Posted 10 years ago
Some years ago, I had the opportunity to edit a profile on Ray Bradbury for a magazine in Southern California. It was my job to figure out how to contact him, to call him up and explain what we wanted to do, and to convince him that consenting to our interview would be just about the best idea he had had since the day he began writing "The Martian Chronicles."
Bradbury listened to my nervous pitch with, I sensed, a mixture of mild impatience and benevolent amusement, interrupting me with questions throughout. He was a little worried about this, mildly worried about that, but ultimately he was game. The interview was on! After explaining the limitations of his schedule, we agreed that someone from our office would go to his house to pick up materials he thought would be useful to our writer.
Anyone on staff could have driven across town to Bradbury’s place for the books and papers he had deemed indispensable, but I wanted to meet him, so I snuck out of work, Thomas Brothers map in hand, and headed west.
Imagine my disappointment when I arrived at his home to find a large envelope taped to the door with my name on it. But then, a split second later, I noticed that Bradbury had penned a grinning monster-like creature next to my name. Oh my god, I thought, I have an original drawing by Ray Bradbury, with my name on it! And then, unprompted on my part, the door opened and there stood the man himself, smiling as he apologized for leaving the envelope outside. He was about to leave for the airport, he said, so he did not want to miss getting his materials to me.
I barely heard him. All I could think about was the silly little doodle that he had dashed off. Would I have to give it back and transfer his papers into my briefcase? Of course not. Let’s just say that Bradbury was a good deal less focused on the artifact he had so casually created than I was. He was a busy guy with a million things to do and a plane to catch, so we shook hands, said our goodbyes, and that was that.
To this day, I sometimes look at my trophy and wonder if I should have asked for the great man’s autograph. But mostly I look at the piece and smile.