8

I'm looking for a short story by Ray Bradbury, in which man comes home to his "smart" house, he is greeted by the door, his living room offers him a drink.... Overwhelmed, he can't cope with the incessant sollicitations, takes out an old gun from a closet, and shoots up the consoles. Of course this sets off signals, and the story ends with the "men in white coats" arriving in a vehicle to take him away...

This story is not "The Pedestrian", it is not "The Murderer", it is not "The Veldt", but was probably written about the same time as these other stories. As I recall it was published in a collection (that I read in the early 1980s) that included also "The Referent"; but I can't locate it through Internet searching.

1

1 Answer 1

4

I agree with lucasbachmann. This has to be "The Murderer," filtered through a faulty memory.

The viewpoint character is a psychiatrist interviewing the subject who has gone on a rampage of destroying every machine he can get his hands on that makes noise or talks. He admits to sabotaging the intercom system at his workplace, the radio in his car, and even jamming everybody else's wrist radios on a bus. He even smashes the music device in the interview room.

But ultimately it gets back to his house, the destruction of which is the reason he has been incarcerated:

"But they went too far. If a little music and 'keeping in touch' was charming, they figured a lot would be ten times as charming. I went wild! I got home to find my wife hysterical. Why? Because she had been completely out of touch with me for half a day. Remember I did a dance on my wrist radio? Well, that night I laid plans to murder my house."

"Are you sure that's how you want me to write it down?"

"That's semantically accurate. Kill it dead. It's one of those talking, singing, humming, weather-reporting, poetry-reading, novel-reciting, jingle-jangling, rockaby-crooning-when-you-go-to-bed houses. A house that screams opera to you in the shower and teaches you Spanish in your sleep. One of those blathering caves where all kinds of electronic Oracles make you feel a trifle larger than a thimble, with stoves that say, 'I'm apricot pie, and I'm done.' or 'I'm prime roast beef, so baste me!' and other nursery gibberish like that. With beds that rock you to sleep and shake you awake. A house that barely tolerates humans, I tell you. A front door that barks: 'You've mud on your feet, sir!' And an electronic vacuum hound that shuffles around after you from room to room, inhaling every fingernail or ash you drop. Jesus God, I say, Jesus God!"

"Quietly," suggested the psychiatrist.

"Remember that Gilbert and Sullivan song—'I've Got It on My List, It Never Will Be Missed'? All night I listed grievances. Next morning early I bought a pistol. I purposely muddied my feet. I stood at our front door. The front door shrilled, 'Dirty feet, muddy feet! Wipe your feet! Please be neat!' I shot the damn thing through its keyhole! I ran to the kitchen, where the stove was just whining, 'Turn me over!' In the middle of a mechanical omelet I did the stove to death. Oh, how it sizzled and screamed, 'I'm shorted!' Then the telephone rang like a spoiled brat. I shoved it down the Insinkerator. I must state here and now I have nothing whatever against the Insinkerator; it was an innocent bystander. I feel sorry for it now, a practical device indeed, which never said a word, purred like a sleepy lion most of the time, and digested our leftovers. I'll have it restored. Then I went in and shot televisor, that insidious beast, that Medusa, which freezes a billion people to stone every night, staring fixedly, that Siren which called and sand and promised so much and gave, after all, so little, but myself always going back, going back, hoping and waiting until—bang! Like a headless turkey, gobbling, my wife whooped out the front door. The police came. Here I am!"

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.