“THE FORGOTTEN TALE” Intro

My name is Pablo La Boca and amongst other things, I am the keeper of “The Forgotten Tale”.

“The Forgotten Tale” is a collection of interrelated short stories, as shared to me by my  Grandfather while hiking and camping along the trails of the San Gabriels in Southern California.  There, he came to entrust me with these particular tales and explicitly instructed me to only share them with one other individual, who was of pure heart.

Over the years, I have come to conclude that I am not worthy of judging anyones heart.  It is for that reason that I am sharing these tales with everyone.

I have arranged the chapters of “The Forgotten Tale” from top to bottom (not by posting date) for a couple of reasons.  First, to give the tale congruence and secondly to allow the order to serve as a testing of your heart.

If you can make it to the end, I truly hope you find a bit more of your heart in “The Giving”.

I hope you enjoy my first share, “The Forgotten Tale”.

I will always be yours in earnest,

Pablo La Boca

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“THE GREAT MESTOLIO” Chapter 1

Some would have it that once a year “The Great Mestolio” glides into the Coachella Valley from high above the peaks of the San Bernadinos.  At summer’s end, he is said to leave the shaded sanctity of the alpine mountain lakes for the more predictable terrain of his earlier years.  With one breath, he is in flight…..

Using the updrafts provided by the Southern California desert wind, he gracefully descends to the warmth and familiarity awaiting below.  With each degree of heat, Mestolio’s eyes are synced to the angle of his wing.  The weave of increased temperature and landmarks, help exact his flight plan to the place reserved only for him.  All instincts tell the Mestolio to fly past the giant fans and billboards to the cliffs of the San Jacinto.  He must, as ever before, craft his accelerating glide along the mountainside, drafting beyond the natural desert springs and cacti until reaching the El Paseo, where rest and contentment await him.

After the three hour journey Mestolio refreshes in the small water overflow of the palm tree planter on Tommy’s second story patio.  The views to the El Paseo are bent like images in fun house mirrors.  Everywhere outside there is no escaping the heat waving grip of the desert, but this does not bother the Mestolio.  He is proud, having again found success in locating his personal oasis.  The patio now is Mestolio’s domain, his castle alone.

The cool, but quickly evaporating water, soothes his hardened cracked feet.  From claw to wing, from feather to head, Mestolio delightfully refreshes, and is emboldened enough to fix a new position atop a nearby table of glass and iron.  He does not care about being observed by those inside Tommy’s casa.  The two toned bird regally struts to the table’s center and slowly and symmetrically extends his large wingtips to the heavens until his back is reverse arched.  Finding satisfaction in his realignment, the Mestolio tilts his head from side to side until he shakes like a wet happy dog.  With two more steps forward, his bulging bb eyes methodically survey the environ. Lifting his tail feathers, he provides sufficient room for exacting his “personal signature” on the table top beneath him while being in full view of those inside the casa.  Mestolio remains aloof and without shame.  For now, and forever he is the reigning king of Tommy’s patio.

For a fraction of a second, my eyes are diverted, and when glancing back, like the sweetness of the mango in November, he is gone.  Looking to the horizon, I site three, maybe two impostors, side by side on a bar hosting a traffic light above the Paseo.  I pondered, could one of them be Mestolio?

My beautiful bride of one day and twenty years approaches our table inside Tommy’s casa.  I look into the sparkle of her deep brown eyes and with one breath…..the Great Mestolio no longer exists.

“THE GREATER WIND” Chapter 2

Typically, darkness prevails at the opening to most caves, but this night, from a small hole in the side of the vast San Jacinto, a spectrum of glowing slivers leaked outward into the open night air.  From far away it may have looked like a powerful star on the horizon exploding into another galaxy, but closer observation would reveal an equally magnificent event occurring within five miles of the desert city’s small central plaza.

A gentle breeze sails through the large boulder and palm singing to the creatures standing alert under the dark blanket covering the sleepy Coachella Valley.  Animals indigenous to the area surround the den’s entrance, finding their posts, alertly guarding against any intrusion to what is evolving inside the bright cave.

