Here’s an interesting story. Two men have taken it on themselves to find and warn people who seem to have subconscious death wishes — people who go about acting awful and reckless in ways likely to get themselves killed. They reason that these people often don’t know they need help, and that most people don’t want to go to a psychiatrist, so they think they’ll be able to help them see reason.
This goes about as well as you would expect.
Their first attempt at actually doing this is told in this story, and their target is a particularly nasty woman who seems hellbent on making everyone hate her. I imagine Bradbury must have known at least one person with a temperament like this, because she’s quite realistic. And very unlikable, as well.
Though let’s be fair, the men in the story aren’t exactly all that likable either. I mean, who the hell thinks it’s ok to spy on people and then go tell them they need psychological help? I get they’re trying to help people but seriously, no one is going to like that. Unless they get some really weird enjoyment out of being stalked or something. I assume there must be people like that out there. Everything is someone’s fetish, after all.
At anyway, the story is well written and all, but there’s something about it that’s sort of sitting in the back of my head nagging at me. I don’t know what it is. I didn’t dislike the story at all, but there’s something that makes me feel like it’s not as good as some of the others I’ve read. There’s no concrete reason for this, really, just a vague feeling. I wish I had a better way to explain it. At any rate, though, it’s certainly worth reading, I’d say. The idea that there are people who have a subconscious death wish that they’re trying to fulfill without even knowing it is pretty fascinating, though I don’t know whether there’s any validity to it. I’ve certainly never heard of any theories like this before, I suppose there could be something out there; psychology is a pretty large field, after all.
I’d just like to point out that I have absolutely no idea where the title came from. It’s a good title, but, while I suppose I can sort of understand why it’s used, it doesn’t feel quite like the right title. Personally I might have gone with “Death Wish,” or something to that effect.
I guess the last thing I should do is provide you with a warning. If you or someone you know seems to be acting in a way that could provoke someone into killing you in a moment of anger, or you do things like jaywalk across busy streets, etc., you should consider getting psychological help to deal with the death wish before you end up dead.