(Author's Note: Diffle County is a fictional place, located in the Eastern Pennsylvania foothills. All characters are based upon folks I may or may not know. All events are fictional as well, although a truck did get pushed into in a ditch by a Johnston driving a backhoe, while pulling the remains of his neighbor's fence about twenty years ago. This story has nothing in common with that one-except that they were similar in nature, with alcohol involved and a feud in progress. )
Our story begins...
Back in Diffle County, the boys had a Wikileak problem of their own. Seems like Charlie Johnston got a little "tired" after too many beers on New Years Eve and finally decided to remove the fence that Joe Reilly built on the Johnston property. A witness to the removal called the newspaper, and the next day the Diffle County Record had a page-one picture of the Diffle County's brand new Ford 150 upside-down in a ditch, along with Charlie's backhoe laying on its side and pieces of fencing scattered like toothpicks all over the highway.
It all began last summer, when neighbor Joe Reilly decided that Charlie's weekend partying (especially the one that ended with Charlie running around Joe's backyard starkers) was too downright awful a sight to watch. Joe bought and built a six-foot high stockade fence (without a zoning permit) on the property line between them. That property line location was kind of determined by Joe, his step-son Billy, and a string line between two stakes. This did not sit well with Charlie Johnston, not well at all.
Joe and Charlie go way back, all the way back to Pre-K school at the Garret YMCA. There isn't one thing one doesn't know about the other. Now you would think that would make them the best of friends. On the contrary, they act like two cats in a bag.
Their family history is a tad convoluted too. Recently, Charlie's niece, Vera Johnston-Reilly married Joe's oldest brother, William. The Johnston family now has the singular opinion that William Reilly is a cradle-robbing pedophillic, trophy-wife hunting, loveless, screwed up son of a bitch who has twisted and coerced Vera Johnston's innocent soul and beautiful body into loving him. William also has a ton of money and most local folks wonder which bank he robbed to get it.
If you ask Vera, she will tell you (in hushed tones) that William has three redeeming qualities she can not resist- a 1968 Ford Shelby Mustang GT-350 bright red and in cherry condition, a ton of money, and the biggest "weiner" she ever laid eyes on. It was love at first sight.
Charlie and Joe's history goes even deeper- something to do with grandparents, a tree, and a monument with a misspelled name. That is a story for another time.
Why the fence was built
Six months ago, before the fence was built, on a warm, sunny Monday morning, Joe Reilly stormed into the town office. He was ready to raise holy hell. According to Joe, the following incident occurred: Charlie and his wife, a bleached blonde-three hundred pound screamer named Sheila (with a mean streak wider than Saturn's rings), got plastered on JD and Corona chasers, and snuck into Joe's backyard. They wanted to take a naughty midnight dip in the Reilly's brand-new in-ground swimming pool. "Let's pop its cherry!" Charlie said.
First they got naked (not unusual) and had loud sex on the pool steps. Afterwards, Joe took a sweet, long pee into the pool from the concrete edge. This angered Sheila, who was still in the pool, floating on her back. As her voice rose to a decibel level usually reserved for planes taking-off, Charlie vomited on a lounge chair. At about this time, Joe Reilly, usually a deep sleeper, stepped outside with shotgun in hand, shells loaded to the max with rocksalt.
Joe chased them off, with a stinging spread of salt in their naked behinds. He spent the next several hours cleaning and super-chlorinating his pool. The next day, he went to the town office to complain. Since Charlie Johnston works on the township road crew, Joe decided this was a community problem and he wanted Charlie Johnston fired.
Big Don, deer sausage therapy
Big Don, elected town father, handled Joe Reilly in the usual manner- with a dose of humor, a shrug of the shoulders, and a reminder to sign up for the recycling containers. When Joe left the office an hour later (after a free hot dog lunch) he was carrying a pound of deer sausage under his arm, courtesy of Big Don. At that point, Joe had completely forgotten about Charlie Johnston's drunken disaster. "Whew, I'm not sure how I do it!", Don exclaimed, his eyes twinkling with mirth. We're not too sure either.
