It was approximately eleven AM when the power went out at my West Irish Street office in Greeneville.
It wasn’t a great start to the day as I had emails to answer, a meeting with a client in an hour, and a contract that needed printing. These tasks looked insurmountable given the electricity was off at my office. I’d paid the bill, that much I knew. The rest of the street didn’t look like it had any issues. I stepped outside on the front porch of my office and looked around.
Immediately, I knew what caused the outage. The old guy across the street looked at me, large utility gloves over his hands, wielding tools. He yelled from across the street to me.
“Shit, did I turn off your power? I’m sorry, I was trying to screw with that old bitch that lives next door.”
That toothless old man with a penchant for creating moonshine in his backyard was one of the more colorful characters I remember from my earliest days practicing law in Greeneville. His next door neighbor was an old churchgoing lady who saw alcohol as the devil’s brew and continually threatened him with police calls. His response was to urinate on her front porch at two in the morning, try to shut off her water and power, and have his son’s roosters bred for cockfighting defecate in her back yard.
I never took an issue with the old man or his son. On at least one occasion the son actually helped me out on a case, providing information that led to a not guilty for my client. The son was a horrendous alcoholic with a bad tendency to get into shouting matches with his on-again, off-again girlfriend at the early hours of the morning. One of my favorites went something like this:
“DAMMIT GET YOUR ASS BACK IN HERE, WOMAN! WE AIN’T DONE TALKING!”
“NO! WE’RE THROUGH! I’M SICK OF YOU BOGARTING ALL THE DAMN JOINTS IN THE HOUSE!”
Eventually I left West Irish Street behind, and moved to a newer, brighter, better office. I live in a different city, and have a different perspective on life and work than I did when I first moved into that office. It recently changed hands to a new owner, and during the sale I inquired about the old man and his son.
“Mr. Seaton, that house burned to the ground about a year ago, if my memory’s still good.”
I recently returned for a brief appearance in Greene County General Sessions Court. After eating my requisite steak tacos at the best dive in town, I drove by my old office. Sure enough, what once was a site of entertainment, confusion, and occasional craziness was gone. Nothing remained save for a little scrap of land.
I hope the old guy and his son are ok, and they’re out somewhere living the real life version of the Discovery TV show “Moonshiners.”