Almanac Poetry: The Story of Fisher’s Ghost Creek

The Story of Fisher’s Ghost Creek, near Campbelltown, New South Wales.

 

On that morning late in October, 1826,
Farley swore he hadn’t been drinking the night before.
“No. Not a single drop,” he told the local constable.
“I was driving home about midnight,
coming up to the bridge,
when the horse jibbed, then stopped,
frozen with terror.
Ahead, there was something glowing.
I looked more closely. Couldn’t believe my eyes.
It was bloody Fisher,
sitting on a railing on the bridge.”
The policeman stopped stroking his unshaven chin.
He raised his eyebrows.
“Fisher? You mean, Freddy Fisher?”
“Yes. Freddy Fisher.”
“Freddy left the colony a few months back.
Everyone knows that.
You’re saying he’s returned?”
“Yes, well – sort of,” answered Farley.
“I saw his ghost.”
The policeman sighed, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
He supposed he had more important work,
but the story was certainly strange.
Copper’s instinct told him
he’d better check it out.
“All right, Farley. Let’s go have a look.”
In clear morning sunlight, they rode to the bridge.
“Is this the spot?” asked the constable.
“This is it,” answered Farley.
Without dismounting, he placed his hand on the rail.
“Fisher, I mean his ghost,
was sitting just here.”
He patted the weather-worn wood.
“Lift it up,” said the policeman.
“What?”
“Your hand. Lift it up.”
The constable wheeled his horse around.
He examined the faded dark brown stains.
“Wonder where this blood came from?”
“Blood?” asked Farley, taken aback.
“How would I know?”
“It mightn’t be anything,” the policeman added, unconvinced.
Vaguely, pieces of a jigsaw puzzle
started to form in his head.
The pair cantered back to town.
“I’ll get Gilbert to find out what he can,”
the policeman eventually said.
“Anything more you want to add?”
Farley shook his head.
Next day, at the head of a police party,
Gilbert the tracker
worked slowly along the banks of the creek.
Finally, he paused.
“I smell white man’s fat,” he called out.
A little further,
the men came to a deep pool.
They looked at each other knowingly.
The pool was dragged,
yielding Fisher’s months old remains.
“Worrall,” stated the constable, to no-one in particular,
his mental jigsaw puzzle complete.
“I’d better have a word.”
George Worrall lived in the Campbelltown hut
he and Fisher once shared.
When Fisher disappeared, he told everyone
his mate had left the colony
and given him all his worldly goods.
“Restless soul, Fisher,” Worrall observed.
“Left in a hurry … Generous too.”
At the time, no-one was greatly surprised
– many freed convicts were wanderers
and did eccentric things.
Years spent in penal servitude,
the general populace rightly believed,
made a man strange.
The constable went to Worrall’s hut.
He knocked politely. The door creaked ajar.
A worried bushy face peered out.
The interview didn’t last long.
“All right. All right. Enough!
I did it. I killed him,”
Worrall, guilt-stricken, confessed.
He’d heard the story of Fisher’s ghost
and felt worse ever since.
“That bastard Fisher,” he lamented,
while being led away.
“He’s got me from the grave.”
In due course, Worrall was tried and hanged.
The ghost of Frederick Fisher
wasn’t mentioned at the trial,
but in the minds of many present
he was there, a perceptible presence,
pleased to see justice done.

 

And this is the story of Fisher’s Ghost Creek,
perhaps the sole creek in the world
to bear the name of a ghost.
The incorporeal Fisher, though,
was far from being the only phantom
to bring a killer to justice
– they do it all the time.

 

 

@DensleyKevin

Acknowledgements: first published in Tamba (2001); also, in Vigorous Vernacular, a Picaro Press collection of mine, (2008), reprinted by Ginninderra Press, 2018.

 

More from Kevin Densley HERE

 

 

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About

Kevin Densley is a poet and writer-in-general. His fourth book-length poetry collection, Sacredly Profane, has just been published (late 2020) by Ginninderra Press. He is also the co-author of ten play collections for young people, as well as a multi Green Room Award nominated play, Last Chance Gas, which was published by Currency Press. Recent other writing includes screenplays for films with a tertiary education purpose.

Comments

  1. Colin Ritchie says

    Keep them coming Kevin, thoroughly enjoying your work.

  2. Kevin Densley says

    Cheers, Colin! Thanks for that!

  3. That’s a beauty Kevin. I’m enjoying these.

  4. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Dips! They were enjoyable to write, too.

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