Atmospheric Review: The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
Written by: ST King
The game is charades
And the men are seated around an oak-cherry table: Detective Kinderman, Lieteneant – Metro D.C Homicide – and Karl Engstrom, domestic worker, employee of Chris Macneil, mother of one Reagan Macneil, age twelve.
Reagan’s bed had been pushed to the table jerkily, though it wasn’t clear who was pushing it. To Kinderman she doesn’t appear to be in good health. But she’s breathing, he can see. In short shallow breaths that seemingly turn to smoke as she breathes them out into the warm air.
After a while she sits up rigidly and cracks her neck on either side. She blinks a few times in rapid succession and turns her head, slowly to the left and right, seemingly farther than it should go. She looks around the room which is almost completely dark, save for a single light fixture hanging above the table.
Reagan takes the notecard with her name from the table and reads it silently before she looks at the men sitting with her. Detective Kinderman gets up and takes off his coat and hangs it carefully on the back of his chair. He punches Karl on the arm and laughs. “Hey, big guy,” he says – you better hope this isn’t a goddamn Jewish movie. I’ve seen enough Kirk Douglass in the past days than any man ever needs for the rest of his natural born life.
“Are you Jewish,” he goes on.
Karl turns stiffly in his chair. “I am not.” Before he busies himself with his lapels.
“You sure?” Kinderman raises an eyebrow. “Hey hey, of course you’re sure. Listen, you know the vibes I’m getting from you right now? Boris Karloff.
“No offense,” he adds. You ever get that from people when you’re walking around?”
The butler studies the detective for a long time before he finally answers – not like he didn’t know the answer. But if the accent is any indicator, Kinderman thinks perhaps the man wants to say more to him than he actually can.
“I am Karl.
“Well, Okey doke,” Kinderman teases “Boris it is.
“Damn good film, by the way. Hey look, I know we got something going. We’re busy and it’s a team effort, I got ya. I’ll be Dwight Fyre, good? I walk bad enough for it anyway. Tendonitis my doctor says.” Then he flicks his wrist towards his mouth. “Too much of the sauce, I say. And I mean it. Seriously, I tell the guy my wife’s calling me a cocksucker and he tells me she possessed. This is a bonafide John Hopkins guy I’m talking about.”
Regan balls up the notecard and shoves it in her mouth and swallows it. Then she rears back against the chair and lunges forward. The crumpled paper flies from her mouth and across the table in a sluggish and ragged arc. It makes contact with Karl on the mouth. “Smooches,” she says.
Then, she throws her head back and hoots so loudly that Kinderman can feel it, as pressure in his chest. The spit settles in his own mouth and it makes him sick to his stomach. That hadn’t ever been the voice of a little girl, he thinks. And he looks at her long and hard. Quickly he concludes that he wasn’t looking at a little girl anymore either.
“Oh my,” he says. He raises a calloused palm to his lips and wipes them. “Oh dear god – oh Christ. What is this?”
And Regan’s suddenly on the table and spreading her legs. Her hands gliding down her center and her head rolling backward cartoonishly, the way a boy pulls on the head of an action-figure. Also, her mouth is agape. “I have something wetter for you, old man,” she hisses. Unblinking. It takes everything in both the men to stay seated.
Karl shakes out a handkerchief and wipes his face all around. He grimaces as he nods to himself.
“It is shower,” he says.
And when he did there’d been a pop like an old cap-gun. Then a handful of confetti gliding its way down from the ceiling, and it rests on Karl’s shoulders. He brushes it off and waves to Kinderman.
“Well, I’ll be,” the detective says.
Final Rating: 4.5/5
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