After a lifetime of being told "The Exorcist" was an evil book I should never read, should never even think of reading for the demons within the pages would jump out to steal my soul, I decided to give it a go in October of 2019 in honor of "Spooky Season."
I was living in Utah while attending what was formerly known as Dixie State University. Tracking down such a vile and immoral manifestation of the devil was a challenge at the local bookstores. Even the beloved Barnes and Noble did not possess a copy I could take home immediately. I ended up needing to wait a week to receive my book after ordering it online.
By the time I was able to start reading, Spooky Season was nearing an end and I knew I needed to catch up fast. So I brought my book to work.
My job at the time was to sit and answer calls to schedule groups for escape rooms.
I worked evenings and nights.
I worked alone.
And I worked across the street from a funeral home.
My desk faced the glass double doors, the dark parking lot with a single streetlight that struggled to illuminate anything other than my direct line of sight, a row of beautifully tall trees with orange and yellow leaves, and a row of hearses parked alongside the crematorium section of the building.
On this particular dark and lonely night, I was reading the section wherein the actual exorcism takes place. I had come into work around 5 p.m. I was forced to use my entire body to push the front doors open because they were unnecessarily heavy. I checked my emails, cleaned the lobby, made sure the phone was ready to receive calls, and knew I could then start my reading and finish the book by the end of my shift. I leaned back in my chair and put my feet up on the desk.
The exorcism began, the demon fought, items flew around the room. The priest was reading from the bible and then the front doors blew open.
My front doors.
The unnecessarily heavy ones.
They blew completely open and stayed open. I stood up, dropping my book on the desk. I could hear whistling from some strange, unexpected wind as the doors held. Orange and yellow leaves from the trees surrounding the funeral home blew in through those open doors. The leaves marched into the middle of the lobby, right in front of my desk. They swirled around each other on the tile before flying towards the ceiling. They danced and swayed, dipping to touch the floor before jumping to the ceiling again. Then the doors slammed shut, and the leaves calmed.
I don't know how long I stood there. I didn't make any noise. I didn't look around the room. I just stood and stared at those leaves. Eventually, I looked down at my book on the desk. I picked up my bookmark, slid it in between the pages, and closed the book. No more reading at work.
I did finish the book. In the safety of my dorm in bright daylight. I was a big fan by the end. I still recommend "The Exorcist" to my friends and family and let them borrow my copy. I never felt an evil presence, I never felt that my soul was at risk, and I never did feel scared by the actual story itself. My interpretation of "The Exorcist" is that the story tells of a religious man struggling with his faith more than a story meant to terrify its readers. I do highly recommend the book. Read it this October for Spooky Season. But maybe read it somewhere where you aren't completely alone or next door to a funeral home.