“Vanity?” she asked.
“You’re staring at yourself in the mirror. I just wondered if you were thinking about how handsome you are.”
“No.” He pursed his lips and raised an eyebrow. “I was just wondering how my bald spot got so big.”
“You don’t really have a bald spot, and anyway, how can you see it?”
He lifted up a hand mirror and waved it around. “So, I don’t have a bald spot and I can’t really see it anyway?”
“Exactly,” said Patience.
“Are you sure there’s nothing wrong with your logic subroutines?”
“They’re perfect.” She put her hands on his shoulders and leaned around to kiss him on the cheek, then continued into the room to pick up the towel that had fallen on the floor. “I wrote them myself.”
“I remember my grandfather had a bald spot on top of his head and now I’ve got one too. If anything, he had better hair overall.”
“Are you worried that you’re going to be bald?”
“No, not really. I figure I’ll have some hair when I die. I’m just lamenting the beautiful hair that I used to have. I guess it mostly fell out when Tiffany and Aggie died.”
Patience watched as his face went dark. It was as though the light suddenly left it. She pushed herself between him and the sink and, wrapping her arms around him, pulled him tightly to her.
“You know, she would be a grown woman now—old enough to vote.”
Mike’s third child, Agnes, had been killed in the same auto accident that killed his first wife Tiffany. It had happened many years before Patience was manufactured, but she knew every detail.
“Why don’t you get dressed and come down to the kitchen,” she said, pausing to kiss his lips. “I’m going to make you something special for breakfast.”
“I’m not really hungry.”
“Not even for pancakes?”
“Everything in moderation.”
Patience hurried downstairs and put away the healthy breakfast that she had originally prepared and began retrieving flour and baking powder from the cabinet and eggs and milk from the refridgeerator. Mike entered and, pulling a large tumbler from the cabinet, poured a glass of milk.
“Leave enough for the pancakes.”
“I did.” He slipped back into the living room.
“Do you want pancakes, hotcakes, or flap jacks this morning, Mike?”
“I think… flap jacks.”
“Do you want syrup, honey, or black strap molasses?”
“I want syrup, but only if you pronounce it right—sur-uhp.”
“Of course, dear.”
Patience slipped the griddle cover over the burners and oiled it, before whipping together the pancake ingredients. As she ladled the mixture out onto the hot metal, she called to her husband.
“You have a phone call coming through.”
“I left my phone upstairs.”
“I’ll route it to the vueTee.”
Patience listened as Mike answered the call to hear a woman’s voice.
“Is this Mike Smith?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Please stand by for the governor.”
“Shit,” said Mike, under his breath.
“Governor. How are you?”
“I’m fine. How are things in Springdale, and how is your lovely wife?”
“Good and good.”
“Listen, Mike. I’m going to be down in your area tomorrow and I wondered if we could get together and have a little chat.”
“Governor, if you’re going to fire me, I’d rather you go ahead an do it over the phone if it’s all the same to you.”