CHRISTIE GORE ROAD
by Jenifer McVaugh
I had heard the story not from one place but from every place; that Christie Gore had killed his daughter in that cabin, neglected her, tortured her, put her in an oven, tied her to the oven by her foot. Adopted daughter perhaps, or the youngest, or the only girl, or she killed her mother getting born - anyway the girl was a scandal when she came to school no coat and no shoes, filthy and ratted hair and her ribs sticking out and nothing for lunch. Drifting from place to place so nobody would see she hadn't any lunch and taunt her for it. And then she was even more of a scandal when she stopped coming and Christie said she was gone, that's all. So when Wedigo asked us to help him clean out the old cabin I jumped to volunteer.
Wedigo professed distaste for the whole operation and wanted to use shovels, but I got in with my bare hands. Cleaning out old places is attractive anyway for the treasure trove involved; even if you find nothing you might find a brass harness buckle with such a heavy yellow feel to it and such smooth lines it is real modern art to make you swoon.
But here was nothing much at Wedigo's. Filth, matted cardboard and some old jars. Pieces of leather. Rags. Rusty coffee cans with lids on with nails or washers in. Junk. And the place was small, it didn't seem to have a corner where a little girl could have hidden, no stairs to crouch under, no corner to cower in, there couldn't have been any suspense to it, if you know what I mean, she couldn't have evaded him. Once he decided to kill her she'd be dead, once he lost his temper and whacked her she'd be dead. I didn't find any bones, to notice. It's not like bones stay in tidy skeletons, they scatter every which way and somebody comes along and chews the ends off them. Think flesh and bones and you think the flesh melts off and the bones remain, but no, bones are no more permanent than anything else.
It kind of bothers me that people are starting to forget. I ask the neighbours about Christie Gore and they say, "Oh yes, some old story, I'm starting to forget it now, he was a hard man to get along with, uncouth." I want to say, "Uncouth! he killed his little girl and buried her in his own house, under the floor," but I only ever heard this as a rumour, and I don't even know how much I heard and how much I figured out, or made up. It gave me an unpleasant feeling, though, to know that there was a dead girl there, dead by her father's hand, and to know that there was some clue, some chair dragged out of place, some message that she had written with her finger on a dirty window-pane, and that I wasn't seeing it because the window had been smashed or the chair used for kindling by time.Now the road naming committee wants to name the road Gore Road. At first I objected, why name a road after some nasty old man, but now I think, well, no, you name it after her, too, little girl Gore, who never grew up, never raised a family, never got married, never got old, never got tall, just irritated, for some reason, the piss out of her father until one day he killed her, maybe, and time ate up her bones and her messages, but forget as they may nobody can cancel her out, and if there are no bones left and no clues, still it happened and it mattered and for a long time we'll call this Gore road, and after the road is gone still things will still never be the same, even if nobody remembers why or how.