From the opening paragraphs of Tales from the Rafting Center by Will Volpert:
OUR RAFTING CENTER is located near downtown Ashland, Oregon and if you’ve visited town in the summer you may have seen our rafts, trailers, vans, guides and customers wandering around between Pioneer and Oak Street. The location serves multiple purposes – the first being our meeting location for trips, second being our “warehouse” where we store our equipment, and the third being our reservation office where the phone rings and emails are hammered out.
One time, a rough and tough guy walked in and said he wanted to go rafting. But, there was a catch: He didn’t want to pay. “That makes things tough,” I told him, “because the typical transaction is that people pay us and then we take them rafting.” It’s really the only way to run a successful rafting company. He responded that there was surely something he could trade us for a rafting trip. “What do you need?” he asked. I told him that we really needed money, but I’d be open to trading for a computer. He didn’t have a computer, but he had a TV. “Do you have a photo of it?” I asked. “Even better,” he replied, “I can draw it for you.” He proceeded to draw a rectangle. “I don’t think I’m interested,” I told him.
The opening paragraph of High Water and Low Culture on the Merced by Mark Palmer:
I AM ON HOLD WITH THE AUTO CLUB, standing at a dented black pay phone bolted to the cinderblock wall of Jack Bass’s living room in Briceburg, California. Most people wouldn’t have a pay phone in their living room. But here, it makes sense. While this is Jack’s home and the nerve center of this seven-person town just outside of Yosemite, it’s really just an old gas station with some carpet on the concrete floor. I put Jack at 75 years old. But it’s hard to tell. He’s wrinkled and toothless and speaks in a raspy grumble. Given the evidence of good living that fills the room: empty beer cans; cigarette butts; biker magazines and cereal boxes, Jack could be 45 and I’d never know. I can see him on his porch sitting on a vinyl car seat he pulled out of some junked sedan, his face to the morning sun. Jack is sandwiched between a pair of sausage-shaped teenage girls in tube tops and cutoff jeans. One girl slaps her naked thigh with the business end of a wire flyswatter.
The opening paragraph of The Tuolumne Griddle by Steve Welch:
IF GEAR COULD TALK, it would all listen to the Tuolumne griddle: “I was born in 1992. Custom-designed and custom-built to replace my grandfather, an aging and warped World War II veteran field-kitchen lid that had seen too much heat and too little attention. I was made of quarter-inch thick anodized aluminum, with welded 12 gauge round-stock handles, perfectly-sloping sides, and special anti-rocker bars on my bottom. I was the cat’s meow, cutting edge, one-of-a-kind; the griddle of the future.” Read entire story.