The remainder of June shot by. Each day Mike got up and showered, to find a warm dry towel waiting for him. This was followed by breakfast, which he had gotten used to. Mike began to follow Patience’s example and usually did a bit of light home improvement work before lunch, but as the month progressed and it became far too hot to work outside, he thought more and more about doing some writing. He would write a book about his experiences as a teacher. On Monday the twenty-first he cleaned up the desk that had been sitting unused in the south bedroom and went to Wal-Mart to purchase a new wriTee, which he quickly set up. Within a few days, he had the first chapter of his book done, though after that it became more of a strain to remember all the stupid things that the kids at school had said or done. Afternoons were almost always a time for relaxation in front of the vueTee. Evenings had used to be the same, but right about the time that Mike began working on his book, Patience began dragging him out after dinner. They went to the movie theater, the city event center to listen to the philharmonic, and even went dancing. Mike couldn’t dance, but as with everything else Patience was programmed and ready to go and she guided Mike through it.
For her part, Patience didn’t really have any down time. She went to bed with Mike, but within an hour or so after he had fallen asleep, she was back up. She used the night time hours to clean and maintain the house and by the middle of the month there wasn’t a spot anywhere that the most fastidious person wouldn’t have been happy to eat off of. This left the daytime hours free so that she could take care of Mike’s every needs. She waited upon him. She served as his accountant, personal trainer, and expert chef. She was mother, friend, concubine, confidant, and upon occasion taskmaster.
On the thirtieth, which was a Wednesday, Mike stood on the scale at the gym and marveled that he had lost sixteen pounds. Actually he was marveling that he had lost only sixteen pounds, because he thought that he looked at least thirty pounds lighter. It was he supposed, because muscle weighed so much more than fat, and he was putting on a bit of the former as he was losing the latter. He flexed his arm to make his bicep bulge and smiled to himself.
He and Patience climbed back into the car and returned home. A nice hot shower awaited him and he didn’t take long before climbing into it. He had his head bent down beneath the steaming spray, when he heard Patience outside the shower door.
“What do you think about going to Knott’s Berry Farm?” she asked.
“This 150-acre theme park has many exciting rides like the Jaguar, Montezuma’s Revenge and Calico Thunder as well as many fun attractions like the Buffalo Nickel Arcade, Camp Snoopy, and the Mystery Lodge.”
“Are you reading a brochure?” asked Mike, sticking his face out of the shower door.
“I memorized the ad on the vueTee.”
“Why do you want to go to Knott’s Berry Farm?”
“It is not that I want to go. I thought you might like to go.”
“I took the kids when they were little,” Mike said, as he climbed out of the shower and took the towel that Patience held in her hand. “I don’t think I would want to go now. Besides, last time I went, I didn’t fit in half of the ride restraints. If I was going to go somewhere, I’d… I don’t know.”
“June is over,” said Patience. “You have less than a month and a half before you have to return to school. We should do something that you would enjoy.”
“All right, let me think about it for a while.” Mike went upstairs to his den and began typing away, writing down as many anecdotes about school as he could recall.
Around noon Patience arrived at Mike’s elbow with his lunch. She had constructed a near perfect club sandwich on toasted whole wheat bread and arrayed it on the plate with a cup of tomato salad. A large diet Pepsi accompanied it. He had no sooner accepted the tray and opened his mouth to thank her, when the front door bell rang. She turned and bounced out of the room. A moment later he could hear a conversation going on downstairs, though not the words. He also heard the door to the garage opening and a few minutes later, closing. Mike didn’t get up to see what was going on because he already knew. For the past week, the FedEx man had arrived every single day with boxes of merchandise that Patience had bought on eBay. She usually had at least one package going out too. A few minutes later she entered the study carrying a very large and very heavy looking box.
“What is that?” he asked.
“It’s a desk,” said Patience.
“I don’t need a new desk. This one works just fine.”
“It’s not for you, Mike. It’s for me.”
“What do you need a desk for?”
“I’m going to use it when I keep track of my shipping and sales. I’m going to get a little vueTee and set it up here too, so that I can buy and sell on eBay right from here. Then I’m going to set up shelves in this closet and store my smaller merchandise right here. I can continue to keep the bigger things in the garage.”
Patience tore the end of the box open and began pulling out pieces of a black and white, assemble it yourself desk. She was still examining the parts that she had pulled from the box, when the doorbell rang again.
“Don’t get up,” Mike said. “I’ll get it.”
He skipped down the stairs to the front door and opened it. A tall man in a green army uniform stood at the steps. Mike stared at him for a moment and then stepped outside to clasp him around the shoulders.
“General Smith! How are you?”
“Dad, you know I could get court-martialed for impersonating a general. Why don’t you let me in? It’s got to be 400 degrees out here.”
Mike leaned back and looked at the thermometer just inside the door. “Not a bit over 148. Come on in. Why didn’t you tell me you were coming, Lucas?”
“I wanted it to be a surprise.”
Mike closed the door and ushered his son into the living room. Lucas was a younger taller version of his father. His hair was shorter and thicker, but already had the trademark Smith grey temples. He cut a fine figure in his uniform with four stripes on each sleeve.
“How long are you staying for?” asked Mike.
“I’ve got a week. I could stay with Harriet if you’d rather.”
“Don’t be silly. I’m turning your room into an exercise room, but Patience has made a really nice guest bedroom out of Harriet’s old room. I’m really glad you showed up. I was just starting to get bored.” He paused. “They’re not sending you to Antarctica, are they?”
Mike sighed. “That’s a relief.”
“I wouldn’t mind going actually. But they don’t need many accountants down there.”
“You never know. They might want someone to inventory snowballs… or body bags.”
“Yes, well, they might at that. So where is your robot girlfriend?”
“Patience!” Mike called up the stairs. “We have company.”
Patience came bounding down the stairs. Although Mike knew that she had been clothed, because she had made her daily contact with the delivery man, he didn’t remember what she had been wearing. She had on a pink halter top, a pair of low-rise sky blue shorts with a two inch wide matching belt, and a pair of pink buckle sandals with cork wedge heels so high that a person shouldn’t have been able to walk on them. Of course Patience wasn’t really a person, at least according to the state of Nevada. She stopped with a bounce in the living room.
“Hello Lucas,” she said, and gave him a big hug.
“Wow, Dad. Nice selection.”
“Thank you,” said Mike and Patience at the same time.
The three of them sat down in the living room and just talked for quite a while. Before Mike or his son knew it, the afternoon was waning. Patience went to the kitchen to begin preparing dinner and Mike gave Lucas a tour of the house, showing him the many improvements and repairs that Patience had completed. He showed him the guest room, with new bed and furniture, new curtains, and new paint. Lucas’s luggage was already there, having been brought up by Patience earlier.
“So you turned Harriet’s room into a guest room. Let’s see this exercise room that you made out of mine.”
The exercise room had been improved quite a bit. It had been painted and had new blinds over the windows. The exercise mat on the floor was still there, but it had been joined by a treadmill, a stationary bicycle, and a rowing machine. There was also a large vueTee on the other side of the room.
“Nice,” said Lucas, when he looked in the door.