Looking at me with a smirk he replyed,"It's Nimoy - Leonard Nimoy; No. You new here?..."
"Yeah." Thinking I was fixing to get the crap beat out of me, the Spock looking kid told me to join him on the bus. When I asked why there were so many dents in the celing above the driver I was told to just wait and watch. After the school bus was loaded and the chattering volume began to rise our elderly troll of a driver grabed a short handle stick, and proceeded beating the hell out of the top of the bus, yelling,"Chut-up! Chut-up!" At which you could hear a pin drop on the entire trip across town to my new Middle School.
Man, this kid was smart. He became my best friend. Through the years to come where ever you saw him, you saw me joined at the hip. My own brother was three years older, on a far different wave length; actually we never got along - always fought, and never found anything in common to agree on. This new kid - knew my thoughts even before I did.
(From my Junior High School Yearbook 1979-80)
Michael was a Star Trek fan, like I was. He was a Baptist, Pentacle-something or other; never really caught it. You see I was raised a Jehovah's Witness; you know, that "Thou Shall Not" kinda of religion. But the neat thing about it was - far as I could figure - we never had much to say about our religious backgrounds. Others stayed as far away from me as they could, or I them. But Michael accepted me for who I was, and didn't seem to care (or knew) that he was going to perish during Jehovah's Armageddon; and after awhile, I began to wonder why I didn't care either.
I seemed to be over Michael's house far more times than he was over to mine, for the most part it didn't bother me; being at his home was like being in a different world. His parents treated one another as though there was a real interest in each another, and their kids. Michael's brother was even cool; not as cool as him mind you.
Building on our interest of Star Trek, came our mutual love of art; drawing and crafting things with our hands. I think in some respect I've always had an edge over Michael when it came to art, but his imagination blew away the breath of any talent I had. I would spend an hour on a project that came out pertty good, while he would churn out masterpiece one after another.
During Junior High School, my religious focus waned even though my attendance continued at the Kingdom Hall; my life was about to change. The change for me came with the expantion of my circle of friends. There was Tony, a Boy Scout trooper who loved, and introduced me to Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Paul, introduced me to Styx, and Battlestar Galactica. Lane Boyd, another artist who could do the Robot as well as me. Shannon - an "atheisit", but he loved Science-Fiction, so he was okay. And of course, there remained Michael. Those were the days, and the individuals who influenced me most in life - more than they will ever understand.
In Jr. High, our art teacher, a Mrs. Pat Dunn asked Michael and I to "paint" a picture for her. I believe it was on a masonite board. Our school looked like a prison with no windows, so we jumped on the oppertunity to give the 'ol Art Mum the view we saw of the world outside. Actually it somewhat resembled Middle Earth: with a great mountian (mine), in the background and a Hobbit tree (Michael's touch) in the foreground. It was fun working on the painting, but we were not the Brothers Hilebrant.
(Brownwood Bullentin Newspaper; page 10-A Sunday, September 21, 1980)
Through the years Michael and I were always a pair. An influence on one another more than even we realise now. He was the Best Man at my wedding, and I a pallbearer at his father's funeral. Yet, even over the long years, when we lost contact with one another as adults, Michael remained a driving inspiration of hope and imagination in my personal life.
Somehow, these many years later I was able to reconnet with my old friend; and have never regretted his presence in my life. Old, and dear friends like Tehuti don't come along that often, and when they do, too many times in this crazy world of ours we never seem to take enough time to thank them for the many contributions they have made in our lives. So, Thank you Michael for accepting me for who I was then, for being more of a brother than my own, and for being at my wedding when even my own father wasn't; "you have been and shall always remain my friend."