His Robot Girlfriend – Chapter 4 Part 1

“Time to get up, Mike,” said Patience. “Take your shower and I will have breakfast ready for you when you get out.”

“I don’t know if I’m hungry.”

“A healthy breakfast is important.”

Mike tilted his head and looked questioningly.

“It is important for you to be healthy, Mike. I’ve already started you on a regimen of exercise. It is important that you eat well too.”

“All right then.” He got up and made his way to the shower.

True to her word and her name, Patience was waiting patiently with a piece of whole wheat toast and a glass of grapefruit-pineapple juice.

“What now?” he asked as he ate.

“You have to work today,” Patience replied. “We will go to the gym for our workout later.”

It was Mike’s last day of the school year. He had already packed away everything that needed to be packed, so all he really had to do was show up and wait for the principal to check him out. By eleven, he was done. He had walked to school, and he walked back home to find Patience at the door in a tight pair of red shorts and a white spaghetti tank. He had a small salad for lunch, and then they went to the gym.

“Are we going to exercise every day over the summer?” Mike asked on the way.

“Five times a week.”

Time at the gym went quickly and Mike suffered only a small amount of discomfort from his stomach. Afterwards, as they drove home, Mike asked Patience to stop at the cemetery.

“I promised Tiffany that I would stop by every week, but I haven’t been there in months. Of course, she was dead when I promised her, so it’s not like she heard me.”

Patience pulled the car into the cemetery gate and drove around at Mike’s direction until they reached the southeast corner, where the green of the grass met the tan of the surrounding desert. Mike climbed out and walked to the marker at the head of his wife’s grave. The marker was covered with bits of grass from the last time the lawn was mowed, as well as bits of dirt. He knelt down and brushed it off. Tiffany Louise Smith 1984-2021, little enough to sum up a lifetime. 2021! Could it really be eleven years? That didn’t seem possible.

“Who is buried here?” asked Patience.

Mike looked up. A few feet from Tiffany’s grave was another. Affixed to the flat grave marker was an upright statue, about a foot tall, of an angel, a little girl with wings, wearing a nightgown and holding a flower in her left hand, her right hand raising a handkerchief to her eye.

“Some poor little child.”

Home once again, Mike took another shower and had a quick nap before getting up to play a few games of Age of Destruction on vueTee. Pausing the game, he went to the kitchen to get a diet Pepsi and noticed for the first time that the kitchen cabinets had been scrubbed clean. He opened one to find it reorganized inside. This sent him on a tour around the house. He went into the garage to find that what had once been only the home of a gigantic mound of surplus junk had been reorganized. Tiffany’s Tesla, which hadn’t been driven or even charged in more than two years, was clean and polished. There was actually enough room for Mike’s Chevy to sit beside it, and it had never known the interior of the garage. Most of the room’s contents were now on the shelves along the walls, and what remained was neatly stacked against the west wall to either side of the inside door.

He went upstairs to find that Harriet’s old room, once almost as buried as the garage floor, had also been cleaned and organized. Though the right side of the room was now filled with labeled boxes, the left side had been cleared completely out. Mike noticed that the closet now contained Patience’s growing wardrobe. Even the pictures on the walls had been dusted, though they still were just as oddly placed as they had been. Lucas’s room, which had not been nearly so cluttered, was now empty with the exception of an exercise mat in the center of the floor.

“Just as you wanted.” said Patience speaking right behind his left ear.

“Shit! You startled me.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I can’t believe how much you’ve done in a week. What are you doing now—alphabetizing my underwear?”

“No. I was on the phone with Harriet. She invited us to dinner.”

“Hmm. Both of us?”

“Yes. She specifically asked that I come too.”

“Speaking of Harriet, what are you planning for her room?”

“I didn’t have any plans yet,” said Patience.

“Why don’t we make it a guest room? You can move your clothes into my closet. God knows I don’t need all that room.”

“As you wish,” she replied sweetly.

Later Mike hopped in the passenger side of the car and let Patience drive them to Greendale, to Harriet’s house. Patience wore what she referred to as a red bra-top dress, though it didn’t look at all bra-like to Mike, and a pair of matching three and a half inch wedge shoes. Mike wore a pair of tan slacks and a matching pullover shirt which Patience picked out for him. He was quite happy as they made their journey. It was a beautiful day. There wasn’t much traffic. And just having Patience with him seemed to make him happy.

Harriet greeted them with a smile. When Harriet’s husband Jack saw Patience, his mouth fell open.

“Put your tongue and your eyeballs back in your head,” said Mike, as he walked passed him. Then for good measure, Harriet smacked Jack on the back of the head. As he sat down, Mike looked at Patience to see alarm on her face.

“What?” he asked.

“Are you mad at me, Mike?”

“No. Of course not. Why?”

“You were making an angry face.”

“Was I?”

“Yes.”

“Oh. I’m sorry. I was just worrying about something I don’t even need to worry about.”

“I don’t like for you to worry, Mike.” she said. “I want to make all of your worries go away.”

“Thanks.”

Inside, they sat and talked for a while. Harriet, who worked at a dentist’s office, regaled them with stories of bad teeth and bad breath. Then she talked about Jack’s baseball team. He played with a group of men from his office. Finally she started telling them about her gardening. She described in great detail all of the plants that she had recently added to her yard. Mike wasn’t paying too much attention. He tended to zone out. Once Harriet got started on a topic she usually wrestled it to the ground and killed it.

“Get away!” shouted Mike, when one of Harriet’s dogs suddenly stuck its nose in his crotch.

“I know you really like dogs, Daddy,” said Harriet. “You just pretend you don’t.”

“I like dogs fine, when they aren’t sniffing where they shouldn’t be sniffing.”

“They are just curious about you,” she said. “I’m surprised they aren’t sniffing at you, Patience. They don’t seem to even notice you.”

“Hey Harriet,” said Mike. “Didn’t you just say you needed some more potting soil or something?”

“You’ll never know how surprised I am that you heard that much of what I said,” she replied. “But yes, I do.”

“Let’s run over to Lowe’s and get it.”

“Well, I have the quiche halfway done.”

“Patience can finish that up for you,” said Mike, looking at his girlfriend for, and seeing in her face, confirmation. “You and I can run to the store.”

“I thought real men didn’t eat quiche,” said Jack.

“Real men eat whatever the hell they want to eat,” said Mike, managing to keep most of the derision out of his tone.

“Come on Daddy,” said Harriet.

Father and daughter took a quick drive down the block to the neighborhood home improvement store. Mike hadn’t really wanted to help pick out potting soil. What he wanted was more reassurance that his daughter was not bothered by his relationship with a robot. She was very reassuring. She seemed as happy that Patience was in her father’s life as he was. Their conversation on the topic ended just before they reached home again with two forty pound bags of planting soil.

