Simon Grover always felt like a goldfish in a coptercab. The abam plexiglass bubble afforded full 360 degree vision, but people could also see you from the crowded traffic lanes above a big city.

"Hurry," said Simon Grover, a small, energetic man with close-set hazel eyes and a stubborn chin.

"I'm hurrying," the pilot told him with frustrating indifference.

In another few moments he would be safe. He squirmed around and saw another copter rise above the express lane and close the gap between them. It had never been this close before. The aquamarine roof of the Marriage Building loomed ahead, then swelled up at them. The other copter buzzed closer.

"Don't see any landing space," the pilot said laconically.

Simon squinted down anxiously. The copters were lined up in neat but crowded rows on the rooftop, with hardly more than walking space between them.

"Hover," Simon pleaded. "I'll jump."

"I could lose my license."

Simon reached into his pocket and drew out a handful of bills. "This is important to me," he said.

The pilot pocketed the money, then swooped down toward the roof. Suspended grotesquely eight feet above the aquamarine surface, blades whirling, the coptercab hovered. Simon grunted his thanks and slid back the door. The other copter was fanning air above them and dropping fast when Simon jumped.

His left leg struck the side of a parked cab and threw him off balance. He landed on his shoulder, rolled over and scrambled to his feet. He darted between the rows of copters, thankful for the partial protection their blades offered him. A parabeam zipped down at the long shadow he cast in the late afternoon sun, but in another moment he had reached the roof entrance to the Marriage Building and flung himself inside.

Breathing hard, he smoothed his rumpled clothing with shaking hands. That had been entirely too close. They thought he was fleeing because he did not want to work for a living. Rot. If he were ever captured, all the romance would go from his life.

He sauntered down the long, pleasant corridor lined with murals of domestic tranquility—family gathered around the dining table, father and son raking leaves in the front yard, graceful elderly couple entertaining children and grandchildren at a merry hearth, young husband and wife going to bed. He was in no hurry now, for the Marriage Building was legal sanctuary.

He passed the long lines of registering Quickies, men filing into one room, women into another. He let his glance rove the line of female Quickies, wondering if his new wife would come from this group. They ranged in age from eighteen to about sixty, he guessed, and naturally they were of all conceivable types. He caught himself in time and stopped looking. It was not considered proper etiquette.

Rounding a turn in the corridor, Simon took the slidestair down one level to where Transients registered and attached himself to the end of a long line of men which was swallowed slowly by a doorway above which was the legend:


Simon checked his counterfeit registration papers and was aware of the old, familiar feeling of uncertainty. His heart bobbed up into his throat and pounded there. His palms were clammy, his fingers wouldn't keep still. Would the papers pass inspection? He was almost certain they would. But he savored the other possibility although he hated its ultimate consequences. As some people craved security, so others thrived on adventure.

Simon lit a cigaret and waited while the line crawled forward, parallelling a line of female Transients moving through another doorway.

"Sit down, Mr. Grover," the Counselor said as Simon entered the room. It was a large place with a central aisle and a dozen private cubbies on either side, each one with celotex walls, a desk, two chairs, the latest in marriage literature, and a Counselor.

Simon eased his small frame into a comfortable chair and handed his papers to the Counselor. "I see you have come from Philadelphia," the man said, smiling not quite professionally—which, Simon knew, was the best of all professional smiles. "Were the accommodations satisfactory? Of course, you don't have to talk about them."

"They were fine. Just fine." Naturally, Simon did not tell the Counselor about his flight from the police.

"How long will you be with us in New York?"

"I figure about three weeks. It depends on business, though. Might be a little longer, I guess."

"We'll say three weeks." The Counselor scrawled something on Simon's registration form. "Now, Mr. Grover, exactly what kind of wife are you looking for?"

"To tell you the truth, I haven't given it much thought yet."

"Splendid," the Counselor was delighted with the opportunity to expound on his wares. "As you know, we have six basic types." He removed six colorful folders from six stacks on his desk and handed them to Simon.

"The first," he went on, "is the newlywed Quickie. The red folder, Mr. Grover. She has just completed her honeymoon, is not pregnant, and has been married for no more than six months."

Simon examined the folder. On the cover was pictured a young man carrying his bride, complete with bashful smile, across the threshold of their home. There were suggestive dining room, patio and bedroom scenes inside, with appropriate captions.

"The second type," explained the Counselor, "is the new mother." The folder showed a charming young woman breast-feeding an infant. The Counselor went on to the other types: the middle mother, a woman of about thirty with two children, one of pre-school age and one in the first three grades; the teener, with from two to five children in their teens or early twenties; the pre-gram, with any number of married children living away from home, but no grandchildren; and the grandmother.

"You understand," the Counselor said, "we have all types in between as well. These are merely the basics." He surveyed Simon's registration papers again. "You're thirty-five, Mr. Grover. A fine age, I might say. You'd be suited to any type, with the exception of the grandmother."

"I don't want the grandmother, anyway," Simon told him. "You know, I think I'll take the newlywed this time."

The Counselor winked knowingly. "Still a lot of get-up-and-go in the old copter, eh?"

"It's spring," Simon said.