Hardened wax covered the seam of the envelope.  The seal embedded on the wax imitated the carving it accompanied.  My eldest host lent his hands in opening the parched container.  Inside, a single piece of paper exhibited the steadier handwriting of my grandfather’s prose to say –

    “To the keeper of “The Forgotten Tale”, I am writing these instructions as I know not yet who you are.  Afraid of dying or forgetting the tale before I’m able to find one of true heart, I have written it down and hid it inside this carving, which I’ve entrusted others to deliver to you.  Simply remove the nesting bird from the head of the bull and inside you will find “The Forgotten Tale”, as recited to me in my youth.

Delivered in earnest,

Martin Birdsong

While attempting to pull, without success, the likeness of a grey pigeon, from the head of the wooden bull, I absorbed the twilight giving into the stars dancing over the Sangre de Cristo, accompanied by the guitar’s familiar melody of my Grandfather.  Across the narrow paseo, next to the empty tables normally hosting trinkets and blankets, I could make out the silhouette of a living bull tied to a statue of Saint Francis in front of a gift shop.  Rather than fight captivity, he seemed calm, swishing his tail while searching for small blades of grass within his reach.

At that exact moment, Santa Ana picked up the corners of my blanket seat and delivered three pigeons.  One landing on the outstretched arms of Saint Francis, one on the hardened dirt next to me, and the third exacted a position precisely on the live bull’s head.

The hands, I thought not mine, inexplicably ceased to shake and found the counterclockwise motion needed to unscrew the bird from the wooden carving.  I pulled out a scroll from the carving and began to read……

“THE FORGOTTEN TALE”, as recited to me before I even thought I knew who I was.

“Always remember.  Remember to never forget that we are all lost in our existence.  With this knowledge, let us always be compassionate Human Beings.  If the continents drift and you cannot find your way home, give comfort to your fellow travelers and you will soon find your way.”

The tributaries off the Sangre de Cristo accepted my tears.  Their droplets would flow westward to the Pacific, and later merge with the great salted oceans of earth.

Tomorrow, I will return to my bungalow near the sea. I will again pass the San Jacinto, the wind farms and the billboards promising heaven. I will take pause by the banks of the Whitewater River to remember my beautiful bride, Mestolio, and Santos.  I will give thanks for another day on this journey and remember to never forget, never forget “The Forgotten Tale”.

But in this evening, I will share my Grandfather’s blanket and pipe, play guitar and recant stories under all of our magnificent stars and give thanks for another Tuesday amongst my fellow travelers.

I am forever yours in earnest,

Simon Birdsong

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