Tuesday, November 11, 2008
(If you’re just coming upon this story, I strongly suggest that you read the first three parts before this one. This is not because you won’t be able to follow it from this point on, but because I have a massive ego and I’d hate to think my previous 6,000 words were completely unnecessary. You’ll find parts one, two, and three, HERE, HERE, and HERE.)
Now, as best I can reconstruct it, this is the sad saga of Mr. Irish and Mr. French. This account includes things testified to by one man or the other, their wives, their neighbors, a psychologist, and a local police officer. Some of these allegations were denied by either Mr. Irish or Mr. French. Most were backed up by photographs, some by paper records, and some were simply admitted to.
Mr. Irish and his wife were 22-year residents of The Town Nobody From Outside Of Massachusetts Can Pronounce. We’ll call it "Bugtown" to make it easier. Mr. Irish was a retired police officer, having been on the force in a Massachusetts city in the eastern part of the state. As well, he was an ex-marine, having served in Vietnam as a door gunner on a helicopter. He and his wife had a daughter living with them. They would have granddaughters there a bit later.
In 1998, Mr. French – also an ex-marine, and also a retired police officer (rank of lieutenant) in the town of Mount Upperclass, which bordered the city Mr. Irish had been a police officer in – moved into the house next door to Mr. Irish. He was accompanied by his wife, his daughter, and two dogs. There would also be grandchildren for them later on.
Mr. French decided to introduce himself to Mr. Irish. He had heard that his neighbor, like himself, was a policeman. He might have heard this from other new neighbors or he might have known about Irish being a cop because the towns they had served in were contiguous. In any case, he figured they had something in common, so he went over and knocked on Irish’s door. When Irish answered, French said:
"Hi, I’m Lieutenant French of the Mount Upperclass police, your new neighbor. I just wanted to shake the hand of the policeman who’s crazier than I am."
One would assume he said this with a smile and a wink. No matter. Irish took offense at this characterization of himself as "crazy". He told French as much. We don’t know the exact words used, but all that subsequently happens would lead us to believe they weren’t words used in most churches. And the battle was on.
Over the backyard fence between their properties, insults were thrown – and other things, too, although we’ll get to that later. French belittled Irish’s police record, saying that he mustn’t have been a very good one to have not achieved rank after so many years on the force. Irish accused French of improprieties in the line of his duty. They both flipped each other the bird. French would imitate a machine gunner, pretending to shoot Irish. Irish would run his thumb across his throat in the internationally recognized symbol for intent to kill someone.
While Irish raked leaves, French would tell him to come over and do his yard after he had finished his own. When Irish would tell him to fuck off, French would then run a leaf blower and send the refuse from his trees into Irish’s yard. Things were little more peaceful during the winter. French would then run a snow blower and send the snow onto Irish’s property. Supposedly, he would search out bare areas that contained rocks, which would then be jettisoned toward Irish with terminal velocity.
French, as I say, had two dogs. Naturally, he would let them out into his backyard. Irish felt that the dogs were a nuisance, constantly barking. He asked French to keep them quiet. French supposedly said, "If you don’t like the dogs barking, screw you. I’ll encourage them to bark more." French INCREASED the dog population to three.
In retaliation, Irish began running chainsaws, leaf blowers, lawnmowers, wood chippers, and all manner of mechanical implements, day and night, often leaving them running, unattended, right at the property line, specifically to annoy French.
(Photos showed Irish feeding what looked like small telephone poles into the chipper. We could only surmise that he bought these huge pieces of wood for the sole purpose of destroying them, thus annoying French with the noise. There didn’t seem to be anyplace on his property where these huge logs could have come from.)
French now kept the three dogs outside all the time, barking, even in winter. Irish alleged that, when the spring thaw came, there were hundreds of piles of dog poop in French’s yard, and it smelled foul. Irish liked to entertain guests at his swimming pool and patio area, and the smell made those activities impossible. He yelled at French to pick up the dog crap. French did, and then threw it into Irish’s yard.
