Van Slyke Pharmacy was an independent drug store on the corner of Van Slyke and Reynoso Drives in San Atanasio, California. It was owned and operated by the pharmacist, Jared Watt. The place was as eccentric as Watt. In addition to the usual patent medicines, shampoos, and school supplies, the place sold brightly painted and rather ugly pottery artifacts, stuffed animals that resembled famous cartoon characters and shelves of secondhand books.
Early in the winter, the fourth year after the Yellowstone Supervolcano had erupted, Watt had to let his assistant go because she couldn't handle the work. Before he could post the job opening on Craigslist, Louise Ferguson came into the store looking for work. Watt immediately interviewed her, and decided to give her a try.