Underthrow, 4

When he wasn’t practicing, Travis worked shifts at Subway, where he and Miles had been employed since sophomore year. His parents had no money to send him even to an in-state university, and for now Travis didn’t have enough interest in school to try community college or federal loans. College was a given for most of his friends, whose parents put tuition on the same checklist as the groceries, but Miles and the others never harassed him for being the exception; they hardly noticed, in fact. High school kids who weren’t attending college usually lived in one of the county’s swampy trailer parks; to be working class was a rarity in Elmswood, so Travis’s presumed wealth had shifted invisibly upward over the years, even as his parents waved hello to his friends between the supermarket aisles.

For now, Travis told himself, he’d remain patient with a job that had grown comfortable over the years. Soon he could be like his shift manager, Vin—or, at least, Travis could earn as much. Vin was a stumpy, thirty-something goateed man with a wife and two kids, who claimed that his arrest for possession left Subway as his only career choice. Vin grew up somewhere east of Richmond; he considered the County the punch line of a bad redneck joke.

“Half the houses are mansions, but a Walmart’s the best shopping for twenty miles,” Vin liked to say. “Welcome to the County.”

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