Saturday, September 29, 2012

Somebody That I Used To Know

The mugshots of Anthony Mayhew, are plentiful, and chronicle an adult life dotted with arrests for crimes of varying degrees of severity.  They date back to 1995, and depict Mayhew in a mix of clothing styles and haircuts that morph and change with the trends of the day.

As my eyes dart from one to the other, the crime photos from the early 2000's in particular, tug at my subconscious.  Somewhere in the transom of my brain the neurons are beginning to formulate a question:  "Where do I know that face?"

Mayhew is the man who was shot by Salt lake city police Thursday night outside the 2 News studios.  This after calling the assignment desk at the station, and announcing he has a bomb in his red backpack and is planning on detonating it.  As Mehul Asher, the man picked up the receiver , glances out of our studio that backs up to main street only to see an unhinged man, white dress shirt untucked, arms flailing wildly.  Ninety minutes later, after allegedly moving aggressively towards police Mayhew is shot and killed.  

As television stations dispatch their reporters the day after the shooting, on a familiar yet always frantic hunt for information, I stumble upon an old video, and a blog produced by Mayhew several years prior.  

It is a grab bag of narcissistic grandiosity, in which Mayhew refers to himself only as "Mr. Kenshiro (his middle name) and sees his persona as that of a modern day philosopher, crime fighter.  He claims in his writings to be a world renown expert on, among other things, hand-to-hand combat, surveillance  and interrogation.  It is as if I am reading, a fanciful fantasy tale penned by an 11 year old boy for his creative writing class.

The video is a scripted interview, in which, Mayhew, of course, is the focus, he is asked a disconnected jumble of questions, and rambles about made up philosophy and his contrived work as a "criminal contractor."  His "Job" as he sees it, is to "prevent violent crime from bleeding off into the civil world." 

As the news cast begins to churn to a start, I finally contact the person who assisted Mayhew in producing the video.  Jim Durham is a kind, gentle man, who runs a small video production company and who befriended Mayhew, despite concerns about his erratic behavior  and as others, particularly in Mayhew's family, were beginning to distance themselves from the troubled Mayhew.  

Durham tells me, Anthony asks him to make the video so Mayhew can submit it to a producer in New York for a possible reality show.  Durham knew it was probably untrue, but he dutifully helps his friend.  As I hang up the phone,  The words: "reality show," act as a finger pulled from a dike, and the memories come flooding from the back of my brain to the front.   

Several years ago, an acquaintance of mine asks if I will meet with his friend, a brilliant former criminal, who is interested in producing a television show about crime prevention.  Eric believes my experience in TV news might be helpful.  I remind him that broadcast journalism and entertainment television are two different animals, but that I would be happy to talk to his friend.  Unfortunately I had to cancel that first meeting and I re-schedule for a week later.  

We meet at the Dead Goat.  A gloomy basement restaurant, Eric and his friend are tucked away at a dark corner table.  "Anthony, this is Chris," Eric announces happily as I sit down in the  remote crevice  Anthony is in a tight, grey muscle shirt, he shakes my hand and begins intensely shuffling through a stack of papers, and explains to me that he is a former member of a crime syndicate, but has finally turned the corner and wants to help people avoid becoming a  target of crime.  

His years as a "bad guy," he supposes, makes him uniquely qualified, and he is convinced he has what it takes to helm a reality show.  I'm instantly skeptical of his "organized crime claim,"  I mean really, the mob, in Salt Lake City?  Get real?  None-the-less, I remain and politely listen to his pitch, as he suggest I help him host the show.  I have no intention of being a part of his project, but I quietly sip a Diet Coke taking in his darting banter.  

As each word trips out of his mouth, the intensity in his eyes and body language begins to unleash, as if he is an old Dodge Charger, that has languished in a weedy field for years, uncranked.  As he turns his key, at first Mayhew sputters with fits and starts, then his carburetor begins to rev, spitting chunks of rust out of his tailpipe, until his engine is churning with loud, uneven, bellowing noise. 

Anthony is raving, and for some unknown reason, he's angry, then unprovoked he points his finger at me and says, "and you!  I'm a busy man!" his eyes staring through mine to the back of my head,  "I'm not going to wait around for you as you cancel meetings on me!  I don't have time for that bullshit!"  

"Well," I announce as I slap my hands against my thighs, tug my wallet from my pocket, toss a $5 bill on the table, stand to my feet and say my goodbyes, "OK, thanks guys," I turn and head to the parking lot.  As I march away, I see Anthony return his raving gaze to his worn stack of papers, and I hear the legs of my friends wooden chair grind against the uneven oak floor as he chases me to my car.  

"Hey, I know he seems a little intense, but I think this is a good idea." Eric pleads "Not me," I announce as I continue my brisk walk to my car.  "Yeah," my friend sighs, as he matches my gate, "I'm thinking this might not work out either."  I look at him, "you're right," I warn as I yank my keys from my pocket and drive away.  

That intense, angry, fuming man was Anthony Mayhew, his story to me was verbose and grand, and it turns out, complete fantasy. 

Jim Durham, Anthony's video producer, tells me Anthony never had a real job, and despite his life of petty crime, Mayhew wasn't an expert in crime prevention, or for that matter, anything. 

It must have been 2003 or 2004 when I met Anthony, It appears the fuse was already lit by then.  Eight years later the explosives would finally detonate, 50 feet away from my desk.  

Anthony always day dreamed of being important Durham recalls, and always ached to be on TV, in the end he got his wish.