Creativity Wake-Up Call: Movies and Morals

Hey writers,

While waiting for a showing of Inglourious Basterds this weekend, a young teen (who somehow had a rather bushy goatee) sauntered up to my companion and me with a request.

Goatee: “Bro, which movie are you seeing?”
Zac: “Inglourious Basterds?”
Goatee: “Right on.”
(Awkward mutual stare)
Goatee: “Wanna do us a favor?”
Zac: “What’s up?”
Goatee: “Will you pretend to be my bro’s parents so he can get in?”
(Bro in question grunts in agreement, offers handful of popcorn)

As it turned out, we were seeing the film at different times, so I managed to dodge the moral issue of being someone’s understudy father. Which got me wondering about movies and more hearty moral questions.

Yours in writing,


PROMPT: Morals and Movies
In 500 words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring:

You have just purchased tickets for a movie, and someone approaches you, tears in his eyes and something gripped in his palm, and asks a question—one that leaves you speechless.

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  3. Mark James

    I love movies; hate standing in line to see them. That’s why I always order my tickets online. The World Wide Web was one of man’s greater moments. I go marching right up to the front, give the kid my ticket, settle down in the dark, and try to forget.

    I was heading across the parking lot, already had my path scoped out – left at the teenage Goths, then angle right, through the moms toting little kids wearing red masks – it was the latest super hero thing.

    He nailed me right before I got to the Goths near the edge of the crowd. A grimy hand shot out and grabbed my shirtsleeve.

    Tears ran down his seamed, sunburned cheeks. He looked older than Time, until he dropped me a horribly lurid wink, like he knew he wasn’t but two minutes shy of a real good time.

    When I saw him pull something out of his pocket, I tried to run. If I got away, the little kids in the crowd had a chance.

    But too late. He shoved something into my hand, leaned in real close and whispered, “Your Father says: ‘when are you coming back to finish it?’”

    Been over two thousand years, and my Dad’s still at it. Still trying to drag me back in time to that cross, still sending Lucifer’s angels after me. They teamed up for this gig.

    Last thing I wanted to do was read that note. No. It was the next to last thing. But Satan’s minion had pressed my flesh.

    Behind me, the sun was going down. I looked at the crumpled parchment, blood red in the dying sun’s rays. “John 3:16,” it said, “you promised Me.”

    Ancient words rang through me like Hells Bells at midnight, tolling the Hour of the Dead.

    I didn’t die on that cross. Couldn’t do it. Couldn’t let go and trust my Dad to bring me back. When they took me down, I was still alive. I hung out in that cave ‘til it was time to make my exit into the sky. But I never died, like I was supposed to. I couldn’t.

    The angel’s tears had dried up. Age faded from him ‘til his face was everything young, and hopeful and brand new in the world. His eyes glittered. When he pushed past me to the crowd, I didn’t stop him. I should have. But I didn’t.

    I crumpled the parchment, felt it spark and fire against my palm, turn to dead ashes while the angel smiled, hunkered down to talk to a little boy in a red mask.

    I stepped. One step, then another, then I was stepping down the long road of eternity stretched out in front of me.

    One of those kids back there, whoever the angel chose, he’d get nightmares so bad the rest of his life, he’d turn into a monster, the kind who did bloody work, the kind who made you wonder if there really was a God, and where the hell was he?

    That was Lucifer’s price for helping out my Dad. It was the price I paid for not riding the cross all the way to the end.

    Peace on Earth?

    Not while I’m alive.

    Not a chance.

  4. Belinda

    We settled into our chairs, taking up almost half of one row in the dim theater. Letting out a deep sigh I rested my head briefly on one shoulder then the other. I felt some of the tension release that had been accumulating all day, like dark thunderclouds. It was such a relief to be with friends in the cool theater, hidden away where no one could find me to ask a question or demand a need. Lisa had called just as I was leaving the office with an invitation to join her and four other friends for a girls’ night out. We were seeing The Proposal, a reportedly hilarious chic-flick that none of our husbands deemed worthy of their testosterone-laced attention.

