Tag Archives: John

junkyard barter by juleshg

9 Jan

Standing in the marble lobby of the trendy Empire Hotel, John wondered if he looked as out-of-place as he felt. As looked around he saw several men wearing tailored European suits worth more money than he had made last month.  Not that he was struggling for money. In fact, this year was shaping up to be a good one and he hoped that trend would continue once he handed the reigns of the family business over to his brother so he could ‘pursue other career interests’.

Robert had seen right through that story. His kid brother loved the family business and could never fully understand why John had worked so hard to distance himself from the company their father had poured his heart and soul into. But John had hated the junk yard ever since he was a little boy.

His friends, however, thought it was fabulous and they begged John’s dad to take them on tours of the lot. Some days John would return home from school to find a dozen of his buddies following the old man around. But never John. He hated the fact that his family was the guardian of a glorified garbage dump; buying and selling the old heaps that no longer worked, that no one wanted any more. When he reached his teenage years the appeal only grew stronger for his friends. They would come by and chat with his father about their car problems and he would spend hours helping them to find the replacement parts they needed in the lot out back.  He would pull an old wrench out of a pocket of his filthy overalls and climb over scrap piles knowing exactly where to find the old car they needed to raid.  No matter how rusted or dirty or hard-to-reach the old car was he would emerge with the part in hand and a smile on is face so wide you would swear that he had discovered a treasure.

He never charged them a dime. John knew that his father enjoyed sharing his love of old cars with whoever had stopped by and for him that was payment enough. Even in the lean years, he gave away carburetors and fuel pumps that could have boosted their profits in exchange for a long chat and a cup of coffee with a fellow car lover.

Robert would do the same no doubt and the business would be in the same shape it was in when he returned home to take the helm two years ago. His father had dropped dead of a heart attack one afternoon as he was trying to find a headlight for a 1971 Camaro being restored by a twenty-year old kid that the old man had befriended.  Robert still had to finish college and John’s mother begged him to stand in so Robert could finish his education. As the junkyard was the family’s only source of income someone needed to keep it afloat and that fell to John.

His wife Sandra was furious but tried to hide it and told John that she fully understood. Of course he needed to support his family:it was the right thing to do. But in his mind’s eye he recalled the look of horror on her face when he first brought her home for his father’s funeral and she realized the true nature of the ‘family business’ he had been so vague about.

“A junk yard! Your family owns the junk yard,” she sputtered as they pulled up in their rented sports car. The shock only worsened when she realized that he had grown up in a small apartment upstairs from the main office just past the front gate. He had dreaded this moment for the full three years he had been with Sandra. The moment when she would finally look at him as the junk man’s son. The man she met — the man she fell in love with — was a business consultant in a big city. He wondered if she could be just as happy as the wife of a scrap yard operator.

It turned out that she couldn’t. The day after Robert walked down the aisle in his cap and gown she had given him the ultimatum. “You have two months to get us out of here. Two months or I am leaving here alone.”

So here he sat waiting to meet with his new boss. Malcolm Chambers understood his hiatus from the business world because he was running his family business as well. Chambers and Associates may have been Malcolm’s junkyard but to John it was an oasis. Funny enough, they had met in this very hotel only a week earlier when John overheard Malcolm telling a colleague about a part he needed for an old Ford Mustang he was refurbishing on the weekends. John gave him his card and when Malcolm showed up the next day he gave him an alternator in exchange for a new job as a business consultant. It was the kind of deal his father would have respected.

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