The Cats Pajamas | Page 5 of 105

Author: Ray Bradbury | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 1788 Views | Add a Review

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P—the names that were like sunlight burning away dark, like water bleaching linens. He would uncork them and sniff them and pour a little on his hands and rub them together and hold his hand in match light to see how soon he would have hands like white cotton gloves. When nothing happened, he consoled himself that perhaps tomorrow night, or the next, and back in bed he would lie with his eyes upon the bottles, racked like giant green glass beetles above him, glinting in the faint streetlight.

Why am I doing this? he thought. Why?

“Walter?” That was his mother calling softly, far away.


“You awake, Walter?”


“You better go to sleep,” she said.

IN THE MORNING he went down for his first view, close up, of the constant sea.

It was a wonder to him, for he had never seen one. They came from a little town deep in Alabama, all dust and heat, with dry creeks and mud holes, but no river, no lake nearby, nothing much at all unless you traveled, and this was the first traveling they had done, coming to California in a dented Ford, singing quietly along the way. Just before starting the trip Walter had finished out a year’s time saving his money and sent off for the twelve bottles of magical lotion that had arrived only the day before they left. So he had had to pack them into cartons and carry them across the meadows and deserts of the states, secretly trying one or the other of them in shanties and restrooms along the way. He had sat up front in the car, his head back, his eyes closed, taking the sun, lotion on his face, waiting to be bleached as white as milk-stone. “I can see it,” he said, each night, to himself. “Just a little bit.”

“Walter,” said his mother. “What’s that smell? What you wearing?”

“Nothing, Mom, nothing.”

Nothing? He walked in the sand and stopped by the green waters and pulled one of the flasks from his pocket and let a thin twine of whitish fluid coil upon his palm before he smoothed it over his face and arms. He would lie like a raven by the sea all day today and let the sun burn away his darkness.

Maybe he would plow into the waves and let them churn him, as a washing machine churns a dark rag, and let it spit him out on the sand, gasping to dry and bake in the sun until he lay there like the thin skeleton of some old beast, chalk-white and fresh and clean.

GUARANTEED said the red letters on the bottle. The word flamed in his mind. GUARANTEED!

“Walter,” his mother would say, shocked. “What happened to you? Is that you, son? Why, you’re like milk, son, you’re like snow!”

It was hot. Walter eased himself down against the boardwalk and took off his shoes. Behind him, a hot dog stand sent up shimmers of fried air, the smell of onions and hot rolls and frankfurters.

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Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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