It was twenty years ago today, that the two impostors left Mestolio alone to face his fate on the street light above the El Paseo.  Since first flight, The Mestolio had known this day would arrive.  His claws wrapped about the steel girder as he braced for the inevitable.  His expectant eyes fixed straight ahead into the heated vacuum of the desert floor.  He saw the soccer ball,  just as he had dreamed since youth, hauntingly without kick, picking up speed, moving across the vacant playing field toward his perch.  It would soon all be over.  It would soon all begin.

In a fraction of a second, a single great wind fan whirled in a blur of white, a lone yucca tree suddenly bent to the ground and popped back upright, a cluster of sand blew across a small section of highway 111,  the great gust slammed the lone  soccer ball waiting at the field’s edge boardering Tommy’s casa.  This unique chain of events, like dominos falling, revealed the wind’s singular intricate path that would draft the Mestolio into an involuntary sideways vanishing act.

If two decades ago,  I hadn’t diverted my eyes to notice the approach of my beautiful bride, I may have noticed my newly acquired winged friend giving into that incredible force of nature.  For that split second I may have seen the Mestolio zip out of sight like a gnat atop a robust steam.

Who could have known that nature’s elements could have aligned to create such an exacting force, capable of instantly transporting a single defenseless pigeon to a small cave five miles away without witness.

Now, far off the El Paseo, away from the comforts of Tommy’s upstairs patio, in a hole at the base of the San Jacinto, Mestolio would lay dormant for twenty winters until making his return.

As with the wind before, for the years that followed to present, the Ancients had guided the sacred underground waters of the living desert to flow to and through the Mestolio’s ravaged beak.  The secret waters, which had eluded dinosaur and the entrapments of the post cambrian for millennium, were finally finding reprise in their timeless flow.  All that is or will be, was left to the awakening.

But typically, like a man of my years, I’m rambling and getting ahead of myself.

“THE GREATEST AWAKENING” Chapter 3

The small hole in the earth expanded with each thrust of the Mestolio’s healthy beak.  The cave which had been his embryo for the past two decades had become too confining for his revived frame.  Each demolishing peck outward opened the desert starlit sky he had known since first nest, familiar scents returned to his dusty nostrils.  Mestolio now longed to breakout and expand his wings.  He wanted to glide again along the vertical cliffs of the San Jacinto and feel the warm air caress his feathered wings.  His strong beak and claws worked frantically in sync, pushing aside the rock and dirt, making way for sweet flight.

In the early spring, my beautiful bride of forty years and I began our annual trek inland from the edge of the Pacific until reaching the trailhead leading up to the shaded lakes of the San Grogornio.  We climbed the ribbon road until everything below was miniaturized.  I took joy, fishing in the perfected art of conversing with her, looking for the rewards in her infectious smile.  Every year invited this venture out, to feel the mountain chill of the last snow melt until we would ultimately defer to the warmth of the Coachella Valley below.

After two days and nights we descended back down the mountain towards the desert floor below until the tiny landmarks again found proper scale.  The highway east, would again bring the kiss of the desert sun and new fishing grounds for conversation.

We travelled past the billboards along highway 111.  Signs promising heaven, directing how to get there.  Signs in the middle of nowhere, promising paradise amongst the dirt and tumbleweed…..so many perishable signs.

After the first big bend in the road, the majesty of the San Jacinto came into full view.  Flowered below the base of the enormous mountain, between the signs and yucca trees, was a large farm of wind fans dotting the landscape.  As we passed through the twirling swath of fans, our sense of normality shifted.

Several of the fans had been severed or torn along a true straight line as if by a giant ruler.  A quarter of a mile further east we were slowed to a stop near the banks of the Whitewater River.  The authorities instructed all to remain calm.  Within seconds a military convoy was waived through, as all others bewilderedly watched trying to explain the commotion to whoever would listen.

Everyone’s eyes drew upward towards an incredibly amplified echoing koooooo on the side of the mountain to behold a giant bird trying to maintain its balance on the steep mountainside 2,000 feet above.  Some of the onlookers screamed as if for their lives, others hooped or yelled, some actually seemed to be angry for being inconvenienced.  The dust trail behind the rushing convoy lead straight to a plateau near the wondrous creature.  As the convoy began to establish position, the great bird drafted into a glide eastward along the jagged cliffs towards Cathedral City until out of sight.

