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The last time I visited a junkyard I was 17 and in search of parts for the 1997 GMC truck that I was slowly rebuilding after totaling it in a bad car accident. I was too stubborn to junk it, so I decided to look for parts to get my first car back on the road.

A junkyard’s unique blend of quiet can make you feel discomfort like few places in the world. Silence has a sound. It’s the sound of your mind running wild. You can hear it in graveyards, deserts, complete darkness, abandoned building and junkyards— places so quiet your mind cannot help but fill in the silence with daydreams, fears, suspicions, memories or even music. This quiet is why most of us get the sensation that something is going to jump out at us when we walk into a quiet, dark room towards a light switch.

My mind was jamming out to the sound of silence by creating back stories for every wreck I saw on the lot. Every junked car has a story, a wrecked diary.

In my search for a hood and right fender for my truck, I came across a set of twin Ford Mustangs. They were both silver 2005 models parked side by side. They were identical in every way except for how they ended up in a junkyard.

The one on the left looked like a shark had taken a bite and eaten half of its front-end. Upon closer inspection, I noticed it was not missing, just compressed inwards towards the driver side like a crumbled soda can. I looked inside the interior to see exploded airbags and dark spots on the driver seat, which I suspected was dried blood. What really got to me was that the windshield had a human size hole on the passenger side of the car. A drunk driver came to mind, or a driver who ran out of luck.

The second Mustang on the right looked like it had taken the highway to hell since it was just a burnt marshmallow of a car. The only reason I knew it was silver was because the bumpers still showed its original silver paint instead of the orange rust that coated the entire car. The interior was non existent, just leftover relics of leather, plastic and metal. Cold chills ran over me as I wondered if the owners of these cars met similar fates.

Another four-wheeled tombstone I saw was a blue and yellow 2002 Crown Victoria. The paint scheme resembled a taxi cab, and then I saw the small badge on the trunk lid that read “Police Interceptor.” A real work horse. A car that spent its whole life serving the community chasing bad guys and then shuffling tourists around town until it was finally retired at the age of half a million miles. I felt sorry for this car, like a horse being worked to death and then sold off to be turned into glue and dog food. This car did its job well and was rewarded with cobwebs and a life sentence until Mother Nature claimed it and swallowed it back into the earth. I was on my own when I was looking for parts so the only noise was the wind rustling through the metallic corpuses of abandoned combustors as my boots crushed sand and pieces of glass through the yard.

One unusual car was an 80s Cadillac hearse that was sitting on flat tires next to a stripped out school bus that was used as a storage container for old transmissions.

I kept thinking it would be pretty spooky seeing this thing speeding down the highway in this condition with the grim reaper behind the wheel, shooting flames out the back. A car built to be the last ride eventually took its final ride. As the old saying goes, the dead travel fast.

A minivan with a collapsed roof remained stationary as grass slowly grew to knee high height around the base. As I walked past the van, I noticed the side door was missing. The only recognizable object was a neglected stuffed animal reminiscent of a small child’s play toy. My heart wanted to sink when I saw the toy because that probably meant a small child was in this van, and the van looked like it had cartwheeled its way down an interstate. All the windows had been shattered and the van’s body had gone from a box to a freeform shape.

When I finally found a truck that I could use parts from, I came across a bright yellow front fender that belonged to a 2010 Camaro. I couldn’t believe that someone had already wiped out a brand new Camaro. I figured it was probably somebody around my age who, “borrowed,” it from his father or a spoiled kid with a trust fund who didn’t know how to counter steer. I never saw the rest of the car, just that one lonely fender sitting on a rack full of different car parts.

Eventually I did find what I was looking for, paid for my parts and made my way back to the city. During the drive, I could not help but think that my truck almost ended up in that lot. Just another wreck with stories that’ll never get told and memories left to be forgotten.

I look at my truck now, looking better than ever, and sometimes think back to the day of the accident. I’m grateful that neither one of us ended up rotting in a lot. Tough to imagine what some other 17-year-old kid would have thought of my wrecked truck if they ran into it at a junkyard. Thankfully, it’s a lot easier to know what he thinks when he sees it cruising down the street. Be careful out on the road, everyone!

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