wow, i just refound an old book … really old, printed in 1978! falling apart…
i reread it and it was/is so awesome! everyone should read it! what do i mean?
STARBUST!!!(a collection of short stories)
bester was born december 18, 1913 in new york city
he was a novelist, short story writer and a radio series writer
in the science fiction genre
and when you see, the book was released in 1958 (in the usa)…it still is up to date…he was a genius!
i found a little bit of a story for you:
Star Light, Star Bright
by Alfred Bester
The man in the car was thirty-eight years old. He was tall, slender, and not strong. His cropped hair was prematurely gray. He was afflicted with an education and a sense of humor. He was inspired by a purpose. He was armed with a phone book. He was doomed.
He drove up Post Avenue, stopped at No. 17, and parked. He consulted the phone book, then got out of the car and entered the house. He examined the mailboxes and then ran up the stairs to apartment 2-F. He rang the bell. While he waited for an answer, he got out a small black notebook and a superior silver pencil that wrote in four colors.
The door opened. To a nondescript middle-aged lady, the man said, “Good evening. Mrs. Buchanan?”
The lady nodded.
“My name is Foster. I’m from the Science Institute. We’re trying to check some flying saucer reports. I won’t take a minute.” Mr. Foster insinuated himself into the apartment. He had been in so many that he knew the layout automatically. He marched briskly down the hall to the front parlor, turned, smiled at Mrs. Buchanan, opened the notebook to a blank page, and poised the pencil.
“Have you ever seen a flying saucer, Mrs. Buchanan?”
“No. And it’s a lot of bunk, I—”
“Have your children ever seen them? You do have children?”
“Yeah, but they—”
“Two. Them flying saucers never—”
“Are either of school age?”
“School,” Mr. Foster repeated impatiently. “Do they go to school?”
“The boy’s twenty-eight,” Mrs. Buchanan said. “The girl’s twenty-four. They finished school a long—”
“I see. Either of them married?”
“No. About them flying saucers, you scientist doctors ought to—”
“We are,” Mr. Foster interrupted. He made a tic-tac-toe in the notebook then closed it and slid it into an inside pocket with the pencil. “Thank you very much, Mrs. Buchanan,” he said, turned, and marched out.
Downstairs, Mr. Foster got into the car, opened the telephone directory, turned to a page, and ran his pencil through a name. He examined the name underneath, memorized the address, and started the car. He drove to Fort George Avenue and stopped the car in front of No. 800. He entered the house and took the self-service elevator to the fourth floor. He rang the bell of apartment 4-G. While he waited for an answer, he got out the small black notebook and the superior pencil.
The door opened. To a truculent man, Mr. Foster said, “Good evening. Mr. Buchanan?”
“What about it?” the truculent man said.
Mr. Foster said, “My name is Davis. I’m from the Association of National Broadcasters. Were preparing a list of names for prize competitors. May I come in? Won’t take a minute.”
Mr. Foster/Davis insinuated himself and presently consulted with Mr. Buchanan and his redheaded wife in the living room of their apartment.
“Have you ever won a prize in radio or television?”
“No,” Mr. Buchanan said angrily. “We never got a chance. Everybody else does but not us.”
“All that free money and iceboxes,” Mrs. Buchanan said. “Trips to Paris and planes and—”
“That’s why we’re making up this list,” Mr. Foster/Davis broke in. “Have any of your relatives won prizes?”
“No. It’s all a fix. Put-up jobs. They—”
“Any of your children?”
“Ain’t got any children.”
“I see. Thank you very much.” Mr. Foster/Davis played out the tic-tac-toe game in his notebook, closed it, and put it away. He released himself from the indignation of the Buchanans, went down to his car, crossed out another name in the phone book, memorized the address of the name underneath, and started the car.
He drove to No. 215 East Sixty-Eighth Street and parked in front of a private brownstone house. He rang the doorbell and was confronted by a maid in uniform.
“Good evening,” he said. “Is Mr. Buchanan in?”
“My name is Hook,” Mr. Foster/Davis said. “I’m conducting an investigation for the Better Business Bureau.”
The maid disappeared, reappeared, and conducted Mr. Foster/Davis/Hook to a small library where a resolute gentleman in dinner clothes stood holding a Limoges demitasse cup and saucer. There were expensive books on the shelves. There was an expensive fire in the grate.
“Yes, sir,” the doomed man replied. He did not take out the notebook. “I won’t be a minute, Mr. Buchanan. Just a few questions.”
