The police radio sizzled the silence inside the squad car. The night shift dispatcher drowsily relayed to Officer Hendricks that as of 1:52am a couple was having a verbal argument at 103 Hastings. It was not a physical fight at the current time, but if the police didn’t come soon it was going to be, according to the caller. No one was intoxicated. There were no weapons involved. It was a simple verbal argument that would only be resolved by police officers.
The caller’s first name was Dan. Officer Hendricks sighed, cursed in the darkness, and began driving toward 103 Hastings. He muttered, “Chainsaw Dan.” Chainsaw Dan earned his nickname by using a chainsaw in varying capacities. It was his security blanket. He carried it when he walked to the gas station to buy tobacco. He sat next to it on park benches while he rolled homemade cigarettes and watched children play. Mothers nervously wondered if they should immediately leave the park when Chainsaw Dan sat down to enjoy his afternoon or if he was just a deranged member of the Parks Department. Not only did he bring it with him everywhere he went, but he talked to the chainsaw as if it were his best friend. He cleaned it incessantly.
In 1984, Chainsaw Dan chopped up his third wife with a chainsaw. It was not the same one. The original was destroyed by the courts after his trial. He served his time for that and was now officially rehabilitated. A fan of his, Kristy Vitale, wrote him lots of sympathetic letters in prison which bloomed into a "relationship." When he got out, he settled in with Kristy at 103 Hastings, resulting in the kind of domestic bliss which follows a partnership between a convicted murderer and a mentally ill admirer. This residence also happened to result in calls to police at least once a week.
Officer Hendricks blacked out his headlights three blocks away and parked a block south of 103 Hastings. He could not hear any hums in the distance which could signify the operation of a 32cc 2 stroke combustion engine, often attached to a common household chainsaw. His fellow responding officer, Officer Gentry, parked one block north and extinguished his headlights prior to parking. They were going to walk in. No sense in getting chainsawed unnecessarily if Chainsaw Dan decided this was going to be the night he used his security blanket against the cops.
The light from the apartment gleamed golden in the darkness. There were no other lights on up and down the entire street. Everyone else was sleeping soundly or listening to the latest argument between Chainsaw Dan and Kristy Vitale. The shouting got louder as Officer Hendricks approached which sounded like it involved a ceramic ballerina, love, questions about why certain property items were now destroyed, and accusations of people being mean.
As Officer Hendricks crept through the front yard, Chainsaw Dan stomped out the front door with his chainsaw in his hand. It was not running. He slammed the door shut behind him. Vitale slammed open the door and shouted “You broke my favorite ballerina!” Chainsaw Dan shouted at Vitale, “I didn’t break anything you stupid b*tch!”
Officer Gentry interrupted the argument and began speaking with Chainsaw Dan. Chainsaw Dan jumped. “Holy sh*t! You scared me! What are you guys creeping around in the dark for?” Chainsaw Dan complied with Officer Gentry’s request for him to set the chainsaw down on the ground. As Officer Hendricks began speaking with Vitale, Officer Hendricks overheard Chainsaw Dan telling Officer Gentry: “This crazy b*tch ninja chopped me!”
Hendricks paused to observe Chainsaw Dan’s level of agitation. When it appeared there was no immediate need for he and Gentry to fight him, Hendricks began speaking with Vitale. Vitale was crying. Streams of eye make-up streaked down Vitale’s cheeks, but nothing was bleeding or black n’ blue. She was holding some small ceramic pieces in her cradled hands which at one point, Hendricks gathered, was Vitale’s favorite ceramic decorative ballerina. Since the sight of Chainsaw Dan appeared to be heightening Vitale’s anger, Hendricks asked Vitale if they could go inside the residence and talk. This would also help Hendricks see if anything or anyone had been chainsawed inside the home.
“He broke my favorite ballerina! He tripped on the vacuum, and he fell. His chainsaw hit my shelf, and he broke it! You need to arrest him! Take him to jail! I'm sick of him! He can't stay here anymore! My sister gave me this ballerina the night she overdosed!” Hendricks listened awhile longer as Vitale rattled on about losing her government housing money because she allowed Chainsaw Dan to move in with her. Since Chainsaw Dan moved in, everything went bad for Vitale. Not only was she not receiving free rent from the government, but Chainsaw Dan was also occasionally a “very, very mean person.”
Hendricks was tempted to ask Vitale if writing love letters to a convicted murderer in prison might’ve been her first clue that this man had the potential to be a mean person. Hendricks thought better of it and chose not to bring up this reason-based thought. No need for Hendricks to get ninja chopped. Instead Hendricks asked Vitale the usual series of questions to inquire about domestic violence…Did you strike him? Did he strike you? Are you injured in any way? Do you need an ambulance? Did he frighten you? Is he controlling? All Vitale’s answers were no. It appeared the only victim in this incident was the tiny ceramic ballerina.
By this time, Gentry and Chainsaw Dan were re-entering the residence. Vitale and Hendricks moved out of the entry way to make room. Hendricks provided Gentry with a brief synopsis of Vitale’s statement. Gentry asked Vitale: “Did you ninja chop Chainsaw Dan?”
Vitale: “No, I didn’t ninja chop Chainsaw Dan! He tripped over the vacuum, and I tripped over him! He broke my ballerina! My sister gave me this ballerina the night she overdosed!” Vitale began to cry again when Hendricks realized something needed to be done to shake Vitale and Chainsaw Dan out of this cycle of conflict. Hendricks raised his voice and interrupted with a sudden authoritative tone. Hendricks’ eyes took fire as they glared at Vitale. “Woh! Woh! Woh! You’ve been talking to me for 10 minutes about what has been going on here! In those 10 minutes you never once mentioned that you were a ninja! Do you know how dangerous ninjas are! Whenever a law enforcement officer begins speaking with you, you must immediately identify yourself as a ninja! Do you understand me?” Hendricks then smiled from ear to ear. Vitale, momentarily frozen with fear, forgot her emotional tirade. She melted when she realized Hendricks was joking. “You’re funny,” she said.
Chainsaw Dan set the chainsaw on the coffee table and embraced Vitale. “I got some superglue, honey. I can help put your ballerina back together. I didn’t mean it, you dumb dumb!” Vitale nodded. “Okay, I’m sorry too. I was just mad about my ballerina.”
Gentry and Hendricks exited the house now teeming with domestic bliss.
“Nice work,” Hendricks said.
“Just people helping people,” Gentry said as they separated and dissolved into the darkness.