A Thousand Words

Price Chambers

“Most people around here think I’m some kind of crazy redneck,” 47-year-old Bill Alford said as he walked into the front yard of his home on Russellville Road. He had a .357 Magnum hanging from his hip and a pair of pliers in his hand.

Tall and wrinkled, Alford’s face looked troubled, as if thinking of hard times in the past. Then, without a word, he turned and walked over to one of his vehicles strewn about the yard.

Using the pliers to work under the hood of his 1972 Cadillac, he went on about the price of freedom and why he carries a gun.

“Freedom’s freedom, and it’s my right to carry a gun,” he said. “I ain’t going to stay inside all day.”

Dealing with wild animals is another reason to carry a gun, he said. But Alford seemed to bond with a stray dog, petting it while he spoke.

His wild animal encounters with the likes of elk, bears, coy dogs and snakes have put his firing skills to use.

“A huge elk came charging out of the trees, and I was holding my pistol, shaking,” he said. “I pointed it right between his eyes, and he just looked at me and went back into the woods. I hollered a few obscenities at him.”

Other times he’s used a gun in his house, which he says is infested with “Fiddlers,” or poisonous Brown Recluse spiders and Copperhead snakes.

“I sat there all night with a shotgun, waiting for him to stick his head out,” he said about a large snake. “This here is death camp one, you could call it. I got my nerves up and got the .22. It puts a smaller hole in the floor.”

Alford lives alone in his remote home without electricity – something he doesn’t have a problem with.

“I spent two months out here with a Coleman lantern,” he said.

He describes himself as an escapist with a memory disorder.

“My grandmother hit me in the head with a 2 by 4,” Alford said. “I felt the impact as the lights went out. Then she beat my momma. I had a learning problem from then on. I never carried a grudge, I felt sorry for her to do that.”

After fixing his car, he rolled a cigarette on the hood and smoked it as the sun sank behind the distant hills and twilight consumed the land. It would soon be dark again.

BEGINITAL Price Chambers is a senior photojournalism major from Nashville. He can be reached at [email protected]