“I have great faith in the Better Business Bureau,” Mr. Buchanan pronounced. “Our bulwark against the inroads of—”
“Thank you, sir,” Mr. Foster/Davis/Hook interrupted. “Have you ever been criminally defrauded by a businessman?”
“The attempt has been made. I have never succumbed.”
“And your children? You do have children?”
“My son is hardly old enough to qualify as a victim.”
“How old is he, Mr. Buchanan?”
“Perhaps he has been tricked at school? There are crooks who specialize in victimizing children.”
“Not at my son’s school. He is well protected.”
“What school is that, sir?”
“One of the best. Did he ever attend a city public school?”
The doomed man took out the notebook and the superior pencil. This time he made a serious entry.
“Any other children, Mr. Buchanan?”
“A daughter, seventeen.”
Mr. Foster/Davis/Hook considered, started to write, changed his mind, and closed the notebook. He thanked his host politely and escaped from the house before Mr. Buchanan could ask for his credentials. He was ushered out by the maid, ran down the stoop to his car, opened the door, entered, and was felled by a tremendous blow on the side of his head.
· · · · ·
When the doomed man awoke, he thought he was in bed suffering from a hangover. He started to crawl to the bathroom when he realized he was dumped in a chair like a suit for the cleaners. He opened his eyes. He was in what appeared to be an underwater grotto. He blinked frantically. The water receded.
He was in a small legal office. A stout man who looked like an unfrocked Santa Claus stood before him. To one side, seated on a desk and swinging his legs carelessly, was a thin young man with a lantern jaw and eyes closely set on either side of his nose.
“Can you hear me?” the stout man asked.
The doomed man grunted.
“Can we talk?”
“Joe,” the stout man said pleasantly, “a towel.”
The thin young man slipped off the desk, went to a corner basin, and soaked a white hand towel. He shook it once, sauntered back to the chair, where, with a suddenness and savagery of a tiger, he lashed it across the sick man’s face.
“For God’s sake!” Mr. Foster/Davis/Hook cried.
“That’s better,” the stout man said. “My name’s Herod. Walter Herod, attorney-at-law.” He stepped to the desk where the contents of the doomed man’s pockets were spread, picked up a wallet, and displayed it. “Your name is Warbeck. Marion Perkin Warbeck. Right?”
The doomed man gazed at his wallet, then at Walter Herod, attorney-at-law, and finally admitted the truth. “Yes,” he said. “My name is Warbeck. But I never admit the Marion to strangers.”
He was again lashed by the wet towel and fell back in the chair, stung and bewildered.
“That will do, Joe,” Herod said. “Not again, please, until I tell you.” To Warbeck he said, “Why this interest in the Buchanans?” He waited for an answer, then continued pleasantly, “Joe’s been tailing you. You’ve averaged five Buchanans a night. Thirty, so far. What’s your angle?”
“What the hell is this? Russia?” Warbeck demanded indignantly. “You’ve no right to kidnap me and grill me like the MVD. If you think you can—”
“Joe,” Herod interrupted pleasantly. “Again, please.”
Again the towel lashed Warbeck. Tormented, furious, and helpless, he burst into tears.
Herod fingered the wallet casually. “Your papers say you’re a teacher by profession, principal of a public school. I thought teachers were supposed to be legit. How did you get mixed up in the inheritance racket?”
“The what racket?” Warbeck asked faintly.
“The inheritance racket,” Herod repeated patiently. “The Heirs of Buchanan caper. What kind of parlay are you using? Personal approach?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Warbeck answered. He sat bolt upright and pointed to the thin youth. “And don’t start that towel business again.”
“I’ll start what I please and when I please,” Herod said ferociously. “And I’ll finish you when I goddamned well please. You’re stepping on my toes, and I don’t buy it. I’ve got seventy-five thousand a year I’m taking out of this, and I’m not going to let you chisel.”
There was a long pause, significant for everybody in the room except the doomed man. Finally he spoke. “I’m an educated man,” he said slowly. “Mention Galileo, say, or the lesser Cavalier poets, and I’m right up there with you. But there are gaps in my education, and this is one of them. I can’t meet the situation. Too many unknowns.”
“I told you my name,” Herod answered. He pointed to the thin young man. “That’s Joe Davenport.”
Warbeck shook his head. “Unknown in the mathematical sense. X quantities. Solving equations. My education speaking.”
Joe looked startled. “Jesus!” he said without moving his lips. “Maybe he is legit.”
