Bradbury, Ray - SSC 07

Bradbury, Ray - SSC 07 by Twice Twenty-two (v2.1)

Book: Bradbury, Ray - SSC 07 by Twice Twenty-two (v2.1) Read Free Book Online
Authors: Twice Twenty-two (v2.1)
always dreamt of being a
                   "Suppose you tell me when you first began
to hate the telephone."
                   "It frightened me as a child. Uncle of
mine called it the Ghost Machine. Voices without bodies. Scared the living hell
out of me. Later in life I was never comfortable. Seemed to me a phone was an
impersonal instrument. If it felt like it, it let your personality go through
its wires. If it didn't want to, it just drained your personality away until
what slipped through at the other end was some cold fish of a voice, all steel,
copper, plastic, no warmth, no reality. It's easy to say the wrong thing on
telephones; the telephone changes your meaning on you. First thing you know,
you've made an enemy. Then, of course, the telephone's such a convenient thing;
it just sits there and demands you call someone who doesn't want to be called.
Friends were always calling, calling, calling me. Hell, I hadn't any time of my
own. When it wasn't the telephone it was the television, the radio, the
phonograph. When it wasn't the television or radio or the phonograph it was
motion pictures at the comer theater, motion pictures projected, with
commercials on low-lying cumulus clouds. It doesn't rain rain any more, it
rains soapsuds. When it wasn't High-Fly Cloud advertisements, it was music by
Mozzek in every restaurant; music and commercials on the busses I rode to work.
When it wasn't music, it was interoffice communications, and my horror chamber
of a radio wrist watch on which my friends and my wife phoned every five
minutes. What is there about such 'conveniences' that makes them so temptingly
convenient? The average man thinks. Here I am, time on my hands, and there on
my wrist is a wrist telephone, so why not just buzz old Joe up, eh? 'Hello,
hello.' I love my friends, my wife, humanity, very much, but when one minute my
wife calls to say, 'Where are you now, dear?' and a friend calls and says, 'Got
the best off-color joke to tell you. Seems there was a guy—' And a stranger
calls and cries out, 'This is the Find-Fax Poll. What gum are you chewing at
this very instant?' Well!"
                   "How did you feel during the week?"
                   "The fuse lit. On the edge of the cliff.
That same afternoon I did what I did at the office."
                   "Which was?"
                   "I poured a paper cup of water into the
intercommunications system."
                   The psychiatrist wrote on his pad.
                   "And the system shorted?"
                   "Beautifully! The Fourth of July on
wheels! My God, stenographers ran around looking lost! What an uproar!"
                   "Felt better temporarily, eh?"
                   "Fine! Then I got the idea at noon of
stomping my wrist radio on the sidewalk. A shrill voice was just yelling out of
it at me, 'This is People's Poll Number Nine. What did you eat for lunch?' when
I kicked the Jesus out of the wrist radio!"
                   "Felt even better, eh?"
                   "It grew on me!" Brock rubbed his
hands together. "Why didn't I start a solitary revolution, deliver man
from certain 'conveniences'? 'Convenient for who?' I cried. Convenient for
friends: 'Hey, Al, thought I'd call you from the locker room out here at Green
Hills. Just made a sockdolager hole in one! A hole in one, Al! A beautiful day.
Having a shot of whiskey now. Thought you'd want to know, Al!' Convenient for
my office, so when I'm in the field with my radio car there's no moment when
I'm not in touch. In touch! There's a slimy phrase. Touch, hell. Gripped!
Pawed, rather. Mauled and massaged and pounded by FM voices. You can't leave
your car without checking in: 'Have stopped to visit gas-station men's room.'
'Okay, Brock, step on it!' 'Brock, what took you so long?' 'Sorry, sir.' 'Watch
it next time, Brock.' 'Yes, sir!' So, do you know

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