LOVE AMONG THE RUINS

AT GEORGE MURRAY'S JUNKYARD, PARTING OUT IS SUCH SWEET SORROW.DEARLY DE-PARTED INSIDE GEORGE MURRAY'S FINAL RUSTING PLACE.

Bob and Ray
"Ray is a premium human," Bob says. "He's worked here for ten, twelve years, and he was a homeless man when my father found him, maybe a drinking man at one point. He doesn't want this land or anything else. When he dies he'll leave nothing and have nothing, and it will be as if he never existed. That's how he wants it."
You'll have to take Bob's word for that, because Ray does not talk to people unless they've been dropping in at Murray's for half a dozen years or so--and even then, the conversation centers on cars. Ray would rather work than talk, and he puts in the same long hours that he did before George's death.

That his work these days consists of dismantling his home of the last dozen years doesn't seem to bother him. At night he cocoons in a camper on the back of a truck where he lives with an unspecified number of dogs. Each morning he starts cleaning up the yard again. Another day, another rusted auto body swinging in the trees.

Ray tells people he's not worried about the future.
"We're Irish lowlife, right, Ray?" Bob asks. "What do we have to worry about, right? Hey, Ray--what's your last name?

"I'm just Ray," says Ray.
"He's a real quiet person," Bob concludes, and he turns to greet a customer. This guy wants a transmission. Another wants a fender. "Another guy saw where a tree had grown right through these old a-oo-ga horns, and he gets all excited," Bob recalls. "He says, `Gimme a chainsaw and I'll cut those horns out and make them into a coffee table and give you 35 bucks.'" Bob shrugs. "I did it. In a year, all this will be gone."

Maybe.
Bob peers into the hoodless engine cavity of a 1937 Dodge truck. A tree had grown up through it, been gnawed down by creekside beavers, and then resprouted as a clump of saplings. You can see the beavers' teeth marks on what was once a chrome fender. The truck has fused with the earth. "How are you going to get this out?" Bob asks himself. "It's been here a long, long time. This is probably one of the last--I don't know, what would you call it? A landmark?

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