A bleak morality tale, about a woman on her own, a senseless killing, and a small town full of strange folk, set in the same place, Quillifarkeag, Maine, featured in Wuori’s debut collection (Nude in Tub, 1998).
With the men of Quilli acting as a kind of emasculated Greek chorus, the events that unfold are these: Ellen DeLay, in a marriage that, after more than 20 years, was more silence than spark, had an epiphany after being locked accidentally—for three days—in the tool chest of husband Joe’s pickup. She thought he was trying to kill her, he thought she’d up and left him; when she finally got out of the chest, she wasn’t the same. Eventually she did leave Joe, to go live alone in a remote camp, where she took up the grisly profession of dressing any bear, deer, or moose that hunters would bring in, while wild gossip about her swirled through town. Her trade proved lucrative, but fate denied her any lasting success: putting an old, tick-infested moose out of its misery one day, Ellen inadvertently shot the fingertip off a drunk holding a can of beer some distance away. The law was called in, and in the middle of the night four officers, every one a woman, opened fire on Ellen as she lay drunk and asleep in her shack. The dead tell no tales, but Ellen had a witness, her friend Wilma, who arrived just as the hail of bullets began and saw that Quilli’s own constable was leading the assault. Keen to make things right, Wilma embarks on a dangerous course—until she snaps. And when that moment comes, Wilma has to take justice into her own hands.
Disturbing and different, with no end of introspective asides, this still could use more insight into the cold, dark heart of the woman with the badge and the gun.