“One more thing Dad,” said Harriet, who only called Mike “Dad” when she was angry or serious. “Try to be nicer to Jack. Don’t talk to him like he’s a moron.”

“Well he is a…”

“It’s his house, Dad.”

“Yeah, all right,” conceded Mike.

Mike tossed the two bags of soil over his shoulder, ignoring the short stabbing pain from his stomach, and followed Harriet through the gate and around the house to the back yard. He tossed the bags down beside the flower bed and dusted the dirt off of his shirt.

“Why don’t you go see if Patience needs any help,” said Harriet. “I want to get these last two Verbena in the ground before dinner.”

“Okay.”

Mike walked in and found Patience standing by the stove and Jack leaning on the counter nearby. Patience gave him the kind of smile most people reserve for someone they thought lost at sea or perhaps for Hunter Tylo when she was carrying an oversized novelty check for ten million dollars from Digital Clearinghouse. There was something shifty in Jack’s expression though. Mike asked what was going on. They both spoke at once.

“Nothing,”

“Jack fondled me.”

The look of shock had not even completely registered on Jack’s face when Mike grabbed him by the shirt collar and dragged him through the kitchen and out the door into the garage. Calling for Patience to stay and finish dinner, he shut the door after him. Jack was beginning to square his shoulders. Mike shoved him back against the wall of the garage.

“Hey, don’t get all jealous,” Jack began. “She’s just a sexbot.”

Mike grabbed Jack’s face in his right hand and slammed it once again into the wall, this time making a large round dent in the unfinished wallboard. He squeezed his fingers together until Jack looked as though he were doing an imitation of a fish.

“You don’t get it!” hissed Mike. “This isn’t about Patience! This is about Harriet! This is about my daughter!”

Jack’s eyes got rounder.

“If you ever hurt my little girl, if you ever cheat on her, I will kill you.”

Once more, Jack’s head slammed against the wall.

“If you want to leave. Tell her. Get a divorce. Now is a good time. There aren’t any kids yet. But if you stick around and then cheat on her, I will kill you.

“I… will… kill… you.” said Mike. “It won’t be quick. It won’t be painless. And you know what? I’ll even get away with it. Look me in the eye. See if you can tell if I’m serious or not.”

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His Robot Girlfriend – Chapter 3 Part 2

Just as he was finally regaining his feet, Mike saw Patience planting some kind of karate kick to his assailant’s neck. The other thug was leaning against a nearby car. It was obvious from the way he was holding himself that she had already dealt him some heavy blows. She was about to hit the second one again when she saw the blood streaming down Mike’s shirt. With a small squeal she rushed toward him. The two would-be robbers took off between the cars as fast as they could.

“That’s right!” yelled Mike. “Run, you pussies!”

“Mike!” gasped Patience. “You’re bleeding!”

“It’s nothing,” said Mike, his eyes starting to roll up into his head. “But I think I’m going to pass out.”

Mike felt Patience guiding him to the ground, so that he wouldn’t bash his head on the pavement.

“Thanks,” he said, as darkness spread across his world. “That’s my girl.”

 

* * * * *

 

“That’s my girl.”

“Yes Daddy, I’m here.”

He opened his eyes and looked up into the concerned face of his daughter Harriet. He was on his back in a hospital room. An I.V. was attached to the back of his right hand. He reached up with his left hand and felt the bandages that covered the left side of his stomach.

“When did you get back?” Mike asked.

“I got home late yesterday,” said Harriet. “Right about the time you decided to take on a couple of desperados. The police said they haven’t caught them yet by the way, though the officer left his card in case you remembered something when you woke up.”

“Call him,” said Mike. “I recognize both of those guys. Carlos Fernandez and Nathan Spencer. They were in my class seven or eight years ago. I think Nathan’s mother still lives down the block from me.”

“Nathan Spencer!” said Harriet, whipping out her phone and stepping toward the door. “I dated his brother! Officer Darling please…”

As Harriet stepped out the door the doctor stepped in to check on Mike. He informed him that he had been operated on the night before– a relatively small amount of damage, all things considering. The knife had only nicked his descending colon. Had Mike not been overweight and possessed of a fairly large amount of belly fat, the knife could easily have caused much more damage, perhaps even death.

“Well at least there is one consolation to being fat,” said Mike.

“On the other hand I’ve seen knife blades turned by a well-toned abdomen,” said the doctor. “And of course there are other benefits to being in good shape.”

“Fine fine,” said Mike.

The doctor left and Harriet returned.

“They’re going to get those little bastards.”

“They weren’t so little,” said Mike. “How did you know I was here, anyway?”

“Your girlfriend called me.”

“Girlfriend?”

“Yes, your girlfriend,” said Harriet. “You do remember her? Patience? Or do you have amnesia.”

“Oh I remember her. I just didn’t realize you knew about her yet.”

“I heard about her yesterday. From my little brother,” assured Harriet. “I was happy to meet her though. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Daffodil before, let alone talked with one. She’s not like other robots I’ve seen.”

“Does it bother you that I got her?”

“You’re a big boy,” said Harriet. “I trust you to make your own decisions.”

“Good. Your disapproval would have bothered me more than anyone else’s.”

“Come on Dad. I know I wasn’t your favorite.”

“Don’t tell Lucas this,” said Mike. “But I’ve always felt like I had more of a connection with you than with him.”

Harriet looked at him strangely for a moment.

“Where is Patience?” asked Mike.

“I sent her home a couple of hours ago to shower and change. I hope she gets some rest too. She looked really tired.”

“She doesn’t get tired. She’s a robot.”

“Maybe,” conceded Harriet. “But she was by your side almost the whole time you were out.”

Harriet stayed with her father for another hour. Then Mike sent her on her way. He hadn’t actually wanted her there at all. He had always been of the opinion that children, even adult children, should not have to see their father in that kind of weakened, compromised condition. The two other times he was admitted to the hospital, he hadn’t allowed any of the kids to visit him.

Mike was served a lunch of soup and some kind of light purple jell-o. By the time he had eaten he was feeling pretty fit. He flipped on the vueTee and tried to find something good to watch, but nothing interested him. Then he saw that a texTee was sitting on the bedside table. It was a newer model than the one he had at home. He turned it on and flipped through the selection of magazines. Time. Electronic Entertainment. National Geographic. Penthouse. And three comic books: Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman. It was as if someone had transferred his own subscriptions to the new device. Then when he selected one of the magazines and watched the image fill the screen, he realized that this was just what had happened. Although Harriet could have compiled that selection, she would have died before buying a Penthouse. Patience had done this for him.