Earlier, with the rising sun, when Mestolio sat perched atop the San Jacinto all appeared normal.  The vast Salton Sea, the San Grogornio, the Paseo, all laid before him, innocently extending invitation.  Now in desperate flight towards the refuge of Tommy’s second story patio, simple geometry displayed the futility of his effort.  Mestolio’s wing span exceeded the width of his memory, he now clipped buildings on each side of the paseo as he had inadvertently done with the wind fans earlier.  When trying to land on Tommy’s patio, one extension of single claw caved in the railing on the second story balcony.  His heart beating faster and faster, the Mestolio mustered his might to regain flight, but he knew he would soon need to land.  He yearned for water to sooth his hardened claw and feather.  He needed to slow down his heart to find space between the beats to understand what was happening.

Above the Whitewater River, the sky filled with thin vapor trails, lining up behind a dozen rumbling, fast moving shadows.  Their speed defied imagination, the loudness pierced one’s very sole.  The shadows efficiently merged from different directions to form a hive which would follow the giant creatures flight east.

The sky cleared with the diminuendo of sound.  Being temporarily removed from the immediate drama of events my bride and I stood by the banks of the Whitewater not understanding anything, but that we were being included in something we could never have imagined.  Our hands separated when we heard an incredible explosion downstream toward the end of the mountain range.  We were ordered to turn back and head west toward the sea.  At that moment, the cool ocean breeze by the Pacific was more inviting than ever before.  We gladly turned around to follow the late afternoon sun home.

Legend has it that once a year, every year until twenty years ago, the Great Mestolio would glide down from the high alpine lakes, past the giant wind fans, signs and yucca, along the vertical cliffs of the San Jacinto until finding his domain on the outside second story patio of Tommy’s casa on the Paseo.

Today,  legend requires that a freakish huge bird was successfully destroyed while sitting on a perch above the main stadium at the Coachilla Valley Tennis Garden.  After what was left of him was swept up, the blood stains on center court could never be washed out or painted over.

His confiscated heart is still rumored to faintly beat inside a massive vacuum sealed, stainless steel room, at a laboratory in New Mexico, not more than five miles from the village center of Santa Fe.

Many say it is the heart of an impostor.

“THE EL STUPIDO” Chapter 4

The El Stupido was born on the LaPampa, where he spent most of his youth with the other el stupidos meandering in the tall grass bordering the cool waters of the Atlantic.  Like his peers, most of his thoughts encompassed filling his stomach and taking the easiest path to the day’s end.  Such was the life of the El Stupido in his early and uneventful years.

One December morning, with the coming of the warm Argentinian sun, a bulgy eyed bird of silver and gray, landed directly on the young El Stupido’s head.  The feeling of weight and movement above his eyes seemed foreign, but he quickly acclimated, and rejoined the others, eating the sweet grass and swishing his tail until nightfall.

The gauchos could always pick out the El Stupido, because he was the only one in the herd with a bird on his head.  This made them smile and want to keep them around.  Perhaps they made the gauchos’ day more pleasant and this explained why year after year, when the others were gathered for market, the El Stupido and his bird were left behind, to again feast on the next spring’s succulent offerings.

Seven years from when the bird first arrived, a great wind blew ashore with such strength that all the el stupidios panicked and began to run away from the sea towards the nearby canyons for shelter.  There were many canyons to flee to, but to the gauchos’ delight, most all followed each other into the same boxed canyon, making their retrieval very easy.

The El Stupido, however, had lost his vision as his companion’s wings had fanned out over his eyes during the stampede.  When finally stopping, they found themselves alone in a narrow canyon, much farther north than the others, somewhere along the eastern base of the great Andes mountain range.

The canyon was so narrow and straight that the El Stupido, plump from eating the tall green grass, could not even turn around.  His only option was to move forward westward through the small crevasse in the mountain, with the bird jumping on and off his head until reaching the Chilean sands on the Pacific side of the Andes.

