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bio | see also "Madness" | spanish translation

A story of Quillifarkeag, Maine


by G.K. Wuori

              Squis had the food and had been waiting for over an hour, she said, in Hunellia Faulk Ponus Park on the north edge of Quilli, not all that far, Squis had told someone once, from Labrador. She thought that was true.
      She was waiting for Dené and Li-Lee who were always late because one or the other of them had to go to the ATM or had to buy cigarettes, which wasn't all that hard, you just had to say "They're for my mother". Dené said her father said that was what they'd always had to say as kids, but he thought they'd just gotten away from it for a long time, until the new laws had come along. He was fond of saying, "It all just goes around."
      SQUIS ENVIED DENÉ, who was pregnant, and Li-Lee who had a child, a little girl being kept for her by her aunt in St. A de P. Squis thought everyone was so much like everyone else and she was more like everyone else than anyone else that just being something was necessary. God knew, she thought, how in the world Dené and Li-Lee would be able to handle kids, but all Squis had so far was 1350 on the SAT and no one had come up to her wanting to rub her tummy and say "Cool" just because of that.
      Since Hunellia Faulk Ponus Park was rarely inhabited by anything other than grosbeaks and geese flopping around the moldy lake it was a good place to meet to talk about the most extraordinary thing - the murder - without having to worry about anyone butting in to say they knew why about what, when everyone knew nobody knew anything about any of it. Sometimes you just had to roll around in bad things and dream about them and jabber into inanity without someone, say, like Squis's mother, who was a physician, ragging you into an unlibelous boredom strangled by facts.
"Liverwurst for you;' Squis said, while Li-Lee hopped on top of the picnic table and sat cross-legged and said, "Fried egg for me?"
      "You're a princess."
      "I am."
      "I hate you."
      "No you don't."
      Dené had pulled apart the two slices of bread of her sandwich and was licking the sausage off it as she reached into her backpack and removed a pint bottle of whiskey.
      "Do you know what I heard?" Squis began, but Dené interrupted her and said she had to get some clothes for school.
      "This time around--" she began, jutting her abdomen out in an awkward way and smiling.
      "Of course!" Li-Lee said.
      ''--it's a little different."
      She said her nipples were itching all the time, too, and Li-Lee said there was stuff you could get for that.
      Li-Lee said, "This is a good sandwich, Squis."
      SQUIS WAS IN THE middle of a sixteen-ounce tub of yogurt and just said "Thanks" and took the whiskey bottle from Dené.
      "Right here, you know," Squis said.
      "Here what and what do I know?" Li-Lee asked, then Dené said, "I think murder's cool."
      "Dené!" Squis said.
      "A perception, you know;' Dené said. "It's an infinite power kind of thing."
      Li-Lee put the bottle down and said: 'A little ol' life and death thing, honey?"
      "Off the record?" Dené said.
      "Who's keeping a record?" Li-Lee answered.
      "I peed forty-six times yesterday."
      "Off the record?" Squis said. "I think that is a record."
      Dené was holding the whiskey bottle over her head and looking at the sun through the amber glass as she said, "It got to be-a-little-erotic?"
      She looked at Squis as she said it and Squis, thinking Dené was trying to shut her out of something, said, "They do it all the time now.
      "They?" Dené said. "They who?"
      "Who they?" Li-Lee countered.
      "Some movies;' Squis said. "My dad gets these brochures."
      "HERE'S WHAT MY MOTHER said," Squis began.
      "The doctor's report?" said Li-Lee.
      "As much as she told me," Squis said.
      Dené stood up then, her face scowling under a belch of liverwurst and whiskey, and said, "I have to pee."
      "We've done pee," Li-Lee said. "I don't want to do anymore pee."
      "It's not yours to do," said Dené, getting off the table. Squis didn't think she was walking any too steadily toward the woods at the park's edge. She rolled a little, but she guessed it was probably the baby rolling.
      "AN EROTIC EXPERIENCE?" Li-Lee said as Dené returned.
      "Like reading a mutual fund report," Dené answered.
      "He cut her toes off," Squis finally said.
      "As in," said Li-Lee, "what's for dinner?"
     "Your mother told you this?" asked Dené
     "Think what that would do to your shoe size," said Li-Lee. "Or wearing sandals;' Dené said. "How would you do that?"
      "They don't bury you wearing sandals;' Squis answered. "I'm sure they don't."
      "I forgot she was dead;' Dené said.
      "Without death-no murder," Squis said.
      "Now I know why you're so smart. Isn't she smart, Li-Lee?"
      Li-Lee, wiping her mouth with a napkin from Squis's bag, said, "The bottle's empty."
      "Squis, honey," Dené began, "I want to name my baby after you --"
      "-- only"
      "-- only: Squis. Squis? What is that from? What kind of name is that?"
      "My dad--"
      "Your dad's name?"
      "No. He just calls me that."
      Squis smiled at Dené then and reached over and brushed some crumbs from her sweatshirt. "It's because I'm not a virgin." she said.
      "You're not?" said Dené.
      "You're not?" echoed Li-Lee.
      "It was medical," Squis said.
      "Isn't it always?" Dené asked. "But 'Squis'?"
      "It's just a sound, my dad says," Squis answered. "'Like water on leaves,' I think he said, or 'like sex in the rain.’"
      "Your dad?" Li-Lee asked.
      "That's all I must say." Squis said.
      "Oh my." said Li-Lee.
      "A good baby name, though," Dené said. "A good baby name."
      Li-Lee, a puzzled look on her face, finally said, "Really good."

© 1999 G.K Wuori                                            

"Murder" appears in Nude in Tub, published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. This electronic version of "Murder" is published by The Barcelona Review by arrangement with Algonquin Books. Book ordering available through  Amazon.com or Larry Kolarik at World Wide Media Services.

This story may not be archived or distributed further without the author's express permission. Please see our conditions of use.
Author bio:

G.K Wuori grew up in De Kalb, Illinois, where he has returned after living all over the U.S., most recently Presgue Isle, Maine. He received his undergraduate degree from Northern Illinois University and his doctorate in philosophy from Purdue. He has published stories in a large range of literary magazines and is a Pushcart Prize winner.
navigation:                                          barcelona review #13   mid-june to mid-august 1999
-Fiction Murder by G.K. Wuori
Madness by G.K. Wuori
Slide Show by Matt Marinovich
Here Swims a Most Majestic Vision by Jason DeBoer
My Father...The Train by Donna Lee
When Interviewing Characters by Roger Aplon
-Poetry Steve Aylett

Grooves, Camouflage, and the Conspiracy of Whiteness
by Barbara F. Lefcowitz

-Interview Magnus Mills
-Regular Features Book Reviews
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