Pause. Damn, I could use some coffee.
Breathe. Think. Something clever. Something creative. Real. Gripping.
Get their attention in as few words possible.
Recluse transforms world from the safety of his home.
It can’t be this hard.
The man behind the machine: Michael Lewis, energy’s new solution.
It doesn’t really make sense.
Leaves the reader confused. That could potentially grab them.
No. I read it again, I don’t like it.
His name doesn’t have to be broadcasted like that.
He wouldn’t like that… like that.
Genius in all forms: How a community recluse saved the planet.
“It all has to do with light.”
"Those were Michael Lewis’ first words when asked about how he discovered an eco-friendly solution to America’s energy crisis. Lewis has lived in the same apartment for 10 years, without leaving. He accelerated through high school and earned his diploma at age 16. From graduation day onward, he made the decision to rent an apartment and make it not only his sanctuary, but also his greenhouse and laboratory. Lewis is a modern Renaissance man. He is a botanist, ecologist, astrologist, computer science expert, and a musician. He collaborates with representatives nationwide about green energy alternatives and conducts experiments and studies that have been published in America’s Energy Solutions journal. More recently, the mayor met with Lewis and established a new act that would promote the use and location of solar panels on every city rooftop. “It’s really quite simple. We have two options: to continue using the fossil fuels that are depleting and ruining our environment, or to utilize the solutions we’ve found already to clean up our energy usage. The reason why solar and wind powered energies seem inefficient is because we haven’t invested enough in exploring better ways to exploit their assets.”
Lewis has always been a firm believer that there are greener ways to run. His latest study on solar panels and why they aren’t as reliable as you may think has been featured in academia around the country. He believes with the new solar panel design that he has handcrafted light may be the only thing humanity will need in years to come. Hopefully, we the powers at be will be enlightened enough to give it a chance."
She stopped typing, realizing she was over her word limit and still not satisfied with the way that it read. She felt as if she was still grasping for information or some sort of understanding. But, really there wasn’t one. The entire story deserved more than just the facts. Michael deserved that.
She tried to picture him. Sitting at his table by the window. The window was barely visible, it was covered in plants. Light green vines and leaves. She recognized a few flowers when she went to interview him, but not many. She still remembered how he had shown her his “second bedroom” which was transformed entirely to be a nursery. And she had thought the living room was full of plants. This room was absolutely enchanting. If she didn’t know any better she’d thought it was an indoor garden. She couldn’t wrap her head around the idea that he had created such beauty. It was a starving concept. It wanted more. She wanted more.
"Look Larry, I'll have the article written by Tuesday."
The gruff man on the other line was in no mood for negotiations.
"Sadie, I needed that story today. What the hell are you dragging your feet for?"
A breath of tense silence. How could she tell her editor that she really just wanted an excuse to see the strange recluse again?
So she lied.
"My interview was interrupted. I didn't get enough. I know you don't publish crap, Larry. I'm not giving you crap."
With that she hung up, threw the rough draft of her article in the waste bin, and grabbed her jacket hanging on the door.
She probably shouldn't have done it. But she hustled downstairs, snagged a taxi, and made her way over to the intricate little apartment.
* * * *
He was pleasantly surprised whenever a light tapping came from his door. That surprise turned to instant anxiety when he saw Sadie through the peephole.
"Hi Michael, it's me again, Sadie from the newspaper," she started rambling as he tried to calm his breathing down. "I'm sorry to bug you, I just..."
She just what?
Wanted to see him again? Stare wide-eyed at his little world of wonders? Or just study his face for a moment more... she quickly covered her indecision.
"I just need more material."
No answer from the other side of the door.
"I'm stuck, to be completely honest. My writer's block sent me back here."
She chuckled at herself, her smile fading quickly with the fear that he might not let her in. She remembered him telling her how private he was. Rarely did he allow a stranger in, not to mention a reporter.
Michael's head slid back against his door as he clenched his jaw and tried to piece fluttering words together. His tongue could barely form a response and whenever it did, it never sounded the way he'd have liked it to.
"M-m-m-m-more material?" he managed to ask.
Her heart skipped a beat. He's there.
"Yeah," she bit her bottom lip.
He adjusted his glasses, they seemed to have fogged. Slowly, he unlocked the four massive locks that kept him safe from the outside world.
"Let me t-t-t-tidy up here. Give me a m-m-m-m-"
Breath. Come on Michael.
"Give me a minute."
About two minutes later, the door opened and a tall, awkward standing man, with glasses and a button up blue collar shirt appeared in the doorway.
"Hi Sadie," he said, looking down to avoid her eyes.
