Montag watched through the window as Beatty drove away in his gleaming

yellow?flame?coloured beetle with the black, char?coloured tyres.

Across the street and down the way the other houses stood with their flat fronts.

What was it Clarisse had said one afternoon? “No front porches. My uncle says there used to be front porches. And people sat there sometimes at night, talking when they wanted to talk, rocking, and not talking when they didn’t want to talk. Sometimes they just sat there and thought about things, turned things over. My uncle says the architects got rid of the front porches because they didn’t look well. But my uncle says that was merely rationalizing it; the real reason, hidden underneath, might be they didn’t want people sitting like that, doing nothing, rocking, talking; that was the wrong kind of social life. People talked too much. And they had time to think. So they ran off with the porches. And the gardens, too. Not many gardens any more to sit around in. And look at the furniture. No rocking?chairs any more. They’re too comfortable. Get people up and running around. My uncle says . . . and . . . my uncle

. . . and . . . my uncle . . .” Her voice faded.

Montag turned and looked at his wife, who sat in the middle of the parlour talking to an announcer, who in turn was talking to her. “Mrs. Montag,” he was saying. This, that and the other. “Mrs. Montag?” Something else and still another. The converter attachment, which had cost them one hundred dollars, automatically supplied her name whenever the announcer addressed his anonymous audience, leaving a blank where the proper syllables could be filled in. A special spot?wavex?scrambler also caused his televised image, in the area immediately about his lips, to mouth the vowels and consonants beautifully. He was a friend, no doubt of it, a good friend.

“Mrs. Montag?now look right here.”

Her head turned. Though she quite obviously was not listening.

Montag said, “It’s only a step from not going to work today to not working tomorrow, to not working at the firehouse ever again.” ,

“You are going to work tonight, though, aren’t you?” said Mildred.

“I haven’t decided. Right now I’ve got an awful feeling I want to smash things and kill things :’

“Go take the beetle.”

“No thanks.”

“The keys to the beetle are on the night table. I always like to drive fast when I feel that way. You get it up around ninetyfive and you feel wonderful. Sometimes I drive all night and come back and you don’t know it. It’s fun out in the country. You hit rabbits, sometimes you hit dogs. Go take the beetle.”

“No, I don’t want to, this time. I want to hold on to this funny thing. God, it’s gotten big on me. I don’t know what it is. I’m so damned unhappy, I’m so mad, and I don’t know why I feel like I’m putting on weight. I feel fat. I feel like I’ve been saving up a lot of things, and don’t know what. I might even start reading books.”

“They’d put you in jail, wouldn’t they?” She looked at him as if he were behind the glass wall.

He began to put on his clothes, moving restlessly about the bedroom. “Yes, and it might be a good idea. Before I hurt someone. Did you hear Beatty? Did you listen to

him? He knows all the answers. He’s right. Happiness is important. Fun is everything.

And yet I kept sitting there saying to myself, I’m not happy, I’m not happy.”

“I am.” Mildred’s mouth beamed. “And proud of it.”

“I’m going to do something,” said Montag. “I don’t even know what yet, but I’m going to do something big.”

“I’m tired of listening to this junk,” said Mildred, turning from him to the announcer again

Montag touched the volume control in the wall and the announcer was speechless.

“Millie?” He paused. “This is your house as well as mine. I feel it’s only fair that I tell you something now. I should have told you before, but I wasn’t even admitting it to myself. I have something I want you to see, something I’ve put away and hid during the past year, now and again, once in a while, I didn’t know why, but I did it and I never told you.”

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Categories: Bradbury, Ray