Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “All that Glitters is Not Gold” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/24/08)
TITLE: The Collector
By Judy Bowers
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As a passerby, I began to wonder about the ways in which people survive the things that happen to them. I wondered about the ways in which self-pity, anger, and even despair can overwhelm and destroy them. I wondered if such a plethora of objects, however useless, offered the illusion of wealth to someone who had none.
So I began to listen. Folks say that at one time Daren and his family lived in a small, but adequate, house on their two acres of land. The lawn was a lush green. Flowers and fruit trees abounded. Then his wife left him.
Shortly afterward the insurance investigator determined that the house fire had been deliberately set so the company refused to pay any claim. Then an aging, rusty house trailer was hauled onto the property. From the remaining garage, the sounds of welding could occasionally be heard.
The grass quickly disappeared as more and more disabled cars and other vehicles were dumped upon the land. Neighbors began to hear gunshots as target practice became a favorite pastime. Soon the entire two acres was filled with unsightly objects because only rarely was any vehicle hauled away.
Truck loads of wood and tree trunks were dumped for burning during boisterous campfires which extended into the early morning hours. Cars began to stop there and while the driver waited with the car engine running, a passenger would go to the trailer door for some reason. One of the pit bulls or the lone goat would sometimes escape their chains. Whenever neighbors would return the straying animal, Daren would, with a sweeping gesture of his arm, say, “there’s money in all of this.” Neighbors silently wondered how much money could be in vehicles that simply sat and rusted away.
Daren’s place became a reference point for locals when giving directions. “It’s the first right after the metal sculpture garden, “ one would say. Or from the other direction, it might be, “if you get to the metal sculpture garden you’ve gone too far.”
The sun shone as brightly on those two acres as on any other and its light often reflected off the glass or the metal of some discarded vehicle. It rained as regularly on those two acres as on any other in the community, but the rain no longer nourished grass and flowers. It watered the trees growing up through the abandoned vehicles. It left mud holes in areas where the grass had died. It watered the patches of wild blackberries growing among the metal yard art.
Recently, red tags appeared on most of the vehicles on Daren’s cluttered land and many vehicles have now been removed. Folks say that one evening the local police made an unannounced visit to the place. They confiscated illegal drugs, found numerous firearms with the serial numbers filed off, and identified various stolen vehicles.
What now remains are large muddy holes, stacks of worn out tires, piles of debris, and several patches of wild blackberries which perhaps the birds can enjoy. Some say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, but I am wondering how much treasure can exist in that much trash.
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