Рэй Дуглас Брэдбери
Fahrenheit 451 / 451 градус по Фаренгейту

She watched his lips casually.

“What about last night?”

“Don’t you remember?”

“What? Did we have a wild party or something? Feel like I’ve a hangover. God, I’m hungry. Who was here?”

“A few people,” he said.

“That’s what I thought.” She chewed her toast. “Sore stomach, but I’m hungry as all-get-out. Hope I didn’t do anything foolish at the party.”

“No,” he said, quietly.

The toaster spidered out a piece of buttered bread for him. He held it in his hand, feeling grateful.

“You don’t look so hot yourself,” said his wife.

In the late afternoon it rained and the entire world was dark grey. He stood in the hall of his house, putting on his badge with the orange salamander burning across it. He stood looking up at the air-conditioning vent in the hall for a long time. His wife in the TV parlour paused long enough from reading her script to glance up. “Hey,” she said. “The man’s THINKING!”

“Yes,” he said. “I wanted to talk to you.” He paused. “You took all the pills in your bottle last night.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t do that,” she said, surprised.

“The bottle was empty.”

“I wouldn’t do a thing like that. Why would I do a thing like that?” she asked.

“Maybe you took two pills and forgot and took two more, and forgot again and took two more, and were so dopy you kept right on until you had thirty or forty of them in you.”

“Heck,” she said, “what would I want to go and do a silly thing like that for?”

“I don’t know,” he said.

She was quite obviously waiting for him to go.

“I didn’t do that,” she said. “Never in a billion years.”

“All right if you say so,” he said.

“That’s what the lady said.” She turned back to her script.

“What’s on this afternoon?” he asked tiredly.

She didn’t look up from her script again. “Well, this is a play comes on the wall-to-wall circuit in ten minutes. They mailed me my part this morning. I sent in some box-tops. They write the script with one part missing. It’s a new idea. The home-maker, that’s me, is the missing part. When it comes time for the missing lines, they all look at me out of the three walls and I say the lines: Here, for instance, the man says, ‘What do you think of this whole idea, Helen?’ And he looks at me sitting here centre stage, see? And I say, I say – ” She paused and ran her finger under a line in the script. ‘I think that’s fine!’ And then they go on with the play until he says, ‘Do you agree to that, Helen!’ and I say, ‘I sure do!’ Isn’t that fun, Guy?”

He stood in the hall looking at her.

“It’s sure fun,” she said.

“What’s the play about?”

“I just told you. There are these people named Bob and Ruth and Helen.”

“Oh.”

“It’s really fun. It’ll be even more fun when we can afford to have the fourth wall installed. How long you figure before we save up and get the fourth wall torn out and a fourth wall-TV put in? It’s only two thousand dollars.”

“That’s one-third of my yearly pay.”

“It’s only two thousand dollars,” she replied. “And I should think you’d consider me sometimes. If we had a fourth wall, why it’d be just like this room wasn’t ours at all, but all kinds of exotic people’s rooms. We could do without a few things.”

“We’re already doing without a few things to pay for the third wall. It was put in only two months ago, remember?”

“Is that all it was?” She sat looking at him for a long moment. “Well, good-bye, dear.”

“Good-bye,” he said. He stopped and turned around. “Does it have a happy ending?”

“I haven’t read that far.”

He walked over, read the last page, nodded, folded the script, and handed it back to her. He walked out of the house into the rain.

The rain was thinning away and the girl was walking in the centre of the sidewalk with her head up and the few drops falling on her face. She smiled when she saw Montag.

“Hello!”

He said hello and then said, “What are you up to now?”

“I’m still crazy. The rain feels good. I love to walk in it.

“I don’t think I’d like that,” he said.

“You might if you tried.”

“I never have.”

She licked her lips. “Rain even tastes good.”

“What do you do, go around trying everything once?” he asked.

“Sometimes twice.” She looked at something in her hand.

“What’ve you got there?” he said.

“I guess it’s the last of the dandelions this year. I didn’t think I’d find one on the lawn this late. Have you ever heard of rubbing it under your chin? Look.”

She touched her chin with the flower, laughing.

“Why?”