Note: The title is in reference to the Dukes of Hazard. And, for those of you who might be wondering, yes, this is a true story.
It was just another day as John pulled his pickup truck into the junkyard driveway. Being the son of a mechanic, as well as being a mechanic himself, John often frequented old junkyards in search of car parts that he could use to rebuild wrecked and otherwise unusable vehicles. Just recently he had bought the front end of an old vehicle that matched a car he was remodeling.
Briefly, he threw a glance over his shoulder at the bed of his truck. A heavy chain lay placidly there. He had often used that chain to tow old cars and trucks. To his right sat his father, Jimmy, who had come with him to give his input on the quality of John’s new prize and, if all went well, to help him hook it up and take it home.
At last they came to the main center of the junkyard: the “headquarters”, if there is such a thing in a place like that. A group of men – the owner and his three sons – sat there, poised on old crates and buckets and anything that made for a good seat. Here John brought his truck to a stop, shut off the motor, and opened the door.
“Hey, there!” he greeted, holding up his hand in salutation.
The men eyed him narrowly, but said nothing.
Jimmy came up alongside him and the two exchanged questioning glances. They stepped forward.
“Came to talk to you about that car front,” John continued.
At this point he noticed several beer bottles lying at the men’s feet and grasped in their hands. They had obviously been drinking.
Just then, the owner stood and began making his way toward them.
Good, John thought to himself. Now we can get down to business.
“I just brought my dad to-” the young man began to explain. He didn’t get much further.
“Thief!” the junkyard owner exclaimed, his speech slurred.
John blinked. The next thing he knew, the junkyard owner had launched a callused fist at Jimmy, sending him sprawling onto the dirt driveway.
“You stole it! You done stole it all!”
“What the-?” John muttered, helping his father to his feet. “What are you talking about?”
“He stole it!” the man slurred back. “And I’m gonna make ‘im pay!”
Then Jimmy opened his mouth. It is not necessary to record what he said next, but suffice to say, it was enough. The next thing Jimmy and John knew, the three sons jumped up with a hollar, grabbing tire irons and anything else weapon-like that they could find at hand.
No more needed to be said.
Like lightning, the pair darted for their truck. John yanked the driver’s side door open and bounded into the seat, slamming it behind him. Bang! The oldest brother body-slammed into the door, causing the truck to shutter.
John twisted the key in the ignition, then put the gas petal to the floor. The truck lurched forward over the uneven surface of the driveway as John spun the wheels toward what looked like another way out. He hadn’t gone very far, however, before he realized that way was a dead-end.
Quickly he whipped the truck around, pausing briefly to change the gears. Their attackers swarmed the truck like a colony of angry ants, taking this small pause as an opportunity to get at the pair in the truck. The oldest brother bounded over the side of the truck bed. The owner climbed up on the tailgate, one foot in and one foot out.
Just then, John floored it, sending the owner tumbling off the back end of the truck. The older brother braced himself to keep himself put.
Seeing that John and Jimmy were headed toward the exit, the youngest brother took off down the driveway. A metal gate sat open at the entrance to the junkyard, and he meant to shut it, cutting off all escape.
John pressed the gas petal down even harder, as though that would somehow help them move faster than they were already going. All of a sudden the back window exploded in a collection of clashing and clattering. The older brother was still in the back and he had thrown the heavy towing chain right through the window.
The young mechanic glanced back at his attacker, and his eyes widened in horror. The older brother had grabbed the edge of the broken-out window with one hand to steady himself. In the other hand he held a pocket knife, and John had no doubt that he meant to use it.
The young man ducked as the blade glanced past him. He felt a searing pain shoot through his arm when the blade hit its mark. Plastering himself to the wheel, John locked his eyes on the exit and the gate that was quickly closing before him.
“Don’t stop, John! Don’t stop!” Jimmy exclaimed, gripping the edge of his seat, his eyes wide in terror.
“No kidding!” was all John could blurt out in response.
The blade still slashing back and forth behind him, pieces of glass clinking and clattering off the bench seat and onto the floor at his feet, John locked his eyes on the gate. The younger brother had gotten it closed and was about to lock it when the truck came flying toward him.
Though the alcohol was still heavy on his brain, instinct told him to get out of the way. That truck was not stopping for anything. He darted out of the way just in time. The truck hit the gate, tearing it off its hinges. The marred metal wrapped itself around the front end of the truck, and they went on.
They were now on the dirt road, but the oldest brother was still hanging on firmly, bent on getting in a good stab. The broken glass under his hand cut deep into his flesh, but still he hung on.
Bang! Bump! Clatter! The twisted metal gate fell off the front and the trunk went barreling over it.
Desperate to escape his attacker, John began to swerve back and forth across the road, hoping the jerking movements and high speed would cause the man in the back to lose his grip. No such luck. Still the knife waved dangerously close to him.
All at once they came up to the paved road. John braced himself and he swerved onto it. The truck tipped up onto one side, still speeding along. John glanced back. His attacker was still there!
The truck came back down to earth with a thud and a jolt, and John resumed his swerving. All at once, however, the oldest brother lost his grip. With one more swerve of the truck, he went sailing out the back.
At last John let up on the gas petal. He felt sick to his stomach. He just knew he had killed the guy. No way someone could survive a fall like that.
The adrenaline was still pumping through his veins when he finally glanced over at his father. The older man was still sitting there, his eyes wide as saucers.
Just then, John noticed a cop car pulled off to the side of the road. Here he stopped. The cop looked up at them curiously, then got out to see what was going on. John gave him a brief explanation of what had happened.
“Come on with me to the station and we’ll file a report,” he said.
The pair didn’t protest.
A few minutes later John and Jimmy found themselves in the police station, writing up a report about the junkyard guys.
Just then, the phone rang.
“Hello?” the policeman answered. A grin crept onto his face, then he replied, “Well, they’re here filing a report against you.”
A moment later he set the phone back down, then looked up at the two mechanics. There was no need to explain what that had been about.
“Don’t worry,” he said, taking their finished report from them. “This isn’t the first time something like this has happened with those guys. They’ve already been kicked out of several towns because of their behavior.”
Several years later, Jimmy walked into a store. He glanced up and gave a start of surprise when, there before him, he saw the older brother who had been so adamant about stabbing John that day at the junkyard. The memory of the event flashed through his mind as though it had just happened. He could still remember the adrenaline rush and the fear that had pulsed in his veins that day.
For several minutes, he debated whether or not he should say anything. Then, getting up the courage, he approached the other man.
“Hey,” he said, getting the man’s attention. “Remember me.”
The other man looked at him for a split second, then grinned broadly and replied, “I sure do.”
He was different this time, however. Not aggressive. Not drunk. Just a regular person.
At that the two men began to discuss the run-in they had had all those years ago.
“Yeah,” the junkyard guy laughed sheepishly. “We were so drunk, it wasn’t even funny. I don’t know what on earth we thought we were doing.”
“You know,” Jimmy mused, “looking back on it, I think that would make an awesome movie! Don’t you?”
“Sure,” the other man laughed. “But you’ll have to get someone else to play my part. That hurt!”