Gazing at the calm waves, the El Stupido yearned to again eat the green grass of La Pampa, but he had lost his sense of direction.  Aimlessly, he began a slow graze northward, past the Tropic of Cancer, eating everything between there and California.  The Pacific Ocean, now a constant to his left, became his new internal compass.  Absent the laughter of the gauchos and the tall grass of La Pampa, the only link to the El Stupido’s past was the bird jumping continuously on and off his head during the long journey north.

This continued for countless sunsets.  Each ended with the same unsatiable hunger, the bird and the sun disappearing into the darkness over the water to the west, leaving the El Stupido again alone with the cold nightfall.

One day, in the south of California, the bird landed heavily on the El Stupido’s head and began incessantly pecking away.  This caused even the El Stupido to become very annoyed.  He swished his tail as fast as he could, to no avail.  The pecking continued.  He rocked his head up and down, the pecking increased in tempo.  In his frustration, the El Stupido ran away from the water toward the low hanging branch of a nearby tree.  This finally rid him of the bothersome companion prompting the birds flight high into the air towards the far off peak of the San Jacinto.

The El Stupido was so relieved to be freed of the pecking, he did not notice his directional change inland.  Without the ocean to his left, he would slowly wander into the vast vacuum of the Southern California desert, towards the deceiving mirage of shade at the base of the great mountain before him.

Now not having seen the bird for days, the El Stupido was on his own, chewing on the tumbleweed and cacti as he meandered through the hot, barren desert towards the distant landmark.  Over time, his legs grew weary, his lips and chin became bloodied from eating the various scrubs.  The constant desert sun had now beaten down the El Stupido’s body into a frail silhouette of its past.  The evening brought only temporary relief, until the predictable bitter cold would sweep in and engulf him like what felt like forever until dawn.  He was now lost alone and too stupid to even know it.  Without the bird on his head, he could easily have been invisible.

Possibly, seeing his last sunrise, too cold to even enjoy the rewarding warmth of the early desert sun, the El Stupido’s knees buckled as he slowly caved into the earth beneath him.  He looked out of habit to the sky for his winged companion, only to find himself under a large billboard.  About to close his eyes, perhaps for the last time, the El Stupido thought he could smell the tall green grass of La Pampa and hear the far off laughter of the gauchos.

His instincts fading to vague memories, the El Stupido prepared for his final nap on the floor of of the barren valley surrounding him.  Dreaming his last pictures slowing down for complete darkness the El Stupido was strangely calm and at last content to end his journey, when his demise was interrupted by something gently dragging across his forehead.

Eyes opening, the clouded image of what the El Stupido thought was a gaucho, caressed his head with a damp cloth and then wrung it out providing small droplets of water near his caked chapped mouth.  Not knowing what else to do, he took in the water and slowly gave chance to this new restart.

Time, water and the shade of the giant billboard brought on more clarity. The El Stupido’s gaucho was a short man wearing glasses so thick that his eyes were blurred beyond recognition of intent.  Even though the El Stupido had never peered into the eyes of a human being at such close range, he had no option, but to follow the tugging rope and the man with no eyes to an awaiting trailer, roadside.

The strange fresh flake of compressed grass availed on the ledge at the front of the trailer was so delightful to the El Stupido he hardly noticed being in motion or the chestnut horse traveling in the stall next to him.  Together, they both chewed away on their flakes, drank water and swished their tails as the turning wheels below them rolled eastward out of the Coachella Valley, leaving behind his bird companion and the high peak of the San Jacinto, flowing onward into the early evening stars towards the land of enchantment and the small village of Santa Fe.

“THE MAN WITH NO EYES” Chapter 5

Before becoming the custodian of the heart, Dr. Klaus Baumann was content in his pursuit of science.  He managed to retain a rational perspective on life while  searching for its origin.  Every day a gift.  Every day revered.

This night, like all others before, Klaus would set down his thick glasses on the nightstand next to his bed and welcome the familiar blur that enveloped him.  His thoughts often returned to his childhood in Katmandu and the chronology of events leading to the present.  Recently, since returning from the Coachella Valley with the El Stupido, the quantity of events and vivid depth of detail surrounding them, began to bombard his blur at an alarming pace.