Irish now built a fire pit near the property line. When he had finished, he began burning green wood in it, day and night. Huge clouds of acrid smoke came from the fires. The prevailing winds would, more often than not, carry the smoke towards French. After a week or so of this, French called the fire department, and they ordered Irish to cease burning wood in the fire pit. Irish complied, but he then bought a portable wood burning stove, which he continued to stoke with freshly cut wood and brush. Irish claimed to be cooking hamburgers and hot dogs on it, but French reported that Irish would feed wood into this thing at 3 o’clock in the morning.
(In the photos, the smoke was so thick that it looked like an atomic bomb had gone off in Irish’s yard.)
French’s three dogs now somehow escaped. French says Irish opened the gate and let them out; Irish says he saw them climb a pile of logs and then jump the fence. Whatever the case, one of the dogs wouldn’t be doing much of anything soon. It was found dead, by French, with a box of D-Con rat poison next to it.
(We saw a photograph of French’s backyard, a box of D-Con on the lawn. A few questions immediately came to mind. Would Irish have been so brazen as to hurl the box over the fence, knowing full well that French would assume Irish threw it there? Wouldn’t he have just thrown the poison itself, and not the incriminating box? Anyway, a photo of a box of D-Con sitting by itself isn’t much proof without the accompanying poisoned dog. The dog that died, by the way, was nearing its 15th birthday, so one might assume it just died of natural causes.)
The MSPCA paid a visit to Mr. Irish, spurred by Mr. French calling them. Mr. Irish was less than cordial, telling them to get the fuck off of his property. No citations were issued, since nothing could be proven.
French decided that Irish represented a threat to his family’s safety. He installed two security cameras, both aimed at Irish’s yard. In order to increase the efficacy of the cameras, he installed spotlights – FIFTEEN of them, all of which he kept trained on the Irish’s home. The lights shone brightly into the Irish’s bedroom, among other places. This did not make Irish happy.
Irish asked French to stop lighting up his indoor spaces. French ignored him. Irish came out into his yard one morning and banged a pipe on the chain link fence separating their properties. He yelled for French to come down and settle things man-to-man. French called the local cops, instead. No arrest was made, so French decided to erect a more substantial barrier between he and Irish. He installed a six-foot stockade fence.
The lights continued to shine, so Irish tried painting the slats on his blinds black. This helped, but not enough. He tried shooting out some of the lights with a BB gun, putting multiple holes into French’s vinyl siding as well. French installed even stronger lights, and added four more video cameras – for a total of SIX, all taping 24/7.
Irish now decided upon another plan to stop the lights from bothering he and his family. He erected a tarp between his house and French’s. This tarp, about 15 feet by 25 feet, no doubt helped to cut down the light entering Irish’s bedroom, but it served another purpose, too. In the upper right quadrant of the tarp, Irish had spray-painted a five-foot tall "FUCK YOU!" This epithet was strategically placed so as to be visible, at all times, from French’s TV room window. Irish was even kind enough to BACKLIGHT the tarp, just in case French’s spotlights weren’t enough to do the job. Just above the handwritten greeting, Irish stuck a bumper sticker to the tarp. It read (and I quote) "Fuck You, You Fucking Fuck!"
Oh, I forgot to mention that there was a day-care center across the street from these two guys. Every day, moms dropped off their kids across the street from a gigantic "FUCK YOU!" sign. Obviously, someone was going to complain about this, and someone did. The Bugtown police came and told Irish that he had to take the tarp down. They said that Irish could certainly erect a tarp if he wanted, but not one with such language on it.
Irish took down the tarp, but he decided that he still wanted to send a specific message to French. So, he used a power washer to inscribe "Dickhead! Fuck You!" in the cement area surrounding his own swimming pool. In addition, he used a chainsaw to carve another "Fuck You" into a big plank, which he then leaned on a bench, aiming said bench and message at French’s deck. Irish shone a spotlight on this message, and decorated the tableau with multiple toilet seats, just in case French might have missed the point somehow.
