screenplay synopsis by
Old Jake: Alix Duncan, Boston journalist and middle-aged emotional mess, is heading for a breakdown. Fortunately, a memory of an old hermit from her childhood in Kentucky swoops in and saves her. She returns to her hometown to find the old man and learn of his fate, but what she finds is love and salvation with the help of a midnight dose of "Mountain Moonshine", wild critters, and two broken old men.
Alix Duncan, an emotional, stressed out, wreck-of-a-woman, possessing the mouth of a truck driver, is at her wit's end. On the cusp of turning 50, the Boston freelance writer is caught in a mental downward spiral. Frustrations from modern day technology and their never ending glitches, seem to be the sources of her impending demise. She confesses to friends she is beginning to identify with Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber! After shocking them with this revelation; vowing never to mention it again, and assuring them she never-ever intended to go into bomb making, she remembers a hermit named "Old Jake" from her childhood vacations in rural Kentucky.
The memories of Old Jake being a more benign transference than Mr. Kaczynski, and to her friends' relief, take hold. The answers as to why he became a recluse and his eventual fate, become Alix's new obsession. After hilarious scenes where her chronic cussing is cleverly bleeped out by Boston traffic horns, and beeps from everyday living — think: coffee makers, microwave ovens, ATM's — she meets with her main editor, Susan. Alix, desperate, announces she's had it, she's taking time off. After hearing her out, Susan suggests going to the small town of Cowcreek where her family summered, research the man's life, in fact write a story about him, if only for herself — Alix does just that.
She arrives in town and begins inquiring about Jake: some of the older residents do remember him. After her rental car breaks down (glitches seem to follow her), Alix hitches a ride with a townie who knows the way to the old shack. It's still standing so he drops her off and she begins to explore. As she enters the dilapidated structure, a heavy piece of woodwork over the door slips loose, knocking her unconscious.
Alix, damp cloth on her forehead, wakes to a beautifully restored version of the little cabin. The interior's carved wood splendor is in stark contrast to its "before" condition. Amazed, she sees sitting in the corner, with hazy rays of sunlight streaking before him — Old Jake. He is not old; he is handsome, long-haired, self-possessed with intense dark eyes, and perched on his left shoulder is a large shiny, coal black crow. As she attempts to comprehend what is before her, his deep intelligent voice whispers, "Welcome back Sleeping Beauty".
The romance is on — Is this real? Is this a dream? Who cares!
While she recovers from her concussion, Jake and Alix, who he now calls "Beauty", spend their days discovering each other. In little time she learns the truth behind his self-imposed exile, and having confessed to being from another time, she convinces him to consider going back to his old life with his wife and son. In return, Jake, who has found serenity in his world of nature along with his hermit buddy Dr. Bob, gently guide Alix to her own inner peace and serenity. Dr. Bob, a Native American mental casualty from the Vietnam war, has his own little shack where he lives with his hilarious animal cohorts, Buddy the bear, Marvin the mountain lion, and Jane the doe.
A mind-blowing, sidesplitting "Mountain Moonshine"mushroom trip the three take one night, accompanied by the animal menagerie, changes Alix forever. Mountain Moonshine is Jake and Bob's profitable psilocybin (an hallucinogenic made from local mushrooms) business. Their "product" raises money for the anti-Vietnam War movement of their era, and Jake's sister Evie, who brings them supplies every few weeks, is their whack-a-doodle "Mountain Moonshine Mule".
Alix and Jake know time is not on their side. One morning Alix wakes alone to find — no Jake, no rays of sunlight, no shiny black crow named Crow, only the ramshackle ruins of his past. She stands, gash on her forehead, awkwardly stumbles towards the door, and there in the garden, with his back turned to her, is Jake. Flabbergasted, she calls out his name. The man turns and says, "Alix? We've been looking for you. Jake? Jake was my father, I'm his son James."
So did "Beauty" find peace, love and truth, or was it all merely a beautiful dream?
"Old Jake" is written as a limited series. It is a work in progress with its first draft scheduled for February 2019. Registered WGAE.