So, history has it that the tale of Romeo and Juliet is sad-and it shows what happens when love is destroyed, but I have to say they had it easy. They were young, full of love and spontaneous! They were characters in a play, for Chrissake! (my friend reminds me right now) But, they were not Gene Comerford and Belle Macknight. They were not separated because one was good and the other naive. They were not separated because of denomination. I'm talking about Frank Delaney's "Telling The Pictures" published in 1993. The book starts "In Belfast, in 1942, lived Belle, a mill girl with a gift. Every morning at work she enthralled people with the story of the film she saw last night." It starts out simply-and it reminds one of Belle in Beauty and the Beast-who sings for people and is loved by the whole town-not until the Beast comes along-and she falls in love with him, and her people try to kill the one person she loves.
So, back to Belle-she is a mill girl and she enthralls people with 'Gone with the wind' and catches the eye of a lapper named Gene, who by luck saves her from being raped by their boss Gordon Blackwood. They become friends and start spending time together and around him-she is free to ask questions and express herself wholly. She is free with him-and so sweet and simple-he is a gentleman, who cherishes her-but the people in Belfast call him a "Taig"-which shows they're prejudiced against Catholics. They do not want him near her and with time do everything to seperate them including using her best friend Noreen. Belle in her rage at seeing Noreen talking to Gene-after he'd cancelled their meeting-stabs Noreen to death in front of the women of Belfast-she is jailed. Then Gene turns down a promotion at work, after he witnesses a boy crying after one of his main bosses sexually molested him-he gets past the men in an attempt to seek medical help for him, but they shove him away-and as such they are afraid he would tell on them. Gene does not, but he's disappointed in Belfast-he thought they were different from the people in his town. They frame him for murder and condemn him to death.The Governor and his wife are aware of his innocence and love for Belle and organize meetings in jail-where the two spend time together. Gene confesses that he had planned to take Belle to Australia like she'd always wanted the day she killed Noreen, and he was captured.
Romeo and Juliet had some leeway-they were not facing the gallows but their folks which I understand is the same as going to hell for teens. They had it easy-Gene accepted his sentence knowing that the people of Belfast hated that he was Catholic and honest. He also accepted that no matter how much he loved Belle, they would never let them be. Belle was not found guilty-and as they carried her shoulder high to her Mothers' house-all you can feel is that she died the moment Gene's limp body hit the ground. Belle was turned into a puppet-she was what the people of Belfast wanted her to be-their naive entertainer. When they saw her fall in love-they realized they would lose her, and in an attempt to keep what they had, they destroyed the only true aspect of her life-which was her ability to love and be loved in return.
I finished this book yesterday at 11:00pm and couldn't help but wonder what role I have played in my life in killing people like Gene. For, all those years-any remark, prejudice, stereotype or action I partook in must have sent some people like Gene to the gallows. Humanity's worst enemy is itself...and no matter how much we try to deny it, looking around I feel as though never in our history as human beings have we depicted life in Belfast in 1942-as this century. For the same anger and hatred still exists today-why must Protestants, Adventists and Catholics all seek to say who is right in worshipping God? For aren't all Christians? It's sad that the only thing Christ ever asked was that we follow him and believe his Father, but now...everyone is all about who is doing it better than the other instead of simply following him. It's like saying I wear clothes better than you yet both of us have simply covered our bodies. It's sad that as I even conclude this post-someone out there is busy condemning another person-instead of simply loving them-that some Gene is being sentenced to death for being true to himself and not harming another.
How can one change the world if one identifies oneself with everybody?