Joe Reilly didn't forget his Reilly problem for very long. When he arrived home, Sheila was standing in her driveway, screaming full throttle at her kids, who were either ignoring her or completely deaf as they climbed up into Joe Reilly's favorite maple tree. The next day, Joe bought a stockade fence at Home Depot and had it installed that weekend. On Monday morning, Charlie Johnston filed a complaint with the zoning officer.
The township did their job, took Joe Reilly to local court and he paid a five hundred dollar fine. But he refused to get a permit and a showdown was now brewing in Diffle County Court. Yet Joe would visit town hall every Monday at lunchtime for a free hot dog lunch, courtesy of Big Don.
Reilly goes to the shore , Johnston gets creative
On the Saturday following Labor Day, Joe Reilly packed up his tiny peep of a wife, and his 19-year old step-son Billy, and drove to the Jersey shore for a nice, relaxing week at his brother's vacation home in Avalon. Finally, he would get away from the hoots, hollers, loud music, and wild parties next door. The only sound he wanted to hear was the surf crashing against the beach.
Five minutes after he pulled out of his driveway and steered his jet-black Altima towards the Garden State Parkway, Charlie Johnston went to work on decorating Reilly's fence.
A short history on Jimmy, the hubcap hunter
A few weeks earlier, Charlie Johnston ran into Diffle County Senior Judge William Butler at the Moose Lodge. In early April, Judge Butler arrived home a half-day early from a weekend seminar to find his 18-year old daughter, Jennifer, in bed with 26-year old Jimmy Beaver.
Beaver was well known for having a grand collection of hubcaps. He spent hours every day on his bicycle, canvassing Nother and Diffle County roads. Jimmy was a hubcap hunter. You couldn't miss him, he always wore the same red and black tartan flannel shirt and a bright orange hunting cap (the one with the fuzzy sides snapped up). His long dark, greasy hair would be sticking out in all directions, and a bead of water was always hanging off the tip of his long beak of a nose. Hubcaps were bungied to his bicycle in every way imaginable, and in a few ways no one but Jimmy could imagine.
Jimmy would place these shiny treasures all over his 1/2 acre property- Ford caps on the right side yard, Chevy caps in the front yard, Dodge caps in the left side yard, and Jap/Korean/Yugo caps in the rear yard. Near the main road, there was a hand painted sign that read, Hupcabs, 2 dolar Fin em yerself leeve $ in jar Next to the sign was a big glass jar- empty as a pauper's wallet.
The Judge was not happy that his daughter (who must have got her smarts from her mother's side of the family) was bedding anyone, especially that moron, Jimmy Beaver (to quote the judge, off the record). Senior Judge William Butler, wielding a #3 wood, ran a half-naked Jimmy Beaver off his property that Sunday morning.
On Monday, State revenue agents showed up at the front door of Beaver's 1965 brown and tan, single-wide trailer. They wanted to know why Jimmy Beaver hadn't sent in his sales tax money for his hubcap sales.
On Tuesday, the zoning officer knocked on Beaver's paper-thin trailer door, then hand-delivered a Notice of Violation for operating a hubcap business without a permit, in a residential zone, in violation of setbacks.
On Wednesday, two squirrelly-looking dudes from the Department of Environmental Protection were poking Jimmy's yard with soil samplers, looking for spilled oil- based on an anonymous complaint they received.
On Thursday, Jimmy received an audit notice from the Internal Revenue Service and he lost electric for 12 hours when a County landscaping crew accidentally dropped a tree on his electric line while clearing brush along the highway.
On Friday, he was pulled over by the State Police and given a $70.00 ticket for riding a bicycle without a helmet.
Senior Judge William Butler's deal of a lifetime
Saturday morning dawned with sun-filled splendor. Jimmy Beaver was sitting on the rusted metal front steps of his mobile home, drinking coffee, when black Lincoln town car with tinted windows pulled into his rutted, dirt driveway. The rear car door opened and out popped Judge Butler. He walked over to Jimmy and gingerly leaned on the rusted railing. Their conversation went something like this,
Judge Butler: "Beautiful morning! Why look at all these hubcaps! You got some business here, Jimmy."
