The Machineries of Joy
Рэй Дуглас Брэдбери

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Fuse flexible spine to sinuous neck, pivot neck to death’s-head skull, hinge jaw from hollow cheek, glue plastic sponge over lubricated skeleton, slip snake-pebbled skin over sponge, meld seams with fire, then rear upright triumphant in a world where insanity wakes but to look on madness—Tyrannosaurus Rexl

The Creator’s hands glided down out of arc-light sun. They placed the granuled monster in false green summer wilds, they waded it in broths of teeming bacterial life. Planted in serene terror, the lizard machine basked. From the blind heavens the Creator’s voice hummed, vibrating the Garden with the old and monotonous tune about the footbone connected to the … anklebone, anklebone connected to the … legbone, legbone connected to the … kneebone, kneebone connected to the …

A door burst wide.

Joe Clarence ran in very much like an entire Cub Scout pack. He looked wildly around as if no one were there.

“My God!” he cried. “Aren’t you set up yet? This costs me money!”

“No,” said Terwilliger dryly. “No matter how much time I take, I get paid the same.”

Joe Clarence approached in a series of quick starts and stops. “Well, shake a leg. And make it real horrible.”

Terwilliger was on his knees beside the miniature jungle set. His eyes were on a straight level with his producer’s as he said, “How many feet of blood and gore would you like?”

“Two thousand feet of each!” Clarence laughed in a kind of gasping stutter. “Let’s look.” He grabbed the lizard.


“Careful?” Clarence turned the ugly beast in careless and non-loving hands. “It’s my monster, ain’t it? The contract—”

“The contract says you use this model for exploitation advertising, but the animal reverts to me after the film’s in release.”

“Holy cow.” Clarence waved the monster. “That’s wrong. We just signed the contracts four days ago—”

“It feels like four years.” Terwilliger rubbed his eyes. “I’ve been up two nights without sleep finishing this beast so we can start shooting.”

Clarence brushed this aside. “To hell with the contract. What a slimy trick. It’s my monster. You and your agent give me heart attacks. Heart attacks about money, heart attacks about equipment, heart attacks about—”

“This camera you gave me is ancient.”

“So if it breaks, fix it; you got hands? The challenge of the shoestring operation is using the old brain instead of cash. Getting back to the point, this monster, it should’ve been specified in the deal, is my baby.”

“I never let anyone own the things I make,” said Terwilliger honestly. “I put too much time and affection in them.”

“Hell, okay, so we give you fifty bucks extra for the beast, and throw in all this camera equipment free when the film’s done, right? Then you start your own company. Compete with me, get even with me, right, using my own machines!” Clarence laughed.

“If they don’t fall apart first,” observed Terwilliger.

“Another thing.” Clarence put the creature on the floor and walked around it. “I don’t like the way this monster shapes up.”

“You don’t like what?” Terwilliger almost yelled.

“His expression. Needs more fire, more … goombah. More mazash!”


“The old bimbo! Bug the eyes more. Flex the nostrils. Shine the teeth. Fork the tongue sharper. You can do it! Uh, the monster ain’t mine, huh?”

“Mine.” Terwilliger arose.

His belt buckle was now on a line with Joe Clarence’s eyes. The producer stared at the bright buckle almost hypnotically for a moment.

“God damn the goddam lawyers!”

He broke for the door.


The monster hit the door a split second after it slammed shut.

Terwilliger kept his hand poised in the air from his overhand throw. Then his shoulders sagged. He went to pick up his beauty. He twisted off its head, skinned the latex flesh off the skull, placed the skull on a pedestal and, painstakingly, with clay, began to reshape the prehistoric face.

“A little goombah,” he muttered. “A touch of mazash.”

They ran the first film test on the animated monster a week later.

When it was over, Clarence sat in darkness and nodded imperceptibly.

“Better. But … more horrorific, bloodcurdling. Let’s scare the hell out of Aunt Jane. Back to the drawing board!”

“I’m a week behind schedule now,” Terwilliger protested. “You keep coming in, change this, change that, you say, so I change it, one day the tail’s all wrong, next day it’s the claws—”

“You’ll find a way to make me happy,” said Clarence. “Get in there and fight the old aesthetic fight!”

At the end of the month they ran the second test.

“A near miss! Close!” said Clarence. “The face is just almost right. Try again, Terwilliger!”

Terwilliger went back. He animated the dinosaur’s mouth so that it said obscene things which only a lip reader might catch, while the rest of the audience thought the beast was only shrieking. Then he got the clay and worked until 3A.M. on the awful face.

“That’s it!” cried Clarence in the projection room the next week. “Perfect! Now that’s what I call a monster!”

He leaned toward the old man, his lawyer, Mr. Glass, and Maury Poole, his production assistant.

“You like my creature?” He beamed.

Terwilliger, slumped in the back row, his skeleton as long as the monsters he built, could feel the old lawyer shrug.

“You seen one monster, you seen ‘em all.”

“Sure, sure, but this one’s special!” shouted Clarence happily. “Even I got to admit Terwilliger’s a genius!”

They all turned back to watch the beast on the screen, in a titanic waltz, throw its razor tail wide in a vicious harvesting that cut grass and clipped flowers. The beast paused now to gaze pensively off into mists, gnawing a red bone.

“That monster,” said Mr. Glass at last, squinting. “He sure looks familiar.”

“Familiar?” Terwilliger stirred, alert.
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