Sunday morning, Mike picked up his posters from Wal-Mart. He was particularly pleased with how they turned out. Patience looked both cute and sexy and, since she wasn’t staring into the camera lens, human. More importantly, it was one of the few pictures of him taken in the last ten years, in which he thought he looked good. He was in better shape now than he had ever been in his life, but age and his previous obesity had left him with he thought, a bit too much skin on his neck. Taking the posters into the garage, he attached them to four foot long stakes that he had made earlier by slicing up a stray 1×8 board with his table saw.
Taking one of his home-made signs out front, he hammered it into the ground in Patience’s flower bed, right between two dimples in the earth that marked a pair of her recently planted tulip bulbs. Smiling at his handiwork, he turned toward the front door.
No sooner had he stepped away than the yardbot started attacking the signpost. Mike reached down and pressed the “learn” button. The tiny robot spun around three times and then headed off toward a dandelion. Mike went back in the garage and put the rest of the signs in the trunk of his car.
Inside the house, he grabbed his texTee and examined the local news headlines. There had been a massive protest in Greendale on Friday, though Mike was glad to see that it had nothing to do with Proposition 22. The rally, which according to the Metro Daily News had turned into nothing less than a riot, damaging two storefronts and six cars, was over Proposition 39, which extended the California voting age to twelve year olds. The protestors, or rioters if you believed the Daily News as Mike almost never did, were proponents of the measure, and the two storefronts damaged were an antique store and the local Weight Watchers franchise. The rest of the news was less interesting—vandals spray painted the brick wall of a local school, the local veterans were planning a celebration for soldiers returning from Antarctica, and a woman adopted an injured pony.
“I hate the Daily News,” Mike said, tossing the texTee on the coffee table.
“Harriet says that we should get there before noon,” said Patience as she entered the room.
“Wow, you look great.”
Patience did look great too. She wore a short pink dress that didn’t quite reach her knees, but matched her pink platform stilettos.
Mike looked at the clock, noting that it wasn’t yet ten and then turned his attention back to his texTee. He switched off the Metro Daily News and turned back to the last chapter of Star Healer. One of a series of old school science fiction novels by James White, this book along with the rest of the series had been a favorite of Mike’s since he was a kid. They instilled a sense of wonder in him and a hope for the future of humanity that nothing produced since 1968 did. White’s characters were peace-loving doctors who wanted nothing more than to cure disease and save lives of aliens they had never seen nor heard of before. Those elements that now seemed ridiculously out of date like the computer that took up the entire core of the space station and yet struggled to translate two dozen languages, or the fact that none of the staff could get from one part of the hospital to another without donning special gear and passing through the methane-breathers’ ward, only endeared it to him all the more.
“You need to get ready,” said Patience as Mike was turning to the last page.
He looked up to see that if was 11:07. Jogging upstairs, he changed into slacks, shirt, and a jacket and pulled on his loafers. Back downstairs he looked around for his wife and called “Are we supposed to bring something?”
“I made a Jell-o mold,” said Patience, arriving from the kitchen carrying a mini cooler.