IN MEMORIAM – RICHARD MATHESON

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Richard Matheson copy

February 20, 1926 – June 23, 2013

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Born Of Man And Woman

by Richard Matheson

X — This day when it had light mother called me retch. You retch she said. I saw in her eyes the anger. I wonder what it is a retch.

This day it had water falling from upstairs. It fell all around. I saw that. The ground of the back I watched from the little window. The ground it sucked up the water like thirsty lips. It drank too much and it got sick and runny brown. I didn’t like it.

Mother is a pretty I know. In my bed place with cold walls around I have a paper things that was behind the furnace. It says on it SCREENSTARS. I see in the pictures faces like of mother and father. Father says they are pretty. Once he said it. And also mother he said. Mother so pretty and me decent enough. Look at you he said and didnt have the nice face. I touched his arm and said it is alright father. He shook and pulled away where I couldn’t reach. Today mother let me off the chain a little so I could look out the little window. Thats how l saw the water falling from upstairs.

XX — This day it had goldness in the upstairs. As I know when I looked at it my eyes hurt. After I look at it the cellar is red.

I think this was church. They leave the upstairs. The big machine swallows them and rolls out past and is gone. In the back part is the little mother. She is much small than me. lam I can see out the little window all I like.

In this day when it got dark I had eat my food and some bugs. I hear laughs upstairs. I like to know why there are laughs for. I took the chain from the wall and wrapped it around me. I walked squish to the stairs.

They creak when I walk on them. My legs slip on them because I dont walk on stairs. My feet stick to the wood. I went up and opened a door. It was a white place. White as white jewels that come from upstairs sometime. I went in and stood quiet. I hear the laughing some more. I walk to the sound and look through to the people. More people than I thought was. I thought I should laugh with them.

Mother came out and pushed the door in. It hit me and hurt. I fell back on the smooth floor and the chain made noise. I cried. She made a hissing noise into her and put her hand on her mouth. Her eyes got big. She looked at me. I heard father call. What fell he called. She said a iron board. Come help pick it up she said. He came and said now is that so heavy you need. He saw me and grew big. The anger came in his eyes. He hit me. I spilled some of the drip on the floor from one arm. It was not nice. It made ugly green on the floor.

Father told me to go to the cellar. I had to go. The light it hurt some now in my eyes. It is not so like that in the cellar.

Father tied my legs and arms up. He put me on my bed. Upstairs I heard laughing while I was quiet there looking on a black spider that was swinging down to me. I thought what father said. Ohgod he said. And only eight.

XXX — This day father hit in the chain again before it had light. I have to try pull it out again. He said I was bad to come upstairs. He said never do that again or he would beat me hard. That hurts. I hurt. I slept the day and rested my head against the cold wall. I thought of the white place upstairs.

XXXX — I got the chain from the wall out. Mother was upstairs. I heard little laughs very high. I looked out the window. I saw all little people like the little mother and little fathers too. They are pretty.

They were making nice noise and jumping around the ground. Their legs was moving hard. They are like mother and father. Mother says all right people look like they do.

One of the little fathers saw me. He pointed at the window. I let go and slid down the wall in the dark. I curled up as they would not see. I heard their talks by the window and foots running. Upstairs there was a door hitting. I heard the little mother call upstairs. I heard heavy steps and I rushed in my bed place. I hit the chain in the wall and lay down on my front.

I heard my mother come down. Have you been at the window she said. I heard the anger. Stay away from the window. You have pulled the chain out again.

She took the stick and hit me with it. I didnt cry. I cant do that. But the drip ran all over the bed. She saw it and twisted away and made a noise. Oh mygodmygod she said why have you done this to me? I beard the stick go bounce on the stone floor. She ran upstairs. I slept the day.

XXXXX — This day it had water again. When mother was upstairs I heard the little one come slow down the steps. I hidded myself in the coal bin for mother would have anger if the little mother saw me.

She had a little live thing with her. It walked on the arms and had pointy ears. She said things to it. It was all right except the live thing smelled me. It ran up the coal and looked down at me. The hairs stood up. In the throat it made an angry noise. I hissed but it jumped on me.

I didnt want to hurt it. I got fear because it bit me harder than the rat does. I hurt and the little mother screamed. I grabbed the live thing tight. It made sounds I never heard. I pushed it all together. It was all lumpy and red on the black coal.

