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The Second Voice   By:

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We proudly enter a new name in the science fiction sweepstakes. This is Mr. Rubin's initial appearance in the field. His literary efforts to date add up quite handsomely, we think. QUOTE. I have sold to the TV show, TALES OF TOMORROW and two literary quarterlies have published my fiction. Last year I won the Stephen Vincent Benét Award for my one act plays produced at Stanford University. UNQUOTE. The reading pleasure is yours.

the second voice

by ... Mann Rubin

Spud, world famous dummy, talks to Mars with surprising results.

Crawford completed the rehearsal in less than an hour. He listened to the orchestra run through its selections, okayed the song the guest vocalist had chosen, then finished up with a long dialogue between Spud and himself. When it was over he checked timing with the program director, made a few script changes and conferred briefly with a Special Service Officer about the number of troops the auditorium could hold. Everything was running smoothly. It was going to be a neat, action packed show.

Backstage he looked at his watch. He had almost two hours before the regular show began and he was restless. Two hours at Harlow Field could seem like two years. Guards and restrictions all over the place.

Harlow Field was the largest experimental base in the world, a veritable garden of atoms, the proving grounds for every secret weapon ever imagined. The security and the tight regulations gave Crawford the jitters on each of his visits.

He smoked a cigarette and tried making small talk with some of the soldiers on backstage detail. He posed for a picture and gave an interview to a reporter from an army newspaper, then excused himself and went to his dressing room with Spud propped in the crook of his arm.

He was used to it now; the applause, the audiences, the pictures, the autographs, the fuss. Everywhere the response was the same. They had either seen him in the movies or on television or in the nightclubs, where he first broke in his act. Now they wanted to establish an identity with him, to touch the merchandise, to stand close so that they could write home about the visiting celebrity. Crawford was a realist. It was all part of being a name.

It had taken him just five years to make the big time. Five years of road shows, coast to coast tours, one night stands and a dummy named Spud to make him the hottest ventriloquist in the business. His act was tight, well paced and popular. He had a weekly radio show, a television program and a seven year contract with a major Hollywood studio. He was riding high.

Still he hadn't forgotten the soldiers. Two months each year he took time off to travel the USO circuit. His agent tore his hair, reminding him of the financial losses, but the USO had given him his first break so he had always answered their call. He liked enthusiastic audiences and the cheering of laugh hungry men made him happy. Entertainment was his business and he enjoyed exhibiting his talent. The wider the audience the better he liked it.

His dressing room was located back of the auditorium. He closed the door behind him, put Spud on a chair and began getting out of his rehearsal clothes. He lit a cigarette and looked at himself in the mirror. He was tired and needed a shave. In the last week the pace had been fast. The USO tour still had a few days to run, but he was looking forward to its end. A vacation, the luxury of relaxation would all be his then.

He opened a drawer of the dressing table and pulled out a bottle of Scotch. There were two hours to be killed before the show. He drank a shot and thought about it. A shower, a shave, a good dinner and a walk around the base would consume the time. After the show he would drive back to town and check in at a hotel for a good night's sleep.

He was putting the bottle back in the drawer when a knock sounded on the door. He said "Come in," thinking it was one of the cast and didn't turn around... Continue reading book >>

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