Mike had read all of the comics and was flipping through Time when Patience bounded into the room. She was wearing a black camisole top cut just above her perfect belly button and a pair of very low rise jeans, which together created a truly expansive piece of exposed stomach real estate. The pair of five inch sandal pumps, called Rowenas that she had purchased at the mall made her slender figure look seven feet tall.

When she saw that Mike was awake, she leapt to his side, clasped his face in her hands and kissed him deeply. She climbed into the hospital bed with him, and continued kissing him. When she seemed about to give him a hickey on his neck Mike pushed her head away.

“Hold on,” he said. “I’ll be out of here in a few hours and then we can do that at home.”

“The doctor said that you need to spend another night, Mike.”

Mike’s face immediately turned sour.

“I really hate hospitals. Always have.”

“Don’t worry,” Patience said. “I’ll stay here with you.”

“I didn’t say I was worried. I just don’t like hospitals.”

Patience nestled down in the bed next to him and put her head on his chest.

“I was so worried, Mike,” she said. “I thought for a moment that you were going to die. You were so heroic. I love you so much.”

“Oh, come on,” Mike said. “You were the one who kicked the crap out of the bad guys.”

“Self defense is part of my programming. You didn’t have that advantage and you still went after them.”

“Whatever. Tell me everything that happened after I passed out.”

“When you fell, I used my first aid programming to staunch the flow of blood. Then I used my infiNet connection to call the fire department. Paramedics and an ambulance arrived nine minutes later. The police arrived two minutes after that. While you were being loaded into the ambulance, I made sure that all of our purchases were stowed safely in the trunk, and then drove the car to the hospital. Once here I needed to notify your daughter, because the clerks at the hospital would not accept my signature to begin medical treatment. They said they needed a relative to sign admission papers.”

“And you stayed here until Harriet sent you home.”

“Yes.”

“I’m glad you’re back.”

“I’m glad I’m back too.”

They lay together on the hospital bed for some time not speaking. It was not an awkward silence, but rather a pleasant one. Mike finally broke it.

“I’ve only known you for six days but I already feel like I never want to be without you. I never want you to leave.”

“You will never be without me, Mike,” she said. “I will never leave you.”

Patience lay in the bed with Mike for the rest of the afternoon. He had never been so comfortable sharing such a small bed in his life. They both ignored the disapproving looks they received from the nurse each time she came in to check on him.

“I don’t think they’re going to let you stay the night with me,” Mike said. “Can you go home and sleep?”

“I don’t need to sleep but I have plenty that I can do. Then I can come and take you home tomorrow.”

“Good,” said Mike. “Why don’t you go ahead and go now. They are going to start serving dinner in a few minutes anyway.”

“As you wish, Mike.” She climbed out of bed and bent over, kissing him on the cheek before walking briskly out of the room.

Time without Patience went very slowly. Mike ate the soup, toast, and pudding that made up his dinner. He watched Animal Olympics on vueTee, the only thing even remotely interesting. He even took a little nap, though it was hard with the nurses talking right outside his door. Loudly. Without any concern for someone trying to sleep.

The next morning Mike got up and dressed in one of the new outfits that Patience had picked out for him at the mall– a twill jacket and matching pleated pants with a mustard colored tie. Then he had to wait an interminable amount of time to be discharged. If Patience hadn’t arrived when she did, he would have thrown a fit. But with her there nothing seemed to be that bad. At last an orderly arrived with a wheelchair and rolled him out the front door. Once outside, Mike got up and walked to the car. But he let Patience drive him home. As they drove, Mike watched Patience, marveling at her motoring skill. Then he noticed something else.

“You have earrings! I mean you have pierced ears and earrings.”

“That’s right, Mike. I was able to get them done last night at Electronics City.”

He looked carefully at the right ear, the only one visible. Her lobe was pierced twice and there was a small stud at the top of her ear through the cartilage—plastic, he corrected himself.

“I didn’t know you wanted three holes.”

“I have four in the other ear,” said Patience. “I noticed signs of sexual arousal when I approached the subject.”

“In who?”

“You.”

“You did? Well, yes.” Mike cleared his throat and took a scholarly tone. “Ours, like most civilizations, uses pierced ears to signal sexual availability.”

“But I saw little babies with their ears pierced.”

“Yeah, I know. That’s revolting.”

When they reached the house, Patience came around and opened the door for him. Together they went inside. Mike was struck at how perfectly clean the place was. It had been vacuumed, dusted, and he noticed that even the bookcases had been organized according to the Library of Congress system.

“This house looks great,” he said.

“Thank you.” Patience beamed. She led him to the couch and kissed him. They made love right there in the living room, Mike noticing only afterwards that the window glass was set to transparent. He relaxed afterwards and was just beginning to doze off when Patience returned to summon him to dinner in the dining room. She had set the table for one, with a lit candle as the centerpiece. Then she sat down across from him as he ate. She had prepared red pepper halibut and for dessert– cannoli. The dinner was delicious.

“Can I ask you about some of the things I found in Harriet’s old room?” asked Patience.

“Sure.”

“I found approximately four thousand three hundred comic books, and several hundred old paper books.”

“Yes. Those are mostly from my teen years. I was going to try and sell them on eBay, along with the old books I have boxed away in there. They don’t make them anymore, you know. So they should be worth something. But it’s a lot of work.”

“Very good,” she said. “I also found six boxes of pictures and associated memorabilia.”

“That’s all the family souvenirs. Tiffany started making scrapbooks a few years before she died, scanning that stuff in to go along with the pictures on the vueTee. But she only managed to complete a couple. I thought about making some myself, but it just takes so much time. I’m not really into it anyway. Maybe I will just give it all to Harriet.

“Would you mind if I sorted through all of these things, Mike?”

“Of course not. You are my girlfriend after all. Just take good care of the scrapbook stuff.”

“I will take good care of all of it,” said Patience. “Except the old books and comic books, which I will sell for you.”

Mike spent the remainder of the evening with his feet up, in his recliner watching Star Trek: Engineering Corps. He had purchased it a week before but hadn’t had a chance to play it. When he was done he brushed and flossed his teeth. Then Patience changed his bandage for him and tucked him into bed. Then she turned out the lights, and lay down next to him until he had fallen asleep. That was precisely11:02

His Robot Girlfriend – Chapter Three, Part One

Chapter Three

Thursday and Friday were exam days at school.  That meant that for the students both days were half days of strenuous testing, with free afternoons to recover.  For the teachers, the mornings were a scramble to get fourth quarter grades completed, and the afternoons were a scramble to grade tests, all the while attempting to get the classroom stowed for the coming summer months.  In the evenings, after a workout at the health club, Mike would enjoy delicious dinners and relaxing evenings of watching movies on vueTee.  On Saturday morning, Mike woke with the realization that not only did he not have to return to work that day, but that the school year was essentially over. Only Monday remained to finish make-up exams, clean up the classroom, and sign out for the year.

