Marionettes, Inc (Bradbury)

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Marionettes, Inc
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: Two men used humanoid marionettes as substitutes to escape their unsatisfying marriages. However, one marionette developed feelings for its owner's wife and plotted to replace him permanently.

Two friends, Smith and Braling, were walking down the street one evening.

Smith — man around thirty-five years old; Braling's friend; also unhappy in his marriage; sympathetic, desperate.
Braling — man around thirty-five years old; gray eyes, small thin mustache; unhappy in his marriage; patient, cunning.

Braling had managed to escape his wife for the first time in years, but was planning to return home early. Smith was curious about how Braling had managed to get out, and Braling promised to reveal his secret. When they reached Braling's house, they saw a man who looked exactly like Braling in the window. This man, Braling Two, was a marionette created by Marionettes, Inc.

Braling Two — humanoid marionette; identical to Braling; capable of human functions; sensitive, manipulative.

Braling had been using him as a substitute to spend time with his wife while he enjoyed some freedom.

Smith was fascinated by the idea and asked for the address of Marionettes, Inc. He wanted to get a marionette for himself, as his wife was overly affectionate and he needed some space. When he got home, he found out that his wife had spent a large amount of their savings. He was furious and woke her up to confront her. However, when he leaned in to wake her, he heard a ticking sound from her chest, indicating that she was a marionette.

Meanwhile, Braling was planning to lock Braling Two in a box in the cellar while he went on a trip to Rio. However, Braling Two confessed that he had fallen in love with Braling's wife and didn't want to be locked in the box.

I think—I’m in love with her.

He planned to lock Braling in the box instead and live his life with Braling's wife.

I’m going to put you in the box, lock it, and lose the key. Then I’ll buy another Rio ticket for your wife.

Despite Braling's protests, Braling Two carried out his plan. When Braling's wife woke up, she found Braling Two by her side, acting more affectionate than her husband had been in years.