Ok, I have a sign riddled with bullet holes. The sign has a population number on it, but the first number isn't readable because of the bullet holes. I don't know how to represent that. This is what I wrote:
Steele knew he was getting close when the speed limit dropped to forty-five. Shortly thereafter, he came upon a bullet-ridden sign that said, "Welcome to Cactus Pointe, population x890." He couldn't make out the first number from the multiple bullet holes. It could have been a one or even a seven. It didn't matter. The sign's condition meant it hadn't been updated in decades.
As you can see, I used an x for the missing first number. Or should it be a hyphen? Or "something-890"? Or what? I'm stumped.