Today Kelsey and I went to the salvage yard. We had a couple of sewing machines to get rid of. One of them a neighbor gave us a few years ago. They didn't know where it came from or if it worked, but we needed one, so they handed it over. It didn't work. The other was Eric's mom's, which also didn't work. Kelsey was upset we were getting rid of something of Grandma Max's until she found out it was useless. Eric swore at that thing for years.
Anyway, the salvage yard. It's much like any other junk yard/recycling center – it's a pit. But it's close and they take almost everything. So we walked in and there was no one there, just the sound of a radio and the smell of grease and spoilage. Kelsey started fanning her nose. We looked around and finally I decided to just start walking through the discarded chunks of American consumerism awaiting dismantling, melting and repurposing. Past the smashed bits of vehicle but before the wasteland of dehumidifiers, a man poked his head at me.
"Are you looking for Maury?" he asked, coming a little closer and wiping his blackened hands on an equally blackened towel.
"I just want to get rid of some stuff," I said.
"Go through that gray door," he said, pointing toward a gray door that said the area was for hard hats and employees only. We went through, stepping carefully over the piles of debris and oil-soaked dirt.
On the other side of the door, the room was quiet. Out back were more heaps of metal and plastic. Trucks awaited emptying and filling, and a crane stood idle. There were three rows of conveyor belts. Directly in front of us were about 15 carburetors. Past that were air conditioners, and past that it's anyone's guess. Assorted pieces of machinery were in various states of disassembly and the space between the rows was taken up with absolutely anything imaginable that might have some metal on it. There was even a Trek mountain bike that appeared to be in pretty good shape except for a bit of rust around the brake calipers. I wondered if that was there for recycling or if it was something Maury rode to work.
I called out, "Hello?" No answer. "Hello?" Nothing.
Kelsey kept my hand tight and close as I scanned for signs of life. There was a large, gray door that said in white letters, "KEEP DOOR LOCKED AT ALL TIMES." It was open, so we walked toward it through the metal graveyard where something was hissing its last gasp on the conveyor belt.
Nearing the door, we heard a voice. It sounded like Maury was on the phone.
We got to the open door that was supposed to be locked. I gave a quick glance inside and saw stairs and another open door that led to what must have been a break room. The voice was close, but still a little muffled. I called again. "Hello?"
"What do you need?" came the voice, closer than I expected, and I looked through the door and around the corner. The voice came from behind another door that read, "TOILET."
I smiled and said I wondered if I could drop off some stuff.
"I'll be out in a minute."
Kelsey and I hurried back to the door that said hard hats and employees only. I didn't want to be standing there when he flushed. I wondered if he would flush at all, if he would be too embarrassed to flush after being caught talking on the phone taking a dump in a dump. He did. He washed his hands, too, not that anyone could tell, and he was dripping in sweat. I can only wonder if it was very hot in the john or if he had an excruciating time of it. Like a dog shitting peach pits, he was.
"Whaddya got?" he asked, coming nearer, a dubious expression on his face.
"Can you take old sewing machines?" In a moment of feminine passivity, I didn't know if they'd be interested in something so paltry. I mean, I wasn't delivering half a Buick.
"I'll take a look at 'em."
As I led him to my car, which looks like a four-door Smart Car, he asked, "Are they pretty big?"
He said he'd take them. I should back my car up and just leave them by the green sign. He'd pick them up.
So that's what we did.
Across the street, the upscale coffee roaster billowed light, gray smoke and the bitter smell of burning beans into the industrial air.