French now took every opportunity to come out onto his deck with a handheld video camera and tape Irish every time Irish did some yard work. Going beyond the call of duty, though, French also videotaped everybody who used Irish’s pool, including Irish’s daughter and granddaughters. Now it had become a creepy and lewd sort of Spy vs. Spy. Irish felt this sort of voyeurism was unwarranted, so one evening he told French to stop taping. French refused. Irish picked up a big boulder AND THREW IT THROUGH FRENCH’S FENCE.
The Bugtown cops were called. Irish was arrested and charged with malicious destruction of property. The next day, when Irish – released on bail – came out and appeared to be getting into his car, French, standing on his lawn with a friend, yelled at him, "Hey, Irish, I’m going out soon. Can I give you a ride to court?" Irish got into his car, backed out of his driveway, and then gunned the car forward onto French’s lawn, coming within inches of French and his friend. He was arrested again, this time charged with assault with a deadly weapon.
(These acts, and a few others, resulted in 7 counts being brought against Irish. A year later, he admitted to sufficient facts – which isn’t quite a plea of guilty, but close enough for rock and roll.)
A few days later, Irish and his wife were draining the pool in preparation for closing it down for the winter. French, of course, was out on his deck shooting video of this. Irish yelled at him to stop. He didn’t. When Irish went into his garage to fetch a tool of some sort, French unzipped his pants and pulled out his Johnson, waving it at Mrs. Irish. She called the cops. No arrest was made, however – no explanation of why not, except that perhaps the Bugtown cops were just plain getting tired of this shit.
(Three months later, she again alleged that French exposed himself. This time, French was arrested. He was subsequently tried, being found not guilty.)
With French now out on bail, Irish was sitting in his back yard with his cousin. His cousin noticed something on Irish’s chest. He told Irish to look down. What Irish saw was a red laser light, directly over his heart. Irish freaked and ran into the house.
(French denied owning any firearms with a laser sight. He didn’t deny owning firearms, nor did he deny that he shone a laser at Irish.)
The next day, Irish rode a small tractor up and down in front of French’s house, yelling obscenities at him; perhaps these included taunts to try and hit a moving target. Later on, French was in a neighbor’s front yard across the street from Irish. Irish came out of his house, got into his car, drove over in front of the neighbor’s place, and started screaming at French to fight him. French refused. So, Irish got out of his car, picked up some rocks, and started chucking them at the neighbor’s vintage motorcycle. Irish said that French had yelled obscenities at him, first, thus triggering this behavior. French denied it, of course.
The next part is just too good, and was the one thing in this mess that everybody in the courtroom could hardly believe. The rest of the stuff is horrendous, but possible. This was just plain ludicrous, and was what probably made us decide that Irish was just a bit more off his nut than French.
Look at the following photo:
It is a happy smiling Christmas bear, complete with jaunty scarf and hat. It is a lawn decoration, perhaps four feet tall. French had two of these Christmas bears and used them to decorate his property during the holiday season. Now, French’s Christmas bears were a bit worn and dirty, not as bright and pretty as this one. Nevertheless, they were just plastic Christmas bears. Introduced into evidence were two photos of these bears, on poles, with their backs facing towards Irish’s property.
Irish contended that French specifically set up the bears so as to have their backsides taunting he and his wife. In other words, Irish believed that the Christmas bears were mooning him. He even used that exact language during his testimony. Picture a particularly malevolent Jerry Stiller from Seinfeld and you’ll have a sense of how he came across in the courtroom. "Those bears were mooning me!" I had to literally bite my tongue, hard, to keep from laughing. They were damn plastic bears.
Ugh. I’m getting as exasperated writing about this thing as I did listening to it in person. Just a few of the more spectacular idiocies these guys pulled on each other.
