The Kingsford County Line (Part 1)

This is a now defunct story of mine that I’m thinking about reworking into an interactive once the fetish gun finishes up here soon (since I’m kind of running out of steam with it! In the mean time, and because I still don’t quite have my buffer back, here’s the first chapter of the original story I wrote.

“That sign says, ‘Kingsford County’! How about that, does that help?” Tyler said, watching the sign blow past in the dark. In the passenger seat of the minivan, his older brother Jeremy squinted harder at the roadmap he had spread out in his lap, while their father, tried to focus on the road. Next to Tyler, on the middle bench of the van, his best friend, Dave, was staring out the other window at the darkness. There hadn’t been much out there all day–just plains and some low hills, and the occasional antenna which did nothing to improve anyone’s cell phone reception out here in the damn national sticks. Some roadtrip–why in the hell had he taken the invitation in the first place? If he’d known all he was going to see was dirt, he would have stayed home. Behind them, on the back bench, Tyler and Jeremy’s uncle Logan was snoring softly, having already fallen asleep after driving most of the day, before his younger brother, Howard–the boys’ father–had taken over a few hours before.

The Brandt Boys Annual Family Roadtrip was something of a tradition for Logan, Howard Brandt and his two sons, and each year they would choose a different part of the country to drive through. This year, they were driving through the heartland, but at the moment, they were rather lost. Jeremy searched the map–they should be somewhere in…Missouri? Arkansas? Gah, he was a horrible navigator, why in the hell had his dad given him the map? His Uncle Logan was so much better at this than he was, but he couldn’t blame him for wanting to take a nap. Jeremy had just finished his Junior year of college and was home for the summer, while Tyler and his friend had both just graduated. It was Tyler who had picked their trip, as a graduation present, and also brought along his friend, though Dave hasn’t exactly enjoying himself. Still, the trip was his idea–why the hell wasn’t he the one failing at reading the map? At least then he wouldn’t have to feel so guilty for doing it wrong. He looked over at his dad–now in his late fifties, rings under his eyes from driving all day long, and now into the night, beyond a short pit stop for lunch at some small speck of a town a hundred miles behind them now. “Dad, do you want to switch? I can drive for a bit, if you want.”

“No, I’m good–there has to be something around here, somewhere. It’s not like we can be on a road to nowhere, right?”

It sure felt like they were. Jeremy went back to studying the map, looking for a Kingsford county anywhere on there, but he didn’t see one. The road they were one was currently a bit hilly–and all of them breathed a sigh of relief when the rode up over a low peak and saw the night glimmer of a tiny town in the distance. It didn’t exactly look large, but it was something–or somewhere. If nothing else, they weren’t going to be camping on the side of the road like they’d had to a few times in the past–and they hadn’t run out of gas yet, either…though Howard checked the gauge again. This was definitely the closest they’d come–he’d dumped in the two gallons of spare gas he kept for emergencies just before sundown, when he’d switched with Logan. Still, this was all part of the adventure, for him. Staying off the highways, finding these old, forgotten places. This country was massive, but no one understood that. Everyone just stayed in their little bubbles, not even caring about what might be out there, and he wanted his sons to see all of it, warts and all.

The glimmer disappeared behind the next hill, but it was there, at least. They kept driving, and after another ten miles, the first sign of civilization appeared–a small, rundown gas station, with pumps that looked like they’d last been installed in the seventies or eighties, but it would have to do. He pulled the car in up next to a pump, and breathed a sigh of relief–Tyler noticed, Jeremy didn’t, and Dave was still staring out the window like there was still nothing out there at all but plains. There was one small pickup truck, well worn, and three motorcycles parked off to the side, but no one else getting gas. It didn’t look like a pay at the pump sort of situation, so Howard told the three boys to wait in the car with Logan–who hadn’t yet woken up–while he went in and prepaid–thankfully he had cash, because he didn’t expect a place like this to have a card reader.

He also didn’t expect to walk in on a hold up. Or, what looked like a hold up.

The small store was stocked mostly with a few short, but tall, aisles of junk food and candy bars, the coolers along the walls packed with beer. The aisles blocked the view of the counter, and so he lost sight of the windows as he came around the end of the aisle where he found a short counter, and he heard them before he saw them:

“Now, Dougy, are you gonna give us what we want? Or do we have to take it, like usual? You know I like the way you fight, fat fuck, but I don’t know if I wanna work that hard tonight, you know?”

“Aww, come on Butch!” the attendant said, flashing a smile, showing off the fact he was missing quite a few teeth, “You know how I like it, and if you want it so bad, I want to feel you take it–it’s the only thing that helps these fuckin’ night shifts pass, you know?”

There, around the corner, was a short counter, behind which a was stashed the stores cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco, and it was also where three rough looking bikers were standing, the one in the center leaning over the counter with a knife pressed into the fat, fleshy throat of the attendant–a very large man wearing a greasy uniform and a name tag which said “Doug”. He had his head tilted up, and some…black substance was leaking out the corner of his mouth, but he didn’t seem worried. If anything, he looked excited.

Howard froze and all four of them turned to stare at him, like they were all looking at some strange beast.

“Well fuck me,” Doug said, “Not what I was expecting tonight.”

Howard steeled himself–as best as an overweight, over the hill five foot six father of two with a good amount of grey hair can–and puffed up his chest. “What…what the hell do you three think you’re doing?”

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