In the near future, Leonard Mead walks to the apartment of his friend Robert Stockwell and knocks on the door. Stockwell eventually hears him over the sound of his television and hesitantly comes to the door but only lets him in when Leonard pounds repeatedly. He condemns the television and then gives Stockwell black clothing to walk the night in near invisibility, in tennis shoes to remain near-silent. Stockwell is tempted but can't tear himself away from the television even though it's the same program retitled and slightly rewritten. Leonard leaves on his own and as he goes, Stockwell asks what it's like at night and Leonard describes the wonders. Impressed, Stockwell dons his dark clothing and goes out with his friend...Read the full recap
Host: Tennis shoes, to remind me of what? The first nights of summer when, as a boy, I ran in the cool grass. Or later, walking at night, being stopped by police who were suspicious of the only one walking for miles and miles. Upset with this encounter with the law, what else could I do but write about shoes and night, and walking, as a criminal in some future year, in a story called "The Pedestrian."
Leonard Mead: The streets look like a chessboard, just waiting for us to make our move.
(describing a television)
Leonard Mead: The head of the Medusa. Lies in my parlor and stares. My friends, frozen statues, numbed by the Medusa's glare. Radiant fuzz collects in our ears while this new god paints life on our eyes. Incredible song, new dwelling of the Keystone Cop. Cathedral of the demi-divine, pint-sized.
Robert Stockwell: Len! What's it like out there at night?
Leonard Mead: Well, the air is sweet. it's deep autumn, you know. Good wind. Leaves run along the sidewalk, nibble at your feet like a pack of mice. There's a hill not far from here where you can stand and look down at the little stars of light in the city, and then look up at the light of stars in the sky. And you feel rich. Sad. Alive.
Robert Stockwell: That's how it is?
Leonard Mead: Give or take a metaphor.
Robert Stockwell: People once used these sidewalks a lot.
Leonard Mead: Yes. People strolled along on Sunday afternoons. Or beyond the hills in timeless time on paths, boardwalks, or cement. But once, oh yes, people idled by rivers and said things that later made easy lazing books and chewed grass.
Leonard Mead: See, the houses are dark. Our cities are haunted.
Robert Stockwell: Haunted?
Leonard Mead: By the ghost machines. Think. Ninety percent of the actors we see on our TV screens have been dead 40 years.
Robert Stockwell: Yes.
Leonard Mead: Our telephone are haunted, too.
Robert Stockwell: Yes, yes. Why you can't get ahold of a real person if you want one.
Leonard Mead: Right.
Robert Stockwell: They're all old tape voices that...
Leonard Mead: Give out the weather, the time.
Robert Stockwell: Voices.
Leonard Mead: Immortal, now. Giving out wrong numbers forever.
Patrol Voice: Mead. Profession?
Leonard Mead: I guess you'd say a writer.
Patrol Voice: No guesses accepted. Profession?
Leonard Mead: Writer.
Patrol Voice: No profession.
Patrol Voice: Mr. Mead, are you married?
Leonard Mead: Nobody wanted me.