Countdown Story #10: Jasper, TN

Just beyond Lucifer’s Liquor Store, a customer at a roadside antique shop calls me over. Hands me twenty bucks then promptly gets in his silver Mercedes and peels away. I stay and chat for a while with Rod, the shop owner. I ask if he’s originally from the area.

“Yep. Grew up on a farm not far from here,” he says. “Was up at 3:00 every morning to milk the cows.” 

Rod says it wasn’t until he joined the military that he was finally able to sleep in—he laughs at his own joke, which I’m sure he’s told a million times. He points with his thumb to the building behind him. An old house with a wrap around porch and saggy awnings. Rod says that for thirty years he ran a convenient store inside. 

“But I got old and doggone tired of it,” he says. “So now I do this. Sit on that porch and sell trinkets to tourists and such. They pull up in their fancy cars and leave with some of this here inventory.”

Rod still works normal hours but doesn’t have to deal as much with the business side of things. He admits, however, that he still wakes up at 3:00 a.m. 

“Guess some habits never change,” He says. 

Rod asks why I’m doing this walk—but he doesn’t wait for my answer to offer his. 

“We are only on this earth for a whisper,” he says with his hands on his hips. “Gotta do what you can with what you got.”

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