Cody walked onstage and surveyed the huge, cheering crowd, soaking in the excitement and energy radiated by thousands of adoring fans, the flashing effects lighting, the fog, and fireworks spewing from the pillars behind him.
The warm-up band had been good … but the huge audience had evidently come to see him, Cody, the star attraction.
“Cody! Cody! Cody!” Their chant filled the huge auditorium to the rafters. He threw his right arm up in the air with his guitar pick in-hand in a gesturing salute to the crowd, and the cheers grew even louder, more demanding!
Turning his head slightly to the right, he gave a shallow nod to the keyboard player, and his band began the set. The crowd was still screaming over the first, familiar instrumental notes of the first song. He stepped to the mike, sang the first line, and the crowd noise swelled again.
It was one of his signature songs, one he had written himself, one of many that had placed him on the top of the charts over and over again. At the chorus, everyone in the audience sang the hook with him. They knew it as well as he did. Women in the front rows charged the foot of the stage, trying to get closer, reaching for a touch of his pant leg, tossing flowers along with notes, phone numbers, and undergarments onto the stage.
Cody smiled broadly, his pearl-white teeth gleaming in the spotlights. The crowd grew more frenzied and their sing-along turned to cheering at the top of their lungs, louder and louder, a constant high-pitched roar!
The loud buzzer on the timer over his head brought him to now. He suddenly realized the French fries were done. He lifted them from the cooker and dumped them into the draining tray. He salted them liberally and scooped them into small, red cardboard sleeves and placed the packages one by one onto the serving rack.
His dream had brought him to Nashville for his big break nearly five years earlier. Looking through the small opening over the rack holding the cooked fries, out to the serving counter and beyond to those waiting in line, he saw a collection of other wannabe dreamers on both sides of the counter, all playing the lottery in some form or other. Some, like him, playing the “Nashville Lottery” and hoping for a chance at fame. Others, perhaps with an equal chance, simply purchased their lottery tickets at the quick mart, hoping for the big hand of chance to point to them and say, “You!”
Cody’s dream had followed him from Oklahoma all the way to Nashville. It was as real as any dream had ever been. He had lived it over and over … but after five years it was still just a dream. And it was still no closer to reality than it ever was.
He dumped more frozen fries into the cooker and hit the button to start the timer again. As the white fries sizzled in the oil, Cody slipped slowly back into his dream. The crowd was still roaring as he began the second song. Cody tipped his cowboy hat and gave them a thumbs up.
There are people all over the world who wished they could be in Nashville, living their dream. Cody had made it.
Others, like Ben, knew about dreaming, but they knew about waking up too. Ben wanted to live in the best reality he could imagine.