On my walk along the road side, I noticed that someone placed a large used truck tire with rusted brim up against a street sign. The perfect item to write a short story on how it may have ended up on the side of the road. This is part of a series about ‘Things I Find On The Side Of The Road.’ by Elizabeth McLaughlin
It was sunrise and there Frank sat at a worn out marbled linoleum topped, chrome legged kitchen table contemplating about that days work. Usually the last sip of hot strong coffee from his favorite diner sized ceramic mug always tasted its best! Being in the demolition business presented a different challenge each day and often required going into Trenton where most of his client base resided. This particular job Jason was going to assist Frank with the removal of a dilapidated commercial warehouse and was already on his way to work. Although, Frank was a contractor he held an intrinsic conservative work ethic rule. His grandfather always instilled into him that everyone was to be on time whenever it was his dime.
Trenton could be a very sketchy place to work and the warehouse location was far from being situated where modern industry flourished. Frank made a left hand turn onto Chambers Street and the only sign of life was an oversized rat scurrying across the broad street. Abandoned, skeletal framed warehouses were sandwiched in-between a few vacant row houses. All scheduled for demolition to make room for future development. The old red Mac Truck made its way down a weeded, broken black top driveway, its heavy wide tires drove over parts of broken porcelain sinks and grey metal file cabinets. From a few partially glossed windows faux brown leather office reception chairs dangerously dangled and could crash onto the street at any given time. Jason stood at the entrance to the warehouse, holding two cups of coffee. “This place sure does look like the creepiest job site we have ever worked”, said Jason. Frank nodded and took a sip of coffee and placed it onto a window ledge and then reached into his denim coat pocket for a key to the padlock. And, with a stern look in his eyes, Frank ordered, “Today we have to inspect the structure and start moving some debris out, tomorrow the rest of the crew will come with heavier equipment.” Jason’s eyes almost rolled over thinking how dumb it was to think it really mattered unlocking the padlock because just a few feet away a portion of metal siding was peeled off the exterior wall. However, Jason knew better and restrained his emotions because it would only stir bad feelings with his macho boss. Frank yanked the brittle deteriorating doors and suddenly both became unhinged, twisted and dropped with a loud bang landing at their feet. They peered upward to see a few wooden ceiling beams had collapsed. “This building is supposed to be just debri”, Frank gasped. Jason could not believe it, huge wooden spools of cables lined the warehouse floor and at the far end on the second level he spotted a leaded glass enclosed room. “That must be the office, let’s check it out, we can get a better view from that platform”, Frank said. The rotted out wooden stairs were very unstable but Jason volunteered to be first and test its integrity. The antiquated staircase had two platforms and after arriving safely to the first it was Franks turn. Although Frank had a lifetime of experience dodging debri he still took cautious steps, one at a time only to feel the staircase swaying back and forth with each step taken. CRACK! One step collapsed under Franks weight but he was able to recover by balancing most of his weight onto the railing. Upon reaching the platform they both gazed in amazement at the expansive structure. Architecturally beautiful for its industrial days, massive wooden beams formed a linear perspective of pure elegance from the 1800’s. The sun shone a hazy beam of light through the roof-top. Pigeons circled and landed at the other end of the warehouse. “Those F-ing, stinking pigeons made nests inbetween all those iron beams.”, “Now, Terry did not tell me it was a warehouse for old suspension bridge parts. This could be part of the freaking Brooklyn Bridge”, screamed Frank! His voice echoed and bounced off the brick walls that created a massive scattering of birds.” “Don’t scream too loud Frank, the platform might collapse”, “And, this has to be THE worse job ever case scenario that Terry pulled on us”, Jason whispered. They both decided it was still safe to continue their venture up an iron ladder and onto the next platform leading toward the office.
