Dandelion Wine
Ray Bradbury
Contributed by Loretta Ingwersen
Chapter 24

Colonel Freeleigh wakes from a bad dream in his wheelchair and calls Mexico City to speak to his old friend Jorge. He asks Jorge to put the phone to the window so he can hear the sounds: Jorge obliges and the Colonel is taken back to the experiences of that faraway city. A knock at the door of his room makes the Colonel hide the phone receiver; his nurse enters and as she takes his pulse, notices he’s excited. She finds the receiver in his lap robe and hangs up the phone for him, chiding him for all the agitation he causes himself, with the phone and the boys that visit.

The Colonel defends the boys, explaining how they listen politely and he tells them of things they’d never heard before. The nurse had prevented the Colonel’s grandson from having the phone removed but now thinks it’s necessary; she puts the Colonel to bed, then takes his wheelchair away. He hears her making a phone call and he worries about the calls across South America that he can no longer make. Tenuously, he manages to cross the room on his own two feet to make one more phone call to Jorge in Mexico City. Jorge makes him promise that this will be the last time, and he again holds the phone to the window so that the Colonel can be in touch with Mexico City again.

Time passes; three boys, including Douglas, arrive at the Colonel’s room, as he had called and said he needed visitors. Douglas finds the Colonel dead, his hands still on the phone. Douglas puts the receiver to his ear and hears only static. Two thousand miles away, a window closes.


Technology is the last friend of Colonel Freeleigh, as the telephone is the last reminder of his life before becoming an invalid: it is his tether to his past, as well as a tether to his life. When one is cut off from him, so is the other. Douglas’ discovery of the Colonel’s body corresponds to his growing awareness of death and mortality.

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