Joe the Writer

2008 submission by “Joe the Writer” (W. R. Jenkins and Alamelu Brooks)

My name is Joseph Henry and I am a writer. I write articles and short stories to keep a roof over my head and bread on the table. This week I live alone in a downtown Portland studio flat. Well it’s not much of a studio or a flat, but for this month it will be home to me. I am trying to become familiar with Portland. It is a beautiful place and I know it will help me be a better writer. Each week I try to expand the limits of my world a little more by finding new things to do. Like tonight I am going to take a long ride on MAX and then get something to eat at Mizu Sushi over on Third. I am a real fan of Sushi, and some of my friends gave it very high marks. I tried to get some dinner there one night last week, but I got there just as the chef was leaving the main part of the restaurant. I knocked on the window to try to get her attention, but she didn’t hear me.

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Up in Steam

2008 Submission by Katherine Elliott Scott

I stood at my kitchen sink washing dishes when the telephone rang. I dropped my sponge on the crusty old cereal bowl I was attempting to scrub clean and shuffled over to the phone. “Hello?” I said cradling the receiver between my shoulder and chin.

“Bonny darling, I have wonderful news. I’m coming to visit.”

It was Erika. The Bedouin desert queen that had managed to drift in and out of my life for nearly twenty years without any rhyme or reason. “Where are you?” I asked nervously.

“Your driveway,” Erika replied.

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Trio

2008 Submission by “Lang und Kurtz” (Kate Weikert and  Mark Flatt)

The hungry crowd had settled into a rapturous lull as nominee Samuel Joseph shifted into his proposed economic resolutions, a topic near and dear to the gray, depressed city. From fifty yards out, Cole thought he could see the presidential candidate’s passionate expression subside as he settled in to toe the party line. Another bad day to try to quit, Cole thought, touching the tobacco bulge in his jacket. Pushing his way against the tense stares and the fleecy coats and plastic rain jackets, he snaked away from the sea of musty bodies to the knoll at the back of the park where he could smoke but still hear Senator Joseph. He fingered through his chest pocket, brushing past the hard metal of his tiny digital recorder before finding the warmer packet of Bali-Shag.

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Anna

2008 submission by Chelsea Harlan

It was the hat, finally, that kept Anna from worrying. It was black and unadorned, but seemed nicely made. Sometimes he was close enough for her to see the neat stitching along the brim, the swoop of the soft velvet cup on top. She didn’t know anything about men’s hats, so surely it must be real. Surely she couldn’t have created it in her mind. And if the hat was real, then the man who wore it must be real too. She had stayed up nights, anxiously turning the matter over and over again in her mind, distracted only by the steady drip of the faucet in the bathroom, the rumble of the washing machine deep in her apartment complex, wondering if she was going mad.

The man had first appeared three weeks ago, on a Monday. Anna remembered the exact day because she had been expecting a package from FabricWorld to arrive, a very nice–and discounted!–fleece blanket. The website had stated that standard ground shipping took three to five business days, and after Friday had passed, she knew she would have to wait through the entire weekend. This seemed an endless amount of time, but she comforted herself with the knowledge that the package would be there on Monday, for certain. She had even taken a half day off from her job filing paperwork at Dr. Adams’ office in order to be there when it arrived; she wouldn’t have wanted the delivery driver to have to come back the next day, or–worse–to leave the package on the doorstep, where anybody could come along and take it.

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Moving On

2008 submission by Mel Wells :: 2008 Sledgehammer winner

Wanted: Friends! 27-yr-old female, recently moved from Colorado, seeks people to explore Portland with. Show me your fave spots, or we can get lost and explore new restaurants/galleries/parks/shops. Prefer nonsmokers, as I’m allergic. Thursdays only.

***

I confess, I watch for Ethan. I watch him maneuver his Geo into a tight spot in front of my building, watch him walk his deliberate pace up the crooked front stairs, watch him press two fingers on the buzzer. I step back from the window and push the button to let him in.

A few seconds later, he knocks on the once-white door to my studio.

“You don’t have to knock,” I say as I let him in. “I already buzzed you.”

He shrugs, keeping his hands in the pockets of his corduroy coat.

“Okay, I’m almost ready, give me just a sec,” I say, rummaging through my gigantic bag. “Can’t…find…my wallet.” I paw through a week’s worth of receipts, sketches on napkins, a pair of arm warmers, and a couple Clif Bars. “Do you know what Magpie has planned for us tonight?”

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