The Bridge at Kill Creek

We used to meet on the wooden bridge sometimes.   He was returning from fishing, I from my morning walk. He seemed pleasant enough, always smiling and always with a warm greeting. Our conversations consisted of my asking how he did. His reply never more than “One big one, or a few small ones.”   The narrow bridge was a pathway over the shallows of Kill creek.   One side led to the main road Route 10. The other had a series of trails to take you to the confluence of the creek and the meandering waters of the nearby Osage River.

On many early spring mornings I would stop from my walk, mesmerized by the sight of the man fly fishing.   I would watch the symphony of the line and rod, working as one in concert with the flick of his elbow and wrist. It was as though he were conducting an orchestra. And on more than one occasion , I watched as the orchestra of his rod, line, and reel were perfectly in tune, and he were rewarded with a Trout instead of applause for his efforts.   The Trout was rewarded with a ride in his creel, or a return trip to the creek if it were under the legal size. An education for all involved.   I considered it a beautiful melding of man and nature.

The early morning light filtering through the trees would hit the wet line, an almost fluorescent glow could be seen as the water were thrown off the line and hit the sunlight.  The fly hitting the water caused a small ripple, the trout hitting the fly, a more violent ripple. And as the rod bent from the weight of the fish on the line, a crescendo to culminate the piece of art occurred, much like the  Piano ending a piece by Brahms.   Who knew the symphony and trout could coexist?

My cabin was situated a mile from the bridge, but only fifty feet from the widest bend in Kill creek.  It was my sanity spot.   I would visit as often as I could.   The kind of place a guy could totally relax; I could write, walk and find solitude from the busy city life.  I loved the sounds of a spring rain or a summer thunderstorm as it hit the tin roof.   It made a few hours’ drive from the city, seem like a world away.   This was my Walden Pond for two summers.   It was wonderful period of time as I look back.    But just like so much of life, that too changed in a moment’s time.   I remember it like it was yesterday.

I had just put a pot of Coffee on to start my day, and sat smoking on the deck patiently waiting for the magic elixir.   I first spotted the hounds; they worked their way from the edge of the creek and up the swale stopping at the small clearing, which I had made two summers ago.    The hounds three in total were followed by a group of men in windbreakers.    As they passed I could see the markings of the state police on the backs of the jackets.    They continued on following the hounds that were traversing the edge of Kill creek.   I watched as I finished my smoke, and they disappeared from sight.    I opened the screen door and poured myself a cup of coffee in my stainless steel cup and headed off for my walk.

The morning had brought with it, springs nip in the air.  I savored my coffee and could smell the Forsythia which was blooming. I noticed the Red Bud trees were beginning to bud; they too would be in their glory soon I thought to myself.   Just one more of Missouri’s hidden treasures.   I walked on and came to the bridge.

 I watched as a large contingent came across the narrow wooden bridge, I stepped to the side and sipped my coffee.   The group of men also wearing the windbreakers of the State police, walked methodically across the old wood slats as they escorted a man in handcuffs.   As they neared my position, I saw his hat; the tied fly’s seemingly ready for another day of trout.  We made eye contact briefly; he then looked straight ahead as he called out to me.  “They only Found one big one, and a few small ones.”  He was loaded in the police cruiser, and it sped away. I turned back around in time to see the medical examiners people carry three body bags across the old wooden slats of the bridge over Kill creek.

I take my coffee from a ceramic mug now.  My enjoyment of Forsythia and Red Bud is limited to those species in Forest Park.  And I never, never, order the local fish from the menu.


~ by onthedarkside on March 23, 2011.

2 Responses to “The Bridge at Kill Creek”

  1. This one made me chuckle at the end. You had me hook line and sinker at the beginning. Never suspected a serial killer. I did part own a boat house once and how you described the solitude, peace and slowness I miss terribly.

  2. Kevin, this gave me goosebumps. My bi-weekly trips to Lawrence will never be the same. Thank you for that. 🙂

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