There’s a story with every car in the yard.
He was dirty, he had been working all morning, taking a transmission out of one car and removing a drive shaft from another, he said.
He pointed to a brutally wrecked white truck. The weather was cold. The wind was blowing. The ground was muddy. I tried to side step a low spot filled with water. I had my hands in my coat pockets. I wished I had worn a hat.
“They brought that one in last week. The kid wrapped it around a telephone pole. There’s the front bumper.”
It looked like a giant chrome horseshoe to me.
“Killed the kid driving it. I went to school with his father.”
We walked on past what was left. Once upon a time, it was a nice truck. The steering wheel was bent. I tried not to think.
“These kids, they think just because they’re in a pickup truck or a car, they’re safe and they can do whatever they want to do. They want to see how fast they can go. But I see what happens to them every day. We’ve got another one coming in tomorrow. We get a lot of these around this time of the year, you know, the weather and all that.”
I was in a junk yard. He was the owner. We were just walking and talking. I was looking for a tail light for my own truck.
We were standing by a burned out wreck. “I don’t know what happened here. The insurance company called and brought it to us.” What was left looked like it lost a battle with a dump truck or a bulldozer, then they burned it for spite.
My wife and I raised three boys. I know we sent four cars and trucks to the junkyard, totaled beyond repair. There was a story with each one.
I looked around. Hundreds of cars, hundreds of stories. Banged fenders, dents on the side, broken windows, and a lot worse.
Back in the back is where he kept the old cars, some of them have been there for decades I’d bet they’ve been there since I was in high school. Classic rust and ruin.
“What’s the most interesting thing you’ve found in these cars?” I asked. I wanted to change the subject.
“Down behind the back seat one time, I found a vintage Babe Ruth baseball card, in a gold case. It’s in perfect condition. I have it in my office. I guess it’s worth $60 or $70 dollars. I looked it up on E-bay.” He was proud and you could hear it in his voice.
“And, another time, I found a brand new Zippo lighter, still in the box. It had a picture of Elvis engraved on it. I gave that to my wife. She’s still in love with Elvis you know. She’s got that lighter on her curio cabinet right now. She collects Elvis stuff.”
There’s always a story to tell.
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