I hid there when mother called. I was afraid of the stick. She left. I crept over the coal with the thing. I hid it under my pillow and rested on it. I put the chain in the wall again.

X — This is another times. Father chained me tight. I hurt because he beat me. This time I hit the stick out of his hands and made noise. He went away and his lace was white. He ran out of my bed place and locked the door.

I am not so glad. All day it is cold in here. The chain comes slow out of the wall. And I have a bad anger with mother and father. I will show them. I will do what I did that once.

I will screech and laugh loud. I will run on the walls. Last I will hang head down by all my legs and laugh and drip green all over until they are sorry they didn’t be nice to me.
If they try to beat me again Ill hurt them. I will.

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7 Responses to “IN MEMORIAM – RICHARD MATHESON”

  1. He was the real thing–a political monster straight out of Grendel and a very dangerous enemy. He could shake your hand and stab you in the back at the same time. He lied to his friends and betrayed the trust of his family. Not even Gerald Ford, the unhappy ex-president who pardoned Richard and kept him out of prison, was immune to the evil fallout.

    As long as Richard was politically alive–and he was, all the way to the end–we could always be sure of finding the enemy on the Low Road. There was no need to look anywhere else for the evil bastard. He had the fighting instincts of a badger trapped by hounds. The badger will roll over on its back and emit a smell of death, which confuses the dogs and lures them in for the traditional ripping and tearing action. But it is usually the badger who does the ripping and tearing. It is a beast that fights best on its back: rolling under the throat of the enemy and seizing it by the head with all four claws.

    That was his style–and if you forgot, he would kill you as a lesson to the others. Badgers don’t fight fair, bubba. That’s why God made dachshunds.

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  2. Oh sorry I thought you meant Richard NIXON, my apologies.

    No Richard Matheson was a brilliant writer and I regret his work wasn’t more appreciated because it was a staggering bibliography of work. Though I hadn’t before come across the piece you provided above.

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  3. paulboylan Says:

    I saw The Incredible Shrinking Man when I was very, very young. It left a lasting impression.

    When I was 14 years old, I read Born of Man and Woman. I met Mr. Matheson at an extension class I was attending at UCLA and I asked him about the story. He told me that there was a time when people kept their deformed and mentally challenged relatives – often referred to as “monsters” – imprisoned in attics and basements and he felt that was a good foundation for a short story from the point of view of an actual monster imprisoned in the home of the family that gave birth to it.

    He also spoke to the class about the many years he wrote for television, none of which he remembers because, at that time, he suffered from chronic alcoholism. That, too, stayed with me.

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  4. You have had a very fortunate encounter Mr Boylan.

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  5. paulboylan Says:

    The class was amazing. I now realize I wasn’t 14, I was 17 (it took place in 1975). It was organized by Harlan Ellison and was entitled “Ten Tuesdays Down a Rabbit Hole.” I met all the giants of the day – Frank Herbert, Larry Niven, Theodore Sturgeon, Fritz Leiber, Roger Zelazny, Philip Jose Farmer, even Robert Bloch. And, of course, Richard Matheson.

    I took the class for credit along with 100 others. Ellison asked those seeking credit to write a short paper of 200 words expressing a thought they never had before. All but two people failed. I was one of those two. But not because I wrote well. A friend of mine named Robert Benson, upon learning that he (and I) had failed, wrote a scathing letter to Ellison complaining that the assignment was too vague to be meaningful. Ellison called him on the phone and said “congratulations, asshole, I’m raising your grade from an F to a B.” Robert was able to persuade Ellison to change my grade from an F to a C, making me one of only two to pass that awful test.

    It was a real dick move for Ellison to fail every single person who took his class for credit.

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  6. Frank Herbert, Larry Niven, Theodore Sturgeon, Fritz Leiber, Roger Zelazny, Philip Jose Farmer, even Robert Bloch. And, of course, Richard Matheson

    That sounds like an amazing class, well except for the dick move by Ellison.

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  7. paulboylan Says:

    Yeah, a total dick move. But now I am a piece of very obscure history being one of only two who passed the exam – which I didn’t know until a few hours ago when I attempted to research the roster of the authors who participated in the class and found a blurb by Ellison talking about the class and how he failed everyone except two people, and that has to be me and my high school mate.

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