Word must have gotten out that Jake Martin was going to be using the old drive-in movie screen on Town Farm Road. The pavement, where cars full of families would park, had been removed years ago and the field was now inviting for horses to roam and for humans to sit. Jake had numerous reels of old stories to share and a lifetime of his own music to sync them to. Assembling an older model iMac, a hi-8 deck, a DVCam deck, a Canopus box and more than enough wires, he set out to plug everything in as people pulled off of the paved highway, and onto the dirt road leading to the field where the old screen still stood, sun bleached white and as ready as the day it was built.
It surprised Jake that so many people were coming, but hey, why not, the more the livelier. Jim Sahi walked towards Jake, casually. His left hand was in the pocket of his white painter pants while his right hand held a tall plastic tumbler of beer, foaming slightly above the rim. The field now belonged to the Sahi family and Jim was happy for a spontaneous party. He brought beer, lots of beer. Jake hadn’t seen Sahi in decades and remarked that he looked younger than ever. Even Jake’s mom was looking beautiful, more radiant than he could believe. There must have been something special about the countryside and the late autumn air. The crowd grew. Jake’s grandparents were there with cranky and dangerous Uncle Billy. Aunt Joan, who had always been especially kind to Jake, arrived wearing a purple chiffon dress from the early 60’s. As Jake fumbled with the mountain of antique wires, night began to fall. Lenny Pierson, who had been the class president back in high school, offered Jake a flashlight. “Hmmm,” Jake remembered, “I thought Lenny disappeared?” Bradley Cooper, a little buzzed, strolled to the folding tables where all the gear sat humming, with electric low light, ready to project. Bradley offered,
“Hey, I know a little about this stuff. Maybe I can help?”
Jake looked at Sahi and muttered, “Who in heaven’s name is this guy?”
Jake’s enthusiasm and eagerness morphed into anxiety as he failed to get the machines aligned. Stars began to shine above but no picture flickered onto the screen and no sound amplified. Brenda, who was once nearly his wife and the woman he would have had a family with, was sitting comfortably, surrounded by friends and disciples. She reappeared from Jake’s past, seemingly from thin air. She and her group had colorful hand woven blankets, picnic items, and they were encircled by rings of mist as day became night. Brenda calmly plugged in her laptop and effortlessly projected her memories onto the giant screen. It was easy but she didn’t want to steal Jake’s thunder. She offered Jake a one-thousand foot cable so that he could share his stories.
Night fell with inevitability and the many people grew weary from waiting. Children fidgeted and parents knew it was time to return to home, to a meal, and to eventual sleep. So many some bodies occupied themselves but eventually Jake became aware of his effort and the weight and physical sensation of his own body from standing and bending over machines for so long, so determined, and so needing to tell his story.
Buddha had been sitting, watching birds and eternity. As he stood, he smiled at Jake and said, “Yes, it was all only your most recent dream, but dreams are life and we will have many dreams.”With the cool peace and quiet of night, the Buddha was gone.
ROBERT MITCHELL is a working, published musician, film editor and songwriter, living in NYC. Due to the pandemic, Mitchell has redirected his story telling focus towards the adventurousness of short form fiction.