The Illustrated Man. Ray Bradbury

“Dear Nettie.” He was almost overwhelmed with remorse at her innocent face there in the semidarkness. “If you were awake you would smother me with kisses and coo in my ear. Really, you make me feel like a criminal. You have been such a good, loving wife. Sometimes it is impossible for me to believe you married me instead of that Bud Chapman you once liked. It seems that in the last month you have loved me more wildly than ever before.”

Tears came to his eyes. Suddenly he wished to kiss her, confess his love, tear up the card, forget the whole business. But as he moved to do this, his hand ached and his ribs cracked and groaned. He stopped, with a pained look in his eyes, and turned away. He moved out into the hall and through the dark rooms. Humming, he opened the kidney desk in the library and filched the bankbook. “Just take eight thousand dollars is all,” he said. “No more than that.” He stopped. “Wait a minute.”

He rechecked the bankbook frantically. “Hold on here!” he cried. “Ten thousand dollars is missing!” He leaped up. “There’s only five thousand left! What’s she done? What’s Nettie done with it? More hats, more clothes, more perfume! Or, wait—I know! She bought that little house on the Hudson she’s been talking about for months, without so much as a by your leave!”

He stormed into the bedroom, righteous and indignant. What did she mean, taking their money like this? He bent over her. “Nettie!” he shouted. “Nettie, wake up!”

She did not stir. “What’ve you done with my money!” he bellowed.

She stirred fitfully. The light from the street flushed over her beautiful cheeks.

There was something about her. His heart throbbed violently. His tongue dried. He shivered. His knees suddenly turned to water. He collapsed. “Nettie, Nettie!” he cried. “What’ve you done with my money!”

And then, the horrid thought. And then the terror and the loneliness engulfed him. And then the fever and disillusionment. For, without desiring to do so, he bent forward and yet forward again until his fevered ear was resting firmly and irrevocably upon her round pink bosom. “Nettie!” he cried.


As Smith walked away down the avenue in the night, Braling and Braling Two turned in at the door to the apartment. “I’m glad he’ll be happy too,” said Braling.

“Yes,” said Braling Two abstractedly.

“Well, it’s the cellar box for you, B-Two.” Braling guided the other creature’s elbow down the stairs to the cellar.

“That’s what I want to talk to you about,” said Braling Two, as they reached the concrete floor and walked across it. “The cellar. I don’t like it. I don’t like that toolbox.”

“I’ll try and fix up something more comfortable.”

“Marionettes are made to move, not lie still. How would you like to lie in a box most of the time?”


“You wouldn’t like it at all. I keep running. There’s no way to shut me off. I’m perfectly alive and I have feelings.”

“It’ll only be a few days now. I’ll be off to Rio and you won’t have to stay in the box. You can live upstairs.”

Braling Two gestured irritably. “And when you come back from having a good time, back in the box I go.”

Braling said, “They didn’t tell me at the marionette shop that I’d get a difficult specimen.”

“There’s a lot they don’t know about us,” said Braling Two. “We’re pretty new. And we’re sensitive. I hate the idea of you going off and laughing and lying in the sun in Rio while we’re stuck here in the cold.”

“But I’ve wanted that trip all my life,” said Braling quietly. He squinted his eyes and could see the sea and the mountains and the yellow sand. The sound of the waves was good to his inward mind. The sun was fine on his bared shoulders. The wine was most excellent.

“I’llnever get to go to Rio,” said the other man. “Have you thought of that?”

“No, I——”

“And another thing. Your wife.”

“What about her?” asked Braling, beginning to edge toward the door.

“I’ve grown quite fond of her.”

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100

Categories: Bradbury, Ray