the anomaly of Michael Martin

I pulled up to the one-story home that was longer than it was wide, with a red front door that contrasted well with the faded yellow wood-panel siding. A large tree sprouted from the front yard and would have offered the protection of shade onto the home, yet with autumn here the leaves had begun to change color and flutter down to the ground, allowing sunshine to split through the bare branches and onto the red-shingled roof. I admired the neighborhood that could have followed the textbook-standard image of the United States of America: white picket fences, American flags waving in the wind, almost every house adorned with seasonal decorations, homeowners raking up leaves, and families taking strolls along the sidewalks. After taking in the moment, as we all should now and then, I walked up the pathway to the front porch and approached the red door.

    Michael Martin was ready to greet me almost immediately. He was a well-built man with black-studded earrings and wore an autumn-colored plaid button-up shirt, and jeans. When he opened the door, I was instantly hit with the smell of incense, and cinnamon apple and pumpkin spice candles. Female Energy Part 2 by Willow played from a Bluetooth speaker, its whimsical melody welcoming me in with the scent of dreams. When I walked in, I was prompted to take my shoes off before offered anything to drink. 

    "Trevor's out back finishing up yard work," Michael stated as he walked into the kitchen. "Make yourself at home."

    The front entrance was located in the living room, which connected to the kitchen in this open space concept. Willow carried me through the living room that was decorated as if a time machine exploded. All of the furniture was unique in style, and a theme of unity was left ignored. The walls were embellished with photographs of Michael and Trevor, from before they met—travel photos, pictures from college, and family photographs—up until now, with more recent photos such as wedding and engagement pictures. Dozens upon dozens of plants added a sense of greenery and life to the living space. Bookcases sat in one corner with the shelves sagging beneath the weight of books stuffed to the brink. I reached the kitchen and sat at one of the bar seats at the granite counter. Michael had a casserole prepared to go in the oven.

    "Do you like to cook?" I asked him as he poured me a glass of water.

    "Ah, Trevor's the chef. But he's outside so I agreed to make dinner. Casseroles are simple." Michael put the casserole in the oven as Trevor walked into the kitchen from the back sliding glass door.

    "Oh shoot, you're here already?" He said to me.

    "I told you, by five," Michael responded.

    Trevor took his gloves off as he said, "Sorry. I find yard work meditative in a way." He sported a thick mustache, and was dressed much more casual than Michael, in sweats, a Hey Arnold! shirt, and a red beanie that covered his shaggy hair. He reached out and shook my hand while he introduced himself, Trevor Hall. Then he cringed; Martin-Hall, he had to remember that. He then turned to Michael, "Is it too late to shower?"

 

 

Michael and Trevor sat down on a clunky sofa from the early 2000s while I sat in a yellow mid-century modern chair, the two pieces of furniture clashing with each other, and he must've read my mind because Michael then said aloud, "It's eclecticism. That's kinda my style."

    "Michael does all the house stuff. The arrangement, the decoration, the renovations when we decide to do them. Some of the furniture like that side table are things he's refurbished."

    "I went to school for interior design," Michael informed, "but decided to stick to my guns and stay with writing. My dad said I wouldn't make any money off of that, so I proved him wrong." Michael explained that he teaches Creative Writing courses at the University of Colorado Boulder, and conducts writing and storytelling workshops during his free time.

    As a child, Michael was a military brat and moved constantly, from Ohio to Alabama, across the oceans to places like Germany and Hawaii, finally landing in Georgia and eventually moving to Colorado. With so much moving, he didn't make many friends, so he found solace in reading books and creating his own worlds through writing. From there, he exclaimed his passion for writing screenplays, and the hope in his eyes was obvious when he said he'd wanted to sell a script. "I've come close," he started, "but those were empty promises. Such is the way in Hollywood."

    "Have you ever thought about moving to a city with more promising opportunities like Los Angeles, or Atlanta?" I asked.

    "We've both always wanted to live somewhere cold and near the mountains," Trevor interjected. "So why not Colorado?"

    "Besides, us writers can work remotely," Michael replied. He then looked at Trevor with what someone would describe as 'puppy eyes’ and added, "Though, I would love to see another country."

    Trevor responded with an eye roll.