    Seated at the end of our row, I relaxed into the chatter and laughter and waited for the previews to begin. I must have dozed just a bit because when I felt the hard tap on my arm, I jumped.

    “You’re in my seat. I have a ticket,” a small elderly woman with a wrinkled face like a walnut looked down at me with watery eyes. “The number is right here. You’ll have to move. This is my seat.” She was shoving what I guessed was her ticket stub in my face.

    “Wait, ma’am,” I said, fully awake now. “There’s no seat numbers here. You just sit wherever you like.”

    She pushed the stub at me again saying, “Here, look, I have this seat. It’s mine. I’ll call the attendant and have you moved!” Her voice began to rise and the white cardigan draped over her thin shoulders slid off on one side. She pressed the ticket stub into my hand and I could feel the slick pads of her fingertips rest for the briefest moment in my palm. They felt like something expensive, like silk or fine china. Her knuckles were large and swollen like the sugary gumballs my girls begged for every trip to the grocery store.

    “George ordered these tickets a month ago. It’s a special day – our anniversary – and all I want is to see this show. Now get out of my seat!” By now everyone around us was quiet, watching the exchange between me and this fiery little woman. The cardigan slipped off her other shoulder and fell to the greasy theater floor.

    “Mrs. Marble! There you are! You’re in the wrong movie. Lord, you scared me.” A large woman in nurse’s scrubs came up the aisle, swooped down rather agilely for a woman her size, and picked up the cardigan.

    Gently taking Mrs. Marble’s arm, the nurse leaned over and said with a small smile, “Thinks she at a Broadway show. The Music Man. Sorry she bothered you. We’re here for a little outing with the elderly daycare and Mrs. Marble got away from me. She’s a slippery one.”

    As they were walking away I heard Mrs. Marble say, “George is meeting me. He came straight here from work. He’ll be worried.”

  5. Teever

    Tickets in hand for Julie and Julia, my wife and I smile to each other heading for the door. Being opening weekend, we really wanted to get inside for good seats and not to stuck in the torturous front row. After only a few steps, a young man with red eyes, in ripped jeans and a head banger t-shirt wanted to know if he could ask us something.

    I was irritated, but I don’t like just brushing people off out-of-hand, so I sent my wife ahead and told her I would catch up. To be completely truthful, I was a bit leery of the young man and had sent my wife ahead out of a sense of protection as much as anything else.


    “Now, how may I help you, sir?” The Southern in me adding the “sir” out of common respect. It was then that I was taken aback by the understanding that the boy’s eyes were not red from alcohol, drugs, or whatever, but that he had been crying. His cheeks streaked by tears.

    “Sir? Can you help me?” This uttered with teary undertones.

    Without even thinking of it, my hand reached out and rested on his shoulder, and I guided him further to the side, out of the way of people, granting us at least a little more privacy from the inquisitive stares and eager ears. My feelings still mixed as my heart went out to him, but societal suspicions trying to wrench me back, to turn deaf ear and blind eye to what was before me.

    “What is that you need, son? Are you alright?”

    “No sir…” His voice small, his appearance made even more sad by his dark lank hair hanging in a protective curtain about his bowed face. He tried to speak again, but couldn’t, instead he lifted a hand toward me. It was then that I noticed there was a crumpled piece of paper in his hand.

    I took the paper, repressing a tremble in myself, part of me not wanting to know what I was about to see because I was afraid of being scared as badly as this youth seemed to be. Slowly I unfold the crumpled wad, dampened by sweat or tears, I don’t know which. It simply said, “Don’t bother coming home.”

    I looked at him, stunned, so many thoughts racing. Saying gently, “What is this, son? What does it mean?”

    He shrugged so helplessly, my heart ached. The tears threatening this whole time began to spill in impossibly large drops that raced down his cheeks, wetting the front of his t-shirt. “I fucked up. My parents, I fucked up.” This coming out in sobs as his body began to shake.

    And I hugged him to me, uttering the only words that would come to me, and the saddest words I could imagine, “I don’t know what to do, I can’t help. I’m sorry,” as I cried as with him.