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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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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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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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Stumped in Stumptown

2008 submission by Amy Minato

“Oh my God she’s been mauled!” shrieked one of many gawkers gathered around the tiger’s pen at Portland Zoo blocking Detective Sauvie St. John’s view of the crime scene. “What kind of sicko would do something like that?” St. John, disguised in a chipmunk costume, sidled through the crowd, her petite stature simultaneously a great advantage in her profession and a pain in the whatsit.

The female body, twisted at impossible angles, had been chewed and tossed away by the big cat like a Barbie left on a porch step. Zoo officials shooed the crowd away, the tiger lounged in a shady corner, eyebrowed Sauvie and licked his striped jowls. “See if you can pull this off.” his look implied.

But Sauvie couldn’t officially work on this case. Already notorious for ‘blundering’ the sledgehammered scooter job, she would have to concede this one to her nemesis and the cause of her recent demise – the squat and patronizing Inspector Fremont Morrison. If he hadn’t dissed me to Willamette Week, she thought, I’d have had that hummer owner in jail by now.

A guard hoisted the body over his shoulder and headed back into the concrete rock cave. A woman crossed her heart with a rosary. Her friend slapped her. “Helen, it’s only a mannequin for chrissake.”

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All Girl Summer Fun

2008 submission by “Portland Fiction Project” (Jeremy Benjamin, Alice Clark, Matt Corum, Doug Dean, Heather Nordeen, Turquoise Benjamin, and Jacob Aiello)

Who could remember when it last snowed? The township employed just one plow-truck, a battered ‘72 GMC with flaked brown and white paint. It had only been used to scrape sand and dirt from the shoulder of Main Street. But early that morning, it was deputized to ply itself against the coming tide of white. The snow winning, the town looked as it had before, long before, cut-off from the world by an endless stretch of prairie.

Here, somewhere under this snow, sat Sushi Ichiban, a small establishment run by the widow Wu and her daughter Ruth. The restaurant, in a former life, had been a small hardware store and was wired accordingly–tracks of florescent light did little to enhance the mood, simply illuminated. A checkered vinyl floor alternating creamy yellow and navy blue was cracked and pulled back at the seams. And the door was rigged to ding when opened, a vestigial design feature that seemed odd, considering that once the door was opened, you couldn’t help but see the widow Wu, and she you.

The restaurant had no tables and chairs, but a counter with bar stools. The stools were lined up in a straight line facing the prep area and Mrs. Wu head-on. You could not remove yourself to a corner to face a date or establish a private conversation. Instead, everyone was in conversation with Mrs. Wu, who, for her part, did not speak much; her English was poor. When customers asked questions, Mrs. Wu would smile and lean toward her daughter, or simply point to items pictured on the menu. Mrs. Wu was too busy listening to answer. Her mind was too busy to learn the necessary words.

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