“An Utterly Perfect Murder” from Long After Midnight by Ray Bradbury
“The idea had come to me for some reason on my forty-eighth birthday…I will arise and kill Ralph Underhill.”
Douglas has decided that thirty-six years after he’d been bullied and mistreated he is going to kill the guy that made his boyhood so unhappy.
He boards the train and remembers how Ralph Underhill beat him up so he was so covered in bruises. But yet Douglas still wanted to be him, be his friend.
Ralph traded his Tarzan action figure for Douglas’ baseball glove and even though Douglas knew the glove was worth more and that Ralph cheated him, Doug still hoped they would be friends.
Then Douglas decided to just ignore Ralph, and wait for the day Ralph would come and tell Douglas how much he missed having him around and how much he needs him. But he never comes.
So now Doug is going to kill him.
He travels down to see Ralph and knocks on the door.
But when he sees Ralph, it is no monster from his childhood…
But a wrinkled, balding, sick old man.
Doug was going to shoot him. And with the pistol he brought, but looking at the guy…he decides against it. Instead he goes to his old home and throws rocks against the window; calling to himself like he always hoped others would come call on him.
Thoughts After Reading:
I thought it was great.
I think he captured real feelings and emotions in this. After all, who hasn’t felt that way, wanted to take down their old bullies?
I thought the twist at the end was great, Douglas has the gun and is ready to kill what hurts him-but then realizing that Ralph wasn’t hurting him it was his own bitterness. And true happiness would be to can only come when he gets rid of that-not Ralph.
For more by Ray Bradbury, go to The October Game
For more short stories, go to A Scandal in Bohemia
For more bible verses, go to The Oath