“I’m not sure Jubal saw it that way. The last thing he did on this earth was smile, Ed.”

He could see that Larson didn’t believe him. Probably he didn’t believe a lot of what Cork had said so far.

“Did you have your cell phone with you?”

Cork shook his head. “We were out there to get away from a world of phone calls. But even if I’d taken my cell phone, it wouldn’t have mattered.”


“Coverage is hit and miss up there. But around Trickster’s Point, especially, nothing gets through.”

“And why’s that?”

Cork shrugged. “Ask the Ojibwe, and they’d tell you it’s just Nanaboozhoo messing with you.”


“The Trickster. That’s his territory.”

Larson stared at him. His face reminded Cork of a ceramic doll with all the features painted on and none of them capable of moving. Larson looked down at his notes. “You had breakfast at Johnny’s Pinewood Broiler before you headed out. You had a cheese omelet, and Jubal Little had cakes and eggs over easy. When you left, you both spent a few minutes standing out on the sidewalk, arguing.”

Cork said, “Did you find Heidi or did she come looking for you?”

He was talking about Heidi Steger, their waitress at the Broiler that morning.

Larson didn’t answer but said instead, “What did you argue about?”

“We didn’t argue. It was more like a heated discussion.”

“What did you discuss, then, so heatedly?”

“Politics, Ed. Just politics.”

Larson maintained his ceramic doll face for a long moment, and Cork, in that same long moment, returned his steady gaze.

“Okay,” Larson finally went on. “You said he talked a lot as he was dying. What did he talk about?”

“First he talked about that arrow, whether to try to remove it. Jubal wanted to, I didn’t. Then I tried to leave to get help. Jubal wanted me to stay. After that, he talked about life. Or I should say his life. It was so Jubal of him, but understandable under the circumstances. He had a lot of regrets. Toward the end, he was in and out of consciousness. When he was awake, he mostly rambled. It was hard to make much sense of anything.”

“Did he say who’d shot him?”

“He didn’t have to. We both knew who he believed it was.”

“Who was that?”

“He thought it was me.”

“He thought you were trying to kill him?”

“He thought I’d shot him by accident.” Which was the only lie Cork had told in any of the interviews that day.

“Did you?”


“You meant to shoot him with that arrow?”

Cork refrained from smiling at the obvious and shallow trap and told him once again, “It wasn’t me who shot Jubal.”

“Who then?”

“I don’t know.”

“Did you see anyone else?”


“Hear anyone else?”


“So, as far as you know, you were both alone out there?”

“Clearly not. Whoever shot that arrow was out there with us.”

In the beginning, Larson had positioned his chair near to Cork, making the interrogation a more intimate affair, just between the two of them. Between friends, maybe. Now he backed off a couple of feet and asked, rather indifferently, “Do you consider yourself a good bow hunter, Cork?”

“Fair to middling.”

“When you hunt, you’re a purist, right? You do still-stalking. No deer blind. You actually track the animal on foot.”

“That’s right.”

“I’m guessing you’d have to be tuned in to all the sounds around you, wouldn’t you? Reading all the signs?”

Cork understood the thrust of Larson’s questions. If there was someone else at Trickster’s Point with them, why didn’t Cork know it?

“Must take incredible stealth,” Larson said.

“That all depends on what you’re after,” Cork replied.

“You were after white-tail deer, weren’t you?”

Cork said, “Ed, what I was really after is something you can’t understand, and if I say it, you’ll misconstrue my meaning.”

“I’ll do my best to understand.” He promised with such earnest appeal that Cork knew he was telling the truth.

So Cork offered his own truth in return. He said, “I was hunting Jubal Little.”


Violence took Jubal Little out of Cork’s life, but violence was also the way he’d entered it.

Nearly forty years earlier, when Cork was twelve years old and in the sixth grade, the baby boom in Aurora, as it probably had everywhere, resulted in the overcrowding of the town’s elementary school. To deal with the situation on a temporary basis, the school board arranged for a couple of annex trailers to be placed on the grounds of the junior high, which was the only school-owned property with space available. The annexes were used to house the two sixth-grade classes. As a result, those kids who normally would have been the cocks of the walk in that final elementary year became, instead, the focus of abuse by many of the older junior high students, with whom the sixth graders shared the cafeteria, gymnasium, restrooms, and playing field. Worst among the tormentors was Donner Bigby, whom everyone called Bigs because of his size. He was a strawberry blond and had a massive upper torso. His intimidating physique came from both genes and working summers with the logging crews his father sent into the Superior National Forest to cut timber on tracts leased from the federal government. Bigby chewed tobacco, drank beer, and swore like a lumberjack. When he strutted down the hallways or across the school grounds, most kids-Cork included-gave him a judiciously wide berth.

The children of the Iron Lake Ojibwe attended school in Aurora and were bused in from the reservation. Three of the reservation kids were in the sixth grade with Cork. Because his grandmother was true-blood Iron Lake Ojibwe and he spent a lot of time on the rez, Cork was acquainted with them: Peter LaPointe, Winona Crane, and her twin brother, Willie. He knew Winona especially well, because he’d had a crush on her forever. She was smart and pretty and a little wild. She played the guitar and made up her own songs and sang beautifully. She had long black hair and eyes like shiny chips of wet flint that, if she wanted, could cut you with a glance. She was fiercely protective of Willie, who’d been born with cerebral palsy and who walked with a slow, awkward gait and spoke with some difficulty.

It wasn’t at all surprising that Willie turned out to be a perfect target for the abuse of Donner Bigby.

Most days after school, Winona and her brother hopped on the bus and rode the fifteen miles to the rez, where they lived with a variety of relatives. Their father was dead, killed in a car wreck caused by a drunken driver-him. Their mother was an unreliable caregiver at best, and very often gone. Just gone. For weeks or even months. Sometimes they stayed with their grandmother, sometimes with an aunt or uncle. Their uncle Leonard Killdeer worked at the BearPaw Brewery, which sat next to Sam’s Place, the Quonset hut turned burger joint on Iron

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