Matthew London














Talkies















Talkies
 

It was the night of the premier of The Jazz Singer. Forty-five men and women attended the theater. Fredrick Butterson was there. Annette St. James was there. Mary Benstein was there. The rest of the town was there. Everyone wore their best clothes, even the people in the back. The film began to play, and the actors began to speak. People in the front row looked behind themselves. People in the back of the theater accused the viewers in the front of talking during the movie. One man threw his tobacco from his chew down on the heads of the audience in the front. When the commotion was heard outside, the ushers came in and turned on the lights. The movie reel was stopped. All the accusations were leveled at all the parties, and the theater employees assured everyone that none of the audience members were talking. The film resumed as the lights faded. People gave the film another chance, and each other. A lady in the middle of the audience screamed. She realized the voices were coming from the screen. Her courter sprang from his seat and drew a 5Ē blade, and, charging the screen, plunged the knife into the silver sheet, crying and laughing bubbles. The voices in the film did not stop, did not change, did not acknowledge the stabbing. Others in the crowd started to wail and cry. Someone shouted End it, End the experience. By now, the while audience surged around their chairs and tore at the screen with their fingernails and teeth. They shredded and soaked the screen with tears and drool until the movie projector clicked after the credits rolled. The lights came on. The men and women of the town straightened their clothes, wiped their mouths, and exited the theater in single file. Of the show, one woman remarked I donít think Iíve ever seen anything quite like it. There was such atmosphere, wasnít there.




 


























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