Rather than worry, the doctor embraced the abundance and rapidity of his new recollections.  How could he have forgotten so much of the space between the benchmarks?  The people he merged with, the scents, tones and emotions that helped form him, were all swiftly coming at him.  Each episode fitting perfectly in synch with the prior and following scenes.  Even his life’s regrets now lay before him with new perspective.

The string and pattern of visuals for the past four nights, although expanding and accelerating with each new eve, kept ending abruptly on one of two separate events not logically fitting his timeline.  He would open his eyes and anxiously reconstruct the chain, trying to derive the logic in the pattern.

In his fifteenth year, while at school in biology class, Klaus was debating with his professor the ethics of dissecting a live frog, which over the course of the semester, the majority of the class had come to affectionately know as Minu.  Student Klaus Baumann, felt that without respect for life, indeed without humanity, how could there be honor in science.  Science, he felt, was a nobel pursuit, and although it could be used to unravel several queries, could anyone ever expect to attain any finality?  If taking life, meant getting closer to the impossible, it was a path, for him, that would remain untraveled.  There was a small, but profound victory for Klaus that day, as the class cheered with him on the decision to forgo the demise of their green friend living at the back of the classroom.  The doctor laughed to himself that of all the scenes in his life, this one had emerged as being so significant.

Now wide awake, out of habit when needing sleep, the man with no eyes gently tilted a small glass figurine of a top hat on the bedside table to one side, letting the hat rock back and forth, doubling in speed with each sway.  Click…Clack..Click..Clack.ClickityClackityClickityClackity…..with each half sway the top hat got faster and quieter in tandem as it accelerated toward the infinite.  His life’s timeline was now in fast forward, becoming vividly clearer until he was sitting at his parents dinning room table at the age of seventeen, rocking the same glass top hat in wonderment.  As the hat rocked faster, it now synced with the present, taking him into an enormous crescendoing white blur.

Launched past the point of no return, he was strangely content with his incredible passage into the unknown, only looking back once, seeing the El Stupido eating hay and swishing his tail in the field next to the laboratory/home of the great heart.  His own heart now ached and was too heavy to carry on the journey ahead.  With his last breath, the man with no eyes let go and flailed into the mystic.

The next day, no one was at the door of the laboratory to welcome the lost and curious.  No one was there to announce to the public that the incredible heart of the largest bird ever seen, had after seven years on life support, suddenly stopped beating.

“BLANKET MEMORY” Chapter 6

On our last assent to a remote peak of the San Gabriel my Grandfather and I decided to take a new path along the eastern fork of what we called the “Little Creek”.  The water played in and out of random boulders and branches that provided safe crossing when the trail required.  The morning sunlight filtered through the green foliage by the water’s edge and danced across my Grandfathers lean frame, accentuating the familiar labyrinth of colors in the tightly rolled up indian blanket above his backpack.

I remember the depth of of my love for him and the joy of being outside and included in his pilgrimages.  With our steps and sometimes miscalculated crossings of Little Creek, we would laugh when our feet slipped on the moist boulders and found the water deep to the knee.  Our laughter always interwoven with comfortable silence between topics ranging from continental drift to the virtues of corn nuts and Dr. Pepper.  I loved my Grandfather.

Sensing his age, I marveled at his determination to lead us upstream to our eventual vista.  I didn’t want these adventures to end, but knew it unfair to expect our sojourns to continue.  This likely would be the last time to spread the colorful blanket under the stars together, and although feeling this, we both anticipated a profound occurrence this night in our shared lives.

Unusually early to partake in the pipe, my grandfather reminisced about the blanket beneath us.  He shared that it was given to him by his grandfather on their last hike in Santa Fe, and how it had served to lend ceremony to their sharing of the tales.  He recalled the various storylines one after another until they merged  together loosely like the thin vapors of smoke swirling from the base of his pipe into the heavens.

I knew this night was to be special and although trying hard to stay attentive I finally succumbed to the long hike’s deep sleep waiting at the end of our trail……my last memory that night, being my grandfather smoking and laughing at the stars, his voice diminishing to the sound of the wind and warmth of being fireside.  I loved my Grandfather.

With the rising sun, I went to the stream’s edge for some water.  When I returned, I found the colorful indian blanket tightly rolled up, affixed to the top of my pack.