Oversized, dense spider webs draped the office entry. The wooden door creaked open and to their surprise a few old wooden filing cabinets with matching desks and chairs remained in near perfect condition. Time stood still for many years in this room, even the tops of desks had stacks of papers ready to be filed and a working Remington typewriter. An eerie, unsettling aura filled the toxic air mainly because of all the company portraits that hung on the mold laden cracked plastered walls. Directly in the center of the portraits displayed a photograph that stood out from the rest. It was an extremely angry moustached faced man, dressed in a typical period suit, hair parted down the center and slicked down. Jason turned and said, “Oh man, this guy is the creepiest. Look at his penetrating eyes, Frank he is following us wherever we move, it seems.”, “I bet he must have owned the business, sorry Frank, but something is not right about his hands being mangled.” In order to gain a better view of the warehouse floor, Jason had to use his leather work glove to remove a thick coating of dust. Both turned their backs to the company portraits in order to glance out the leaded window frame when a distinct number of clicks caught their attention. “Did you hear what I just heard?”, murmured Jason. Frank replied, “Yes, it came from over at that desk with the typewriter.” A frozen tingling sense of fear overcame them that accompanied a natural reaction to panic and dart out the door. But no muscle could be moved. Instead right before their eyes the gentleman in the portrait appeared in solid form with a grimacing worried smile and quickly faded into thin air. Their paralysis lasted for seconds but it felt like an eternity to the strong men. Suddenly, CRASH! The photograph flew off its holding nail and landed up against the filing cabinets. Picking through the pieces of glass, and overturning the gold leafed, hand carved frame they decided to peel off the thinly worn wood backing. Out fell a yellowed envelope and upon opening it discovered a notepad. Frank flipped through the pages to discover that it was a map of a bridge with hand-written engineering notes. In the introduction was written in elegant script, The Brooklyn Bridge Project.
Jason’s mouth dropped wide open in shocked disbelief. Frank read out loud a notation, “whoever finds this writ shall hold the key to unimaginable wealth!” “I don’t know exactly what we have here Jason, it needs to be studied in detail, so let’s get the hell out of here now!”, Frank said. The office door mysteriously slammed shut, Frank ran to it and grabbed the crystalline door knob. The solid door would not budge so Jason started to kick at it with his work boot. Still the door remained sealed which left the men with only one more option and that was to break the windows. They lifted up the heavy metal typewriter and threw it through the window and climbed over the radiators. It was a frightening experience and the men scrambled for the iron ladder, again Jason went first as it creaked and swayed with the bottom detaching from its brace. Upon reaching the platform safely, Jason yelled up to Frank, “This is going to be extremely tough Frank, I hope it can hold your weight!” Jason reached over to a pile of pallets and found a thick rope, attached it to the ladder and tied it to a beam. “This may help some, take your time.”, said Jason. Frank swung over and tightly grasped the iron ladder to make his decent, the upper brackets heaved back and forth, and with a sigh of relief, the rope did its trick. Quickly, Jason started to go down the stairs that swayed even more than ever before. He reached mid-point and the stairs just gave way, hurling Jason like a bouncing rubber band, suspending, darting back and forth over iron beams and spindles of industrial roping. It would not make for a soft landing, only to a pigeon. He clung to the railing screaming until it lodged itself between two wooden posts. Jason precariously positioned his body over the suspended railing. Jason pleaded with Frank, “you have to do something and quick buddy, I will not be able to hang here for a long time.” Frank looked around the platform and spotted the rope that was used to secure the iron ladder. It was long enough and a spools worth of roping. He made a huge thick knot and tossed the end to Jason. Before he could secure the wooden spindle the iron beams gave way to the wood debris holding it up and Jason plunged down. The wooden spool holding the rope slid towards the edge of the platform and Frank did what he could and even placed his heavy body weight onto the spool to prevent it from moving further. Miraculously, the spool caught the edge of the platform side-wall just right and secured itself. Frank looked over the platform edge and could see Jason dangling, almost lifeless from the rope which he had tied around his waist. Jason looked up at Frank, and smiled and said, “I made it buddy. That was one hell of a staircase!” Jason was able to untie his lifeline and jump to the warehouse ground. Frank was feeling the heat, large beads of sweat dripped down his face. Jason knew it would be a complete embarrassment for macho Frank to call First Responders to save him, therefore, the only decision out of this mess for him was down that rope. Frank decided to make a harness rope, he learned about this process from the First Responders class. At the time he laughed about doing it and vowed that he would never have a need to use it. However, this training class came in handy and Frank was about to make his own primitive harness from a piece of rope and securing a military grade clip from his key chain. “Okay, I am coming down, it should be a breeze”, said Frank. And surprisingly it was, Franks sweat disappeared as he reached to safe ground. They both decided to take the rest of the day off and meet up early the next day at a local diner.
Frank turned his red Mac Truck onto route 206 and all that he could think about was surviving the day and the mysterious contents inside the notepad. That is, until the red Mac Truck dropped. “Shoot!”, said Frank. Yes, he had a blow out and the truck needed to be pulled over to the side of the road for its repair. Luckily he was prepared and had a spare tire on rim ready to go in the back of the truck. Frank hobbled to the side of the truck, slowly bent down and made the necessary tire change and hopped back up into his cab forgetting the flat tire on the side of the road.
Mitch was travelling to work the next day and spotted the huge tire on the road, decided it was a danger to other vehicles and propped it up against the street sign. And this is how the rusted rimmed tire was found on the side of the road.