Friday, November 10, 2017

There's one in every neighborhood

Beach north of Hualien city

So last Sunday night we were left dizzy by toxic smoke pouring over our house. I couldn't sleep -- heart pounding, pulse racing. Once again, I thought, the factories below our house were burning off waste, as they often do on weekends because the EPA is closed. As if the EPA would do anything anyway. I never report them, because of fear of reprisals.

But I was wrong. Last night the fires were on again, on a Thursday night. It turns out our neighbor's ex-husband wanted some payback, so from time to time he was burning books outside his ex-wife's house in our neighborhood in order to fill it with smoke. This time, Thursday, he set a large fire and then left. Naturally, it spread as fires will, and the neighbors called the police and fire department. He came back and was busted lying to the police, telling them that he was only burning leaves. They fined him. I doubt that will stop anything.

We and our neighbors been having run-ins with him for a while. Once he parked his car in our space in front of our house. We came back with a load of groceries and asked him to roll it forward a bit so we could unload it. That evening he came out and keyed our car from headlight to taillight. Twice he attempted to run my wife off the road in her scooter. My neighbors have similar stories. The private water company we used to have supplying the neighborhood water used some ruthlessly direct methods against him a couple of years ago when he refused to pay his water bills, further complicating things.

After he got divorced three years ago, he erected a tent on the third floor of their house and lived there, refusing to leave. "Why didn't she call the police?" I asked my wife.

She spread her hands helplessly. "Taiwanese..."
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