Reds Auto Salvage by Hugh Dudley (a short story) C2010
The old saying "You can never go back" is true in most senses, but not in this case. You see...when I was just a young teenager building my first car, there was a place called Reds Auto Salvage....or just Reds for short. He had all kinds of neat stuff dating back into the late 30's and that made it a wonderland to a guy like me. Old Red was kind of a grumpy type fella.....if he didn't like you,... you were doomed, but if he did...the playground was yours to enjoy. He took a liking to me early on in my visits to his fine establishment. I guess I reminded him of himself when he was young, I felt at home there among the bent and rusty remains of Detroits finest creations and I admired the style and simplicity of yesterdays engineering. He would always ask me.. "Bubba...what 'chew lookin' fer?" and my standard answer was..." Dunno Red... but I'll know it when I see it". It always made him giggle a bit but he always let me wander in his field of dreams.
Some parts I paid for in cash...some we would trade my labor . He would stand there propped up against his ramshackle office and grin at me through tobacco stained teeth and we would work out a trade.. his hands shoved deep the pockets of his tattered overalls...."Here's the deal....yank the 283 outta that 58 Chevy and the rear end outta that white Falcon wagon over there and you get the bucket seats outta that Pontiac and the 4 speed you been buggin' me about...deal ?? He then would offer the biggest hand I ever seen to shake on it and he always gave me a fair deal. I moved away after high school and life took me in another direction for many years. I sorta forgot about Red and his wonderful yard.
I found out 30 years later that Red had passed away and the land was being sold for a strip mall. Curiosity I know killed the cat...but now it was killing me. I had to go take one last look. I figured that all would be left would be a dirt patch.....but as I pulled into the overgrown driveway I discoved how wrong I was. The fence was still there with a faded sign that was just barely readable....but I knew what it said because I had lettered it for him decades ago. Peeking through the chainlink gate there they were......the cars were still there ! Overgrown with weeds and small trees....but they were there as was his office that I thought would have fallen down by now. Looking around to see if anyone was watching I shook the lock on the gate...the same lock he had on it way back when I was a regular visitor. Damn......I got to get in and take a look around., then I remembered a bad spot in the fence. Could I still fit? I had to try.....I ripped a hole in my shirt squeezing though and the extra years and added pounds didn't help in my endevor but I managed to succeed.
It was getting late in the afternoon and with the time change it would be dark soon so I had to make this trek back in time quick . About 20 steps into the yard stepping over various bits of pieces strewn about I noticed a change......It was stone silent....no noise anywhere...just the crunch of the gravel under my shoes and I felt like I was on hollowed ground ....after all it was the final resting place of some of finest cars ever built. I quickly checked a couple of the buildings and found them filled with dust covered parts and spiderwebs draping from the ceilings...it looked like time had stood still and I guess it had for these parts left behind. I found some of the cars I had robbed parts off of so many years ago and it brought back memories of simpler times. The darkness was moving in quick so I headed toward the gate trying to remember where the bad spot in the fence was....oh man.....where is it? Looking around something shiney caught my eye hanging on the side of the old office. I stepped over to take a closer look only to discover it was a key....no way....could it be for the gate?..I grabbed it and for the lock I went...to my amazement It fit !! I let myself out and locked it back . Looking down at the key in my hand I wanted to keep it as a souvenier of good times from the past but I decided to toss it over the gate back in where it belonged because a bulldozer doesn't need a gate key. As I watched it sail into the darkness I could have sworn I saw a big hand snag it in mid flight......sending a chill through me as I turned to walk away. I stopped for one last look and said out loud...." See you later Red....thanks for everything" and took the long drive back home from my youth.