While the judges were mulling over the big Sledgehammer stories, we held a Mini Sledgehammer in Portland. Thanks to everyone who showed up!
Character: The warden
Action: Peeling back
Setting: Train car
Phrase: “Do that again and I will…”
Congratulations to Daniel Granias, who took the prizes, not for the first time!
It hadn’t struck us that it was illegal per se to live in a train yard. When we first arrived we’d set up camp in an open freighter that had been retired from the coal lines from Union Pacific. We had nothing more than our matching denim frame packs that we’d been issued by the foster center in Colorado. Charlie, my little sister, and I had hitchhiked our way to the northwest after the Colorado wildfires had smoked us out of our center. It had been a week before we’d seen any trace of life in the yards, and when it did, it was in the form of an old, saggy bloodhound, jowels sweeping the gravel, having traced our soot footprints to our car.
“Shhhh—shhhh—shhh…. Easy there fella,” I said. The hound first glanced at me, swooped its head back to the south, then returned its drooping eyes to Charlie, and let out a “wooo-rooo-ruugh” kind of grumble.
“Shut up!” Charlie whisper-yelled, “Do that again and I’ll tie your ears to your tail!” Not a fan of this proposition, the bloodhound lifted its nose to the sky and let out a warbling bellow of a howl.
“Who’s ‘ayre, Buckeye?” came a sharp beckon from behind the line of tracked cars south of our camper.
At that we ran, sending a combination of coal dust clouds and gravel confetti at the dog and warden, who presented himself in hot pursuit, clad in olive security uniform and mirrored aviator sunglasses.
Dodging and weaving between cars, tracks, and gates, Charlie and I headed for the station, where we could get lost in the everyday traffic of passengers and pedestrians. But before we could get through the last stretch, Charlie tripped over a set of tracks and cried out. I had been leading, and y the time I heard her cry I was at least forty yards ahead. Peeling back, the bloodhound was making as fast a gain on my 8 year old sisters as I, and it was only a second before he made to pounce that I was able to grab her and throw her over my shoulder as I made way for the station.
After bursting through the door, we ran into the lobby, only to run straight into a team of officers meeting in the lobby.
“Where do you kids think you’re going?” One asked.
“We don’t know, sir.” I said, confessionally.
A second guard took a close look at the label on Charlie’s tattered frame pack, and mentioned, “You kids from Boulder?”
How did he know?
“Yeah I was stationed there not too long ago, my wife knew them folks that ran that youth center. We can get you back home there if y’like.”
By that time the original warden had entered the group.
“you left this behind.” And he handed my pack.
© 2014 Daniel Granias