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´╗┐Title: Spacemen Never Die!
Author: Hershman, Morris, 1920-
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Spacemen Never Die!" ***

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[Illustration]


     Henry knew his wife had been married once
 before; now he expected her to start a new life
 with him--but to her the past was alive, and--

               SPACEMEN NEVER DIE!

               _By Morris Hershman_


Henry Weller stood facing a huge three-dimensional picture on the wall
of his dining room.

"Can't we get rid of it?" he asked, turning to his wife. "I mean, with
all due respect, of course."

No man enjoys coming into his dining room and having to sit at meals and
look at a full-sized picture of his wife's first husband arriving on
Venus. Fair's fair, but such a set-up is ridiculous.

"No," Phoebe shook her blonde head. "Don Manton loved me and he was
famous. I like to be reminded of the days when my picture was in all the
telepapers and my face on so many telescreens."

She might just as well have called him a tattered nonentity, though
Henry was doing pretty well as a foreman in the local humandroid
factory. He was stopped from reminding her by Phoebe's saying that she'd
leave for a bit of shopping. She left abruptly.

Henry watched her takeoff from the roof of their two-story fibroid house
and went back to the dining room. Now, even his warmest admirers would
give in that he had a streak of stubbornness in him a mile wide and six
miles deep. Henry took the three-dimensional monstrosity off the wall,
holding it hard by thumb and forefinger on its luminex frame, and
prepared to say good-by to the picture of Don Manton.

A foreman at one of the humandroid shops has to be able to consider
alternatives and Henry had done this. If he only hid the picture there'd
be a domestic crisis and the picture would sooner or later be back on
the wall; if he destroyed it there'd also be a crisis, but one that
would eventually blow over.

Unluckily for him, these three-dimensional wall pictures were made out
of glaseine, and when he tried setting fire to it he nearly burned down
the house. Upon feeding it to the old-fashioned fireplace nothing grew
hot except his temper. Ripping the picture to shreds would have been the
next step, but you can't rip glaseine.

For maybe the six millionth time he cursed out Don Manton, the
well-known explorer in the realm of outer space. Henry understood in a
general way that Don Manton had been among the first to chart the cities
of Mars and Venus, and had accidentally died on a planet named Immel;
but Henry had no intention of living in Don Manton's shadow.

The picture, which showed the late explorer talking with three
Venusians, had been hung up again when Phoebe came through the ceiling
door along the extension stairway which flicked up to meet her.

"You've been trying to get rid of Don's picture!"

He'd hung it crookedly, and a diagonal slash of white wallpaper had
given him away.

"Just this one. You've got cans of telefilm in the cellar, but them I
don't mind. This," he flicked it with a thumbnail, "I do mind."

"As long as I stay," Phoebe said quietly, "my darling Don's picture
stays."

"But what about your darling Henry? Am I just a humandroid who looks and
behaves and talks like a human being? Haven't I got feelings?" Henry
strode around the room, hitting the fibroid floor like a prehistoric
monster on a sandpaper bridge. "Either that picture goes," he said
finally, definitely, "or I go!"

Phoebe shook out her blonde hair, letting it fall about her shoulders.
"Too bad."

       *       *       *       *       *

Inside of an hour he had packed his suitcases. Phoebe cried bitterly,
but wouldn't budge about the picture. Henry took the plane. He put up at
his club, went to the bar, and was gobbling down something called
pressurized scotch, when he heard a noise back of him.

"Get away from me!" said Henry, who was quite a few over the traditional
eight by this time. "I've had enough of Don Manton, let alone his
helpers."

Speed Roggs, who had taken a couple of trips with Manton, was tall and
thin as the barstool, and with a spaceman's ability to think fast when
he had to. Loudly he ordered a Venuswiz, explaining to a disgusted
Henry, "After the barkeep mixes the drink he melts the swizzle stick and
pours that in, too." He gulped the stuff down gratefully, then said,
"Tell me your troubles, Hank."

Henry did. Speed Roggs looked disgusted. "Are you serious?" he asked,
and when Henry swore to cut Speed's throat on asking that again, went
on, "Women are space-mad!"

As Henry agreed, Roggs said, "The one thing you don't understand about
Don Manton is that he was maladjusted. He couldn't stay still, he always
wanted what he couldn't have. That goes for his feelings for women,
too."

Henry looked up with bloodshot eyes nearly popping out of his head.

Roggs kept going. "Don and Phoebe never got along once they were
married. It was Manton's fault. Like all explorers he was unhappy over
his lot and looked beyond the rainbow. In fact, he told me once that the
only reason he went in for exploring space was to get away from his
wife."

Henry Weller suddenly rocked with laughter. He got to his feet, took
Roggs, and went to his room, still laughing. He lay on the bed for half
an hour. At the end of that time he sat up.

"Tell the manager I won't be here for supper," he said to Speed. "I've
got a little trip to make."

"Where are you going?"

"Home, to give the good tidings to my wife."

Henry's fibroid house looked about the same. He parked the plane and let
himself in by the roof door and down the extension staircase. He found
Phoebe in the kitchen bent over a pot, and at sound of him she turned. A
near-smile flickered in her blue eyes.

"Phoebe ..."

"Henry ..."

They laughed together. Henry wanted to tell her what he knew as bitterly
and maliciously as possible, but he simply opened his mouth a few times.
He couldn't say it. Everyone is entitled to an illusion and this was
Phoebe, his blonde wench, his wife, his woman. He looked a bit sick.

She smiled. "Come into the dining room."

The three-dimensional picture had been rolled up into the corner. Henry
promised to put it away in the cellar and clean up the cellar as soon as
he could. Phoebe said that her first husband had never liked to stay
home, he'd always been afraid to live normally.

"I was wrong about the picture," she told him, "and I didn't know till I
saw you leave the house."

It goes without saying that Henry and his Phoebe lived happily ever
after, but it is perhaps not so well known that Phoebe was left with a
little disposal problem, too. She had a rough time finding a buyer (in
secret, of course) for her brand-new humandroid, who looked and behaved
and talked so exactly like that well-known flyer, Speed Roggs....



Transcriber's Note:

    This etext was produced from _Imagination Stories of Science and
    Fantasy_ August 1953. Extensive research did not uncover any
    evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.
    Minor spelling and typographical errors have been corrected without
    note.





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