Another thriller writer I got to know over the years was Ray Bradbury. His gripping science fiction books included Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles, which showed his skill at weaving suspense into futuristic tales.
Sometimes I would drop by his house at 10265 Cheviot Drive in the Cheviot Hills area of Los Angeles for friendly conversations about whatever was happening at the time. Ray was often working on possible movie projects related to his books but — just like his stories — those projects always seemed to stay in the future.
So it was startling when media reports said Ray was recuperating from a serious medical problem at his Palm Springs home. There had been no warning signs of a serious medical condition. And he had not mentioned having a second home. In the weeks that followed I waited a bit nervously for an obituary notice. But it never came. So I decided to go see if he had returned to his Cheviot Hills house and was recovering from the ordeal.
After ringing the doorbell I waited a couple of minutes, then was surprised when the door popped open and there was Ray, standing in his bathrobe. He looked a little worse for wear, but otherwise was his usual jocular self. When I asked about his time in Palm Springs, he laughed outright. That was a subterfuge created by his public relations agent to give Ray some peace and quiet. He had been in Cheviot Hills the whole time. I guess when you’re a successful writer, having too much fan adulation can be an issue. We should all have that problem.
Years later, Ray finally did pass away at the age of 91.
Cruising his old neighborhood one day, I was shocked to see that his grand old home had been summarily decimated by a new owner. It was torn down completely, right to the bare earth. I don’t know whether the new construction there will turn out to be good or bad. But I can’t bear to drive down that street any more. That wonderful old place should have been a monument to the man, occupied by someone who appreciated his genius.
Even so, I like to think that Ray still lives on in this world of ours. If not in his old home, then certainly in the memories of friends and the imagination of millions of people who read his compelling books.