While searching for a dropped pen in Powell Library, I felt something small and hard hit my shoulder, a walnut to be exact. That’s when I came across a hidden resident of the building. It turns out Bryan Michaels is a gremlin-man who hides in the shadows of Powell unnoticed, giggling at everyone who passes by him. His hand frequently reaches in the warehouse-sized container of assorted nuts by his cloaked side. “It’s for snackin’,” Michaels “explained” after getting my attention with a well-aimed walnut that has left an extra-large bruise.
“I been here long as I can ‘member, ever since ‘ol Johnny Woods up and turned into that big shiny statue down the street,” Michaels told me, referring to the statue of John Wooden. When asked if he thinks that people turn into statues when they die, he quickly changed the subject while shoveling a handful of cashews into his gaping mouth. “I knew ol’ John boy when he was just a sapling, been livin’ here ever since he gave me this golden key after nabbin’ that bear and casing it in bronze,” he said, showing me a plastic fork strikingly similar to the ones used at semi-fancy events. It appears that Bryan may be as old as Powell itself, his grizzled beard filled with crumbs of cheap muffins stolen from catering.
I asked why he’s been lurking for so long, “Well, no one quite understands me like them books, ever since I saw that documentary The Pagemaster, I knew that human people weren’t gonna cut it. But then people kept showing up here so I figured I’d just scan ‘em with my peepers and eat my heart out.” I attempted to tell Bryan that The Pagemaster was not a documentary, but instead a partially-animated 1994 children’s movie starring Macaulay Culkin. I don’t think he heard me over the sound of a fresh bag of nuts being pulled from behind a stack of books, which he opened with a rusty CEC bottle-opener. I advise to avoid actively seeking out this man.
Several times during our conversation, I lost track of Bryan only to find him in a different shadowy corner, stealing adderall and Birkenstocks from sleeping students to later sell on Craigslist. He moves incredibly quickly. Bryan Michaels is making himself known, not to raise awareness, but rather to, “Catch me if ya can, light-livers, and you’ll know how to live forever like ‘ol Bryan!” After shouting this from the top of a bookcase, he leapt out of view to the other side, yelling, “PAGEMASTER,” and lobbed with his little claw like arms a copy of Eat, Pray, Love at a passing student , who did not see where the critically-acclaimed novel came from.
Illustration by Cornelius Robbins