Herod examined Warbeck curiously. “I’m going to spell it out for you,” he said. “The inheritance racket is a long-term con. It operates something like so: There’s a story that James Buchanan—”
“Fifteenth president of the U.S.?”
“In person. There’s a story he died intestate leaving an estate for heirs unknown. That was in 1868. Today at compound interest that estate is worth millions. Understand?”
Warbeck nodded. “I’m educated,” he murmured.
“Anybody named Buchanan is a sucker for this setup. It’s a switch on the Spanish Prisoner routine. I send them a letter. Tell ’em there’s a chance they may be one of the heirs. Do they want me to investigate and protect their cut in the estate? It only costs a small yearly retainer. Most of them buy it. From all over the country. And now you—”
“Wait a minute,” Warbeck exclaimed. “I can draw a conclusion. You found out I was checking the Buchanan families. You think I’m trying to operate the same racket. Cut in … cut in? Yes? Cut in on you?”
“Well,” Herod asked angrily, “aren’t you?”
“Oh God!” Warbeck cried. “That this should happen to me. Me! Thank you, God. Thank you. I’ll always be grateful.” In his happy fervor he turned to Joe. “Give me the towel, Joe,” he said. “Just throw it. I’ve got to wipe my face.” He caught the flung towel and mopped himself joyously.
“Well,” Herod repeated. “Aren’t you?”
“No,” Warbeck answered, “I’m not cutting in on you. But I’m grateful for the mistake. Don’t think I’m not. You can’t imagine how flattering it is for a schoolteacher to be taken for a thief.”
He got out of the chair and went to the desk to reclaim his wallet and other possessions.
“Just a minute,” Herod snapped.
The thin young man reached out and grasped Warbeck’s wrist with an iron clasp.
“Oh stop it,” the doomed man said impatiently. “This is a silly mistake.”
“I’ll tell you whether it’s a mistake, and I’ll tell you if it’s silly,” Herod replied. “Just now you’ll do as you’re told.”
“Will I?” Warbeck wrenched his wrist free and slashed Joe across the eyes with the towel. He darted around behind the desk, snatched up a paperweight, and hurled it through the window with a shattering crash.
“Joe!” Herod yelled.
Warbeck knocked the phone off its stand and dialed Operator. He picked up his cigarette lighter, flicked it, and dropped it into the wastepaper basket. The voice of the operator buzzed in the phone. Warbeck shouted, “I want a policeman!” Then he kicked the flaming basket into the center of the office.
“Joe!” Herod yelled and stamped on the blazing paper.
Warbeck grinned. He picked up the phone. Squawking noises were coming out of it. He put one hand over the mouthpiece. “Shall we negotiate?” he inquired.
“You sonofabitch,” Joe growled. He took his hands from his eyes and slid toward Warbeck.
“No!” Herod called. “This crazy fool’s hollered copper. He’s legit, Joe.” To Warbeck he said in pleading tones, “Fix it. Square it. We’ll make it up to you. Anything you say. Just square the call.”
The doomed man lifted the phone to his mouth. He said, “My name is M. P. Warbeck. I was consulting my attorney at this number and some idiot with a misplaced sense of humor made this call. Please phone back and check.”
He hung up, finished pocketing his private property, and winked at Herod. The phone rang, Warbeck picked it up, reassured the police, and hung up. He came around from behind the desk and handed his car keys to Joe.
“Go down to my car,” he said. “You know where you parked it. Open the glove compartment and bring up a brown manila envelope you’ll find.”
“Go to hell,” Joe spat. His eyes were still tearing.
“Do as I say,” Warbeck said firmly.
“Just a minute, Warbeck,” Herod said. “What’s this? A new angle? I said we’d make it up to you, but—”
“I’m going to explain why I’m interested in the Buchanans,” Warbeck replied. “And I’m going into partnership with you. You’ve got what I need to locate one particular Buchanan … you and Joe. My Buchanan’s ten years old. He’s worth a hundred times your make-believe fortune.”
Herod stared at him.
Warbeck placed the keys in Joe’s hand. “Go down and get that envelope, Joe,” he said. “And while you’re at it you’d better square that broken window rap. Rap? Rap.”
· · · · ·
The doomed man placed the manila envelope neatly on his lap. “A school principal,” he…
read the rest of the story here http://www.scifi.com/scifiction/classics/classics_archive/bester2/index.html
or buy the book, it is worth it!
idk why, but i can´t upload pictures or link words…so here the related links: