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Sean Santa Excerpt, Spring 2010

From “All the Way Down in Murdering Town, Ohio”

As Albert approached his child and wife from the right with the river to his  left, he saw a figure walking ahead of them.  The group was moving slow. As  he closed the distance, he thought he recognized the figure; he imagined he  knew every Indian in Murdering Town. The man might be a Lenape brave. He  was tall and kept ahead of Paulette’s stride. He carried a sack  and waved a musket, as if hunting. Albert swung around to meet them. The  Lenape stopped and turned around. Louise halted Paulette and said “Albie!” He  saw Niloen squeezing her mother’s stomach with both hands; Louise’s  left hand holding her small body. The Indian steadied himself. The river burbled. The horses scoffed.

The Indian  said, “I’m a guide.” He sneered.  His lips peeled back; he bared his teeth.

“This’ll be fine, then,” Albert said.

Louise coughed  on her horse. The Lenape shifted his feet, done up in deer hides in the  tall grass that surrounded them.  Albert trotted Duly over, and reached  down to pat the horse’s mane. As he did so, the horse spooked and  kicked both front feet into the air, rearing his head to one side. Albert  leaned in, held on to the reigns, and steadied the horse back to its legs. He stroked Duly’s neck and saw the Lenape put one hand into his sack. The Indian's fingernails clicked against the barrel of the gun.

“They’re lost and I’m a guide,” he said again.

Beyond the  river, a dark cloud leaked across the horizon. Albert licked his lips  and thought he would not even punish Louise. Behind him the thin trees  were overtaken by wind. The sun dipped, then blasted the group again. The  Indian stood in front of Albert and lowered his jaw. Then, the parents looked towards each other.