|I have a story about The Exorcist that was a life-changing moment. The story is true, and the story is this:
In a nutshell, my sister Claudia went to see The Exorcist at the tender age of eleven in a theater. She shouldn't have gotten inside - it had adult themes, of course. But, a little make-up and a very inattentive cashier did the trick...and Claudia was in!
That was a very regrettable experience for her, and ultimately for me. Claudia was so terrified when she came home that night, she could not sleep alone.
Which meant that she spent the night in my tiny single child’s bottom bunk bed. Very stuffy. And her honest to god terror was to say the least, a little annoying. (I wasn’t always a very nice or understanding child. I have since grown out of that, obviously.)
But, the real problem surfaced when it became clear that Claudia would NEVER want to sleep alone again.
Her terror never diminished. And so, growing up from then on, she would crawl into my room at some hour of the night and bribe me with a back scratch to let her under the covers.
I’m no fool. A free back scratch was nothing to laugh at even then. But, we made a deal that I would, after payment, move to the top bunk and she would have the one below so I could get some peace. I was only, as I told her, "a handshake away."
So two years passed and that handshake finally came. Claudia (now thirteen-years-old) woke me up in the middle of the night terrified, telling me there’s something “scary” in the room.
As soon as she said it, I felt EXACTLY what she was talking about…a strange thickness in the air. Something pretty horrible was clearly in my bedroom with us.
I didn’t even stop to think about it.
I was off the top bunk, her hand in mine, and we sprinted without looking back down the very, very, VERY long hallway of our very old and creaky Montreal house - and directly to the guest room at the other end of the corridor. It was the longest run of my life to date...and I’m a runner. Nevertheless, we just could not get down the darn hall fast enough.
We were certain the thing was following us. On instinct, we just had time to jump onto the guest bed when we both heard at the exact same time in a low, unearthly, hellish whispery voice: “Claaaauuuuudiaaaaaaaahhhh…”
I shit you not. I can recall this now, like it was yesterday. I don’t know exactly what happened after that, except that I found myself sitting up yelling with the full force of my tiny lungs (because I was all of four feet something back then, but I digress):
“Get out! GET OUT! Get out of here! I command you to get out!!! You are not welcome here!!! Get oooooouuuuutttttt!!!”
Pretty eloquent words for an eleven-year-old, I know. But I meant it. I felt like Max von Sydow trying to expel the evil demon, this evil creature from The Exorcist that had invaded our room.
Apparently, the thing understood. Or, the yelling did me a lot of good.
Because the air brightened up just long enough for Claudia and I to lock hands and run out of the guestroom and to the stairs a short distance away, and down to the living room where apparently, it did not follow us.
And there we sat, shivering and singing to drown out any potential noise, waiting for our parents to get home from their movie night or whatever it was. I really don’t remember that part.
So what happened when they did finally come home? We got grounded for being up late and telling tall tales…and were sent straight back to bed with a spanking.
That was okay to do back then, and anyway, it's too late and not really part of the story. Fortunately for us though, the thing had gone by then and it never to my knowledge did come back.
But you’ll have to ask Claudia about that. To this day, my sister still likes to sleep with the light on, and I still prefer the top bunk whenever possible. The Exorcist is a frightening movie and its effect on us was profound.
The moral of the story is clear: please do not wear make-up until you’re at least fourteen. You will most likely regret it.