Mike rubbed his forehead and tried to readjust himself in his seat. His headache had come upon him as soon as he had sat down in the diagnostician’s office and the square-backed chairs weren’t doing anything for his back either. He glanced up at the large vueTee on the wall, which was replaying the events of a battle from the Vietnam War. Patience put a hand on his shoulder.
“Just a few more minutes.”
“Yeah,” he acknowledged, just before he was called back.
A scan technician about Mike’s age directed him to a back room. Patience stayed in the lobby. Though she had assured the clerks that it should only be applicable to Gizmos and not Daffodils, robots were not allowed within range of the LMS scanner because of interference. She thumbed through the literature showing the scanner, sure that Mike would be uncomfortable on the strange piece of furniture that formed the base of the machine. It wasn’t quite a chair and it wasn’t quite a table, but rather some sort of chaise that looked as though it was designed by someone who had never actually seen an articulating human body.
Patience didn’t waste time while waiting. She called up the ship information on the Daffodil and Me Cruises. She picked out the one that she thought would be the best for both Mike and Ryan and booked the staterooms.
It wasn’t a long wait though, and less than twenty minutes after he had gone in, Mike stepped back out into the lobby.
“Now that this is done, we can see what is actually wrong with your knee,” she said.
“Just get me to the car so I can take an aspirin.”
They walked across the parking lot to the car. Mike was still limping, but only slightly. Once inside, he fumbled around in the glove box as Patience climbed into the driver’s seat. When she was belted in, she reached over and found the aspirin bottle, opened it, and handed two of the white tablets to Mike. She watched as he popped them into his mouth and chewed them.
“Maybe I just need to eat something.”
“We have time to stop for lunch,” said Patience. “What kind of food would you like?”
“What do you mean we have time? Do we have an appointment or something?”
“I told Harriet that we would watch baby Selma today. She’s bringing her over at 2:00.”
“When did you talk to her?”
“While we were driving here.”
“I hate when you do that,” said Mike. “Maybe I should forbid you to talk on the phone unless I can hear it.”
“I might think you didn’t trust me then, Mike.”
Patience started the car and drove out onto the street.
“I trust you with the most important thing I have,” he said.
“That’s true. I could have bitten it off last night.”
“I was referring to my granddaughter. But I’m pretty fond of that too.” He rubbed his head and closed his eyes. “You know Harriet calls you more than she calls me. I’m her father after all.”
“She only calls me to ask me how you are,” said Patience. “There’s a Burger 21 on the corner. I’m going to stop there. I think you do need to eat something.”
They stopped and went inside. Mike squinted up at the multimedia menu. The popular hamburger chain featured burgers that rotated in and out each month. At any one time there were twenty-one different burgers available, and there were many different size combinations. You could also get your choice of beef, turkey, veggie, or chicken.
“Nothing sounds good,” said Mike as he stared at the vast array of burger types. “What should I get?”
“I’ll order for you. Go sit down.”
Mike nodded and headed for a booth, while Patience turned her attention to the robotic clerk. He didn’t quite look like a Gizmo, but he certainly wasn’t a Daffodil. He was probably a German import, like her new yardbot.
“One Damn Gouda Burger, double junior size, with everything; an order of onion rings, and a large Diet Pepsi.”
Her order delivered to her within two minutes, Patience carried it on a green plastic tray to where Mike was sitting. She carefully unwrapped his food and set it in front of him, before taking her place across the table. He took a long sip of his drink before taking a large bite of his hamburger.
“This is a damn good burger,” he said appreciatively.
“No, it’s a Damn Gouda Burger.”
“Ah, very clever. Good choice.” He took a few more bites, then ate an onion ring, and then sighed. “Yes, that’s better. My headache is starting to go away already.”