I was driving that old delivery truck down Main Street when I noticed them; an old woman, a man and a young woman. The three seemed to be standing at some sort of bus stop. I offered each a ride. One after the other, I dropped the women off at their destinations. Both of the women were happy to tell me a little about themselves, but I didn’t pay any mind to their stories. Finally, I arrived at the man’s destination. A salmon-colored apartment building somewhere out near The National Corvette Museum, but on the opposite side of Interstate 65 I think. Of course, the man had to tell me a little about himself. I wasn’t following the story very closely, until something this man mentioned grabbed my attention. After a nasty break-up, Keith traveled the country by bus. While riding the bus during winter, Keith arrived in a place called Butte, Montana. For the next several seconds I sat and stared at the text. Stunned. Amazed. Wondering, is somebody *expletive deleted* with me? Did The *expletive deleted* Zero just reach out and grab hold of the place I live? I worried, does The Zero know where I am? Is The Zero watching me?
Keith proceeded to tell me how he bought a second coat at a thrift store. Because everybody who has spent a winter in Butte knows the feeling of ‘one coat just isn’t enough’. Sounds legit, I thought to myself. Keith rambles on about seeking refuge in a local tavern by a cemetery. Because everybody who has spent a winter in Butte knows that’s how people survive months of sub-zero temperatures during the winter there. I realized, Keith has lived Butte, MT. Keith even mentioned the a picture of the Butte legend, Evel Knievel, hanging on the tavern wall. Keith must be talking about The Freeway, I figured.
The encounter is very interesting for players familiar with Butte. Especially those from, or living in, Butte. The game space of Kentucky Route Zero expands to include something personal. A link between The Zero and Butte, as if Butte could be a gateway to The Zero? Or vice-versa?
A variety of assumptions, that expand the story, can be made. We learn that Keith was in Butte before we encounter with him in Kentucky Route Zero. If we consider The Zero as a path to some afterlife, we can also consider that Keith may have died in Butte. Perhaps Keith stumbled out of the tavern at last call, in the dead of winter, and fell victim to hypothermia. The ‘Keith-sicle’ theory, if you will. Maybe Keith, in a drunken stupor, decided to go for a dip in The Berkeley Pit. The ‘Berkeley Pit is an entrance to The Zero’ theory. Tavern next to a cemetery. Associating alcohol and the dead. These theories are not far-fetched. Countless possible theories could exist for the Butte-savvy player.
The encounter with Keith could be meaningless. Another brief stop, at a rest area on The Zero. Who knows? We may never know. It doesn’t matter. We could spawn a whole sub-blog of fan-fiction devoted to Keith theories. It could be months before we run out of ideas. We have better things to do. Like realize that there can be so much more to a single encounter in a game. Delivering Keith to his apartment demonstrates this fact for the Butte scholar. We may consider events in Kentucky Route Zero to be meaningless and shallow, until one gets as close to us as Keith does to fans of Butte.