An Unfinished Story-Michael Tree

An Unfinished Story-Michael Tree

 

“Also, pay attention to your dreams within the next couple of days.” My roommate instructed after the Full Moon Ritual.
I liked the sound of that. I’ve been doing a lot of sleeping. This could give it a purpose.

Last night I dreamt of Ryan on a surf board, paddling out to conquer the ocean’s rage. It seemed like some sort of competition, because I was just beyond the shoreline with my arms around my knees while I sat there in the sand watching. Dreaming of Ryan isn’t out of the ordinary. I have dreamt of him many times before. I’m always rescuing him from something, which is understandable–he’s my baby brother. If I’m not trying to save the world from zombies, I’m trying to save my brother in the dreamworld. Those are the only heroic ones I’ve had. Or remember having.

I was sitting there on a beach somewhere, and I felt nervous. Those waves are too big, he’s going to get hurt.

***

Michael Tree is making far too much noise right now. Doesn’t he understand the rest of us are in our rooms for a reason? We’re trying to focus. We’re trying to make art. Well, Mitch and Cara are making art, but all I’m trying to do is sort through my feelings without punching a wall. That doesn’t sound like an art form, but when you think about the effort and patience needed to practice such a task, it most definitely is. At least the wall agrees.

Michael is in the “living” room googling plate tectonics (or something) as he thrashes around wildly while the rest of us are trying to focus.

I asked him yesterday, “Is there anything you want to change? To better your life?”

He said, “Finding a reliable source of drinking water to keep hydrated.”

Now, before the story continues, I feel it is necessary to include the reason behind that specific question. Recently, the rest of us living in this junkyard ghetto house discovered that Michael has been stealing our money. He lives here for free amongst his junk, and his couch surfers, and his fruit flies, while we pay the rent and walk on eggshells. And other compost.

So after we confronted him at our house meeting, I asked him that question.

“Finding a reliable source of drinking water to keep hydrated.” He answered.

I stated my opinion without disregarding his own,
“That’s smart. Mine would have something to do with interaction between people. Whether it’s the way I treat others, or the way others treat each other. That’s what I would want to change.”

“Huh, I never thought of it like that.” He said.

Then he proceeded to tell me he thinks he might be on the autistic spectrum. He’s extremely intelligent in a peculiar sense, but I don’t know him well enough–nor do I know enough about autism to make a personal diagnosis.

So I said, “Nah. We’re all human man.”

Then later when we were eating pizza together, he took the bottle of “Southern BBQ” that we’d been sharing and licked all around the edges and down the sides. His tongue moved slowly in snakelike motions, and I even saw strings of spit connecting his lip to the glass. He did this right in front of me before he put the cap back on.

“Ok, he might be autistic.” I thought.

He’s still moving out there. I just heard him drop some change. It sounded like a nickel. I should go out and offer him a cigarette. “The way others treat each other.” That was my truth so I should live by it. Or get murdered. That’s absurd. I was born without a sense of smell for a reason–I’d know if I was about to get murdered.

***

 

“So what’s your favorite movie?” I asked Michael as I walked out front to grab my cigarettes from the car.

“That’s a difficult question.”

“Okay, well I’ll give you until I get back.” I kept walking.

He didn’t want a cigarette.

“I’ll keep you company while you have one though,” he said.

So I offered him a beer. Miller Lite. He stared at the bottle, inspecting the ingredients.

“You probably won’t like it. It’s commercial.”

“At least it’s a twist-off,” he said.

I walked back onto the porch and locked the Toyota by pressing the button over my shoulder.

“So, what’s your favorite movie?” I asked again while taking a seat on an object I couldn’t see in the dark. Is this a chair? It feels like a chair but it could be something else entirely.

I relaxed my back up against it anyway and lit an “American Spirit”. I used to smoke Camel’s, but since I arrived to the Smoky Mountains, American Spirits are my new choice of tobacco.

“You shouldn’t wear deodorant, it causes cancer. You should only eat local foods, it’s better for you. You should only eat my hot sauce, the other kinds are shit. You shouldn’t brush with Colgate.”–Some of the suggestions I received upon arrival. Switching to American Spirits has been my only compromise. A cigarette’s flavor has never been important to me because they all taste the same–like distraction and death.

“Well, I’ve become disillusioned to movies over the years. I guess asking what my favorite book is seems more suitable.”

“Why have you become disillusioned?”

“Because films are just images of what the producer wants the audience to feel.”

I inhaled a drag of my spirit stick and wondered if Michael Tree knew the truth about books. About reading. My favorite professor in college once put it perfectly, “The most amazing thing about reading is that it happens at all. Lover’s that are unwilling to share a toothbrush with one another become willing to try on someone else’s thoughts for a day.”

“I was hoping this might be a fun conversation and I could start doing quotes from Bio-Dome to lighten the mood after our house meeting, but alright. Let’s hear your favorite book.” I said.

“It’s called Doon. It’s about this Galactic providence where a boy is taught everything by his mother and soldiers, while his father is off performing specific duties. So the boy hardly gets to know his father, then he’s killed. And there’s this indigenous species on another planet that possesses the resource for time travel. But the indigenous species eats this resource on a daily basis–it’s like a flower. They eat it as a drug and it enhances their connection to nature and their home, so they are trying to protect it from the other providence,” He explained, only the explanation in reality sounded more sophisticated than that.

You see, Michael Tree is undoubtedly some sort of genius. Most of the time, I have no idea what he’s saying at all unless I’m trying. He’s like a college professor in a lecture hall who you’ve ignored or skipped all semester. Then you find yourself the day before an exam sitting in the front row, squinting at his mouth as you frantically write notes and try to make sense of everything–just because you no longer have a choice.

“Wow, that’s interesting. Sounds a lot like Avatar if you ask me.”

“It actually is like that. Avatar is a great film,” He said.

“See! I knew you watched movies. This also reminds me, I watched ANTZ the other night. Now that’s some good shit.” I yelled on a front porch in the ghetto.

“You mean PIXAR?”

“Yup!”

“Yeah, I know that scene for scene,” He said.

“Alright, well I’m going to go back in my room and try to write some shit while drinking shitty beer.” I was tired, and I needed to finish the story about my dream. It’s too good to be interrupted any longer.

“I might even watch ANTZ again,” I said walking into the house.

“If you do, let me know. I’d like to watch it too.” He said.

“Okay, man,” I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth with Colgate Advanced White, then walked to my room and shut the door.

Doon seems like an interesting book. After everything that’s happened with Michael Tree since I’ve been here, I still believe he might actually have good intentions somewhere inside him. Despite the betrayal he’s inflicted upon the rest of us, and the strange factual rants he performs and confuses for casual conversation, he’s only human. Doon seems like an interesting book, and it also sounds like a fantastical version of the politics Michael is constantly trying to reiterate to others despite their own opinions. I know this.

But I can also tell what really makes a person tick. Michael’s production and how he wanted me to feel was obvious, yet irrelevant. His image of himself is his own reality, and I as an audience member can’t help but see something else.

Doon seems like an interesting book with all of the politics and indigenous creatures. The unusual vernacular he used while he sat there with his lanky legs folded indian style as he described the story made it sound even more dramatic, just the way he hoped.

But the sound of Michael Tree’s voice, the way it changed in pitch and strayed from factual understanding as he spoke the words,
“So, the boy hardly gets to know his father,”
makes me believe he’s only human.

He’s just another person with an untold story–so how can he be blamed?

***

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