I Sing the Body Electric

I Sing the Body Electric by Ray Bradbury

Book: I Sing the Body Electric by Ray Bradbury Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ray Bradbury
all is said and done, Mr. Booth, all the reasons listed and all the sums summed, you're a has-been that never was. And you're going to stay that way, spoiled and narcissistic and small and mean and rotten. You're a short man and I intend to squash and squeeze and press and batter you an inch shorter instead of force-growing you, helping you gloat nine feet tall."
    "You can't!" cried Booth.
    "Oh, Mr. Booth," said Bayes, on the instant, almost happy, "I can. I can do anything with this case I wish, and I wish not to press charges. More than that, Mr. Booth, it never happened ."
    The hammering came again, this time on a locked door up on the stage.
    "Bayes, for God's sake, let me in! This is Phipps! Bayes! Bayes!"
    Booth stared at the trembling, the thundershaken, the rattling door, even while Bayes called very calmly and with an ease that was beautiful:
    "Just a moment."
    He knew that in a few minutes this calm would pass, something would break, but for now there was this splendidly serene thing he was doing; he must play it out. With fine round tones he addressed the assassin and watched him dwindle and spoke further and watched him shrink.
    "It never happened, Mr. Booth. Tell your story, but we'll deny it. You were never here, no gun, no shot, no computerized data-processed assassination, no outrage, no shock, no panic, no mob. Why now, look at your face. Why are you falling back? Why are you sitting down? Why do you shake? Is it the disappointment? Have I turned your fun the wrong way? Good." He nodded at the aisle. "And now, Mr. Booth, get out."
    "You can't make—"
    "Sorry you said that, Mr. Booth." Bayes took a soft step in, reached down, took hold of the man's tie and slowly pulled him to his feet so he was breathing full in his face.
    "If you ever tell your wife, any friend, employer, child, man, woman, stranger, uncle, aunt, cousin, if you ever tell even yourself out loud going to sleep some night about this thing you did, do you know what I am going to do to you, Mr. Booth? If I hear one whisper, one word, one breath, I shall stalk you, I shall follow you for a dozen or a hundred or two hundred days, you'll never know what day, what night, what noon, where, when or how but: suddenly I'll be there when you least expect and then do you know what I am going to do to you, Mr. Booth? I won't say, Mr. Booth, I can't tell. But it will be awful and it will be terrible and you'll wish you had never been born, that's how awful and terrible it will be."
    Booth's pale face shook, his head bobbed, his eyes peeled wide, his mouth open like one who walks in a heavy rain.
    "What did I just say, Mr. Booth? Tell me!"
    "You'll kill me?"
    "Say it again!"
    He shook Booth until the words fell out of his chattered teeth:
    "Kill me!"
    He held tight, shaking and shaking the man firmly and steadily, holding and massaging the shirt and the flesh beneath the shirt, stirring up the panic beneath the cloth.
    So long, Mr. Nobody, and no magazine stories and no fun and no TV, no celebrity, an unmarked grave and you not in the history books, no, now get out of here, get out, run, run before I kill you.
    He shoved Booth. Booth ran, fell, picked himself up, and lunged toward a theater door which, on the instant, from outside, was shaken, pounded, riven.
    Phipps was there, calling in the darkness.
    "The other door," said Bayes.
    He pointed and Booth wheeled to stumble in a new direction to stand swaying by yet another door, putting one hand out—
    "Wait," said Bayes.
    He walked across the theater and when he reached Booth raised his flat hand up and hit Booth once, hard, a slapping strike across the face. Sweat flew in a rain upon the air.
    "I," said Bayes, "I just had to do that. Just once."
    He looked at his hand, then turned to open the door.
    They both looked out into a world of night and cool stars and no mob.
    Booth pulled back, his great dark liquid eyes the eyes of an eternally wounded and surprised child, with the look of the self-shot deer

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