“That’s a lot of metal,” was the first thing he said, smiling as he saw my problem. I replied, “I know.”
The piles of debris in my yard grew skyward. At first it was a bucket of used nails, then a curtain rod, then lamps, then machinery. Slowly, like a magnet, the pile had pulled in all the leftover metal I could find. I thought I could save everything, see how it worked, make it work again, or make something else out of it, but that idea didn’t stick. And besides, my buildings were collapsing under the weight.
He liked the refrigerators because they were good for stuffing other, smaller metal into. I loaded several onto his trailer, dumping mini-piles of small scrap into them. He took all the vacuum cleaners for the copper in their windings. The lawn mowers were mostly
worthless, but his son liked to tinker. His daughter liked old license plates, so I sent her a bundle. He saved the chairs for the top. They’d work like a net to hold the scrap together. The old boiler would go into the woods behind his house, in steel piles he described as hundreds of times larger than what I had. “That’s a lot of metal,” I said. He replied, “I know.” Looking straight at me he continued, “Steel isn’t worth shit because of Trump.” It would sit in his woods until the next election, or some sort of international trade deal, I guess.
All the wire I could find went to Metal Man. He strips it bare while watching TV at night. He told me about his dead son and the medical bills. His wife had just been along for the ride, it seemed, but comforted him now. He wasn’t afraid to show emotion. She told me there was a lawsuit. We added air to the tires of his trailer, now flattened under the weight. The bed of his truck was reserved for the good stuff; copper pipe, working batteries, a mirror he wanted for his place.
He’s been back a few times now, always leaving with a trailer full of scrap. It takes him a long time to tie everything down. I give him rope for the things that seem likely to bounce free. “The last thing you want is to mess up someone else’s day when something flies off.” I replied, “I know.”