From TC 9:1 – “Buzzards in the Projection Booth” by H.H. Morris

Tornado, population 937, the largest town in Walnut County, Missouri, was abuzz this Monday with theories about Gil Corbin’s weekend disappearance. Corbin taught math at Walnut County Consolidated High School, located on the eastern edge of Tornado. The most prevalent rumor said he’d run from or been caught by a father, husband, brother, uncle, or male cousin of one of the many girls who’d passed algebra or geometry only because she scheduled unclad tutoring from her teacher. Other gossip suggested that one of Corbin’s failed business adventures had him leaving town with only a short lead over bankruptcy judges and creditors.

Jon Staggers avoided adding his own theories to the mix, choosing instead to listen over lunch at Janet’s Highway Café—one of several businesses in which his grandfather had left him a silent interest. If no one was around, Janet didn’t collect his check. Today he’d pay and consider a greasy cheeseburger and fries an investment in more than cholesterol. He’d inherited the weekly Tornado Independent, Walnut County’s only surviving newspaper, from his father almost five years ago, and as publisher and editor-in-chief he had to figure out what to write about Corbin’s unexcused absence from work and family life. He couldn’t say what he thought—that based on what he’d experienced and observed while a student in high school, Corbin’s disappearance improved the educational environment.

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