Shepherd used his pocket knife to scrape frost from the window that overlooked the frozen meadow that stretched before the cabin.
“I think there are secrets here, Pal,” Shepherd said, “don’t you agree or are you one of them who will keep the secrets? They don‘t trust me, but I really care little about that. I didn‘t move here for the friendship. I came here to… find myself.”
“I think this land first tries to expel you as if a foreign object that sticks in the skin,” Shepherd said. “Once you stick it out for a while and determine you will stay it forms tissue around you so that the only way it can be removed is by digging you out.”
“New York eased me out like pushing a splinter to the surface and this land is trying to do the same. But you know something, Pal? It won’t work. I got no place else to go. I’m a lot like those natives. You find someplace no one in their right mind would dare go and claim it as yours.”
“Why want what everybody else wants, right, Pal?” Shepherd turned to Pal.
Pal laid in front of the fire with his chin on the floor looking up at Shepherd.
“I know, there I go again, being introspective,” Shepherd said and turned back to looking out the window.
“I wonder how Daniel, Maggie, Nan, Ben, and Izzy are doing?” Shepherd said reflectively. “It must be good to have each other. It would be good to have another. I don‘t think that will ever be. I was always alone. The only difference between now and a year ago is concrete.”
“Hey, Pal,” Shepherd turned to him. “This is usually where the bottle comes in. I don’t want it. I don’t need it. People turn to things when others aren‘t there. The trick is when others aren‘t there to take the things away and you have to turn to yourself and God.”
“There is order to it all. A trillion random complexities must all line up together and function as designed. If one thing is out of kilter it all falls apart.”
“Is this making sense to you or are these things you already know?” Shepherd said. “The reason why I ask is that I’ve heard nothing from you. That is a sign of ignorance or approval.”
“And he remains quiet,” Shepherd said. “At least make some noise.”
Pal made a muffled bark.
“Good,” Shepherd said. “You’re following and listening.”
“It is strange,” Shepherd said. “Nature inspires us to rest on God and humans turn us from Him and they say that He is an invention of man; atheism and agnosticism are the inventions. Somebody designed it all and flipped the switch.”
“Are you a believer yet?” Shepherd said. “I have the feeling I’m preaching to the choir.”