There once was a raven named Obidiah. He was five-years-old and belonged to a small community of ravens who roosted in the redwoods around Cummings Lane, a mile inland from the Pacific Ocean near the town of Melody.
Obidiah’s mother was Doris and his father was most likely Tarkanda. We say most likely because Doris was occasionally promiscuous and Tarkanda was often away from the marital nest, so…
In any case, Obidiah was of an age when he was expected to find his mate for life, secure a good roost and surrounding acreage, and settle into full-fledged adulthood. He was not averse to this, but had yet to convince a female raven to commit to nesting with him for the next ten to twenty years, the average lifespan of a Cummings Lane raven being around twenty years.
One cold October morning, Doris and Tarkanda were breakfasting on apples in their big nest of sticks tucked into a fortuitous indentation in the trunk of a giant redwood about seventy-feet above the forest floor.
“I’m concerned about Obidiah,” said Doris, giving Tarkanda a worried look. “He’s five, still hanging out with juveniles, and roosting way too close to us for a raven his age. He’s an excellent scavenger, does superb imitations and sound effects, and he’s great with fledglings. But for some reason the gals aren’t interested in him for the long haul. Would you talk to him? Encourage him? See if you can find out what the problem is?”
Tarkanda mused for a moment and said, “I know what the problem is.”
“You do?” said Doris, taken aback. “And you didn’t tell me? What is it?”
“He’s a mystic,” said Tarkanda, sighing heavily. “I didn’t tell you because I thought it would upset you, but since you asked.”
“You mean mystical?” said Doris, squinting at her husband. “All ravens are a little bit mystical, don’t you think?”
“Of course,” said Tarkanda, gazing out over his domain and reminding himself to gather the last of the huckleberries before the foxes and bears got to them. “But Obidiah is more than a little bit mystical. He’s a full-blown clairvoyant future-glimpsing spirit-channeling mystic.”
“How do you know?” asked Doris, blushing as she recalls her hanky-panky with Zalamagundi the medicine raven around the time she conceived the batch of eggs that produced Obidiah.
“I know he’s a mystic,” said Tarkanda, smiling at his wife, “because I’ve availed myself of his services on numerous occasions. For instance, these delectable apples came to us courtesy of Obidiah because he read the minds of the humans who protect these particular apple trees and then alerted me that those humans would be away for the day the apples attained optimal ripeness. Thus we were able to harvest several dozen of these delectable orbs unmolested.”
“He can read the minds of humans?” said Doris, aghast.
Tarkanda nodded. “Human minds, dog minds, cat minds, hawk minds, and raven minds, too. If it has a mind, Obidiah can read it.”
“Heavens,” said Doris, recalling the many times Obidiah gave her the very things and information she wanted before she asked for them. “Our son is a polymath.”
“Yet he seems to be largely unaware of his powers,” said Tarkanda, thinking ahead to meeting up with his pal Jolanga for a few hours of scavenging. “Gal ravens pick up on that sort of thing even if they aren’t exactly sure what they’re picking up on. You know what I mean? An ineffable otherness in his vibe.”
“I do know what you mean,” said Doris, nodding. “He seems not entirely of this world.”
“Because he’s not,” said Tarkanda, pecking his apple. “So I figure if he lives nearby as a bachelor for the rest of his life, so be it. He’s a fount of useful information, entirely self-sustaining, and he’s a good beak to have on our side in a fight.”
Obidiah, mystical talents notwithstanding, was a large good-natured raven who very much wanted to find a wonderful lifemate and secure some territory and build a commodious nest in which he and his wife would produce several generations of fledglings to protect and feed and educate.
And contrary to what Tarkanda surmised, Obidiah was well aware of his ability to communicate clairvoyantly and see into the future. As for spirit channeling, Obidiah didn’t channel anything. Nature spirits talked to him and he talked to them, just as he would converse with other ravens. In other words, Obidiah was multi-dimensionally multi-lingual.
As for reading the minds of humans, Obidiah could do much more than that. He had the uncanny ability to discern what was troubling a person and see solutions for their troubles. The problem was, and this was hugely frustrating to Obidiah, most humans neither spoke the language of ravens, nor were they able to communicate clairvoyantly. Thus Obidiah was unable to help many people for whom he had solutions to what vexed them.
On that same fall morning when Doris learned Obidiah was, in the words of Tarkanda, a full-blown mystic, Obidiah glided away from the little single-raven nest he’d constructed on a lower branch in his parents’ redwood tree, and made his way through a stiff breeze to the beach parking lot where every morning humans and dogs came to walk on the beach at the mouth of Big River.
