"I been accused of a lot of things. They's been about 700 lies told on me. Nationwide. My name's went to Japan, Australia, Germany and Paris, France."
That's Ricky Dixon beginning to tell the tale of how he ended up on Chloe Creek in Pike County, standing on a bridge from sunup to sundown, every day, waving at every single passing vehicle for the past eight years while the water burbles beneath him. It sort of makes sense. Not much. But he seems glad that somebody cared enough to ask.
"They's a man I used to work for and he accused me of stealing, robbing and child molesting. And they was all lies. Then my own family got involved with it. My family is assholes. They was trying to help him get me put in the pen or get me killed. It was hairy! So I just started waving at everybody and everybody started forgiving me so I just kept on with it."
Now when you ask him to ballpark the number of cars he's waved at he just laughs. 350 a day for eight years, which sounds about right, puts him well over a million. He likes to look at their license plates and marvel at the distances they've traveled. Most of them return the favor with a honk or a wave of their own. A few stop to chat, to bring him some leftovers from dinner or to make sure he's staying warm in the one-room building he lives in at the foot of the mountain.
Of course, not everybody is a fan. Put it this way: he's seen more middle fingers than he'd prefer.
"They's a lotta people around here ain't nothing but pure assholes," he says. "There's one feller that comes through here, a drug dealer in a green and blue car, he throws all kinds of shit at me. I told him to stop but he don't. They's been ten people pull a gun on me."
The eleventh is in for a surprise.
Some of Ricky's buddies up the holler are chipping in to buy him a .45 so he can wave in peace.
They should be bringing it to him any day now.
Words and Photos by Coleman Larkin