Climbing into his recliner, Mike went through Friday’s mail as he watched cooking shows on vueTee.  There were a couple of bills and a handful of ad flyers.  At the bottom of the stack was a white envelope that felt abnormally thick.  He opened it up to find a matching set of Visa cards—one in his name and one with the name Patience D. Smith.

“Patience!”

She came in through the kitchen from the garage, covered in dust and dirt, but was otherwise completely naked.  As she smiled at him from the doorway, he felt himself aroused.

“How come you’re nude?”

“I didn’t want to get my clothes dirty while I worked.”

“Okay.  How come we have new bank cards?”

“I thought we might need them, at least in the short term.  It is going to be a few weeks before I can earn some extra money, and I don’t want to spend all your savings.”

“You’re creating more questions than you’re answering,” he said.  “How are you planning to make money?”

“I’m selling a great many things on eBay.  Then I will take that money and invest it.”

“I know I have a lot of junk around here.  Just make sure you don’t sell anything I want to keep.  I know you should have more clothes.”

“The money is not for my clothes,” said Patience.  “It is for yours.”

“Clothes for me?”

“Yes.”

“Hmm.  Yes, I suppose that is a good idea.  I don’t want to look like such an old fart if I have such a beautiful, hot young woman on my arm.  Why don’t we go ahead and do some shopping at the mall today?”

Patience beamed.

“So what is this name?”  He held up the Visa card.  “You’re not my wife.  You’re just my… well, I guess you’re my girlfriend.”

Patience leaped across the room and jumped into Mike’s lap.  She planted her full lips on his and kissed him, then pulled back and smiled.

“I’m your girlfriend?”

“Sure.”

She kissed him again.  This was all the motivation that he needed.  He pushed her up out of his lap, stood up, and then took her by the hand. He led her upstairs to the bedroom, where they spent the next half-hour, though Patience would not get on the bed until she had washed the dirt and dust off of her synthetic skin.  Afterwards, Mike got up and went to the bathroom. Just as he was washing his hands, he heard his phone ring on the nightstand, and Patience answering it.

“Hello.”

Her eyes flashed at Mike as he reentered the room and she said. “Yes, Mike is here.  May I ask who is calling?  This is his girlfriend.”

She stopped and listened for a moment.  Then she said. “Just a moment,” and handed the receiver to him.

“It’s Lucas,” she said.

Mike grabbed the phone.  “How is my son the general?”

“Don’t start all that,” said the voice at the other end.  “Tell me all about this lady.”

“Well…”

“Tell me.  I think it’s great you’ve got a girlfriend, Dad.  She sounds young.”

“Umm.  She’s a Daffodil.”

“A what?  A robot? Huh.”

“What do you mean ‘huh’?”

“I don’t know.  She didn’t sound like a robot.”

“She doesn’t look like one either,” said Mike.  “I keep forgetting that she is one.”

“Well, I guess it’s all good,” said Lucas.  “Everybody’s getting one.  I’m just glad you have someone to take care of you.  Can I tell Harriet?”

“No!  I don’t know what she’s going to say about it.  I’ll tell her when she gets back from her trip.”

“All right Dad.  Take care of yourself.  I love you.”

Mike hung up the phone.  “He’s calling Harriet right now.”

“Which bedroom belonged to Lucas?” asked Patience, in the car on the way to the mall.

“The one on the northwest corner.  Since we’ve been exercising, I’m thinking that we could make it into an exercise room.  The room on the northeast corner, on the other side of the stairway was Harriet’s. I don’t know what I’m going to do with it.  I wanted to turn the south bedroom into a study.  I keep thinking I might sit down and write a book about all the goofy things the kids at school do.  So far though, it’s just become a trap for all the crap in the house—kind of like the garage.

It was an hour long drive to the mall, because the closest good one was in the nearby city of Pico Mundo.  Patience spent the entire drive holding onto Mike’s arm with both hands, and pressing her face onto his shoulder.  At the mall, the two entered by the food court.  Mike bought a smoothie, and they began to circumnavigate the mall, stopping at each clothing store to see what was available for either of them.  Mike let Patience make all the style decisions.

“I would like to get my ears pierced,” said Patience, as they stopped in front of a jewelry store.

“Are you sure that you want to?” wondered Mike.  “Your holes won’t grow closed if you change your mind, will they?”

“No.  But would you like it if I had my ears pierced?”

“Yes, I think I would.”

When they went into the store however, they were turned out.

“Humans only,” said the woman behind the counter.  This made Patience pout, which in turn, made Mike smile.

They had quite a load of shopping bags, by the time they made their final stop at the lingerie store.  Mike sat down and waited while Patience gathered her selections and then stepped back into the changing booth.  She stepped out again and again to show off tiny lacy bras, thongs, and some very hot little lacy things called tangas, as well as garter belt ensembles.  With her perfect body, her chiseled features, and bright eyes, Mike thought she put to shame the giant photos of the models wearing the same things plastered across the wall of the shop.  By the time that she was done, a sizable audience of men, some ignoring the women that they had come in with, were gathered around to watch.

Mike decided that it was time to head home.  Gathering all of the items that Patience had tried on, he sat them next to the register and, when the clerk had finished ringing everything, he paid for them.  Both smiling, they made their way out of the mall and into the parking lot.  The sun was going down.  They had spent the entire day shopping, and had spent almost four thousand dollars.

“I don’t think I’ve ever spent that much on clothes in a year, let alone a single day,” said Mike.

They reached the car and opened the trunk to put away all of their packages. Then Mike heard a voice behind him.

“Give us the packages and your wallet.”

Mike dropped the shopping bags and spun around.  Two men, both in their early twenties stood there.  One was white, the other Hispanic.  They both had shaved heads and they both carried butterfly knives.

“Maybe we’ll have some fun with your little girl too,” said the closest one.

Mike snapped into action.  He dived at the punk who had spoken last, hitting him square in the chest.  They both went down onto the pavement.  As they did, Mike felt the knife blade penetrate his stomach.  The punk hit his head hard on the pavement but he still managed to push Mike off of him.  He was already on his feet while Mike was still rolling around on the parking lot.

His Robot Girlfriend – Chapter Two, Part Three

“I also spent $661.57 on groceries.”

“Oh well, I’m sure we needed it, but that doesn’t sound like much food.”

“It will be more than enough for now,” said Patience.  “Would you like an afternoon snack?”

“Sure.”

Patience brought out a small plate with slices of fruit and cheese.  Mike ate it all.

“Is there more?”

