A mural of the golden tree spread across the wall. With absent minded ease, he rose from the edge of the bed and stepped over to the wall. His hand outstretched, he caressed the painting of the tree. Its golden leaves just as shiny here as in person. But, how can that be? It’s a painting.
A knock at the bedroom door shook him out of his thoughts, and he spun his head in the direction of the knock.
“Yes?” asked Charlie. “Come in.”
The door inched inward and a woman’s well groomed brunette head peeped around the edge. “You’re awake,” said the woman. “I’m Tulsie.”
“H-hello. I am Charlie. H-how long have I been asleep?”
“Two days. We were starting to wonder if you were going to wake up. The doctor came over to look at you.” She walked over to him and reached slight, delicate fingers up to his temple. “I must say, that bump looks much better.”
“It hurts like hell.”
Tulsie gasped and stepped back a couple steps, touching folded hands to her chest. “Must you speak that way?”
“Yes. We don’t speak that kind of language in this house.”
“Oh,” replied Charlie taken back just a bit. “Where I come from it’s no big deal. But I do apologize if I offended you.” An uncomfortable minute passed as no one said anything. Then, indicating toward the painted golden tree on the wall, “Do you know about this tree?”
“What about it?” asked Tulsie.
“How is it you have a painting of it on your wall?”
“It’s just a tree.”
“No, it’s not. Who painted it?”
“My cousin. Raymond Bleaker Sr. So what?”
“This tree really exists. It grows on a farm of a friend of mine back in Oklahoma. Wait. Where am I anyway?”
“Who is your friend?”
“Ray Bleaker III.” A chill ran up and down his spine. What are the odds he wakes up wherever in the house of the cousin of his friend’s grandfather? “Ma’am? Please tell me where I am.”
“In my house.”
Charlie scrunched his lips and a heat rose in his cheeks. “I know that. Where is your house, besides on a street in a nice little town. Where is this place? What’s the town or city, or whatever?”
“You don’t have to be so rude in your speaking sir. A simple question and in a nice manner would suffice,” explained Tulsie.
Charlie pasted a fake smile across his cheeks, “Ma’am? What town and state am I in?”
“That’s much better. You are in a suburb of Dallas, Texas,” replied Tulsie. She sauntered over to mural of the golden tree and flipped her delicate fingers in its direction. “Ya know, this tree has been in my cousin’s family for generations. It’s original name was the Time Travel Tree.” Her gaze went from the tree mural to Charlie and morphed into a leer. “You are in 1956.”
Charlie ran his fingers through his dark hair, staggered to the bed and sat back down on the edge. “How do I get back to 2022? Wait, I need to find Rays farm. That’s where the tree is. He said it’s like 200 years old. I’ll just go back there and touch the tree.”
At that moment the same little boy he’d seen holding the ball in the front yard of the house, when he arrived two days ago, walked into the room holding the same red ball.
Tulsie walked over to the little boy and fumbled her fingers through the little boys hair. “This is my cousin’s boy, Raymond Jr.” Then she threw a pointed stare at Charlie. “And, no, you cannot find the tree at my cousin’s farm. It isn’t there.”
“But it’s there in 2022. Ray said it’s over 200 years old. Trees don’t get up and move.”
“Well, he’s right. It is 200 years old. But the tree moves itself every so many years. So you’ll have to find it. How you do that is up to you.”
“But I thought you said the tree has been in the family for generations.”
“That’s right. I did. You appear to be a smart man. Confused at the moment but smart nevertheless. Figure it out.”
(To Be Continued)