FREELAND — The four guys are a fixture in the neighborhood.
They stand by a fence, drinking beer day and night in front of the modest duplex down the street from the sheriff’s office.
There’s Hank, a propane salesman. Dale, a chain-smoking insect exterminator. Bill, a paunchy Army barber. And Boomhauer, who thinks he’s God’s gift to women.
What’s up with that?
Cutouts of the main characters of “King of the Hill” are a roadside distraction in Kelly Hatley’s yard at the corner of Layton and East Harbor roads.
The foursome are the ragtag stars of a cartoon about the daily mundanity of life for Hank Hill’s family and their neighbors in the Texas ’burbs.
The series, which ran from 1997 to 2010 on Fox and now is shown on Comedy Central, is from Mike Judge, the creator of “Beavis and Butt-Head” and has the same crudely drawn characters, which is part of its charm. Sort of.
“I like to be different,” said Hatley, 63, an unemployed tree trimmer who put up the display about two years ago. He made the fence background and used an overhead projector to outline the painted plywood characters.
You might think this “King of the Hill” fan would answer the door wearing a white T-shirt and holding a can of beer.
Hatley had on an orange Angry Birds T-shirt and held a big-eared little dog, L.B.
“Short for Little Bastard,” he said endearingly of the chihuahua-Australian shepherd mix.
Beer is not his thing. Anymore.
“I don’t drink. Actually, I go to A.A.,” he said.
He’s used to people tramping on his lawn.
“I get people taking photographs all the time,” he said, “and apparently it’s on Facebook.”
So he’s told. He doesn’t have a computer.
Hatley said the “King of the Hill” tribute gives his Pacific Northwest digs a touch of home.
He modeled it after a mural at a store years ago in his Georgia hometown. “It reminds me of where I came from. I like the down home thing of the close community. The hillbillies down south are different than the people here.”
A laminated “King of the Hill” picture covers his toolbox in the back of his red Toyota Tundra.
So you might think this would make a newcomer from Texas feel at home in this island village.
Wanda Roe recently moved from Dallas to a house around the corner from Hatley. Dallas is near where the cartoon series is based, but they don’t glorify it like that in Texas, she said.
“I’ve never in my entire life seen ‘King of the Hill’ characters in front of somebody’s house. I don’t understand, why would you do that? I don’t get it,” Roe said.
“I told my daughter. I said, you know those wooden cutouts of snowmen we put out at Christmas? He has one for ‘King of the Hill’ and she said, ‘No way.’”
Even if it’s the talk of the block for the wrong reason, Hatley is attached to his yard art. He had a scare last year when a storm blew the figures off the fence.
“I put up a reward sign for $1,000, caught dead or alive.”
He drove around until he found the tattered remains, so he didn’t have to pay up. But it took him a month or so to repair, leaving a void in his front yard.
“I had people come to the house and knock on the door asking about what happened to the guys,” he said.
Hatley said he identifies with Hank Hill. Like Hank, he’s obsessed with his yard. Instead of manicured, though, Hatley goes for showy, with big sunflowers, wagon wheels and driftwood standing upright.
He’s a handy guy, having worked as a tree trimmer for years and running his own business in Michigan and Georgia.
Hatley said he drove through Whidbey Island about 20 years ago with his wife at the time on a vacation. They eventually broke up and he was drawn to move there three years ago after seeing it on an episode of “Tiny House Nation.”
“I watch too much TV,” he said. “I sold everything I had and drove 4,000 miles with my poor little dog.”
He’s looking for a job. Any job, he said.
Meantime, he’s got another project going in the back yard.
“I have a round hobbit door that’s about five feet,” he said. “I’m making a sweat lodge.”
At a previous house in Michigan, “I had a fence like ‘The Addams Family,’” he said.
“I like to be creative.”
Andrea Brown: firstname.lastname@example.org; 425-339-3443. Twitter @reporterbrown.
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