Good night, Mrs. Black, he thought. –

“Faber! ”

Another rap, a whisper, and a long waiting. Then, after a minute, a small light flickered inside Faber’s small house. After another pause, the back door opened.

They stood looking at each other in the half-light, Faber and Montag, as if each did not believe in the other’s existence. Then Faber moved and put out his hand and grabbed Montag and moved him in and sat him down and went back and stood in the door, listening. The sirens were wailing off in the morning distance. He came in and shut the door.

Montag said, “I’ve been a fool all down the line. I can’t stay long. I’m on my way God knows where.”

“At least you were a fool about the right things,” said Faber. “I thought you were dead. The audio-capsule I gave you–”


“I heard the captain talking to you and suddenly there was nothing. I almost came out looking for you.”

“The captain’s dead. He found the audio-capsule, he heard your voice, he was going to trace it. I killed him with the flamethrower.”

Faber sat down and did not speak for a time.

“My God, how did this happen?” said Montag. “It was only the other night everything was fine and the next thing I know I’m drowning. How many times can a man go down and still be alive? I can’t breathe. There’s Beatty dead, and he was my friend once, and there’s Millie gone, I thought she was my wife, but now I don’t know. And the house all burnt. And my job gone and myself on the run, and I planted a book in a fireman’s house on the way. Good Christ, the things I’ve done in a single week! ”

“You did what you had to do. It was coming on for a long time.”

“Yes, I believe that, if there’s nothing else I believe. It saved itself up to happen. I could feel it for a long time, I was saving something up, I went around doing one thing and feeling another. God, it was all there. It’s a wonder it didn’t show on me, like fat.

And now here I am, messing up your life. They might follow me here.”

“I feel alive for the first time in years,” said Faber. “I feel I’m doing what I should have done a lifetime ago. For a little while I’m not afraid. Maybe it’s because I’m doing the right thing at last. Maybe it’s because I’ve done a rash thing and don’t want to look the coward to you. I suppose I’ll have to do even more violent things, exposing myself so I won’t fall down on the job and turn scared again. What are your plans?”

“To keep running.”

“You know the war’s on?”

“I heard.”

“God, isn’t it funny?” said the old man. “It seems so remote because we have our own troubles.”

“I haven’t had time to think.” Montag drew out a hundred dollars. “I want this to stay with you, use it any way that’ll help when I’m gone.”

“But– ”

“I might be dead by noon; use this.”

Faber nodded. “You’d better head for the river if you can, follow along it, and if you can hit the old railroad lines going out into the country, follow them. Even though practically everything’s airborne these days and most of the tracks are abandoned, the rails are still there, rusting. I’ve heard there are still hobo camps all across the country, here and there; walking camps they call them, and if you keep walking far enough and keep an eye peeled, they say there’s lots of old Harvard degrees on the tracks between here and Los Angeles. Most of them are wanted and hunted in the cities. They survive, I guess. There aren’t many of them, and I guess the

Government’s never considered them a great enough danger to go in and track them down. You might hole up with them for a time and get in touch with me in St. Louis, I’m leaving on the five a.m. bus this morning, to see a retired printer there, I’m getting out into the open myself, at last. The money will be put to good use. Thanks and God bless you. Do you want to sleep a few minutes?”

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Categories: Bradbury, Ray