Jimmy: (frowns) "What do you want? You need a hubcap or something?"
Judge Butler: "How was your week? I bet you got plenty of visitors here, eh?"
Jimmy: (shrugs) "A few too many this week, Judge, thanks to you."
Judge Butler: "That may be true or not, but I will tell you this. I can make it all go away with a phone call".
Jimmy: "I ain't got no phone. Got cut off, right in the middle of talkin' to a man from the IRS."
Judge Butler: "I think two reasonable men can come to an agreement concerning my daughter."
Jimmy: "What kind of agreement you thinkin' about, Judge?"
Judge Butler: "How about I give you a dollar for every hubcap you have here."
Jimmy: "Gotta be a string attached to that somewhere..."
Judge Butler: (interrupting) "You can never have any contact with my daughter ever again."
Jimmy: "I got a lot of hubcaps, 10,795 of 'em to be exact. I like to count, Judge."
Judge Butler: "That's fine. I will write you a check, and I will have someone remove them all."
Jimmy: "I got a string attached too."
Judge Butler: "What do you want, son?"
Jimmy: "I rode my bicycle out to Lincoln township yesterday.
Heard you owned a couple hundred acres there, nice and flat,
big tall spruce trees up to the sky. Sounds pretty."
Judge Butler: (frowning) "Yes, I own land in Lincoln Township."
Jimmy: (wiping his nose on his sleeve) "I got a ticket on the way back for not havin' a helmet. Made
me get to thinkin' about that land. I would love to own that land"
Judge Butler: "I'm not giving you that land, son."
Jimmy: "I would never ask you to give me land, Judge. I wanna buy it. For 10,795 dollars.
When that check o' yours clears the bank, I'll write one back to you."
Judge Butler: "That's preposterous! I paid over 200 thousand for that land!"
Jimmy: "Judge, your daughter Jenny loves me. Told me so on Saturday night,
right before we did it in your bed. You put the price on love, Judge. So can I.
I could tell her you came here and tried to bribe me."
Judge Butler: "But you don't love her."
Jimmy: (sniffs) "It will be hard to not love your daughter, but with that land, it would be a lot
easier. Would forget all about her, like we never happened at all."
Judge Butler: "May I ask what you are gonna do with 200 acres of the finest land in Diffle county?"
Jimmy: "Am gonna build me an airport. You can land there anytime you like- for free"
And that is how Jimmy Beaver and Jennifer Wilma Butler broke up, how Jimmy ended up with 200 acres of the finest land in Diffle County, and how Senior Judge William Butler ended up paying monthly rent on a storage unit containing exactly 10,795 hubcaps.
How to decorate your fence for interactive play
At the Moose Lodge, another deal was made. Charlie Johnston accepted the generous offer of 10,795 free hubcaps. All he had to do was remove them from Judge Butler's storage unit. A whole new plan was born. Charlie called back into the kitchen, and out walked Marshall Beets, registered surveyor and Moose lodge manager. An hour after the Reilly family arrived in Avalon, Marshall Beets surveyed the property line, set two iron pipes on the Reilly side of the fence, and placed his seal on the blueprint- declaring Charlie Johnston as the rightful owner of Reilly's fence.
Charlie made a few phone calls and within an hour, the entire Johnston clan (except for Vera Johnston-Reilly) was standing alongside the fence, hammer in one hand nail and hubcap in the other hand. It took 3 days and 10 cases of Budweiser, 4 quart bottles of Jack Daniels, a case of wine from the Merranti Brothers Diffle Valley Winery, and a bottle of New York State Champagne for the christening. When it was all finished, it kind of looked like this:
|Hubcap Fence (typ.)|
Joe walked down his driveway to the end of the fence. There, facing his property was a "No Trespassing" sign posted on a stake, directly behind the orange-painted survey pipe. Joe peeked around the end of the fence. Then he stepped past the pipe, passed the sign, walked 10 feet onto Charlie Johnston's property. he turned and stared at the hubcap side of the fence. He stared for about ten minutes. He never heard Charlie sneak up behind him until Charlie spoke,
"She's a beauty, ain't she?" Charlie said with false pride, patting Joe Reilly on the back.
