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Cover
Table of Contents
Editor's Notes
Donations
Submission Guidelines
Website

Stories & Essays
Balance
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By Alison Baumy
Contemporary Cultural Differences...
_ By Ninni Siurua
Eclipsed Yesterdays
_ By Clyde Windjammer
Healthy Guy
_ By David J. LeMaster
Immortalis Letum
_ By Sophie Davis
Last Call For Salvation
_ By Angela P. Markham
My Fault
_ By Ro Thorton
Pacific Northwest
_ By Aaron Hellem
Q-Q Ca Choo
_ By Billy Pilgrim
The Best Laid Plans
_ By John A. Ward
The Ecstasy of Cooking
_ By Sam Nolting
The Girl With the Green Umbrella
_ By J.R. Earlebeck
The Gods of Houston
_ By Rebekah Frumkin

Poetry
Athena's Owl
_ By Amberly Mason
But I Have Never Known This
_ By Kaleen Love
Clouds On Your Floor
_ By Savannah Bobo
Crowded Lobby
_ By M. Blair Spiva
Ever After
_ By Bennie Johnson
Important Questions
_ By P.T. Bell
Migration
_ By Sarah Wassberg
Moon Goddess
_ By Kristina Diane Smith
Oldest Profession
_ By Ashley Polker
On Visiting Hay-on-Wye
_ By M. Blair Spiva
Sodom and Gomorrah
_ By Jessica Fannin
Wal-Mart
_ By P.T. Bell

Art & Photography
Jeremy Harker
_ Paintings
Douglas C. Knight
_ Photography
Jed Knox
_ Paintings and Drawings
May Ann Licudine
_ Paintings
Danny Malboeuf
_ Paintings
Alex Stanbury
_ Photography

Pacific Northwest
By Aaron Hellem


There are sand dunes, right in the middle of the rainforest: honest-to-god sand dunes. Lawrence of Arabia kind of shit. Camels and head turbans, rattlesnakes inside baskets. You can wander around as though you were trapped in a miniature Sahara or Gobi, and then, when you find your way out again, youíre back in the rainforest. Evergreens and rain showers and gray skies. There are some days when it feels like the Northwest exists inside a lead pipe.

South of the sand dunes in Florence. Thereís a hotel there run by a Yorkshire terrier. The terrierís got a girl working the desk because it canít, nor should it be expected to, reach the counter, operate the cash register, get the keys down. It canít show you to your room because it canít open the doors. It stands behind the desk, behind the girl at the desk, chewing on a small cigar. Cigarillos, theyíre called in some parts. Sometimes he sits. The terrier. Sometimes he drops the cigarillo, and bites at a patch of fleas imbedded in the fur around his hindquarters. Sometimes he takes a break during the day to lie down on the patch of carpet where the sun shines in, lies there because itís warm. Lifts a leg, licks himself.

Sometimes there is someone watching, who says to whomever is listening, Jesus H. Christ, what I wouldnít give to be able to do that.

The girl behind the desk says, You can fly it a try, big boy, but Iím telling you right now that dogíll bite you something awful. She prints out a bill. Retrieves a key. Room 203. Sign here.

Located in no-manís land: on the coast, too far south and too far north to recognize objets des raison. Apparently, the Yorkshire terrier inherited the hotel. The girl behind the desk says it was a contested will, but because it had been probated there wasnít anything to be done. The original owner, Mr. Piedmont, the girl behind the desk says, had children, too, five total from two different marriages, but even in the grips of death, he chose to act like a horseís ass and left his entire estate to his beloved companion, Mr. Patches.

Has she been there long?

Oh yeah, the girl behind the desk says. Ever since they put those sand mounds in there.

Does she mean the dunes?

Dunes, mounds, whatever theyíre called, she says. Still looks like a big sandbox to me.

Whereíd they get all that sand?

Lord knows, the girl behind the desk says. Mr. Patches barks. Looks like he might have fleas. The girl behind the desk says, Donít know how. That dog gets more baths and haircuts than even I do. By way of example, she runs her hand through her hair. Itís flat, straight, kind of greasy, not much body. Typical overweight woman hair: brushed, but not beautiful. It was in the will, too, the girl behind the desk says.

Does she notice the time of day? The early hour? Mr. Patches barks again. Where you heading? Thereís a window out of which she can survey the parking lot in its entirety, watch every car that pulls into one of the open parking spaces. She can see the make and model, make presumptions about origin, marital status, psychological profile. Thereís a lot you can tell about a person by how they park a car.

Has she always lived in Oregon?

Come from California, she says. Mr. Patches, though, was born and bred right here in Florence. The girl behind the desk leans in. Whispers, Know what I think? I think that Mr. Patches there is Mr. Piedmont. You know. Carnated like that? Just look at him. Mr. Patches barks again. Itís time for his breakfast, the girl behind the desk says. Breakfast for Mr. Patches: Denver omelet, hash browns, biscuits, orange juice, coffee.

The girl behind the desk notices the hour, but more precisely, notices how early in the morning it is, usually a time reserved for guests checking out, not checking in. The girl behind the desk also notices the absence of baggage, the insistence of paying cash, the out-of-state plates, etc. The girl behind the desk wasnít born just yesterday, or, in a manner of speaking, didnít just fall off the turnip truck. This is why she mans the desk, why she has a window out of which to survey the parking lot.

Mr. Patches knows it, too. Paces. Growls, low and mean behind his closed lips. Beware the dog that doesnít bark, for itís getting ready to bite.

Does the girl behind the desk know that dogs bark as a way to signify territory?

Mr. Patches doesnít allow any pets here at the hotel, the girl behind the desk says. No exceptions.

But does Mr. Patches wear sweaters when itís cold outside? Itís one thing for Mr. Patches to act as heir and owner of the Oasis Hotel in Florence, Oregon, one thing to chew a small cigar and growl at strangers he doesnít trust, but itís quite another thing, a quite unholy thing, to dress dogs up like people, even if itís justified by unseasonably cold weather.

Oh, we get snow here, the girl behind the desk says. Mr. Patches not only has a sweater, but heís got a wardrobe of sweaters, specific ones he wears depending on his mood. One he wears on his birthday, one he wears on Christmas Day with reindeer, and one he wears on St. Patrickís Day with plenty of green so he doesnít get pinched.

Mr. Patches ultimately decides who gets a room for the night. The girl behind the desk apologizes. I know this may seem a little crazy, she says, but itís what we know, our way of life, and all considered, Mr. Patches is pretty fair.

Itís too early in the morning for the rest of the day to go like this. Itís the desert that does strange things to perfectly normal places like Florence. Here in the Pacific Northwest everyone keeps to themselves, heads down, eyes closed, and dogs are expected to growl at strangers.


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AARON HELLEM attends the MFA Program at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. His short stories have been published most recently in the Bitter Oleander, Ink Pot, Antimuse, Ascent, Facets Magazine, and Convergence.

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