“Save room for dinner,” Patience called from the kitchen.  “You shouldn’t be too full anyway.  I don’t want you to get a stomach ache today at the gym.”

“Gym?”

“Yes,” she said, rejoining him in the family room and curling up to sit on the floor by his feet.  “We will go right after the news.”

They sat and watched first the local and then the national news. Patience rested her head on his knee and he ran his fingers through her thick black hair.  It felt like real hair—like real human hair.  She wrapped her left arm around his calves.  Going to the gym was probably a good idea, he decided.  If he was going to keep up with her, he really needed to get into shape.

At six o’clock, Patience left the room.  She returned a few minutes later wearing sandals and her little jersey dress. She brought Mike a pair of shorts that he hadn’t seen in so long he almost didn’t recognize them, along with a sweatshirt.  He changed into them, and then they climbed into the car and drove four miles to the Club One Fitness Center.

“I don’t have a membership,” said Mike.

“I signed you up on vueTee.  The first month is free.”

“I think we need hydrogen.” he said, looking at the fuel gauge.

“Are you trying to prevent our trip to the gym?”

“No, of course not.  We just need, you know…some hydrogen.”

“We aren’t going very far,” said Patience.  “We have more than enough to last until tomorrow.”

“What if you get hungry?”

Patience shot him a look.

“We still have enough money to buy hydrogen, don’t we?”  Mike asked.

“We should use your Praxair-Aramco credit account.”

“Is that account still good?  I haven’t used it in a long time.”

Patience nodded.

At the fitness club a blond girl, with the right side of her hair dyed black, stood chewing gum.  Mike gave her his name and she pulled out a dedicated texTee for him.  It was set up with forms for him to fill out, as well as spaces for him to keep track of his workouts and progress.  As he took it from her, she looked at him.

“Didn’t you used to teach at Midland?”

“Yes,” Mike replied, not adding that he still did.

“I think I was in your class,” the girl said.  “That was a long, long time ago.”

Mike just nodded his head.

“Is this your daughter?” asked the cashier, indicating Patience.

“No…” said Mike.  “She’s a friend.”

The counter girl’s mouth made a little O.  “She’s a robot, eh?  You can hardly tell.”

Mike just took the texTee to a nearby chair and began to enter the information with the keypad.  Patience sat down next to him.

“Well that’s it,” said Mike.  “It’s always going to be like that.  It’s always going to be weird.”

Patience looked at him uncomprehendingly.

“Nobody will ever believe that a fat old man like me could ever meet a woman like you.  They’ll immediately realize what you are and say “oh well, there you go, he had to buy himself a robot, cause no one else would have him.”  Patience stuck out her lip.

“I’m sorry.  I know you’re more than a robot.  You’re a Daffodil.”

“It’s not that,” she replied.  “I don’t want to hear you talk about yourself in a negative way.  I wouldn’t allow it from anyone else, and I don’t want to hear it from you.”

“Yeah, okay.  Whatever. I need to find a trainer.”  Mike changed the subject.

“No.  I will be your trainer.”

Patience proved that she was as adept as a physical fitness trainer as she was at anything else.  She put him to work doing a minimal number of machine exercises and had him spend most of his time walking around and around on the oval track.  She walked right along with him, encouraging him to keep up the pace.  Though she wasn’t really dressed for the track, she did look like a young woman out to have a little fun.  She bounced along with the gate of a teenager, giving him a grin whenever she noticed him looking at her.

When they returned home, Mike was exhausted and took a nap.  When he got up he took a long hot shower.  By the time he returned down stairs, dressed, Patience had set the dining room table for him.  The Caesar salad, lightly breaded orange roughy, and garlic new potatoes were all perfect.  For desert, she made a satin chocolate tart.  Mike had eaten many good meals, but he had to admit he was impressed.  He didn’t think he had ever had anything that good outside of a cruise ship or a fine restaurant.  When he said so, Patience smiled sweetly.  Afterwards, Mike watched vueTee, while Patience cleaned up the dinner dishes.

Mike thought he would be too tired for sex that night, but the exercise actually added to his vigor.  He felt as though he performed like a twenty year old.  When he commented as much, Patience agreed with him, though this ended up irking him, as the more he thought about it, the more he was sure that it wasn’t true.

“Are you going to get up and do housework all night?” he asked her as she lay next to him.

“What would you like me to do?”

“Why don’t you spend the night with me?  I know you don’t need to sleep, but I think it would be great.”

Patience smiled at him.  “All right.”

Mike woke up several times during the night though.  He wasn’t used to sleeping with someone else in his bed and the center part of Patience’s body was warmer than he expected.  She was also always awake, as Mike had known she would be, and since she didn’t need to be there and it wasn’t all that comfortable for him, the whole thing just seemed a waste.

“You can go ahead and get up if you want to,” he said, at last.

“Thank you, Mike.  I would like to begin cleaning the garage.”

His Robot Girlfriend – Chapter Two, Part One

Chapter Two

The next day was so busy that there were times when Mike forgot about Patience, at least for a moment or two.  That was saying something, because it had been an eventful night.  They had talked for a while, Patience quizzing him on his likes and dislikes, though in retrospect it seemed scant enough information for any kind of detailed profile.  Then she had given him a massage and they had gone to bed.  The sex had been pretty incredible.  It wasn’t like he thought it would be.  She didn’t feel cold or plastic, though some places were warmer and some were cooler.  She felt squishy in all the right spots—firm in the right spots too.  She seemed to know what he wanted before he knew that he wanted it.  Afterwards, he had fallen asleep, waking up once during the night to find her looking through his closet.

In the morning, she had served him breakfast in bed—cereal and milk, toast and grape jelly, and orange juice, which was about all the breakfast food he had in the house.  When he had taken a shower, she had been there waiting as he had come out with a clean, dry towel.  Though he usually didn’t allow for any extra time in the morning, and eating breakfast had taken up enough time that he actually had to hurry, he still took a moment to notice that she had been cleaning during the night.  She had picked up all the dirty clothes off the bedroom floor and the bathroom had been cleaned.  Who knows what else she had done that he hadn’t noticed.

“Turn your texTees to Our Worldpage 1056,” Mike told the class.  “The ten review questions on this page will be the first ten questions of your final exam the day after tomorrow.  Look up the answers you don’t know at this time.”

Two hands went up.

“What is it, Curtis?”

“I don’t have my texTee.”

“Is that your problem too Mabel?  You don’t have your texTee?

The dark haired girl two seats behind Curtis nodded her head.

“Why even bother to show up without your texTee?  You know it’s review day.  Why are you even here?”

“My mother makes me come,” said Mabel.

“It’s not my fault,” said Curtis.  “I left it at my dad’s girlfriend’s house.”