    "I work in the magazine publishing world, for Hearst and Condé Nast," he said. "Mainly answering emails and phone calls, but it's an in."

    "So you both are writers?"

    "Yeah. Why, you have a job opening?" Trevor joked.

    Trevor and Michael's childhoods were not so different. Trevor moved around a lot as well, though not as spread out as his counterpart. His stepdad always transferred to other jobs in restaurant management, which meant Trevor changed schools often. His best friend became his younger sister, when his parents were always at work and left the two alone during the summer months. They would watch horror movies religiously, his favorite being Scream, as well as play with the neighbor kids, go to the YMCA, and hang out at the library. Reading and writing became his favorite hobbies, where he'd create stories of he and his sister narrowly escaping certain death during exciting adventures. "I'd also play The Sims and create stories and relationship drama between my characters," he added. "I always made the guys kiss and have affairs with each other.”

    "Me too," Michael laughed. "That was, like, me living my best gay life before I came out."

    "Was it hard coming out to your parents?" I asked.

    "Well, I remember questioning my sexuality when I was around eight years old," Michael said. "Batman & Robin was just released in theaters and I thought Robin was cute as hell."

    "We all did," Trevor butted in. Michael slapped him playfully.

    "I told my mom. She 'corrected' me, told me I should think girls are pretty."

    "Well, they are," Trevor said.

    "And then a decade later I came out!"

    "I came out when I was about twenty-six or twenty-seven. I mean, I knew when I was about the same age as Michael, around eight years old. I had a neighbor friend down the street that I 'did things with'," Trevor chuckled, then got quiet. "It took me a long time to accept my sexuality."

    "We really aren't too different from each other," Michael said. "I guess that's why we connect so well."

    "I suppose that's a good segue," I said. "Do you want to explain how you two met?"

    Michael and Trevor looked at each other for a moment, picture perfect for a sitcom, and we all shared a laugh.

    "The short answer is that we met while riding bikes on the South Platte River trail," Trevor said. "I used to live downtown in the city and would ride my bike down south every once in a while."

    "I would do the opposite," Michael said. "I lived south, so I would travel north to downtown.”

    “I decided to go south that day, just for a day ride.”

    "Before we go into details, are either of you religious?"

    "No. I never have been. Neither is Trevor."

    "May I ask why?" I prompted.

    Michael shrugged. "Religion just doesn't make much sense to me."

    "As opposed to how you and Trevor met?"

    Michael paused. "Why ask about religion?"

    "Well, sometimes we should suspend our disbelief, and consider that how you two met could have even been an act of God?"

    "Are you religious?" Michael asked me.

    Trevor cleared his throat and shifted his posture. "There's obviously an explanation for how we met. Everything deserves one. Hell, I believe in ghosts. Are those explained? No, but they could exist."

    "Do you believe in the supernatural, Michael?"

    "Yes and no. I won't deny anything."

    "Would you say what happened to you guys was supernatural?" They both shrugged simultaneously.

    “Now, I have to ask,” I started, “the day you met, had you two had anything to drink, or maybe took part in any recreational activities?”

    Michael and Trevor looked at each other, guilty. Michael looked back at me. “I smoke because it helps me focus on my writing. Did I smoke that day? Probably. But for the record, I can assure you that’s not our reason for what happened.”

    “We both witnessed it. It happened,” Trevor remained firm. “I was riding my bike, like normal. I had sunglasses on but could see clearly. I had music playing on a small speaker but I wasn’t distracted. I rode at least fifteen miles but I wasn’t delirious. I was going about my own business as usual. The next thing I know, I’m on my ass on the ground after crashing into Michael.”

    “And what was your first thought or reaction?” I asked.

    Trevor thought for a moment. “That he was cute,” he joked. Michael playfully pushed him. “No, my first reaction was just shock. I checked myself over, realized I was fine except for a couple scrapes, then immediately checked on him to make sure he was okay.”

    Trevor looked at Michael, who began, “There’s a bridge at one part of the trail, near Santa Fe and Bowles in Littleton, that goes over the Platte river. I usually cross it because the path on the side I start on goes by the garbage dump. Nobody wants to smell that. Anyway, I just left my place about ten minutes before, and I crossed the bridge. The only way I can explain it is that it happened in a blink of an eye. In that I literally blinked, and he was there.”