Michael didn't look women in the eyes. He wasn't afraid, at least that's what he rationalized to himself, he just didn't want to be accused of staring. He liked Sadie for the simple fact that he could look at her as he spoke. She would hurriedly scribble down notes on everything he said and keep her eyes locked on her notebook. This gave him ample time to take in the form of her. The side bangs that had overgrown and would pop out occasionally from behind her ear. The way her lips would curve together neatly as thoughts raced around in her head. The look of her face, trying to be patient even though her eagerness to learn, to create, to be something, always seemed to rush her on.
Most of all, her apologetic nature of charity.
She'd go to speak and they'd talk at the same time. A struggle because speaking had always been a complicated pastime for Michael. Immediately, she'd apologize for interrupting. And he'd laugh because, she really didn't interrupt. And even if she did, he wouldn't have minded. She couldn't do anything wrong. Everything she did seemed to have an energy of sunlight.
"Did you hear my question?"
"I'll repeat it," she said quickly. "The wording wasn't quite right, let me see how I can rephrase it. Um. What made you interested in exploring energy solutions?"
He thought for a moment. Looking around his small living room that was covered in books and leafy plants, he picked up a small flower.
He turned the pot around and showed her the entirety of the small plant.
"This p-p-plant is endangered. N-n-n-not the way you th-th-think, however. It needs b-b-bees to p-p-p-pollenate and bees need homes and hives to m-m-make that happen."
He paused and put the flower on the coffee table in front of them.
"N-n-not all science is c-c-cold and unf-f-feeling. Sometimes it is entirely straightforward. Humans need certain products to live, so do animals and p-p-plants. We rely on each other. If we start to, to, to th-th-think that one is greater than, than another-"
She looked up from her notebook.
"Then we're doomed."
"Can I ask you more of a personal question, Michael?"
He nodded, taking a sip of water. He pointed to the glass, asking if she wanted anything.
"Oh, sure," she said, thanking him.
Taking the risk, she articulated a dangerous thought.
"If you are so- devoted, um- to the environment, why then do you avoid being a part of it?"
He practically choked on his water.
"W-w-what do you mean?"
"I mean... here you are in the same place you've been since... well for years now... why are you a recluse when you are an advocate for environmental change? I would think... that you'd want to be outside in nature, experiencing it."
The question angered him. He desperately tried not to show it.
Standing, he asked her,
"Have you seen my b-b-balcony?"
They went out to the small patio balcony above the city where a small wooden desk sat. It was quite weathered and on it were pinned maps of the stars. Constellations, galaxies, systems. She was, again, amazed. A telescope lingered nearby, pointed up to the sky.
"Here sit," he said, pulling out the chair. "I insist."
She sat, made sure to flatten her skirt before doing so, and watched as he surveyed the few plants that he had out here. She recognized a banana plant with its huge greenish-yellow leaves. Michael leaned up against the railing and took notice of the cars below.
"I can't decide what interests me more about people. Their cars, their lives, their jobs... Everything, I-I-I guess."
She had left her notebook inside. Her hands fiddled with each other, needing something to do. Michael attempted to look at her eyes.
"But then. Then there's the stars. That puts people out of the race, for me, entirely. D-d-don't you think?"
Before she could reply, he continued on, fighting his stutter as the words gushed forth.
"I mean, look at it Sadie. We will all d-d-d-die someday. Our lives will expire. But stars. They can last p-p-past many lifetimes. And trees! Th-th-think about how old a tree can g-g-grow to be. What is the point, if our lives are p-p-perishable, and within our time we've brought so m-m-much of nature down with us?
We were not d-d-designed to d-d-destroy."
"We were not designed to destroy," Sadie repeated thoughtfully.
A moment lapsed and he nervously tried to retain whatever outburst he had just experienced.
"But, Michael," she said softly with a smile on her lips. "You haven't answered my question."
His heart disallowed him to get frustrated with her. The mere sight of her here on his balcony, his private nighttime office, made him beam. He considered what she was asking and the answer that it merited. Could she be trusted?
"The answer you're seeking isn't an easy one."
She looked at him, slightly shocked at how clear his words managed to fit together.
"I need to know-"
He sighed and closed his eyes for a moment.
"I need to know if what I tell you will stay between you and I... or if it will end up on the front of the Gazette?"
The intimacy of the question made Sadie focus even more than she had been currently. This went beyond her place as reporter. It entered into a new realm as friend. The decision was immediate.
"You can be assured that whatever you say, from this point on, stays between you and I."
He smiled. Looked over the balcony railing. Took his glasses off to reveal his shimmery eyes. And came closer to her.
"Can you keep a secret?"