The night Billy came home, a Wednesday night, a storm blew down from the mountains, ripping a limb from one of the oaks in the north pasture and dropping it on the fence line. Friday afternoon, after chainsawing up the limb, and splicing the fence back together, and stacking the wood, Grant put on a clean shirt and walked out to his truck. The old black Labrador got to her feet and followed, but he said, “No, you stay here,” and drove off by himself. The dog stood in the sun a moment, then returned to the little place she had under his porch, dark and cool, from which she could watch the other house across the way, the big house, where Billy was.
The Chevy had good kick in the mountains, but Grant was content not to pass the logging trucks and other rigs laboring up the steep switchbacks. He lit a cigarette and watched the range rear up around him, the patterned thick walls of pine and more pine and now and then a copse of yellowing aspen like a blight on the green.