Bad morning breath exhaled through the little valley, sending squirrels scrambling up their trees. Rain stayed hard the night before with wind shifting over Hasting’s Dairy and its waste lagoon filled with shit. Fredericks’ Pontiac fishtailed over packed mud, coming to a crooked stop in front of an old tin mailbox. The salesman could just make out the faded Rural Route 1A Gantner Sharp’s son had painted on fifteen years back using his own Testor’s enamel. The boy had gone to the trouble of lifting the little jar out of his coffee can, presenting it to the old man cradled between two cupped hands. Gantner had no choice but to let him do the lettering.
The unpaved road passing in front of the Sharp house wasn’t on the last two Esso road maps but people in Jenkins still called it One-A, the only route over the mountains for a century. After the Interstate went in, Gantner and Rhoda ended up being the sole boarders along the entire stretch.
Epp’s hardware was set to deliver feed the following morning but as it was, Gantner ran out of whole grain three days earlier. The animals couldn’t wait. By the time Fredericks arrived, Gantner had taken the 150 into town.