“I would be willing to bet that you have your phone with you though,” said Mike. “Get one of the classroom texTees out of the cabinet.”

“Whatever.” said Mabel.

As the two students retrieved the reading devices, these particular ones covered across the top with bright red reflective tape, there was a knock at the outside door.  The classroom had an inside door which led to the hallway and the rest of the school and an outside door which faced a small lawn and the back of the adjacent power plant. Peering in through the metal mesh that covered the tiny window in the outside door was Patience.

“I brought you lunch Mike,” she said when he opened the door a few inches. Patience was wearing the black and white polka dotted dress.

“I usually eat in the lunch room.”

“Here.”  She pushed a soft-sided grey lunch box with the word Thermos on the side toward him.

“Where did you get this?”

“It was in the cabinet.”

“It was?”

She nodded.  Then she turned and walked back across the lawn.  Mike could see the blackened soles of her bare feet as she walked away.

“Who was that?” asked several students as he closed the door.

“Was that your daughter?” asked Mabel.

“Um, no.  Let’s get focused on our review questions.”

At lunch time Mike unpacked the lunchbox.  There was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, an apple cut into slices and bagged, a small container of a white semi-gelatinous substance that turned out to be vanilla pudding, a single large sugar cookie, and a diet Pepsi with a chemical cold-pack wrapped around it.

“That’s a nice lunch,” said Miss Treewise from across the table.

“Mm-hmm,” Mike nodded.

“Somebody must like you,” said Mrs. Cartwright.

Mike shrugged.

When he got home, Mike found Patience waiting at the door.  She looked pretty and pleasant and on impulse, he leaned over and kissed her on the mouth.

“That was a nice kiss, Mike.  Is that the kind of kiss you would like me to greet you with often?”

“Wow.  I almost forgot for a moment that you were a robot.”  He looked down.  “Hey, you’re wearing shoes.”

Patience lifted one up behind her, taking a kind of Betty Boop pose.  On her feet were black shoes with large white bows just above the open toe.  They had a half-inch thick platform sole in the front and a four inch square heel in the back.

“Do you like them?  They’re called Peeptoe Platforms.”

“Yes, they’re fine.  But where did you get them?”

“After I dropped lunch off to you I went to the store.”

“You walked to the store?  That’s too far, especially in bare feet.  And the ground is hot.”

“I did not mind,” she smiled.  “Would you like a shoulder rub, Mike?”

“Sure.”

She guided him to a chair that she had apparently brought in from the dining room and set along the west wall of the living room in front of the window. Once he had sat down, she stepped behind him and began rubbing his shoulders.

“How did you pay for them… the shoes, I mean?” he asked.

“I took the cash card out of your wallet this morning before you left for school.”

“They’re not supposed to let you use that unless it’s yours.  And besides, you should have asked first.”

“The stores never check, and I did ask.  You said that I should select and purchase my own wardrobe.”

“Yes, but I’m not sure I can afford that right now.  I don’t get paid until the tenth.  I’m not sure how much money I have in my accounts right now.”

“We have $2261.43 in account 116211130782-2 checking, $31021.69 in account 116211130782-1 savings, and $42.11 in the payNEtime account.”

“Wow.  That’s more than I thought I had… I mean we had.”

She turned him back around and began rubbing his shoulders again.  “I have ordered my own cash card, in any case.”

“You did?  Wait. How did you know all that?”

“Last night I accessed all your financial data.”

“You what?”  He turned back around to look at her.

“It is part of the secondary setup procedure.”

“What else did you do?” he wondered.

“I accessed your vueTee and browser files, read all of the books and magazines on your texTee, and all of your paper books too.  I looked through your photo albums, ran your credit report, and googled you.”

“Is that all part of the secondary setup procedure?” he frowned.

She nodded with an innocent look on her face and turned him back around to continue with the shoulder rub.  When she was done he moved to his recliner and flipped on the vueTee, while Patience brought him a diet Pepsi.  Although he usually drank them from the can, she had poured it into a tall glass over ice.

“Did you buy ice at the store too?”

“No, Mike.  I made it in the freezer.”

“You can do that?”

She nodded.  “Did you want to talk about your day at work, Mike?”

“Not really,” he said.  “If you don’t mind, I’d just like to watch vueTee for a while.”

“That’s fine, Mike.  The Star Trekepisode Let That Be Your Last Battlefieldis on channel twenty-seven.”

“Is that the one where Frank Gorshin is black on the left side and white on the right side?”

“He is black on the right side,” said Patience. “All of his people are black on the right side.”

His Robot Girlfriend – Chapter One, Part Three

Having gotten used to looking through the women’s clothing, Mike’s discomfort returned when he moved into the lingerie section, the two dresses draped over his arm.  There were counters and counters of underwear and bras.  If choosing the correct pair of jeans was difficult, then choosing the proper size and type of bra would be insurmountable.   The Daffodil didn’t really seem like she needed one, at least not from a purely functional perspective, though some women liked to wear them anyway.  Moving on to the panties, Mike found a dizzying array of sizes, types, and styles. Then he saw some tiny, skimpy, little things called Smart and Sexy thongs.  He didn’t know about smart, but they were definitely sexy, little more than triangular pieces of lace with elastic bands.  They came in bags of three—tiny little lace bags.  Mike bought a set in blue.

At the checkout stand, Mike realized that he was hungry.  He grabbed a Payday candy bar.  The matronly looking Gizmo Servbot gave him his total: $148.17. He drove back home and raced inside with his purchases, but there was no hurry.  The Daffodil hadn’t moved.  It was only 5:01.  Looking at the robot, Mike appreciated her sheer physical beauty like he hadn’t before. He pulled the two dresses out of the bag and held them up in front of her, one after the other.  Though they had seemed incredibly tiny in the store, they now looked as though they would fit her and might even be a bit on the large side.  Draping them over the arm of the couch, he took the Walmart bag to the kitchen and stuffed it into the recycler.  This made him think about everything else that was lying around the house.  He had company now, sort of, and he felt an urge to clean up.

Starting in the living room, Mike began cleaning.  It didn’t take much, since he hardly used the room at all.  He picked up the packing peanuts and dropped them into the recycler, folded up the Daffodil box and put it in the compactor, and then he moved on to the foyer.  He swept the tiles and straitened the several pairs of shoes by the door. Then he moved on to the family room. This room, though fairly large, was crammed full of old furniture, including the recliner, sofa, two end tables and a coffee table, three bookcases, the entertainment center, and the piano.  Most of the furniture and a good bit of the floor were covered with cast-off items as well.  Books, obsolete but not quite completely replaced by the texTee were everywhere, as were small piles of junk mail, interlaced with an occasional bill, and stacks of dirty dishes.  Mike got to work, picking things up and putting them away until the room looked about as good as it ever had.

