Today is, I think, a day for everyone to have their own Ray Bradbury story. My own started last summer, when I first read The Martian Chronicles, but only really picked up steam in August, when I took Something Wicked This Way Comes back to school with me, to kick off my senior year.
I finished both books, and loved both books, and then uncomfortably realized that I had never read Fahrenheit 451. So finally, one day last October, between my philosophy class and my chemistry class, I sat in the student center, and finished Fahrenheit 451 for the first time. And I was shaken. Actually, I was shaking. I went to chemistry and dutifully took notes, but I don’t think I heard a single word.
Later — about six months and two rereads of Fahrenheit 451 later — I was cast out into the Los Angeles night due to a small fire in my apartment building. I wandered a while, and what did I stumble across but an empty, darkened carnival.
And last night — oddly, coincidentally, just last night — I finally started reading Dandelion Wine, which I got at the used bookstore for three dollars, as it should be. I had to put the book down, though, when the following made me tear up, and it’s become even more poignant in light of this morning’s news.
“Tom,” said Douglas, “just promise me one thing, okay?”
“It’s a promise. What?”
“You may be my brother and maybe I hate you sometimes, but stick around, all right?”
“You mean you’ll let me follow you and the older guys when you go on hikes?”
“Well… sure… even that. What I mean is, don’t go away, huh? Don’t let any cars run over you or fall off a cliff.”
“I should say not! Whatta you think I am, anyway?”
” ‘Cause if worst comes to worst, and both of us are real old — say forty or forty-five some day — we can own a gold mine out West and sit there smoking corn silk and growing beards.”
So thank you, Ray Bradbury, for sticking around as long as you did.