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**PRINT: FRIENDS FROM CINCINNATI: Installment 24 features this part coming-of-age short by Chicago's Patrick Somerville, author of the Trouble collection of shorts out in 2006. | PAST BROADSHEETS |

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Kevin O'Cuinn

You know how much Mommy and Daddy love you, right sweetheart? And nothing in this world will ever change that, because our love is strong. You know that, don't you? Right?



Yes, Daddy?

Well... Mommy isn't coming home anymore, sugar.

You mean?



'Fraid so. Your Mommy's screwing Uncle Steve.

I told you to watch him!

I tried, petal. God knows I tried.

Damn. So, whatcha gonna do, Daddy?

Well... I'm ... I'm gonna kill Mommy, sugar. That's what I'm gonna do.

But...but then I'll be an orphan! Now isn't a good time for that type of adjustment.


Come on Daddy, they'll fry you.

You reckon?

No doubt about it.

Jeez, sugar.

Maybe you want to look at alternatives. But back to Mommy...

Well, it's been going on quite some time. I never bought that with her starting smoking, and the two of them slipping outside...


Hi baby! Told you I'd make it! Not asleep yet, huh? Everything okay? Why the look? Were you two playing wind-up again?

Daddy said you were...


What did Daddy say?

Oh, never mind, you know Daddy. How was your workout?

Good, thanks. I'm just going to take a quick bath. You two have time for one story, okay? And no more wind-up!

Okay. Listen up, Daddy.

Isn't it my turn?

Uh-uh. Remember last night? It was so lame, I mean: 'The devil came to earth for the very first time. And first his left hoof touched the ground. And the first garlic grew. And then the right hoof. And the first onion grew.' You call that scary?

I was kind of scared.

I'm in third grade! What about my development? Didn't you read that book?


You didn't read the book!

Oh! You mean How To Raise a Precocious Brat.

I don't think so! The one about giving your kid input...

Oh, that book, where did I leave that thing?


Okay listen, I'll read it, okay? I promise, but now, story time...

The book says you should address me by my real name.

Not sugar?


Or tulip?

No. Or blossom...actually I kinda like blossom...

Okay, so, Audrey Rose...

That's not my name!

You're not...

Daddy! Don't go weird on me again, Mommy wouldn't let me watch that movie.

Okay, okay. So...you are?

Doh. Julie.

Just checking. How about this story?

Okay, here goes...

Is it about food?

Sssshhhh! But yes, kind of. Can I have some water?... Thank you... Long, long ago there was a beautiful Polynesian girl whose name was Maui. Maui sailed her canoe near and far, day after day, but was always home before dark, or very shortly afterwards. She lived on an island called Tonga, and was a happy girl. Open your eyes, Daddy. She lived alone, with her father. He drank a little, but didn't hit her or anything, or try any weird stuff. So, one day Maui went down to the stream to bathe and was surprised by an eel. He was a big ugly eel, four and a half slippery feet long, 150lbs. And straight away the eel fell in love with Maui and began stalking her, everywhere she went.

An eel?

Sssshhhhhhh! Maui was afraid and worried, and told her father who straight away wanted to meet this eel because he heard of rich out-of-town eels who gave big dowries. So Maui turned to the village council for help.


They were like, the elders, what they said went, father or not. So Maui went there, and there's the eel! Yes, the same eel, wearing a kimono, in the village council! So she ran home and cried all night long. Well, next morning, Maui knew there was nothing else for it, she'd have to kill the eel. So she took her father's ax, a rusty old ax -- if the cut didn't kill him the infection would -- and headed down to the pool to bathe, knowing he'd show up. And he did, in no time, the slimy no-good...


You get the picture. In no time Maui had him in a headlock, and was squeezing the life out of him. She leaned back to get the ax and it was then the eel said, 'Take your blade and detach my head. Leave my carcass to rot in the sun, but burn my head. From the ashes will grow a mighty tree. And it will be called the coconut tree, The King of Trees. Its palms will shelter you from the rains. Its wood will keep you warm. Its flesh will fill your bellies, its milk will nourish generations, its shell shall, ehh, do all kinds of stuff. But to open the coconut you must kiss me.' And Maui was like 'No way, sicko.' But the eel smiled and said that to drink the milk of the coconut she would have to hammer a hole into the top of it, and this would be his mouth and if you look closely you could see the eyes and the face of the eel, in the top of the coconut. So the eel would get his kiss, kind of, when Maui drank. And that's pretty much what happened, and the story of the first coconut.


What do you think Daddy? Were you scared?

Ehh, no. Was pretty sick though, I mean eels and blunt axes and all. Okay Julie, time for bed.


No buts.

Well, but -- before Maui killed the eel, the eel made a solemn promise that he would return.

I'm still not scared.

Well you're about to be. See, I'm going to give you two possible scenarios to wrap up the story.

It's not wrapped up?


Okay. But then bed, okay?

Okay. First scenario: It's kind of late, and Mommy isn't back from her bath. Maybe she's fallen asleep? So, we, you and I, go to the bathroom to see if she's okay, or if she's fallen asleep.


Mommy's not there.

Mommy's not there?

No. And in her place, in the bath, is a four-foot-long eel. He's back...

But that doesn't work, Julie, this isn't Polynesia. There are no eels, not even in the deep-freeze at the store.

He's back, and he's eaten Mommy.

That's pretty sick, but go on, you have my attention.

And if you look closely, you can see Mommy's shape, her elbows sticking out, her knees. He's eaten her, but she's moving around in there, barely alive, putting up a last fight. And then you say to me -- 'Sugar, ever tasted fresh coconut?' And I say, 'Ehh, no.' And you say, 'Go get the ax.'

Not bad.

Thanks, Daddy.

And the second scenario?

Yes, and personally I prefer this one.

...and it goes?

So. See, there is no eel, and there is no Maui. Okay? And no Mommy. You didn't have the balls to marry her, the only woman who ever loved you. So after eight years of giving her the runaround, she saw the light, and hooked up with your best friend Steve. Your now ex-best friend Steve. Steve who made the zillion in the dot-com thing, lost everything, then punched and kicked till he won it back again. Steve who made the Fortune 500. They're expecting their third kid in fall. You don't go out, you don't date, booze has you by the balls. The closest you come to kissing is sucking on a bottle of Jameson. You're George Bailey on the bridge, you're Jacob Marley on December 23rd, for the duration - which isn't going to be long. You use any strength you have to sit in the park, rewriting history, making yourself the victim in your sorry fucked-up life. And thinking up dumb-ass sentimental stories, like this one. There's no me -- there's no petal sugar blossom; 'There is no Julie.' You're alone; you fucked up.