're leaving here with this eye is because of your daughter." He then escorted Tommy out the front door and off the property.

Mark returned shortly thereafter. Danny was distraught and the mood in the house was anxious and tense. Danny had called 911, but they told him they couldn't do anything unless the perpetrator was actually on the premises. Mark and Jay finally calmed Danny down, but the incident was an indelible reinforcement of the notion that Tommy Duke just wasn't going away.

To Be Continued

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