JOHN DAVID ELLIS JR.
How Murder Creek Got Its Name, 1788 I. Innocent tributaries point in ways ﬁngers cannot, the thorns of a windrose that spill aged blood like brown leaves in piles. A boy pulls on his britches, or maybe he says, “breeches,” as the father and his servants blanket the horses, clouds of hot air escaping open nostrils. Above, a single black bird ﬂies circular, Their host yawns, waving them away from his porch, the trail ahead narrowing into a knife blade. “What are the names of the trees?” the boy asks of his father. “What are the names of the creeks?” The father has no answer. He is just passing through this land that cannot be claimed as his own. Still, he calls it home. II. Catt can’t travel alone because he gets lonely like an animal chased up a tree, so he brings his squaw wife, he brings the servant, Bob, he brings the Hillabee whose name is Manslayer. Catt knows trails better than any Indian, but Manslayer says he can hear the words they speak. Up ahead, a man with golden pockets and a funny tongue. The trails never lie.
John David Ellis Jr. 1