A Serious Matter
Each day that passed, a speck more of sunlight, but not warmth. The cold was deadly and challenging, an adversary with no compassion or conscience or trace of hypocrisy. Respect and fear was the only way to traverse from fall to spring. The moments of play and romping in the snow were like tempting the Devil.
The ears of Pal and Trap stood like soldiers called to attention. Something was near. Shepherd rubbed a light layer of frost from the window and peered across the lonely snow and windswept meadow. Suddenly appearing out of the stream bed were two humming snow machines.
“Mind your manners, Trap,” Shepherd said, “I think it’s Daniel and one of his boys.”
The snow machines came to rest in front of the cabin. It was Daniel and Nan. Shepherd met them at the steps to the porch. They greeted each other with a hug.
“We thought we’d check on you,” Daniel said. Daniel’s eyes widened. “What is that?”
“I call him Trap,” Shepherd said.
“Is he wild?” Nan said.
“Not now,” Shepherd said. “Let’s go inside and I’ll tell you about how Trap, Pal and I got to be friends.”
Shepherd, Daniel, and Nan sat around the table over coffee as the events surrounding the domestication of Trap were told.
After all questions and curiosity had been satisfied Shepherd ask, “So what brings you out this way.”
“Like we said,” Daniel said, “we worry.”
“That is nice,” Shepherd said. “I worried about your family. I think about you everyday. It‘s a blessing to have friends like your family. You are more than friends; I feel like you have become like family.”
“And the dogs,” Nan said raising her eye brows, “do they worry and think about us?”
Shepherd smiled. “And the dogs. I told Trap all about you folks.”
“How are Maggie and the boys?” Shepherd said.
“They are fine,” Daniel said.
“Have the boys ever wrestled and played with a timber wolf?” Shepherd said.
“Not that I’m aware,” Daniel said.
“Tomorrow,’ Shepherd said. “You and your family are invited out here. I have plenty of room, spend the night.”
Daniel looked at Nan. “We will come.”
“Good,” Shepherd smiled.
“I am curious, Shepherd,” Daniel said. “Tell me what you did in New York. Do you have family and children? If you don‘t want to say, that‘s okay.”
“Daniel, I have no secrets. Never a wife or children,” Shepherd said. “But I was married to my job and my children were my clients. I was a broker. Eight years at Sterling,
Paxton, and Purcell’s. I had interest in some businesses of my own also.”
“Why did you leave?” Daniel said.
“It just wasn’t me. I thought it was at first, but when you wake up one morning and ask who am I and all I have to answer with is a bank account, a personal portfolio of stocks that are obscene, and everyone around me hoping for my demise, one starts to question things. And then when you’re outside the shark tank the vermin on the streets take over. I lived in mortal fear from every direction.”
“You have danger here,” Nan said gesturing to the surroundings.
“For sure, I do,” Shepherd said. “But I have friends here, real friends.”
“But there is a serious matter I would like to speak to you about,” Daniel said. “I am worried about you.”
“What does that mean?” Shepherd said.