The Cupcake Factory

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This is New Hampshire in winter, past midnight. The roads are clear, the houses dark, the sky a suffering orange-gray, fat with frost and the forecasted blizzard. In the distance, like the North Star, John Stapleton, Jr. can see the truck-stop sign hovering above I-95, Bob’s Big Boy spinning just above the tree line, offering up his empty tray.

Stapleton’s sister Esther is driving. She tucks a greasy lock of hair behind her ear and pounds a fist on the dashboard, trying to resuscitate the speakers, which have worked sporadically for years but seem to have sputtered out completely today, along with their banter. Still, he trusts her enough not to ask where they’re going. […]

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