… It was the type of giant reel to reel that was used to show movies in old-fashioned cinemas. The huge, glowing, ghostly white screen flickered for a few seconds while the footage wound around the giant spools of the reels, the rapid fire sound of the tape slapping against itself, rushing ahead to the cell that held the first recognizable image. It flickered in and out a few seconds more, until machinery and celluloid, finally in synch, produced the still profile bust of a stoic Native American Son on the screen. Like the head on a buffalo nickel. The film found its pace and the red man, showing in sepia tones, slowly turned around to face me.
He’s beautiful as only Natives can be. He stares out from the screen for some time and I got to study his features — the aquiline nose, the creviced solemn eyes, his jutting lower lip that wrinkled his chin. He is in full headdress – I think ‘Cherokee’ not really knowing why.
The silent film begins to advance forward, now showing him walking towards me as if intending to come off the screen into my space, the real world. It’s making me a little uncomfortable, maybe even a bit scared. As he comes closer other Native men — also dressed customarily — slowly morph in behind him walking in single file, first facing east then each turning right at the same point as if in a drill. They all turn their eyes on me as they move slowly forward, crowding dangerously to overflow at the edge of the screen, really frightening me now. I feel myself pulling away into consciousness…
When I woke up I was glad to see I was still in my single bed in the small rustic hotel I and my traveling partner, asleep in his own bed, had checked into. I was relieved that I hadn’t disturbed his sleep. He had been driving us around Sedona all day and then we had taken a long, late afternoon hike up the side of a gargantuan mound of red hardened clay called Bell Rock where we read in our ‘Arizona for Dummies’ guide book there were vortexes and portals to other dimensions. We trekked up slowly in the blazing southwestern sun, noticing doused pyres made by past visitors to the area.
The view, when we reached our desired plateau, was of course out-of-this-world! A panorama of nothing but sun-bleached white, cottony clouds, sky-blue skies and rusty red mountains jutting up in that peculiar phallic shape. We saw eagles flying way above our heads. It was magic even without the discovery of a portal.
I got out of my bed and quietly crept into my friend’s, trying hard not to wake him. I was a bit shaken up after my dream and didn’t want to sleep alone. That next morning at sunrise he woke up yawning, stretching and looking around the room at the same time. He looked over at me and smiled, not asking what I was doing there in his bed. I volunteered;
“I had a bad dream last night and …” But before I could continue, in between yawns he broke in and said,
“I had the strangest dream last night.”
“Oh yeah?” I said, as my heart began pounding. “What about?”
“I dreamt I was watching one of those old fashioned movies. There was an Indian in it – reminded me of the head on a nickel. Than he and some other Indians crowded onto the screen and were sort of walking towards me. They had on traditional gear with the headdress and everything. It was so weird.”
I told him I had the exact same dream.
We sat up in his bed for awhile, not looking at each other but staring at the framed charcoal drawings of so-called ‘noble savages’ some non-Indian artist had drawn that hung on our hotel room walls.
“Check out time’s at 12pm. Let’s get outta here.” he said.
We hurried and got dressed.