The air was still, save for the occasional hawking of sullen crow, and the far off whine of a forgotten hound. I strolled slowly through the rusty graveyard, pausing here and there to imagine the stories that each of the discarded hulls would tell, if only they could speak.
Some, were evidently ancient. They had lived a long and fruitful existence, before coming to their final resting place. Their thick skins and bulky form were mute testament to the quality of the steel used in bygone eras. They don’t make cars like they used to, built to last.
Others were newer, and had lived shorter lives. These had not died slowly of old age, but had been torn violently from life, and ripped asunder. Their bodies dragged here, still seeping their life’s blood, to be abandoned; beyond repair. Their fate: to be stripped down for anything still worthy of consideration.
Turning the corner, I stopped in my tracks. There, at the end of a small cul-de-sac, stood a strange steel edifice. At first, it seemed out of place. On further consideration, it seemed oddly appropriate to find it here, amongst the dead.
A rusty old girder had been driven into the hard packed dirt, another welded on to it at an askew angle. I knew that it was supposed to represent a cross, though the angles were all wrong. Despite that, for some reason it worked. Lashed and welded to the rusted orange steel was an array of stainless silver piping, forming the robotic manikin of the dying Christ. Rusty iron bolts had been drilled through the cleverly-crafted hands and feet, and a coil of razor wire decorated the glittering steel head.
The artist, whoever they were, had even taken the time to splatter brass soldering around the bolts; the metal Christ figure bleeding droplets of golden blood. More brass droplets dribbled down the side of the body from a rough gash in the trunk of the sculpture. This, I knew, was to signify the spear that pierced the side of the son of God.
I looked up into the scarred face, staring deeply into the dark black eyes of the figurine. The artist had used a pair of welding goggled for these and steel wool for its bedraggled, rusty hair. The effect was somewhat haunting.
I am not a religious man, despite the best efforts of the nuns during my childhood, or perhaps because of it, but I was still moved by the pain I sensed within the steel body. Despite my firm atheism, I felt moved to be in the presence of this idol.
I had to wonder who had placed this statue here, and why?
Did the owner of the scrap yard come here at night to pray, or did he even know of the statue’s existence amidst the acres of steel, Plexiglas and mouldering rubber?
Was this shrine build for the dead cars, so that their spirits could be at peace as they slowly rotted away into the dirt?
In a hundred years, could you excavate the oil-tainted soil beneath my feet and find the rusty bones of an old Ford in the latter stages of decomposition?
I slowly got onto my knees to say a silent, and somewhat ironic, prayer to the souls of the dead around me. I may not have a Christian bone left in my body, but my spirit was pure petrol-head.