The Illustrated Man. Ray Bradbury

“Martian women are dark——”

“Look, I don’t see how we’re going to be happy, E.V. By the way, son, you ought to change your name. What was it again?”


“That’s a woman’s name. I’ll give you a better one. Call you Joe. Okay, Joe. As I was saying, our Martian women are gonna be blond, because, see, just because. Or else your poppa won’t be happy. You got any suggestions?”

“I thought that——”

“And another thing we gotta have is a scene, very tearful, where the Martian woman saves the whole ship of Martian men from dying when a meteor or something hits the ship. That’ll make a whackeroo of a scene. You know, I’m glad I found you, Joe. You’re going to have a good deal with us, I tell you.”

Ettil reached out and held the man’s wrist tight. “Just a minute. There’s something I want to ask you.”

“Sure, Joe, shoot.”

“Why are you being so nice to us? We invade your planet, and you welcome us—everybody—like long-lost children. Why?”

“They sure grow ’em green on Mars, don’t they? You’re a naïve-type guy—I can see from way over here. Mac, look at it this way. We’re all Little People, ain’t we?” He waved a small tan hand garnished with emeralds.

“We’re all common as dirt, ain’t we? Well, here on Earth, we’re proud of that. This is the century of the Common Man, Bill, and we’re proud we’re small. Billy, you’re looking at a planet full of Saroyans. Yes, sir. A great big fat family of friendly Saroyans—everybody loving everybody. We understand you Martians, Joe, and we know why you invaded Earth. We know how lonely you were up on that little cold planet Mars, how you envied us our cities——”

“Our civilization is much older than yours——”

“Please, Joe, you make me unhappy when you interrupt. Let me finish my theory and then you talk all you want. As I was saying, you was lonely up there, and down you came to see our cities and our women and all, and we welcomed you in, because you’re our brothers, Common Men like all of us.

“And then, as a kind of side incident, Roscoe, there’s a certain little small profit to be had from this invasion. I mean for instance this picture I plan, which will net us, neat, a billion dollars, I bet. Next week we start putting out a special Martian doll at thirty bucks a throw. Think of the millions there. I also got a contract to make a Martian game to sell for five bucks. There’s all sorts of angles.”

“I see,” said Ettil, drawing back.

“And then of course there’s that whole nice new market. Think of all the depilatories and gum and shoeshine we can sell to you Martians.”

“Wait. Another question.”


“What’s your first name? What’s the R.R. stand for?”

“Richard Robert.”

Ettil looked at the ceiling. “Do they sometimes, perhaps, on occasion, once in a while, by accident, call you—Rick?”

“How’d you guess, mac? Rick, sure.”

Ettil sighed and began to laugh and laugh. He put out his hand. “So you’re Rick? Rick! So you’re Rick!”

“What’s the joke, laughing boy? Let Poppa in!”

“You wouldn’t understand—a private joke. Ha, ha!” Tears ran down his cheeks and into his open mouth. He pounded the table again and again. “So you’re Rick. Oh, how different, how funny. No bulging muscles, no lean jaw, no gun. Only a wallet full of money and an emerald ring and a big middle!”

“Hey, watch the language! I may not be no Apollo, but——”

“Shake hands, Rick. I’ve wanted to meet you. You’re the man who’ll conquer Mars, with cocktail shakers and foot arches and poker chips and riding crops and leather boots and checkered caps and rum collinses.”

“I’m only a humble businessman,” said Van Plank, eyes slyly down. “I do my work and take my humble little piece of money pie. But, as I was saying, Mort, I been thinking of the market on Mars for Uncle Wiggily games and Dick Tracy comics; all new. A big wide field never even heard of cartoons, right? Right! So we just toss a great big bunch of stuff on the Martians’ heads. They’ll fight for it, kid, fight! Who wouldn’t, for perfumes and Paris dresses and Oshkosh overalls, eh? And nice new shoes——”

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Categories: Bradbury, Ray