Somehow, French got it into his head that he owned four feet of property on Irish’s side of the fence. Where he got this idea from, nobody knows. No survey was done, that’s for sure. However, believing as he did, he now didn’t like the way Irish’s flowering bushes and trees were overhanging "his" property. So, French climbed a stepladder and cut all of Irish’s bushes and trees level with the top of the fence, leaving the voluminous trimmings in Irish's yard to discover.
Irish, for his part, now chained a rubbish pail to the fence. Nothing too bad about that - except the pail was full of dead and putrefying squirrels, the stench of which permeated French’s yard and house.
(We saw four photos of this pail. Not a single one of us could make out a squirrel in there, let alone piles of dead ones. There was plenty of grody stuff in the pail, to be sure, but it looked like spaghetti and vegetables to my eyes. If it was a bunch of dead squirrels, they were surely some of the most horribly mutilated squirrels ever.)
Irish decided to put an addition onto a fence located on the side of his house that was NOT bordering French’s property. How did this affect French? Well, the road they lived on curved at that point, so the additional fence made it impossible for French to have a view of oncoming traffic when backing out of his driveway. The Bugtown police made Irish take this fencing down, declaring it a traffic hazard. When French was taking a photo of this fence – French took photos of every damn thing, which was, of course, part of the problem – Irish came out of his house, challenging French to a fistfight in the middle of the road. French demurred, backing away from Irish. Irish charged at him, and then kicked him in the balls. When French fell to the pavement, Irish kicked him again.
(Irish admitted this in court; rather proudly, it seemed to us. The lawyer asked him what he did. Irish said, "I kicked him in the balls!" When the lawyer asked him what he did following that, Irish said, "I kicked him again!"
This lack of guile was interesting considering some of the things these guys wouldn’t admit to. For instance, Irish was asked if his wife had helped him with the hanging of the infamous “Fuck You" tarp. Irish said she hadn't. When presented with a photo that clearly showed both he and his wife hanging the tarp, and asked again, Irish said, "Oh, you meant my wife? Yes, that’s her.")
French tried to run over Irish with a motorcycle. Well, that’s what Irish claimed. French said that Irish put himself in harm’s way on purpose. Whatever the case, during the pursuant struggle, Irish tipped the motorcycle over onto French. While French was trapped under the bike – and receiving a pretty severe burn from one of the hot pipes resting on his thigh – Irish took French’s shoe off and began beating him with it. When a teenager from across the street ran over and tried to stop this, Irish reportedly said, "You know, they make coffins in your size, too!"
Irish was arrested again, this time charged with assault and battery.
Now, Irish definitely seemed the more deranged of these two clowns, but French was certainly no saint. He egged on Irish at every twist and turn of this sordid affair. Here’s a perfect example of just how much of an a-hole he could be.
Irish, at one point late in this affair, decided that he had had enough of it. He and his wife owned another property in Florida. They decided to sell their house in Bugtown and move to Florida. You might think this would have delighted Mr. French. If you were Mr. French, what would you do?
Yes, that’s right. Being sane, you or I would have done everything in our power to help Irish sell his house. Not so our odd friend Mr. French. Instead, he posted multiple "No Trespassing" signs on Irish’s side of the stockade fence, with handwritten notes telling prospective buyers that he (French) claimed four feet of property on Irish’s side. He also told them that Irish was awaiting trial, and he implied that things were wrong with Irish’s house, things like a leak in the in-ground pool (there was no leak.) Needless to say, Irish was unable to sell his house. Real estate agents wouldn't even bother listing it.
One final taunt from French. He decided to investigate Irish’s service record in Vietnam. He found out that Irish was a helicopter mechanic, not a door gunner. One doesn’t necessarily preclude the other, but no matter. French made up a sign and hung it in his window. It was a sign that only Irish and his wife would understand.
2422562428 = 0
It was Irish’s service ID number. The "0" could have meant that Irish was a zero in French's eyes. It also could have had deeper meaning. Irish’s blood type? O.
In any case, both of these guys were dicks. And, after seven days of hearing about their dickishness, we had to decide if one of them was a bigger dick than the other.
Soon, with the results of the trial.
Go To The Verdict.