The story describes the fictional town of Owl, North Dakota, in which three characters are intangibly connected. Horace is an old man who spends his afternoons in the local coffee shop with other old men, shaking dice to see who pays for coffee, and talking about politics, religion, and memorable Owl football teams of the past. Mitch is a stoic high school backup quarterback who is depressed for no apparent reason. Julia is the newest resident of Owl. She moved to the small town to teach history and spends much of her free time at the local bars (where she meets local celebrity Vance Druid). The town has about 850 residents and is semi-isolated from 1980s music and culture. As a climax, the three main characters are caught in a sudden blizzard—Horace and Julia stuck in their cars and Mitch outdoors.