Obidiah visited this beach several times a week in search of food and shiny gewgaws, and he always went there on Thursday mornings because on Thursday mornings a particular human always went there, too, a woman with whom Obidiah could converse clairvoyantly. Her name was Isadora. She had a large brown dog named Groucho, an ironic name given that Groucho was quite good-natured. Sometimes Obidiah would converse with Groucho, too, but he was most interested in Isadora who was forty-seven, wore her reddish brown hair in a pony tail, had jade green eyes, and Obidiah thought she was beautiful and moved with unusual grace for a human.
Isadora and Groucho would walk from the beach parking lot to the north end of the beach, a distance of a mile, and on their way back Isadora would sit on the same big driftwood log and gaze out to sea. Groucho would wander around nearby, sniffing and pissing, and Obidiah would alight on the log a few feet from Isadora.
On this particular Thursday morning, just as the sun was breaking through the coastal fog, Obidiah arrived at the beach parking lot and perched atop a scraggly pine tree overlooking the parade of humans and dogs coming and going from the beach, their emotional conundrums as obvious to Obidiah as the need for food and water.
He sent messages to the humans as they went by, messages such as, “Stop doubting yourself, Arnold. Give Beth a call. You know she likes you,” and “You’ve been drinking way too much coffee lately, Sara. That’s the source of at least half your anxiety,” and “Procrastination is your biggest enemy, Larry. Clean your desk. At the bottom of the clutter you will find a story you started writing months ago. When you realize how good this story is, your writer’s block will vanish.”
Alas, no one paid any attention to Obidiah, so he flew off to meet Isadora and Groucho.
When Obidiah came in sight of the big driftwood log, Isadora was already sitting in her customary place and Groucho was nearby sniffing the news at a popular pissing spot.
Obidiah alighted on the log a few feet from Isadora and sent, “Love those silver earrings. My kind of gewgaws. So… did you get up the nerve to confront Jeff?”
Isadora beamed at Obidiah and said, “I did. I finally did. And everything you said would happen happened. I’m still kind of in shock.”
Then Obidiah accessed Isadora’s memory archives and watched her say to her husband of seventeen years, “If you ever treat me cruelly again or lie to me or demean me or expect me to keep cleaning up your messes, this marriage is over.”
“Bravo,” sent Obidiah.
“And as you predicted,” said Isadora, gazing into Obidiah’s eyes, “he tried to appease me with the same old promises. But he was obviously lying, so I told him to get out and he collapsed on the sofa and blubbered, ‘But where will I go?’ And also as you predicted, I knew he expected me to relent and comfort him, and I could feel how much I wanted to because it’s my lifelong pattern to accommodate my abusers when they cry and act helpless. But I stayed strong and said, ‘I don’t care where you go. Just get out. Now.’ And then he turned nasty and said he wasn’t going anywhere. I reminded him the house was mine, that I owned the place before we got married, and he snarled at me and got a beer out of the refrigerator and sprawled on the sofa and turned on the television. So I did what you told me to do. I called the sheriff. And when Jeff heard me talking to the dispatcher, he turned off the television and said, ‘Okay, I’m going.’ Then he packed some things, took our new car, and left. That was five days ago. And every day I don’t see him, the better I feel.”
“Fantastic,” sent Obidiah, lifting his wings in a gesture of praise. “Now listen carefully. When you get home from the beach today, remove everything you value from your house and give those things into the care of a trusted friend. Jeff will return to your house tomorrow morning with a big truck and two accomplices. He will not forewarn you. It is imperative, Isadora, that you not be there when he comes, nor should you do anything to prevent him from taking what he wants. He will take many things, but don’t worry. Anything he takes is of no real value to you. Return to your home tomorrow afternoon. He will never come back again.”
Isadora opened her eyes and said, “Thank you.”
Then she reached into her jacket pocket and brought forth a small plastic bag containing seven juicy nuggets of chicken, which she arrayed on the log between them.
“Oh you shouldn’t have,” sent Obidiah, the smell of the succulent meat causing him to do a little jig of gratitude.
“It’s the least I could do,” said Isadora, rising to go. “I’ll see you next week. Same time, same log.”
“Yes you will,” sent Obidiah, gulping down one of the morsels. “Oh I love what you’ve done here. Freshly slaughtered fowl lightly sautéed in coconut oil with a hint of salt and a whisper of red wine. Divine.”
“I’ll bring more next week,” said Isadora, waving to him as she walked away.
Well-fed, and overjoyed he was able to help Isadora get rid of Jeff, Obidiah decided to take the last two succulent morsels of chicken to his current crush Madge, who might not have been the brainiest of ravens, but what a silhouette!