Billy had long ago feared that the stories were over, that the well had run dry, that among the trying and challenge of the world his role in it had been engulfed by a feverish pace. And then in the evening with the setting sun made more orange by the wildfire haze, he was walking up the driveway towards the house and suddenly became aware of things. The overwhelming pile of timber that had been bucked in the fall, of the tiny splitting axe sunk into a log amidst, of the vegetable garden on the landing above the driveway. Wild mustard everywhere and towering mullein, a thin sprig of yarrow with delicate white flowers and thin feathery leaves, the ground so dry that faint billows of clay puffed about his feet when he moved, and when the wind moved those particles circled and climbed and blew hard into the forest and he closed his eyes, the swaying pine trees, the swaying fir trees, a pile of scrap lumber – two by fours and two by sixes, both pressure treated and kiln dried – above the little hillside that was dun with unwatered fall rye. He knew there was a rattlesnake at the garden, sadly tangled and dead in the garden fence and being consumed to its tiny bones by a swarm of yellow jackets, jays croaking noisily in the trees and occasionally a dragonfly, lean and agile, darting in to take a mosquito or a fly.
Billy stopped in his tracks. The always soreness in his chest began to hurt, and his eyes began to water. In that spot in the dust he looked around, and he wondered how to fit all these bits of an unknown puzzle into some coherent whole, how he could tell everyone about what he had just seen, the banal, the boring, and the crystal perfection of it all. The adolescent moon just barely cresting above the mountains to the east.