When the movie The Exorcist came out, way back in 1973, I was an eight year old. I did not see the movie in the theater, because my parents actually paid attention to the ratings on movies. At least that is what they told me. However, I can remember sitting in Mass on a Sunday during that year, and listening to the priest discuss the film in his homily. Apparently, after seeing the film, every single person on the planet decided that they too must be possessed. The priest described the hysteria; even religions that didn't believe in hell were calling about exorcisms. Sitting in the pew next to my mom, my brother asleep and drooling on my shoulder, I sat wide-eyed, and absorbed every sentence as gospel. This must be some movie, I thought, if people were just getting possessed by watching it. I decided that I did not really want to see The Exorcist.
However, I became a teenager, which means that my decision-making skills took a hit. The Exorcist was being shown on television one Friday evening when it was just my mom and I in the house. It was on one of the networks, because 47,000 channels wasn't a thing yet. If a movie was "edited for television", that mean the horrible bits were cut out of what was shown, so the producers could horrify us instead with bad commercials.
So my mother and I headed to our 1970s style family room(complete with brown shag carpeting on the walls! and mirror tiles!) in the basement of our house in Silver Spring, Maryland, popcorn in hand, and parked ourselves on the couch. For the most part, the beginning of the movie was relatively benign--an actress moves into a home in Georgetown--which was just a few miles away from where we sat--and things start happening to her daughter, and yeah...well.
Catholics take their demonic possession very seriously. From the cradle, we live in fear of something happening to our immortal souls. We're raised on the perils of Ouija boards, and reminded constantly not to mess with the dark side of the universe. The devil is THE Boss of Bosses in the game of life, and it's game over if he gets you. And even if the rational side of your brain tells you that some of what you're hearing is complete hooey, there's always that tiny little voice in the darkest part of your brain that believes. Even sitting in a ridiculously decorated room with all the lights on, I couldn't help looking over my shoulder every now and then, just to make sure nothing was there. Weird noises from the darkness outside made me jump. If I felt this terrified watching an "edited for television" version, I could only imagine what those poor people in the theater felt.
When the movie ended, I felt as though my hair should be singed from being so close to a demon, even if it were an imaginary one on television. I was very glad that I had worn my miraculous medal in preparation for the movie, but I slept with the lights on, anyway. At least I would be able to see what was coming.
The next evening, my mother and I sat in St. Michael's Catholic Church, waiting for evening Mass. The priest walked up the aisle to the altar and bowed while we all sang. I stared hard at Father Sweeney as he stood up at the front, reading the prayers at the beginning of the service. The hair on the back of my neck stood up.
"Mom!" I whispered. "Mom! Doesn't Father Sweeney look just like Father Damian from The Exorcist?"
My mom just nodded.
I used Mamakat's World Famous Writer's Workshop Prompt:
2.) Write about something that creeped you out. Go check out the other writers!