    “How do you mean?”

    “I was crossing the bridge and coming up to the junction where the end of the bridge meets the path on the other side of the river. I looked both ways coming up to the junction, with a clear view of the bike path. Nobody was coming. Nobody was even around. Just as I was turning onto the bike path, Trevor literally appeared out of nowhere. Thin air. Poof. And we crashed.”

    “The bridge, it makes noise, too, when you ride over it," Trevor confirmed. "It’s a metal bridge with wooden planks, and it creates a clatter when you ride on it. So I would’ve heard him coming.”

    “And you didn’t see him coming over the bridge either?” I asked Trevor. He shook his head.

    “We couldn’t get mad at each other,” Michael stated. “We were in too much shock and, quite honestly, too confused to be mad at each other. We just stood up and brushed ourselves off, and for the next—what?—fifteen, twenty minutes we stood on the side of the path trying to figure out what just happened. It was bizarre.”

    “I knew there was a bar nearby,” Trevor said, “so I asked if he wanted to get a drink to calm our nerves.” Trevor looked at Michael and grabbed his hand. “He said yes.”

    “And the rest is history,” Michael finished.

    “Now have you two done any research on this…anomaly? Has it happened to anyone else that you know of?”

    Michael spoke up, “I’ve done more research than Trevor has, but even so, I wasn’t able to find anything. Anything. I’ve looked to the ends of the Internet, traveled down rabbit holes, I've posted on community discussion boards..."

    “Which is how I found your story," I replied.

    Michael continued, "I haven't been able to find one documented case on anything like this.”

    “So they should name it after you,” Trevor said. Michael smirked.

    “One more question,” I said. “How should I know whether or not you’re telling the truth? I mean, you’re both writers. This could just be a made-up story.”

    Michael and Trevor looked at me, quiet for a moment. Michael looked at Trevor, then back at me and shrugged. “I guess you’ll just have to take our word for it. But it made a good story, didn’t it?” He smiled. Then the oven timer went off.

    While the casserole cooled, Michael and Trevor gave me a tour of their eclectic home and introduced me to their pets, which could have been a literal definition of the food chain: a tabby cat named KitKat, a ball python snake named Noodle, and a hamster named Moe. They walked me out the red front door and watched me to my car. As I left the good American neighborhood, I thought to myself, They’re lying.

    I was almost right.

 

 

One week later, after countless hours of as much research as I possibly could do and yet nothing turned up, I was completing the story on Michael and Trevor when I received a phone call. It was from a distressed Trevor.

    Michael had been killed.

    “You need to see for yourself,” Trevor warned. “Whats your email?”

    I waited anxiously for the email to come through. When it finally did, there was no subject and no body text. Just one attachment, a video file. I hesitantly opened it, unsure of what to expect, and pressed play.

    It was security footage, a street camera on a light pole during the daytime. It pointed down onto an intersection of a side road and a highway. Traffic drifted by as usual. Then, a car pulled up to the intersection from the side road. It stopped, as I assumed the driver was checking for traffic, which none was coming for a minute. The car then began to pull onto the highway, and that’s when an eighteen wheeler suddenly appeared on the highway out of nowhere and rammed into the car at full speed, nearly splitting it in half. A fireball flared up from the car before the eighteen wheeler careened the accident off screen.

    I was left speechless.

    I must have replayed the footage at least fifty times as I attempted to figure it out. The timestamp on the footage never jumped or skipped, nor did the video glitch in any way. The eighteen wheeler literally appeared out of thin air, going full speed as if he were traveling on the highway as normal. As I read articles on the accident, the truck driver, who survived, claimed he had been driving as usual, and the next thing he knew, he had crashed into another car with no recollection of ever seeing it in the first place. No other eyewitness accounts were recorded.

    The anomaly of Michael Martin truly is a one in a trillion chances type of experience, and it happened to him twice. It was a story I suspended my disbelief in until I saw it for myself; a story that brought two together and ultimately tore them apart; a story of time on a collision course with itself, and the resulting crash was the culmination of destiny, and fate.