The tired evening sits upon the old wooden fence, wheedling. The animals are quiet, lost in the vacant contemplation of the moment: fatigue, full bellies, cool of the evening, falling as benediction. The man stares into his empty glass and scratches the whiskers on his chin - Virginia hills call to him, and he hears the stories of his grandfather which tell him: you are here, you are supposed to be here, you are alive.
The body of the boy is stinking and attracting flies, but it doesn't matter. He'll deal with it. He'll deal with it and everything else because that's what he said he would do. The obligation is a yoke; he is plowing his subconscious. The boy smells like shit. It is a real smell. Alive.
Behind the cabin, the stream trickles by as it has for years and ages, and maybe all time. It is filled with smooth rocks and windfall branches and slick, shiny trout that leap and flash in the falls. Watch this festival of natural absurdity glisten as it tumbles in the green water, heavy with rain.
The night will come, and it will signal the hoot owl and the hound. The boy will take his final resting place in the ground. The night birds will sing, and the neighbors will call that ominous. A panther will cleave the night like a woman's screams, and all will be laid out into the morning.
We don't need your gods. We don't need your medical learning. It's all and more that we know - what's in these hills. Every story ever told by man and half of his sins live in those trees. And when summer hits its stasis point and night is tipping scale toward morning - hell, nothing matters except the stories we tell ourselves. And they get big. Bigger than the hills.
There are more secrets. Everywhere. They clog the tepid air with their contrite seductions. There are corpses in the closets where most store skeletons. There are crossed bloodlines and cursed brothers - and in summer, when the night is a velvet curtain, you walk softly and you listen for the big wind that says the storm is coming. And if you're smart, you pray, whether you believe in it or not.