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Kill Your Muse

2009 story submission by “Labruda” (Jon Labrousse)

Tom couldn’t have chosen a less ideal day for the funeral.  It was too hot out, for one, and too late in the day.  To make matters worse, there was a construction crew, a group of short men in orange hard hats, tearing down a building at the end of the alley.  They were making such a racket with all their banging and smashing, that Tom kept fumbling through his eulogy.

“Hey, could you guys—” he’d tried.  “Hey!  Hey!  I’m trying to—”

It was no use.  They couldn’t hear him, and Tom was not one for confrontation.  He’d just have to move on.  This was not how he’d planned to say goodbye.

It was important to keep her close, Tom had decided, so he’d dug the grave in the garden box on the small patio behind his apartment, nothing but an old dresser drawer, really, filled with dirt and dandelions.  The dirt was so hard and compacted that he’d needed to use a knife, as well as a spoon, to dig the grave.  In it, he’d stuffed her remnants: a stack of grocery lists, a few poem fragments, some notes to self…  Nothing finished, nothing important.  Solid proof that she was gone; his muse was dead.

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The Temptation of Sangre de Cristos

2009 story submission by Kim Crow


The monastic retreat in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains was meant to un-complicate my life. I booked a room at the hermitage of the Benedictine Brothers of The Five Wounds at the suggestion of my shrink. “Bernard,” he said, “Clear your mind. Get out of here for a few weeks.”  According to the good doctor’s theory, the spiritual nature of the retreat was ideal because I could be around people without actually having to talk.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. I’d been through parochial school and grew up to be only mildly socially inept. Besides, I had spent the better part of four months on the floor of my apartment, depressed and listless. For those who have no firsthand knowledge of this disease—the exchange of even the most minor of pleasantries can become the most major of chores. I’m not proud of those four months, but they are in the past thanks to a heady cocktail of Lexapro, Lithium and underemployment. Depression has been a minor undercurrent in my emotional life since my twelfth birthday when Gina Marggiano wouldn’t show me her tits in exchange for a $50 Government Issue savings bond from Nana. It’s still Gina’s loss, if you ask me.

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The Little Striped House

2009 story submission by “The Flowers” (Irene Chau, Maren Chau, Tiffany Lin, Jennifer Zhang)

Like any other day, Carol Stripe rolled out of bed in the morning to freshen up for her job at the news station. Just as the clock struck five, she headed out the door wearing a crisp new suit, bursting at the seams. Carol was not an average woman; she had a little brain, and a lot of blubber. Stepping out of the threshold, she was greeted by her twig of a mother-in-law who was to take care of her three grandchildren as usual.

“Alright I’m off to work!” Carol said energetically. The grandmother replied silently, nodding with a soft smile on her face, keeping her mouth shut to prevent her long tongue from slithering out of her mouth. She entered the house and headed straight to the kitchen to prepare the children’s morning meal.

Upstairs, Annie encountered a rude awakening by her elder sister, Cerise, who was rubbing her feet.

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News Face

2009 story submission by Dave Jarecki, Vinnie Kinsella, Arthur Smid, and Clint Williams

Candace Graham watched her face on the screen. The blue background contrasted nicely with her fair skin and gave her eyes a piercing, honest quality. She nodded in approval as the voiceover blasted, “K-O-N-G, the King of Northwest news!”

“Nice transition, Brian,” Candace said to the cameraman. Brian paused the video and swiveled in his chair.


“Is that all of them?”

“No, there’s one more…” he said reluctantly and hit play. A cartoon gorilla pounced on screen as the voiceover blared: “KONG News in the morning!” The gorilla climbed the KONG Tower with a rose between its teeth, hung from the side of the building, took the flower in one hand and sniffed deeply. The shot zoomed through a window to Candace on the set. “Wake up and smell the Rose City with Candace Graham,” the voiceover crowed.

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One Stone Stands Out

2009 story submission by Lani Jo Leigh

Three o’clock on this Memorial Day afternoon, I’m having a beer in the Queen of Hearts. It’s a neighborhood bar across the street from the community center where Eugene and I used to go swimming three or four times a week. One time I even got him to take a yoga class with me, but since he was the only male in the class, he swore he’d never do it again. To be truthful, I used to think this bar was a strip club, and it’s certainly not the kind of place I would normally frequent, but today is my Red Letter Day so anything is possible for me.

I climb on one of the high stools to order. The bartender rambles off the usual list of American piss, but it would be a disservice to Eugene to drink anything like that. He used to make his own home brew, and many’s the time I’d come home from a day of teaching and the whole house would reek of hops and malt. Every Memorial Day, instead of fighting crowds at the shore, Eugene always liked to stay home and brew up a big batch of beer to have ready in time for July 4th and the BluesFest. I keep shaking my head until the bartender suggests Ten Barrel. He says it’s a new micro-brew out of Bend, an I.P.A. Sounds fine, I say. I’ll give it a shot. No, I don’t need a glass, I’ll sip it from the bottle.
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The List

2009 story submission by “The Listmaker” (Amanda Robinson)


Official List A9: Things To Do This Summer

#1, Make a To Do List.
It wasn’t that Frank was neurotic.  While psychologists and his friends would call him OCD, he simply considered himself passionate about organization.  Not quite obsessive enough to disrupt his everyday life, and his quirks never seemed to interfere with his relationships.  Quite the opposite in fact, his dark handsome features and quiet intensity made him the brooding if not unwitting subject of many a sensitive conquest.  No, it wasn’t that Frank was neurotic.  He just liked making lists.  He liked the feeling of triumph that came with drawing that single meticulous line through that conquered ambition.  He was especially pleased with his Official List A9, with Item the First already close to being crossed off- his first accomplishment achieved so quickly!

#2, Set Realistic Goals.

#3, Discover a Paranormal Power.
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The Sledgehammer, The Nightstick, The Raincoat and John

2009 story submission by “Portland Fiction Project” (Jeremy Benjamin and Doug Dean)

Our story begins in a darkened television studio in the Media Building on Pioneer Square. The intro theme plays for “Wake Up Portland! with Mitch Flayburn.”

MITCH FLAYBURN: Joining us on the show today is Corey Egelstein. Welcome, Corey.

COREY EGELSTEIN: Thank you for having me. I’m glad to be here, on this very sad occasion.

MITCH FLAYBURN: Now Corey, you covered John Fitchburg throughout his campaign efforts against the privatized Portland Correctional Facility in the post-bailout depression, when you were an anchor for KPTV.

COREY EGELSTEIN: That’s right; I followed his movement from 2015 to 2018, during the time that the media dubbed him John Nightstick Fitchburg

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