The rain was coming down so hard that it outpaced what the wipers could handle. A hard, driving rain that was coming in from the west. It forced me to pull off at the next exit and take up residence at a small roadside diner. A tired little truck stop town of unremarkable note, it was less than a flyover or one light place. In fact, you were only briefly asked to keep it at 45mph for about the space of a city block before you could bring her back up to speed. The small diner, a general store, two tiny run-down houses, and one room little white church was all that Millington had.
On this occasion, I wasn’t the only one in the diner who had given in to the weather. A family of five from somewhere in the New England states came in shortly after I. The two boys and their baby sister were restless and weary from the travels, and it showed in their efforts to be heard. If I had to guess, they were fast asleep — soothed by the white noise of rain on the roof — and only woken when the freeway was abandoned.
The gal — Jan — behind the counter did her best, but it was rather apparent that she wasn’t accustomed to serving families, let alone multiple patrons at once. So I let it slide when I saw the bottom of my cup of coffee. When she was free, I took up a conversation and asked about this wayward little place. She gave me the history, some local lores, and an apt description of each of Millington’s five inhabitants.
I was on the road, looking for inspiration for my next novel, and now, I was holed up in the middle of the Great Plains. On a whim, I inquired about the church. It hadn’t been used for much of anything that Jan, could recall in her lifetime. And as it turned out, she was the owner. I was struck by the solitude and offered a generous sum to rent the church for the remaindered of the summer season.
At first, Jan was a bit skeptical, but I showed her a copy of my last work, and she agreed. And so, I now find myself staring off into the flat, open abyss of the Great Plains, contemplating my next piece.