He stopped to make himself a supper of a deviled ham sandwich, which he ate along with a diet Pepsi and a handful of potato chips.  He stood in the dining room, chewing and looking through the passage at the shapely form of the Daffodil still standing naked where he had left her.  When he finished eating, he started wiping down the kitchen counters.  He had them nice and clean by the time eight o’clock rolled around and Gunsmoke came on.  He went back to his recliner, which had long ago conformed to his shape. Just as the story was getting interesting, his phone rang.  It was Harriet calling to see if he was all right.  He assured her he was.  When he closed the connection and put the phone back in his pocket, the vueTee went to a commercial.  Mike turned around and then jumped in his seat.  The Daffodil was standing behind him, looking at him from the arch between the family room and living room.

“The primary setup procedure is complete,” she said.  “The secondary setup procedure requires approximately thirty-six hours.  During this period, I your Daffodil, will be capable of other activities.”

“What did you do?” asked Mike.  “In your primary setup, I mean?”

“There are one thousand sixty seven individual tasks accomplished during the primary setup procedure, the most important of which are the initialization of the BioSoft operating system, registration of the InfiNet connection, and charging of the Honda X88 fuel cell.”

“Well, that’s good.  Oh. There are some clothes for you in the living room.”  He pointed over her shoulder.

She turned around and walked into the living room.  Mike followed.  She picked up the two dresses and held them in front of her one after the other, smiling.

“I wasn’t sure what size you wore, um, Patience.  That’s what I decided to name you by the way—Patience.”

“Patience,” she said slowly.  “The capacity, habit, or fact of being patient.  Patient: bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint; manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain; not hasty or impetuous; steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity.  That is a very good name.  What should I call you?”

Though both Mr. Smith and Master flashed through his mind, he said “Mike”.

“You are named for the Archangel Michael, who is like unto God.”

“I think I must be named after my uncle Mike, who is like unto, um, my grandfather.”

“In answer to your unasked query, I will usually wear 3/4 or 5/6 U.S. miss sizes. Which dress would you like me to wear, Mike?”

“I think the blue one.  It matches your underwear which is still in the bag there.”

“May I use the bathroom to wash up and get dressed, Mike?”

“Um, yes.  You don’t need to say my name every time.”

“During the secondary setup procedure, I will be adjusting my diction and vocabulary so that I am better able to communicate with you, Mike.”

“I see.”

“Which way is the bathroom, Mike?”

Mike pointed.  “There’s the little… I call it the privy… on the other side of the kitchen, or you can go upstairs, because this one doesn’t have a shower or anything.”

The Daffodil went through the kitchen, toward the privy.  Mike turned off the vueTee, and then sat waiting for her to return. It was growing dark out and both end table lamps automatically clicked on.  She didn’t keep him waiting long.  When she returned, he marveled at how real, how human she looked.  She was dressed, and the plastic over her hair was gone.  Her hair was long and straight and black, and cut with bangs across her forehead.  She stepped to the center of the room and twirled around, then bounced up and down twice on her tip-toes.  This made her look really young.

“Shit.  I forgot to buy you any shoes,” he said.

“That is all right,” she smiled.  “I can choose and purchase my own wardrobe if you like.”

“Yes, that would be good.  But you have a limited budget.  I don’t have that much in the bank, and I spent all my payNEtime money on… well, on you.”

“I understand, Mike.  I won’t spend any money until I am sure of our finances.”

“Our finances?”  Mike remembered the orange-haired lady and how her Daffodil paid her bills for her. “Are you going to be my secretary too?”

“I will be anything and everything you want me to be,” she said.  “It is after nine o’clock.  Have you eaten dinner, Mike?”

“I had a sandwich.”

“Are you still hungry, Mike?  Would you like dessert?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Then may we sit a talk for a few minutes?”  She made her way around the coffee table and sat down on the couch. “What time is your bedtime, Mike?”

“Um, I usually go to bed about eleven.”

“And what time do you usually get up, Mike?”

“I get up at six twenty.”

“That is not enough sleep, Mike.  You should go to bed at 10:05.”

“I have a hard time getting to sleep that early.  I have to take Sleepova anyway.”

“I will help you, Mike.”  She smiled sweetly.  “This is a very nice dress, Mike.  Is this the type of dress you would like to see me wear often?”

“Sure.  Um, I would like to see you in different clothes too.  Isn’t that what most people want?  You are kind of like a big Barbie doll.”

“Would you say you preferred me to dress demurely or provocatively or somewhere in the middle, Mike?”

“Provocatively… sexy but appropriate.  I’m a middle school teacher.  I don’t want you to get me arrested, or worse, fired… although one would probably lead to the other.”

“These are very nice underwear, Mike.  Is this the type of underwear you would like to see me wear often?”

“Absolutely,” Mike said.  “Whenever you wear underwear, they should be sexy.  That’s why you’re here.”

“Sexual congress?”  She looked at him wide-eyed, without the least hint of embarrassment.  Well, she wouldn’t be embarrassed, would she?  She was a robot.  It was hard, looking at her, to think of her as anything but a real person.

“Yes, well, not just for that.  I’m tired of being single.  But…I’m fifty years old.  It’s hard to find somebody at my age, and let’s be frank—I’m nobody’s idea of a catch. I guess with you I don’t have to be though, do I?   And I don’t want another wife anyway.  I want you to be my companion, you know, in all the ways that another person would be a companion.  You can do that, right?”

“That is right,” said Patience.  “I can be anything and everything you want me to be.”

His Robot Girlfriend – Chapter 1 Part 2

When he was done eating, Mike looked around.  He really needed to clean up the house he decided.  He would get up and clean for a half hour.  He could manage a half hour.  By the time he had emptied and then refilled the dishwasher and emptied the trash compacter though, he didn’t feel like continuing, even though only fourteen minutes had passed.  He sat back down watched more vueTee, dozing off after a while and waking up just in time for Deal of the Century.  Then came Rat Race and then Pajama Party.  He opened a can of soup for dinner and went to bed after Saturday Night Live.

Mike woke up just after five with a splitting headache.  The bed was cold, not surprising considering he had left on both the oscillating fan and the auxiliary air conditioner.  He got up and turned off one and then walked downstairs to the family room to turn off the other.  Stopping for a moment, he reached up and touched the vueTee screen, turning it on.  An infomercial for the all-in-one electronic device charger blared to life, but he sat down and grabbed the remote, thumbing back to the browser and examining the Daffodil page once more.  With a sudden sense of purpose he zipped through the custom design pages, changing most of the settings that had been there since he had first looked it over. He didn’t know why he made most of the changes that he did.  It was as if something unseen and unknown inside him compelled him to do it.  With a slightly hesitant hand, he pressed the Buy Now button.  $27,499.00. Then he went back to bed.

