I figured I needed to see it. I've written about its subject, the real story behind the movie. Or that's what I thought. But something happened.
I hadn't been to a theater in a long time. I hate to say it, I hate what it makes me sound like, but people are awful now. They don't just stay quiet. I could hear murmuring, some conversation in the back like whoever sat there was bored and had seen the whole thing before. (Why are you here then? I wondered.) Restlessness.
Soon I was aware of all the sounds. You probably know the feeling, right? An older man behind me had something wrong with his nose - every time he took a breath he gave out a horrific whistle. It wasn't his fault, but I couldn't concentrate. The hero was trying to explain himself - it was the most important scene of the film, and instead of watching it I noticed a woman, a few seats down, who'd brought a baby with her. I couldn't believe it. A baby. At a war movie.
When she felt my stare she looked at me, and I saw the far half of her face had a savage bruise. But that wasn't nearly as bad as someone on the other side. He was hairless. His features were flat, his skin papery with burns. The old man behind me whistled again, but I looked, and his nose was fine. No, the sound was coming from beneath his shirt. Then the hero said something else, and three people with black bags over their heads chuckled and nudged each other. An old lady tried to join them, but only made gravel sounds that seemed like they would never stop. Two others near her shook their heads, their faces white and wet. A teenage kid without arms snickered at me. They were all snickering now.
"I'm willing to meet my Creator and answer for every shot that I took," the hero intoned. And that's when they broke out into a roar like it was the funniest thing they'd ever heard. The only one who didn't was that child. He lay completely still.
I got up to leave. I had to get out of that place, and the mother looked at me.
"What do you expect?" she asked. "You don't show us on that white screen."
"We sit here," she called out as I shut the door.
"We can do nothing else. We watch you from the dark."
THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.
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