Joe Reilly never turned around, never said a word, he simply marched back into his house and slammed the door. Charlie laughed all day long.
After nightfall, Charlie Johnston got a rifle out of his closet. He bought it when he was 15 years old, a BB shooter, powered by a Co2 cannister. Charlie opened his bedroom window, stuck the rifle out, aimed at a hubcap and fired. The tinging sound rang out through the sleeping neighborhood. For the next week, every night, when Charlie got up to get a drink of water, or use the bathroom, or just because his alarm went off at 3 a.m., he would open the window, fire a few shots, ring Reilly's bell, and then return to sleep. Charlie Johnston had created a real-world first-person shooter game.
Good for the goose, good for the gander
Meanwhile, Joe Reilly paid another visit to Big Don. Joe didn't want a recycling container. He didn't want a hot dog. He didn't want a story and he didn't want deer sausage. Joe Reilly wanted Charlie Johnston cited for building a fence without a permit. Also, he wanted Johnston cited for owning a junkyard. Big Don referred Reilly to the zoning officer, who declined to investigate on account of not knowing for certain who owned the fence, and the fact it was a feud.
Joe Reilly hired a fancy lawyer and sued to have the fence, along with the hubcaps, removed. Joe Reilly wanted monetary damages too- for pain and suffering.The case was assigned to Diffle County Senior Judge William Butler. Charlie Johnston was ordered to remove the hubcaps, to cease from shooting at anything within the line of sight of Joe Reilly's house. He was also ordered to not remove the fence, since it was built by Reilly. Then Judge Butler ordered Reilly to move the fence back to his own property or tear it down. Reilly appealed to the State court and swore he'd take it all the way to the Supreme Court.
After the Hearing, Charlie Johnston drove home, called everyone in the family, and they helped him remove 10,794 hubcaps from the fence. He returned the hubcaps to Judge Butler's storage unit. He left one Chevy hubcap on the fence (he was a Chevy man)- in what he thought was his last act of defiance. Joe Reilly sued over that last hubcap too. And he won.
And that's how we got to this moment...
On New Years Eve, having been told that the fence was legally his, Charlie Johnston decided to remove it. He drank till he was drunk and brave enough, started up his John Deere backhoe, tied a cable to four sections of fence, and pulled it over. He repeated this until a screaming Joe Reilly came running out of his house. He had a handgun and was shooting wildly, apparently trying to kill Charlie Johnston. Charlie took off down the county road in the backhoe, with four sections of the fence still on the cable, dragging behind him. Joe called 911, who dispatched the State Police.
Meanwhile, John Primer, Diffle County road foreman, was driving the County's brand new Ford F-150 over to Marin Lane, after getting a complaint of a tree down on the road. He heard the police dispatch for Johnston on the truck scanner. That had to be right up ahead, he thought. Within seconds, he saw a backhoe heading straight for him. John, in a moment of heroism, tried to block the road with his truck, but Charlie Johnston didn't stop. The backhoe's front bucket hit the passenger side of the truck, and Charlie pushed John and the County's Ford truck into a storm ditch on the side of the road. The truck flipped over, and the backhoe fell on its side. Then, out of darkness, came a photographer to get the picture for page one of the local scandal-rag, The Diffle County Reporter.
Big Don just wants to know, "Who dropped the dime on Charlie Johnston? Must have been one of those Wikleaks people. Was it you Ricky?" and then, "John Primer should have known, you never block a Chevy man with a Ford." Then, after lunch, "I wonder if Judge Butler has a hubcap for my daughter's 2004 Chevy Lumina? I better give him a call." And that is how Big Don ended up with a side business- hubcap sales.