The last time I visited a junkyard I was 17 and in search for parts for my 1997 GMC truck that I was slowly rebuilding after spraying it all over a highway in a bad car accident. The truck was totaled but I was too stubborn to junk it, so here I was looking for parts to get my first car back on the road. As I walked through the acres of wrecks, I kept hearing the sound of silence. There are few places in this world that can make you uncomfortable because of their unique blend of quiet. Silence has a sound, it’s the sound of your mind running wild. You can hear it at graveyards, deserts, complete darkness, any abandoned building, and junkyards. Places so quiet your mind cannot help but fill in the silence with day dreams, fears, suspicions, memories, or even music. It’s why most of us get the sensation that something is going to jump out at us when we have a quiet dark room behind our backs as we walk towards a light switch. My mind was jamming out to the sound of silence by creating back stories for every wreck I saw on the lot. Every junked car has a story, a wrecked diary.
In my search for a hood and right fender for my truck I came across a set of twin Ford Mustangs. I say twin because they were both silver 2005 models parked side by side. They were identical in every way except for how they ended up here. The one of the left looked like a shark had taken a bite and eaten half of its frontend, upon closing inspection I noticed it was not missing just compressed inwards towards the driver side like a crumbled soda can. I looked inside the interior to see exploded airbags and dark spots on the driver seat which I suspected was dried blood. What really got to me was that the windshield had a human size hole on the passenger side of the car. Drunk driver came to mind, or a driver that simply ran out of talent while carrying a passenger that ran out of luck. The second Mustang on the right looked like had taken the highway to hell since it was just a burnt marshmallow of a car. The only reason I knew it was silver was because the bumpers still showed its original silver paint instead of the orange rust coated bare metal of the rest of the car. No interior in the car, just leftover relics of leather, plastic, and metal. Cold chills ran over me wondering if the owners of these cars met with similar fates.
Another four wheeled tombstone I saw was a blue and yellow 2002 Crown Victoria. The paint scheme made it look like it once worked as a taxi cab, then I saw the small badge on the trunk lid that read Police Interceptor. A real work horse. A car that spent its whole life serving the community chasing bad guys and then shuffling tourists around town until it was finally retired at the age of half a million miles to rot on a lot. I felt sorry for this car, like a horse being worked to death and then sold off to be turned into glue and dog food. This car did its job well and was rewarded with cobwebs and a life sentence until Mother Nature claims it and swallows it back into the earth. I was on my own when I was looking for parts so the only noise was the wind rustling through the metallic corpuses of abandoned combustors as my boots crushed sand and pieces of glass through the yard.
One unusual car was this 80s Cadillac hearse that was sitting on flat tires next to a stripped out school bus that was used as a storage container for used transmissions. You could cut the irony with a knife on this old hearse, you probably need a one to cut away the decades of cobwebs and dust on this car. Kept thinking it be pretty spooky seeing this thing speeding down the highway in this condition with the grim reaper behind the wheel, shooting flames out the back. A car built to be the last ride, eventually took its final ride. As the old saying goes, the dead travel fast.
A minivan with its roof caved in sat as knee high grass slowly grew around it. As I walked past it I noticed the side door was missing and the only thing I could see was a much neglected stuffed animal, the kind a small child would play with. My heart wanted to sink when I saw the toy, because that probably meant a small child was in this van and the van looked like it had cartwheeled its way down an Interstate. All the windows had been shattered and the van’s body had gone from a box to a freeform shape due to the accident.
When I finally found a truck that I could get parts off from, I came across a bright yellow front fender that belong to a 2010 Camaro. I couldn’t believe that someone had already wiped out a brand new Camaro. I figured it was probably somebody around my age who, “borrowed”, it from his father or a spoiled kid with a trust fund who didn’t know how to counter steer. I never saw the rest of the car, just that one lonely fender sitting on a rack full of different car parts.
Eventually I did find what I was looking for, paid for my parts, and made my way back to the city. The whole drive I could not help but think that my truck almost ended up in that place. Just another wreck with stories that’ll never get told, and memories left to be forgotten. I look at my truck now, looking better than ever, and sometimes think back to the day of the accident. I’m grateful that neither one of us ended up on a lot to rot. Tough to imagine what some other 17 year old kid would have thought of my wrecked truck if they ran into it at a junkyard. Thankfully, it’s a lot easier to know what he thinks when he sees it cruising down the street. Be careful out on the road everyone!