THE DEATH OF A GREAT MAN
By Grayton Zande Newman
As Michael walked through an empty New Orleans street, he stumbled across something. A rock. Michael was a huge fan of rocks. The variety of shapes and sizes. He loved collecting them, to the point where he had an entire room in his apartment devoted to his rock collection. His landlord was not happy about this room, as the rocks had caused a dip in the ceiling of the store below. Ironically enough, it was a store that specialized in making artisan bubble levels.
Michael was a boy who regularly donned a burlap sack as his main attire. Considering he was well over the age of 30, one would think he would have outgrown this particular habit. However, this was quite the contrary. He loved the feeling of it against his skin. This is one of the many quirks of Michael. It felt like a second skin to Michael. He loved his sack.
Michael’s father, James, was a well known philanthropist. His donations were into the billions. Many colleges had named buildings after him. This was secretly a façade to hide his judgmental hatreds. James never approved of Michael’s lifestyle. But his judgment was not to last, as James had died that morning. Michael’s walk was more for rejoice than anything else. When Michael had gotten back, he was greeted by a familiar face. The ghost of his father.
“Father.” Michael figured James would return from the dead with the sole point of haunting and judging his every move.
“Michael,” James stared at Michael with sorrowful, regretful eyes, “Michael, I have been a horrible father to you. My one and only son.”
Shocked more at that statement than the fact that his father had risen from the dead, Michael said the first thing that came to his mind. “How about that…”
“On my deathbed, I realized that my behavior was irrational and unwarranted.” James confessed in a tired, and tortured voice. “I must make it up to you.”
“I see…” Upon realizing what he had just seen, Michael fell into a deep trance. He then fainted, as we all would have had we seen a ghost.
Michael was awakened in the street by a man shuffling through his sewn on pockets, this appeared to him to be God, or at least what he thought God looked like. Ever since Michael was a child, Michael had been heavily influenced by religion. His own religion. He called it LeBlancuism. The belief in God being embodied in the form of Matt LeBlanc. Yes. Joey Tribbiani from Friends. He had first seen LeBlanc in the 1998 reboot of Lost in Space. Michael was taken aback by his portrayal of Major Don West. When Michael’s vision came back, he realized that it was not exactly Matt LeBlanc, but instead a homeless man, who had an oddly specific resemblance to the actor.
As soon as the homeless Matt LeBlanc noticed Michael’s eyes were wide open, he darted off into the night. Michael had been there for approximately five hours. It was now 10:32. This came as no surprise to Michael, as he was known by his classmates in grade school as ‘The Toilet Sleeper’. No, he had not fainted while on the toilet. But as young children do, they needed to add a pointless piece of crude humor to a name already lacking in creativity. Otherwise the name wouldn’t stick. What had happened however, was when it was his turn to hold the class gerbil, he had fainted, and crushed the poor thing. He was never the same. That was when he turned to religion to escape his woes and sorrows. Matt LeBlanc had always been there for him.
Michael had finally returned home, yet again, only to be greeted by his ghost dad.
“My son! I have returned for you!” James stated loudly in his generally booming and powerful voice. He was known for his actively authoritative voice. That is truly how he made his fortune. He was known around the world for his narrations. He was the true creator of “In a world.”
Michael had not inherited his voice. His voice was more closely resembling his mother’s, to the point where he was almost always mistaken for a woman over the phone. If he had a penny for every time a telemarketer introduced with ‘Hello ma’am’, he’d have a lot of pennies. More than could fill another room of his apartment, which would be more of a curse than a blessing, as pennies were his least favorite variety of currency, not only due to their worth, but also due to the color. He never liked brown. It reminded him of nature, which he didn’t like either. Besides rocks. Michael loved rocks.
“My son? Can you hear me?” James inquired, as there had been quite a long pause while I was stating those two paragraphs.
Finally, Michael replied awkwardly, as usual “You know it, daddy-o.”
For the first time in years, James felt a connection to his son. And one that didn’t involve embarrassment on James’s end. “Let’s play catch!”
Michael and James were attempting to play catch outside. But whenever James attempted to pick up the ball, he was never successful. His ghostly hand always went right through the ball. But that didn’t keep him from trying about 23 times. James was distraught.
This would be the second time they played catch in Michael’s lifetime. Michael had rarely touched a ball, if at all other than the time they both played catch. After that first time, he had fears of being knocked unconscious yet again by a kickball. He was specifically affected by minor trauma. He had heard as a child that there was a specific spot on the head that if hit correctly would cause it to explode. He was lucky that didn’t happen. Although that fact is not true, he didn’t have any reason to not believe it. It had come from a trustworthy source, his only friend, Mike. They shared a special bond over having the same name. Mike actually went by Michael before meeting our Michael, but lost a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors, and reluctantly went by Mike Benedici in order to prevent confusion. The novelty of having the same name had worn off after about 2 years. Much longer than would be expected. The original bet was that the loser would be named “Underpants Malone”. Mike was thankful that Michael had spared him the humiliation of that name change to just Mike.
It’s safe to say that Michael was relieved by the fact that his father hadn’t been able to throw the ball. He didn’t want to have his head explode, nor did he want to faint in the middle of a public park.