Awakened by the stillness of the mother of dawn from the languorous valley of dreams, Charles stretched in his tent, rose to his feet, crouched through the flap to breathe in the morning-cooled air and put a pot of coffee on to start his day. Nothing was better than being in the forest near the stream that he had been coming to since he was a kid with his father and his wounded smile faded slightly as this would be the first time since his father had passed that he had been back and it cut him deeply that his father had one day ceased to be, for his father was a god to him and if they were killing off the gods, what chance did he have, he wondered sleepily. Thoughts filled a man’s head out here, alone in the woods; ranging from the tranquil and philosophical to the inane and the insane and Charles knew that the whiskey he had been chugging the night before did not help and could have been a fatal mistake as these woods were full of bears but then again, bears usually didn’t like their meat marinated in Southern Comfort, he smiled with reckless abandon. It was the same reckless abandon that made him gung ho and join the Army but war was very far away from him today and that was a good thing in this ancient cathedral of evergreen and maple and he thought little of it as he took the night crawlers dug the morning before out of the old coffee can filled with earth from near the riverbed. Two years had passed since Rumalah and the horror of losing much of what defined the human face in that IED attack, not to mention the excruciating series of skin grafts that followed and haunted him day and night. Being in the serenity of these woods where no one stared at him and made uglier faces than he ever could and just to be one again with the rod, the reel and the stream healed him more than any surgery or therapy ever could.