A Thing About Machines - Recap

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Barrett Finchley, a writer about gourmet cooking, returns home in his car and finds a TV repairman fixing his television. Finchley is clearly not impressed with the man, and even less so when the repair notes that Finchley broke the TV. The repairman observes that he’s been to the house before to repair the machines, and he thinks Finchley simply doesn’t get along with mechanical devices. The ill-tempered Finchley implies the repairman is a thief and tells him to get out. However, after the man is gone, Finchley’s facade breaks down and he starts shouting at the machines throughout the house. The clock starts chiming… and then chimes, and chimes, and chimes. Finchley smashes it to the ground but it still keeps chiming until he smashes it to pieces.

Later, having recovered his temple and his snobbery, Finchley has his secretary Edith Rogers come over to type up his material. He complains about her work and she prepares to storm out… and he asks her to stay. He tries to act civil, inviting her to dinner, but she turns him down. He snaps at her again but then apologizes, saying he hasn’t slept for four nights because the machines keep waking him up, going on and off on their own. Edith thinks he’s nuts and suggests he see a doctor, and he snaps at her again insisting that he’s sane and rational: it’s the machines that hate him. She gives up and leaves, and the typewriter starts typing out a threatening message: “Get out of here Finchley.” The television turns on by itself and the flamenco dancer says the same thing. Finchley goes into another rage, shouting at the machines that they won’t intimidate him.

Desperate, Finchley tries to call women he’s known to set up a date so he won’t have to be alone. They all have other plans or are married. He yanks the phone out of the wall and throws it across the room, then goes to shave. The electric razor comes alive in his hands and tries to attack him, while a threatening voice on the unplugged phone tells him to get out. Finchley hears the police arrive outside and goes out to find that his car rolled out of the garage on its own. The officer doesn’t believe his protestations and Finchley angrily orders the neighbors to get off his property while he goes to get his car keys.

Finchley goes back inside and starts drinking heavily. He finally passes out but wakes up when the clock starts chiming even though it’s no longer there. The typewriter and television threaten him again and the electric razor comes down the stairs after him. Finchley runs outside where his car is waiting for him and comes after him. He tries to avoid it but it eventually corners him in the back yard pool. He falls backward and the headlights looking down on him are the last thing he sees…

Later, the medic take Finchley’s corpse away, water dripping from it. The police officer notes that Finchley had a frightened look on his face, and didn’t float like a normal drinking victim. It was as if something weighed him down to the bottom of the pool. As Finchley’s body is taken away, his car sits on the curb, silent… and watching.