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Finding Billy White Feather

By Percival Everett

OLIVER CAMPBELL HAD NEVER met Billy White Feather. He had never heard the name. But the note tacked to his back door had him out on the reservation at nine on a raw Sunday morning. Twin Appaloosa foals at Arapaho Ranch, the note said. To purchase, find Billy White Feather. The note was signed, Billy White Feather. He’d stepped out to find the note and no sign of anyone. He looked at his dog on the seat next to him. The twelve-year-old Lab’s big head hung over the edge of the seat.

“You’re not much of a watchdog, Tuck,” Oliver said. “You’re supposed to let me know when somebody’s in the yard.”

The dog said nothing.

Oliver didn’t want to make the drive all the way up to the reservation ranch just to find no one there, so he stopped at the flashing yellow traffic signal in Ethete. Ethete was a gas station/ store and a flashing yellow light. He got out of his pickup and walked through the fresh snow and into the store. He stomped his feet on the mud-caked rubber mat. The young clerk didn’t look up. Oliver moved through one of the narrow aisles to the back and poured himself a large cup of coffee. He picked up a packaged blueberry muffin on his way back and set it on the counter.

“Three dollars,” the young woman yawned.

“Three dollars?” Oliver said in mock surprise.

“Okay, two-fifty,” the woman said, without a pause or interest.

He gave her three dollars. “I’m looking for Billy White Feather.”

“Why?”

“He left me a note about a horse.”

“No, I mean why are you looking here?”

“I think he lives here. On the reservation, I mean.”

“Indians live on the reservation.”

Oliver tore open his muffin and pinched off a bite, looked outside at the snow that was falling again.

“Do you know Billy White Feather?”

“I do.”

“But he’s not an Indian?”

She nodded.

“His name is White Feather?”

“That’s something you’re going to have to talk to him about. He ain’t no Arapaho and he ain’t no Shoshone and he ain’t no Crow and he ain’t no Cheyenne. That’s what I know.”

“So, he might be Sioux.”

“Ain’t no Sioux or Blackfoot or Gros Ventre or Paiute neither.”

“Okay.”

“He’s a tall, skinny white boy with blue eyes and a blond ponytail and he come up here a couple of years ago and started hanging around acting like he was a full-blood or something.”

Oliver sipped his coffee.

“He liked on Indian girls and dated a bunch of them. Bought them all doughnuts ’til they got fat and then ran out on them. Now he’s in town liking on Mexican girls. That’s what I hear.”

“His note said there are some twin foals up at the ranch,” Oliver said. “Heard anything about that?”

“I heard. It’s big news. Twins. That means good luck.”

“So, what’s White Feather have to do with the horses?”

“I ain’t got no idea. I don’t care. Long he don’t come in here I got no problem with Billy whatever-his-name-is.”

Oliver looked at her.

“Because it sure ain’t no White Feather.”

Oliver nodded. “Well, thanks for talking to me.”

“Good luck.”



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