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Fascinating People





Wow. A '61 Chevy Apache pickup. I owned one, years- okay, decades ago.
"Cool truck. Is that a '61?"
"Yep," the guy said. Then he launched. "'60 and '61 are the only two years they had the eyebrows." (That would be turn signals and bling above the grille and headlights.) "Look. " He popped the hood. "Original six cylinder engine." The engine, the epitome of simplicity, bisected the area. A guy could almost stand in the area next to the engine and work on it. "I spent eight months nagging the guy, the original owner, to sell it to me. Finally he did, for $2,300. Then the laughed, because he bought it new for $1,800, and sold it fifty years later for a profit. I'm Russell." He shook my hand. His was ropy, thin and strong.
"How many miles on this thing?"
"The speedo broke about ten years ago, but not over a hundred thousand. The guy didn't drive it much. I rebuilt the rear end." Then he gave me a blow by blow account of the rebuilding process. Russell was buzzed, high, drunk, or all of the above. He fit right in at this place.
We were at the recycling center. When growing up, it was called a scrap yard. It did, and does, attract all kinds. Theives, lowlifes, people scratching anything to get a buck.
"Look at this," Russ pointed to the inside fender. "I put a remote fuel pump in, and it's leaked ever since. See here?" He pointed to the underside of the hood. Black markings covered the surface like grafitti. "Every thing I've done to it since I got it. You know this had more torque than a Corvette that year? And look here." We knelt and we looked underneath. "Torsion bar front suspension. No shocks or springs. Like a Corvette. And the thing gets great mileage. Thirty on the highway. Take a look at this." We looked at the dash, the steering wheel, the gearshift.
Forklifts scurried about, shuttling steel, copper and paper to their respective temporary crypts until they resurrected anew.
I told him I was a writer. "A guy wants to write my story," Russell said, "as I worked for the Department of Justice for nine years, and I got some stories."
I bet he does.
Russ told me he's a gold miner. Got to love Nevada. He's got a few claims. Sells and buys gold. "You got some gold you want to sell?" Another fellow unloads aluminum scrap from the back of the old truck.
"Nope Sorry. You got a card or something?" Russ searched his pockets and did a cursory look through the debris in the front seat. "Naw."
I gave him mine. "Call me." Why do I want him to call me? Maybe because he's so interesting to listen to. Or perhaps I was just being polite. He's not going to call. Probably lost the card already.
*****
Speaking of gold, I sold some stuff to a local gold dealer. Inside the store, gold coins, trinkets, jewely and nuggets litterd the entire place. The dealer paid me in cash. "Hang on," the man said, "Angel will escort you to your car."
Angel?
A guy walked up, burly and confident. Dark hair, barrel chested, his shirt untucked. He sure seemed Italian. Do I need the escort because of the potential danger in this neighborhood, or is it just a nice service? I hoped the latter. We headed out the door.
"You carrying?"
Angel smiled. "Always. My favorite letters of the alphabet are CCW." (Carry Concealed Weapon, for you of delicate inclinations). I wondered how many times he's said that line. I got in the car and felt like I just stepped out of a movie.

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