Something Wicked This Way Comes. RAY BRADBURY

The front window was empty.

“Going to walk up and ring the bell,” said Jim.

“What, meet him face to face?!”

“My aunt’s eyebrows, Will We got to check, don’t we? Shake his paw, stare him in his good eye or some such ,and if it is him — “

“We don’t warn, Miss Foley right in front of him, do we?”

“We’ll phone her later, dumb. Up we go!”

Will sighed and let himself be walked up the steps wanting but not wanting to know if the boy in this house had Mr Cooger hid but showing like a firefly between his eyelashes.

Jim rang the bell.

“What if he answers?” Will demanded. “Boy, I’m so scared I could sprinkle dust. Jim, why aren’t you scared, why?”

Jim examined both of his untrembled hands. I’ll be darned,” he gasped. “You’re right! I’m not!”

The door swung wide.

Miss Foley beamed out at them.

“Jim! Will! How nice.”

“Miss Foley,” blurted Will. “You okay?

Jim glared at him. Miss Foley laughed.

“Why shouldn’t I be?”

Will flushed. “All those darn carnival mirrors — “

“Nonsense, I’ve forgotten all about it. Well, boys, are you coming in?

She held the door wide.

Will shuffled a foot and stopped.

Beyond Miss Foley, a beaded curtain hung like a dark blue thunder shower across the parlour entry.

Where the coloured rain touched the floor, a pair of dusty small shoes poked out. Just beyond the downpour the evil boy loitered.

Evil? Will blinked. Why evil? Because. “Because” was reason enough. A boy, yes, and evil.

“Robert?” Miss Foley turned, calling through the dark blue always-falling beads of rain. She took Will’s hand and gently pulled him inside. “Come meet two of my students.”

The rain poured aside. A fresh candy-pink hand broke through, all by itself, as if testing the weather in the hall.

Good grief, thought Will, he’ll look me in the eye! see the merry-go-round and himself on it moving back, back. I know it’s printed on my eyeball like I been struck by lightning!

“Miss Foley!” said Will.

Now a pink face stuck out through the dim frozen necklaces of storm.

“We got to tell you a terrible thing.”

Jim struck Will’s elbow, hard, to shut him.

Now the body came out through the dark watery flow of beads. The rain shushed behind the small boy.

Miss Foley leaned toward him, expectant. Jim gripped his elbow, fiercely. He stammered, flushed, then spat it out:

“Mr Crosetti!”

Quite suddenly, clearly he saw the sign in the barber’s window. The sign seen but not seen as they ran by:


“Mr Crosetti!” he repeated, and added swiftly. “He”s…dead!”

“What…the barber?”

“The barber?” echoed Jim.

“See this haircut?” Will turned, trembling, his hand to his head. “He did it. And we just walked by there and the sign was up and people told us — “

“What a shame.” Miss Foley was reaching out to fetch the strange boy forward: “I’m so sorry. Boys, this is Robert, my nephew from Wisconsin.”

Jim stuck out his hand. Robert the Nephew examined it, curiously. “What are you looking at?” he asked.

“You look familiar,” said Jim.

Jim! Will yelled to himself.

“Like an uncle of mine,” said Jim, all sweet and calm.

The nephew flicked his eyes to Will, who looked only at the floor, afraid the boy would see his eyeballs whirl with the remembered carousel. Crazily, he wanted to hum the backward music.

Now, he thought, face him!

He looked up straight at the boy.

And it was wild and crazy and the floor sank away beneath for there was the pink shiny Hallowe’en mask of a small pretty boy’s face, but almost as if holes were cut where the eyes of Mr Cooger shone out, old, old, eyes as bright as sharp blue stars and the light from those stars taking a million years to get here. And through the little nostrils cut in the shiny mask, Mr Cooger’s breath went in steam, came out ice. And the Valentine candy tongue moved small behind those trim white candy-kernel teeth.

Mr Cooger, somewhere behind the eye-slits, went blink-click with his insect-Kodak pupils. The lenses exploded like suns, then burnt chilly and serene again.

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Categories: Bradbury, Ray