I forget the name of the town. I think it started with a "B," but who can remember? A dusty main street ran silently between store fronts, which had either long-since closed their doors or were languishing in the forgotten town. Reminders of more prosperous times were everywhere. Gas stations stood vacant with broken windows and shaggy weeds sprouting from cracks in their parking lots. The price of gas from five years prior, faded yellow by the sun, was still posted on the sign above the pumps. Parking meters along the street bore mute testimony to the fact that there used to be "too many" cars. I needed a bathroom and after a few mintues rolling down main street I pulled up in front of a promising pharmacy. I say promising because the door stood open and there was another car parked out front. A boy sat in a folding chair in the shade of the building, drinking a coke and watching the sun-drenched street. I asked him if there was a public restroom in the pharmacy and he said that there was. I walked inside and the overeager proprietor showed me the restroom. With a quick "thank you" and a smile I slid inside. As I sat on the toilet I made up my mind that I would make a purchase. There was nothing I needed. This would be more of a philanthropic gesture than anything else. The possibilities ran through my head- a pack of gum or some hard candies would be cheap, maybe a soda or a magazine. I didn't intend to spend much, just enough to save face and pay a sort of homage to the pervasively desperate atmosphere of the place. After exiting the bathroom, I selected a coke from the cooler and a pack of gum from a display next to the register. As he rang me up I commented "This is a nice quiet town you've got here."
He sighed and said, "You wouldn't know it now, but it used to be a busy little spot."
"Oh yeah? What happened?" I asked.
"Well, before they built the interstate up there all the traffic used to come right down main street. There aren't too many visitors that come this way any more."
"Well, hang in there," I said, and with that I got back in my car and drove back up onto the interstate.