“Do not work for the raven. He is greedy and a disgrace to my people.”
The voice was like a rumbling of thunder and lightning flashes darted out of the eyes.
“Who are you?” Munro finally ventured, jerking his little head.
“I am Thunderbird, champion of the Native tribes on the Pacific Coast. Obey me.”
And then with an ascent that seemed to cut the darkness into a million pieces, the Thunderbird and the green light were gone.
Munro was too frightened to sleep and he pondered deeply what he had heard. He needed to know more, that was certain. He would ask the raven when the day broke.
He did not have long to wait.
“Here is the job.” said Midas hoarsely. “ I saw some new RV’s rolling into the Conifer Campgrounds east of here. Scout around the picnic tables after they leave. You are sure to find some loot.”
“What loot?” asked Munro.
“Oh, diamond rings, earrings, coins...anything shiny,” Midas ordered with a vain attempt to clear his throat.
“Be careful, your beak doesn’t look too strong...don’t drop anything,” Midas added.
“But, but, isn’t that stealing?” Munro ventured.
“Careless humans don’t deserve treasures!” snapped Midas.
Munro was about to mention his night visitor but thought he would try to find out more first, and it was kind of nice to have a friend and something to do. So after a quick breakfast of seeds from a burst cone nearby, he flew straight east. Doves don’t fly very high and take many rests but by late afternoon, Munro sighted the campgrounds.
At a picnic table beside a trailer, a young woman, in jeans and a plaid shirt with the sleeves rolled up ,was washing dishes. She seemed to be having fun doing the job in a plastic bowl, so different from her stainless steel sink at home. Munro perched on a branch nearby, feeling her joy. And then he saw it. Her rings were lying on the plastic tablecloth not far from her sudsy bowl, a sparkling diamond and golden wedding band. Munro gulped and kept watching while she finished the last cereal bowl and coffee cup.
“Hey, Myrna,” called a voice from behind the trailer, “come and see what I’ve found!”
The young wife dried her hands on a dish towel and ran to see what her husband had discovered in this beautiful wilderness.. Surely she’ll come back and put her rings back on, thought Munro.
“I can’t take them, I just can’t. “ But he did.
He picked up the rings in his beak and clamped down tightly. Mourning doves were good at pecking seeds and grains but metal was different and the roundness of the rings caused his beak to slip several times. He was thirsty. He flew west.
It was almost noon when the dove arrived at the glade where Midas lived in his condo in the tall Douglas Fir. The sun glinted off his black feathers as he flew down when he sighted Munro. Without a greeting he grabbed the rings and carried them on swift wings up to his mansion.
Munro waited in vain as he panted in exhaustion. Finally, he went in search of some food and then went to bed early. He hoped that Midas would have given him a “pat on the back” or something, anything to salve his conscience.
Midas was in his basement wallowing in the glittering loot he had amassed, not giving his messenger another thought.
In the morning, Midas thought he had better be nice to Munro. He had heard it said that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
“Ah, what’s your name again?” he asked as he swept regally down to the forest floor where Munro was scratching.
“It’s Munro,” replied the dove brightly. “And you are?” This is better, he thought.
“Midas. We’ll make a good team,” declared the raven. “Where did you come from anyway? I haven’t seen your species in this forest before.”
“I got lost in a storm a while back. I’m not sure just where I was blown off course, but I do not remember ever seeing such huge trees before or such thick forests and wonderful rivers. And there’s lots of food here. These seeds are delicious.”
“Yes, yes,” croaked the raven, feeling bored. “Well, eat up. Those rich campers are still there. Somebody is bound to leave something lying around. You can have another look tomorrow.”
“Ah,....you said...,” Munro was timid about asking for his percentage of the take.
“There’s not enough. Maybe next time.” And Midas flew back up to his mansion to count his gold rings once more. He had been sleepy the night before and perhaps he got the count wrong.
Munro was uncomfortable but he didn’t know exactly why. At least, he had a creature of his own kind to talk to. The treasure was immaterial. What would he do with it anyway? But something just didn’t seem right.
Somehow the dove was not surprised when he was visited again by the Thunderbird and the green light during the night.
“Why are you feeding his greed?” The giant creature asked, his huge wings flapping in Munro’s face.
“I need a friend,” and Munro’s coo edged on a whine.
“I’m sorry to inform you, but he is not your friend. He is using you. Listen to me. Leave the forest...now!”
And the Thunderbird stretched his wings that were each as long as a canoe paddle, shot some lightening bolts out of his fiery eyes, and rose with the sound of a crackling blaze into the night sky.
Munro trembled with fear. He had no idea which direction to go to get out of the forest and he feared the anger of Midas. He wished he had asked for the Thunderbird’s help.
The night visitor was so other-worldly and abrupt that his little brain was addled.
Poor little bird. He had some difficult choices to make.