Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I have received a benediction

Read at Story Salon, Sept. 5, 2007
I have received a benediction.

Last December I stood up here with two books by Ray Bradbury, one a collection of short stories I bought more than forty years ago and the other a new novel he autographed at a book signing.

I’ve got a follow up. I know a writer who knows Ray Bradbury and this other writer was over at my house and said, totally out of the blue, “I’m going over to Ray Bradbury’s house, anything you want me to ask him to autograph for you?” He’s the sort of man who asks questions like that.

So I said to him, oh, I might have something. I gave him the book of short stories and my copy of Fahrenheit 451 bought from the same Doubleday Science Fiction Book Club when I was a kid.

A couple of weeks later the friend calls and says he has something for me. Beverly and I meet him and his wife at dinner and he gives me back my books, not only autographed, but inscribed, on the same page where I stamped my name with the rubber stamp I made in junior-high shop.

Our lives are dotted with symbols and invisible generosity and Ray Bradbury signed the book I read as a boy.

And there’s a coda. Bradbury’s still writing, he’s writing more than ever. He’s in a wheel chair, his vision and hearing are abandoning him, but he keeps writing. He published a pair of novellas this month and was back at the same bookstore where he signed the sequel to Dandelion Wine for me last year. So I went back. And Beverly came with me this time and there was Ray, diminished but still a force. This was a few days after Bradbury’s 87th birthday so they had a cake, a big birthday cake with dinosaurs and volcanoes, a birthday cake you’d buy for a kid. Beverly and I got to sing Happy Birthday to Ray Bradbury. Then he looked out at all of us crowding the aisles of the bookstore, all of us holding his books, new and old, and he told us his birthday wish:

“I wish all of you live to be eighty-seven-years-old.”

Under most circumstances I would not take that seriously. But when Ray Bradbury tells you your fortune, you would be wise to believe him. And live accordingly.


Post a Comment

<< Home