Billy and Jim sat on the porch of the cabin in the evening and Jim smoked and Billy’s dad was inside cleaning up after dinner. At the far end of the valley the sun was falling tri-colored orange and red and pink behind Cascade Mountain and the mountain stood high over the land, a sentinel. A wolf howled from deep in the forest. Farm dogs bayed in the distance in return and then their own dog Maggie howled from inside. Billy’s dad yelled at the dog and he pushed open the screen door carrying three bottles of beer and the dog slinked out and laid itself down against the wall of the cabin.
“That’s a sound I haven’t heard for a while.”
“They must have come back to the valley after winter.” Jim nodded. In the crook of his elbow he cradled his bandaged hand.
“Here you go. You haven’t even come close to earning this, but your mother would never let me drink alone.” He smiled at both of the boys and sat in the old plastic chair behind Billy and Jim.
“Every night I sit out here I think to myself that I haven’t ever seen such a magnificent sky, and then the next night I sit out here and I think the same thing. I don’t think there’s much more to life than this.”
“Well ain’t that poetic?” Jim joked. Billy’s dad pushed him with his boot.
“You’re too young to understand.”
“I guess so.” Said Jim. “I guess so.”
Billy laughed and drank from his bottle. From the forest the wolves howled again and the noise trailed off into the night and some of the farm dogs bayed in return but it all trailed off into the night and then was quiet. Silent. The remaining sunlight fell on the clouds as they moved down the mountain on the cooling air. Billy stared out at the empty pasture.