|“||"Which is why," concluded Mr. Nancy, "the exact center of America is a tiny rundown park, an empty church, a pile of stones, and a derelict motel."
"Hog farm," said Czernobog. "You just said that the real center of America was hog farm."
"This isn't about what is," said Mr. Nancy. "It's about what people think is. It's all imaginary anyway. That's why it's important. People only fight over imaginary things."
As near as anyone could figure it out the exact center of the continental United States was several miles from Lebanon, Kansas, on Johnny Grib's hog farm but he didn't want millions of tourists coming in and tramping all over and upsetting the hogs, so the town of Lebanon put the monument two miles north of the town. They built a park, a stone monument, they even built a motel by the monument. Then they waited. The tourists did not come. Nobody came.
Significance in narrative
Czernobog and Mr. Nancy take Shadow to Minneapolis where they change from the black town car to a VW bus. Eventually they stop for food and gas. Mr. Nancy receives a phone call from the New Gods telling them to meet in the Center of America, neutral territory for both the Old Gods and New Gods, so they can give them back Mr. Wednesday's body.
They reach the Center of America that evening and park at the one-story motel. There is a chauffeur and a female newscaster standing outside. Media introduces herself and leads them inside where Technical Boy is waiting with Mr. Town. Shadow asks Mr. Town if he's slept with Mr. Wood's wife yet. Mr. Town hands room keys to Mr. Nancy who passes them out to Shadow and Czernobog. Shadow heads to his room and falls asleep.
Media calls Shadow for dinner and he walks out to find the chauffeur has brought everyone McDonald's from Nebraska. As they eat dinner, Shadow asks when they can take Mr. Wednesday's body and is told that according to the rules, they have to wait until midnight. After dinner, Shadow heads outside with Mr. Nancy. Nancy warns him that with Wednesday's death, the war between the Old Gods and New Gods has started. Mr. Nancy returns inside and Shadow soon encounters Mr. Town. Shadow tells him that he didn't kill the other Spooks.
They head back inside and Shadow finds Media waiting for him in his room. She tries to convince him to join her side and when he refuses, she threatens to make his life bad. She leaves him alone before Technical Boy knocks on the door. He wants to talk because he finds his room creepy. Shadow tells him they both need some rest and Technical Boy goes back to his room where he starts throwing something against the wall.
Unable to sleep, Shadow leaves the motel again, stopping to chat with the driver of the New Gods' HumVee when he realizes that it's actually Low Key Lyesmith. They go to Shadow's room where Loki tells him it was a coincidence they were cellmates even though he and Wednesday are from the same "Norse pantheon." Loki says that he and Wednesday were never friends and he's glad Wednesday is dead because now the war is over. Shadow disagrees and says his death did more than anything Wednesday had been trying to do for the past few months. He asks Loki why everyone cares about him and Loki says it's because he was important to Wednesday so he is important to them.
It's soon close to midnight so they head to Room Five, where Wednesday's body is laid out in the middle. Town, Media, Mr. Nancy, Czernobog, and Technical Boy soon join them. Loki calls the gathering to order and asks if anyone would like to say something. Mr. Town passes, Czernobog warns that this is the start of war, and Technical Boy starts to recite a poem buy can't remember the rest of it. Shadow says that the whole situation is "pitiful" because half the people there had a hand in killing him but Shadow is still working for Wednesday. Media makes a few pithy comments about life and death before Mr. Nancy finishes off with another warning that the New Gods would pay for what they had done.
The New Gods leave and they wrap Wednesday up in sheets. Shadow carries him out to their bus, remembering his promise to Wednesday when he started working for him. Mr. Town approaches him and hands him Wednesday's glass eye, telling him that Mr. World wanted Shadow to have it. Mr. Nancy takes the wheel and they leave the Center of America, heading east.
Notes and trivia
- The Geographic Center of America was first determined in a 1918 survey, thereby excluding Alaska and Hawaii.
- It is located in Kansas at 39°50′N 98°35′W about 2.6 miles (4.2 km) northwest of the center of Lebanon and approximately 12 miles (19 km) south of the Kansas-Nebraska border.
- Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab created a perfume oil based on the Center of America for their "American Gods III" line. It is described as: Peeling paint, faded wallpaper and threadbare carpets, flickering neon, candlewax, and a fading whiff of Jack Daniels.