I was moving about in the workshop taking apart one thing and put together another when Morris squawked loudly, awakening from an uneasy dream. Dreaming isn’t ever very easy in this city. It is more like waking up.
“Bad dream?” I queried.
“The worst! The worst!” Morris screeched.
“All right, all right, just tell me about it.”
“Flying, I was over the tangle forest,” He started nervously, little word noises in the back of his throat. “It turned brown like a wave starting at one side, so fast all the way across. All dead! All brown.”
He ended with a sad whistle.
“That is disturbing.” I patted his black head and gave him a peanut I found on the floor. He took it in his claw and peeled away the shell delicately with his beak.
“I remember replanting the edge of that forest. That’s when I met Leela. Green Tom showed me how it could be done.”
A chain of memories fell like dominoes in a row that led back to the moment I met Green Tom. I was living in an abandoned factory on the western border of the city at the edge of the tangle forest. The factory was a mangled ruin full of old machinery. It was a maze of chutes, broken stairs, and ladders to nowhere. It was a perfect place for me at the time as I was working on a flying machine powered by thought and intentions. There were parts just lying around. The ceiling and walls were good enough in some places, the places I worked and lived in, to keep the water and wind at bay. I just hooked up my little generator for light and small machinery and worked away in solitude. No one could visit me there because I was the only one who knew the safe paths through.
One day I heard a muffled pounding a short distance from where I was harvesting some valuable pieces of metal for the wing frame. I climbed through a small tunnel of twisted machinery just in time to see a door burst open on the floor above. The stair was out and chute had fallen in its place just one step inside the door.
“Don’t take a step,” I shouted up, ” Or it will be a long one.”
I could see the lumpy silhouette, roughly person shaped with odd angularities, and vines tangled all round the edges.
“What do you want?” I yelled up again, and the form above rustled.
“I wanted to speak with someone about the forest,” he spoke in deep, penetrating groan like trees in windstorm.
“Stay there I will come up to you,” I shouted again, figuring the best path through the metal maze of the factory.
When I finally navigated my way out and around to the uphill side of the factory, I was surprised to find no one there. There was a strange tangle of ivy leaning against the corrugated sheet metal wall.
“Alo, my name is Tompowjur Boa. Some as call me Green Tom.”
I found his face among the vines and told him my name. He told me that he wandered into the city from the forest to find someone to help him replant the part of the forest that had disappeared into the city. The ancient giant part of the wood dreamers took away to build houses and monuments and games. I told him what I was working on. He thought that would be useful.
He stayed at the edge of the forest near the factory for a while (He could not live with me indoors),and I would visit him every day. He taught me how to plant, and what to plant, and how to sing to the birds and creatures to let them know what I was doing. All that was necessary in the process of making the forest grow where it used to be.
When I finished my flying machine, I went and applied for the replanting job and got it. It wasn’t hard with all that Green Tom taught me. And so I went and worked and met Leela. Morris was living most of the time with Leela then and would recite poetry in the evenings for us. He knew many poets then, but now has lost interest in all but Rimbaud.
“Where did you just go?” Morris said around a beak full of peanut.
“I was just thinking about when I met Green Tom.”
“Green Tom!” He screeched. “I just saw him on my way here. Moping about the high ponds.”
“Really, Did you speak with him.”
“No, Never talk to him anymore.” Morris chortled. “He’s a bit slow for my taste. Much too stiff and rattly.”
“Well, I guess he takes a bit of getting used too,” I said as I went back to work. “Just like some birds I know.”