It was more than five weeks later, May 31st, when the package arrived.  In the interim, life had gone on much as it had for the past several years.  Each weekday, Mike tried to teach World Geography to the dullards that passed for eighth grade students in Midland Middle School, after which he came home and vegetated the evening away.  On the weekends, he skipped the first part and simply vegetated.  One night, the Saturday before last, he had dinner with Harriet and Jack.  Every day he looked forward to the change that was coming.  Even if the Daffodil never lived up to the hype, even if it was just an overpriced Gizmo Maidbot, it would be an improvement.  It would pick up the laundry that had covered the floor for a month, vacuum the carpet that hadn’t been vacuumed in two months, clean the bathrooms that hadn’t been cleaned since Tiffany’s funeral, and maybe dust the things that hadn’t been dusted… well, ever.

Mike was annoyed that the box was just sitting on the step when he got home. Something that expensive, he should have had to sign for.  Somebody could have just carried it off.  But they hadn’t.  It was here. The box looked impossibly small—only about thirty inches on each side.  It was silver with a large yellow daffodil only partially obscured by the shipping label.  Unlocking and then opening the front door, he picked up the box and brought it inside. It was heavy but not too heavy to lift. He set it down first in the foyer, but once he had shut and locked the front door, he carried it into the center of the living room floor.  He went to the kitchen and returned with a chef knife.  Carefully sliding the blade through the packing tape, he cut along each edge and then across the top seam.

Folding back the two flaps of the box lid, Mike looked down to find it filled with packing peanuts.  Brushing some of them out of the way, he almost immediately found a patch of smooth white skin.  It was remarkably real looking—pearlescent on the surface and kind of peachy pink beneath, but not a single blemish or mole or hair upon it.  Mike brushed more packing peanuts out onto the floor and uncovered more skin, and then plastic with black hair inside.  Finally, setting the knife on the coffee table, he tipped the box over, dumping the contents into the center of the floor.  White packing went everywhere.  The Daffodil rolled out and came to rest on its side, facing away from him.  It was curled up tightly into a ball.

At first, Mike thought he must have ordered the wrong robot.  Curled up as it was, it looked like a child.  He just stared at it for a moment; at its naked back and buttocks and its black hair wrapped up in plastic.  Finally he kicked around through the packing peanuts. There didn’t seem to be a manual—just a single sheet of paper marked Quick Setup.  He picked it up and looked at it.  There were two pictures and no words.  The first picture showed line drawing of the back of a human-looking neck, except that the neck had three round holes in it and below them a button. The second picture showed the button being pushed by a line-drawn finger.  Next to the button and the finger were the numerals 1, 2, 3.  Bending down, Mike lifted up the plastic wrapped hair and examined the Daffodil’s neck.  There were the three holes and there was the button.  He pressed it and counted aloud “one, two, three.”  Then he let go.

For a moment nothing happened.  Then the Daffodil tilted its head and unarched its back.  It unwrapped its arms from around its knees and stretched out its legs.  Rolling over onto its stomach and then placing both palms on the floor,  it rose in a push-up form, and then putting its left foot beneath it and then its right, stood up, coming to attention.

“Please wait,” she said, and it was at this moment, that for Mike, it became a she.

The Daffodil could no longer be an it.  It was obviously not an it.  And it was obviously not a child.  Once upright, she was tall, maybe five foot seven.  Mike examined her carefully.  Though her hair was covered with a clear plastic cap, he could see it was jet black. It matched two dark, carefully arched eyebrows and a set of long eyelashes.  She had no other body hair.  Her face could best be described as cute, with large blue eyes, a button nose, and thick voluptuous lips.  She had the kind of slender and yet curvy body that was just not possible on a real woman.  Breasts the size of apples just kind of floated there above a perfectly flat stomach. Mike tilted his head down.  She looked anatomically complete.

“You are Michael Winston Smith?”

“Huh?”

“You are Michael Winston Smith?”  She was looking at him.  Her eyes seemed very life-like.

“Uh… yes.”

“I am Daffodil serial number 55277-PFN-001-XGN-F0103.  My software is up to date.”

“Good.”

“The primary setup procedure requires approximately six hours.  During this period, I your Daffodil, will be unavailable for other activities.  It is recommended that during this time period you make a few basic decisions. What initial duties do you wish me to have?  What clothing, if any, do you wish me to wear?  What name would you like me to answer to?”

Mike looked at the clock on the wall.  It was 3:20 PM.  He counted off six hours on his fingers—9:20.  Sitting down on the white sofa that was almost never used, he looked at the shapely nude robot.  With a wry smile, he realized that he could sit and stare at it for the next six hours, or he could get up and do something.  He went back to the family room, picked up the texTee, and flipped open Moby Dick, but he didn’t read any more of it.  Instead he pressed the icon for the bookstore and typed in “names”. The titles of half a dozen books appeared including The Name Book, The Secret Universe of Names, and The Baby Name Wizard.  He selected the last book of the six: Virtue Names.  It took about twenty seconds for the book to download to the texTee. Looking back to the screen, Mike turned to the first page of the name book.  The first name was Agape.  Agape? The book said that it had something to do with God’s love, but all Mike could think of was “hanging loosely open”. That was not a particularly desirable trait.  He picked a page at random.  Patience. Now that was a trait he could appreciate.  But the book said it was pronounced Pay-shuns.  That wasn’t right.  Paish-ence. Mike had always appreciated those names, mostly associated in his mind with the ninetieth century, that illustrated the supposed virtues—Faith, Hope, Chastity—but he hadn’t considered Patience until now.

He set the texTee back down and walked to the living room to look at the Daffodil.  Did she look like a Patience?  Close enough, he decided.  Now what? He looked back at the clock.  It was 3:33.  What else did she say?  Clothing. He felt his pants pockets.  He still had his keys and wallet.  He slipped out the door, locking it behind him and jumped back in the car.

Walmart was right around the corner and it took him less than five minutes to get there and park his car.  He felt more than a little self-conscious, venturing into the women’s apparel department, but it turned out that he was one of more than a dozen men there.  Most were just standing around, waiting for their women to finish trying something on in the fitting rooms, though a few were actively shopping.  Mike made his way through the racks of ugly old-lady dresses until he found the clothing that young women seemed to prefer.  The Daffodil looked like she might be in her early twenties.  The first racks held blue jeans, but there was no way that he would be able to figure out the right size.  Then he found several racks of dresses that seemed appropriate.  He picked out a cute little one with blue flowers on it, then a white dress with large black polka dots.  The smallest size on the rack was a three/four, and it looked pretty small, so he picked out a size five/six for each dress.