Monday, March 07, 2005


~ It can be unnerving to walk through a graveyard at night. To some, any time of the day is a good time not to be in one. Ancient fears and superstitions have long fueled man's dread and respect for the departed.
~ It was an autumn afternoon that found me recently exploring such a place. After only a short walk, I was out of sight of the entrance. Surrounded by the numerous resting places, I could almost sense the memories of their past lives. Each and everyone had its own unique story. Some had lived long and productive lives, while others had been in existence for only a brief time.
~ They were lined row upon row. The newer arrivals were sharing rows with the older ones. In some areas they were packed so close to their neighbors, there was scarcely enough room to pass between them. A dread came upon me and I hoped I wasn't disturbing the peace they so deserved. A whisper of wind caressed the oak trees overlooking the scene, their branches creaking eerily in protest. A startled bird took flight somewhere behind me. I was nervous enough as I watched it land in another tree.
~ I silently wished that I was here solely to pay respect to the dead. Such was not the case, as my goal would desecrate the sanctity of this place. I could only take solace in the knowledge that there were others out there with the same intentions. We were all looking for the same thing, seeking the same treasures. The sooner we found them, the sooner we could leave this graveyard.
~ The inhabitants were quiet, showing no reaction to our intrusion. They protested not as we began to harvest parts from their bodies. The skeletons of some were picked clean, victimized at some earlier time. Others, the newest of the arrivals, were nearly whole and ripe for scavenging.
~ The junkyard, a graveyard for automobiles, was a Mecca for those handy enough to repair their own vehicles. Once found the right model becomes a horn of plenty. The scene around me brought back memories of the cars I had owned over the years. I had not thought of my dearly departed ones in some time. I have never visited them at their final resting places, indeed I don't even know where they were taken. I had seen them towed away by the hearse with the winch and chains.
~ Somewhere out there rests the '67 Pontiac Custom. Maybe the '62 Bel Air is near by. The image of the powder blue Pinto wagon and the canary yellow Vega formed in my head. My wife's favorite car, a Buick Somerset had the misfortune to be totaled while parked in front of our house. I loved the boat we had, an '83 Buick Le Sabre. The two hundred thirty thousand miles had proved too much for its tired transmission. Next came the Volkswagen Golf. It was yielded to the Grim Reaper for need of a ring and valve job. I guess my favorite was the '87 Olds Cutlass. I lost her in the only accident I have ever had, sliding on an icy street through a red light until broadsiding a Pakistani in his new minivan. My wife had a Mazda by the time I obtained an '88 Nissan pickup. Her Mazda, broadsided by a Jeep Cherokee, and the Nissan unable to pass the safety inspection, left us within weeks of each other.
~ The vehicles of our past had served us well during their stay with us. We have no regrets for those relationships. Today my wife drives a Ford Escort, a smaller cousin of my daughter's Taurus. As for me, I stayed with a pickup truck, finding a clean GMC Sonoma with low mileage.
~ I suppose at some point, our departed vehicles have also been cannibalized to help others. A distributor here, a tail light lens there, their contributions are felt even in death.
~ Having found the gas cap I desired from a similar Sonoma pickup, I left behind the junked remains. I and my Sonoma, grateful to the silent donor, drove off with the graveyard dwindling in the rear view mirror. From the body of someone's dearly departed, a piece of it will live on.
~ So it goes with this kind of operation, an autotopsy.
No. 68

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