Steve Polimeny: A Short Story

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Most male citizens wore cowboy hats and there were hitching posts that were used regularly in front of the grocery store, cafe, dry goods store, tavern and post office. The commercial center of town was limited to the east side of Highway 30. The speed limit, which few drivers acknowledged, was thirty-five on the two-lane highway that bisected the town without so much as a stoplight.

Haines had no mail delivery so we walked, drove, or rode a horse or a bicycle to the post office to get our mail from a little box with a window and a combination lock dial on its face. There were dozens of these little boxes on one wall of the post office lobby, the wall that split the building down the middle. There was also a window with an ornate cast bronze
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In the summer of '62, Steve Polimeni, my best friend in all the world, closer than a brother since we were four years old, came from Portland for a visit.

Eight years earlier, Steve and I were five-year-olds, attached at the hip, growing up in the suburban jungle of expanding Portland. Although we lived in a big city, we were no strangers to wild adventure. The neighborhoods were expanding at breakneck speed in an effort to keep up with the post-war baby boom. The suburbs were rolling over the former hayfields and forests of northeast Portland. Pockets of wild forest still remained to be explored and the construction sites with half-finished homes provided endless opportunity for curious minds.

We slipped like a pair of miniature ghosts in and out of locked gates and fences designed to stop adults and were seldom slowed down by anything. We got a rude surprise one day while traversing a familiar landscape subtly changed by a recent heavy rain. The firm brown earth of the previous day was still brown but not so firm. We ran lightly over the brown surface until its unfamiliar sticky quality brought us to an unwilling stop. Like that, we were stuck, bogged down to the top of our rubber boots. All we could do was stand at the center of that ocean of mud and hope for

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