There’s something sad about this one. It’s a standard-issue national brand with space for the local retailer’s name – in this case, Payne’s, of Topeka. The sign looks bleak and square and empty, much like its namesake state seems to outsiders. You can imagine Payne’s c. 1956 – a quiet store most days, with one clerk who often finds himself standing at the window watching the traffic. The clock ticks. The radio in the back room plays mild light pop. There’s a bell over the door that rings when someone comes in, but it hasn’t rung in an hour.

On weekends he has company. On weekends they get lots of people. Lots of kids.

Today is a Tuesday.

Tick, tick, tick, tick.