The Machineries of Joy
Рэй Дуглас Брэдбери

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“It’s got such a look,” drawled Mr. Glass in the dark, “I couldn’t forget, from someplace.”

“Natural Museum exhibits?”

“No, no.”

“Maybe,” laughed Clarence, “you read a book once, Glass?”

“Funny …” Glass, unperturbed, cocked his head, closed one eye. “Like detectives, I don’t forget a face. But, that Tyrannosaurus Rex—where before did I meet him?”

“Who cares?” Clarence sprinted. “He’s great. And all because I booted Terwilliger’s behind to make him do it right. Come on, Maury!”

When the door shut, Mr. Glass turned to gaze steadily at Terwilliger. Not taking his eyes away, he called softly to the projectionist, “Walt? Walter? Could you favor us with that beast again?”

“Sure thing.”

Terwilliger shifted uncomfortably, aware of some bleak force gathering in blackness, in the sharp light that shot forth once more to ricochet terror off the screen.

“Yeah. Sure,” mused Mr. Glass. “I almost remember. I almost know him. But … who?”

The brute, as if answering, turned and for a disdainful moment stared across one hundred thousand million years at two small men hidden in a small dark room. The tyrant machine named itself in thunder.

Mr. Glass quickened forward, as if to cup his ear.

Darkness swallowed all.

With the film half finished, in the tenth week, Clarence summoned thirty of the office staff, technicians and a few friends to see a rough cut of the picture.

The film had been running fifteen minutes when a gasp ran through the small audience.

Clarence glanced swiftly about.

Mr. Glass, next to him, stiffened.

Terwilliger, scenting danger, lingered near the exit, not knowing why; his nervousness was compulsive and intuitive. Hand on the door, he watched.

Another gasp ran through the crowd.

Someone laughed quietly. A woman secretary giggled. Then there was instantaneous silence.

For Joe Clarence had jumped to his feet.

His tiny figure sliced across the light on the screen. For a moment, two images gesticulated in the dark: Tyrannosaurus, ripping the leg from a Pteranodon, and Clarence, yelling, jumping forward as if to grapple with these fantastic wrestlers.

“Stop! Freeze it right there!”

The film stopped. The image held.

“What’s wrong?” asked Mr. Glass.

“Wrong?” Clarence crept up on the image. He thrust his baby hand to the screen, stabbed the tyrant jaw, the lizard eye, the fangs, the brow, then turned blindly to the projector light so that reptilian flesh was printed on his furious cheeks. “What goes? What is this?”

“Only a monster, Chief.”

“Monster, hell!” Clarence pounded the screen with his tiny fist. “That’s me!”

Half the people leaned forward, half the people fell back, two people jumped up, one of them Mr. Glass, who fumbled for his other spectacles, flexed his eyes and moaned, “So that’s where I saw him before!”

“That’s where you what?”

Mr. Glass shook his head, eyes shut. “That face, I knew it was familiar.”

A wind blew in the room.

Everyone turned. The door stood open.

Terwilliger was gone.

They found Terwilliger in his animation studio cleaning out his desk, dumping everything into a large cardboard box, the Tyrannosaurus machine-toy model under his arm. He looked up as the mob swirled in, Clarence at the head.

“What did I do to deserve this!” he cried.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Clarence.”

“You’re sorry?! Didn’t I pay you well?”

“No, as a matter of fact.”

“I took you to lunches—”

“Once. I picked up the tab.”

“I gave you dinner at home, you swam in my pool, and now this! You’re fired!”

“You can’t fire me, Mr. Clarence. I’ve worked the last week free and overtime, you forgot my check—”

“You’re fired anyway, oh, you’re really fired! You’re blackballed in Hollywood. Mr. Glass!” He whirled to find the old man. “Sue him!”

“There is nothing,” said Terwilliger, not looking up any more, just looking down, packing, keeping in motion, “nothing you can sue me for. Money? You never paid enough to save on. A house? Could never afford that. A wife? I’ve worked for people like you all my life. So wives are out. I’m an unencumbered man. There’s nothing you can do to me. If you attach my dinosaurs, I’ll just go hole up in a small town somewhere, get me a can of latex rubber, some clay from the river, some old steel pipe, and make new monsters. I’ll buy stock film raw and cheap. I’ve got an old beat-up stop-motion camera. Take that away, and I’ll build one with my own hands. I can do anything. And that’s why you’ll never hurt me again.”

“You’re fired!” cried Clarence. “Look at me. Don’t look away. You’re fired! You’re fired!”

“Mr. Clarence,” said Mr. Glass, quietly, edging forward. “Let me talk to him just a moment”

“So talk to him!” said Clarence. “What’s the use? He just stands there with that monster under his arm and the goddam thing looks like me, so get out of the way!”

Clarence stormed out the door. The others followed.

Mr. Glass shut the door, walked over to the window and looked out at the absolutely clear twilight sky.
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