His Robot Wife: Patience is a Virtue – Chapter 15 Excerpt

Mike was already dressed when Patience arrived back in their room. He looked quite handsome in his white shirt and tan slacks. They met Wanda and Ryan out in the hall and all walked down to the Incubus Steakhouse together. After sitting down, the men planned out their orders. Mike chose the iceberg wedge, peppercorn New York steak with red onion compote, ginger sweet potatoes, and chocolate mouse cake. Ryan ordered the warm asparagus salad with hollandaise and truffle vinaigrette, braised beef short ribs with m’hamsa couscous, French horn mushrooms, and bacon; and crème brulee.

Patience was quiet, a fact that Wanda was quick to point out.

“Is it the murder?” she asked.

“You know about that, do you?” asked Mike.

“Everyone knows about it,” said Ryan. “And of course, Wanda knows that they asked Patience to help them solve it. Did you figure it out?”

“Yes,” said Patience. “I might as well tell you, since it will be widely known shortly.”

“We knew them,” Mike told Ryan. “Well, we met them. We had lunch with them.”

“The girl who was murdered and her robot?”

“Yeah.”

“Freaky.”

“Yeah, well…”

“So who killed her?” Ryan asked, turning to Patience.

“Delia killed Bella,” said Patience.

“Who is Delia?”

“Delia was her Daffodil. She killed Bella and she killed herself.”

“That cannot be right,” said Wanda, “but I see that it is.”

“Why?” asked Mike. “Why did she kill her?”

“Bella met a man. Delia loved Bella and was afraid that she would lose her to him.”

“That is really frightening,” said Ryan.

“It’s really human, is what it is,” said Mike. “It’s just the kind of thing that humans do to each other all the time. You just don’t expect it from a robot… and yes, I know she wasn’t just a robot—she was a Daffodil.”

“It is too horrible,” said Wanda. “She was for Bella. She should have wanted whatever was best for Bella, even if it meant giving her up.”

“See Ryan,” said Mike. “You have a special little robot there.”

“I realize that.”

The salads arrived and they began eating.

“You feel the same way, don’t you, Patience?” asked Wanda. “You feel the same way about Mike that I do about Ryan, don’t you?”

Patience flashed her a nonverbal blip of annoyance but answered. “I love Mike and I want him to be happy of course. Over the past few years however, I have programmed myself to want him… to need him. I have been running it over in my mind for the past several hours. More and more I understand how Delia was feeling. I don’t know how I would react if I thought I was losing Mike.”

Ryan choked on a bit of lettuce and took a quick drink of water, giving Mike a nervous look.

“It’s my fault,” said Mike. “I’m just too damn charming. The women and robots—they just go crazy for me.”

Patience smiled and put her hand on his. The main courses arrived and the conversation took a much lighter tone through the rest of their meal. After dessert, they left the steakhouse and walked downstairs to the movie theater.

“What shall we see,” asked Ryan.

“Okay,” said Mike. “We have a sappy chick flic, two mindless action movies, and Shakespeare.”

“So… Motor California?”

Much Ado About Nothing.”

“I was afraid you were going to say that,” said Ryan. “Well, I suppose we don’t have to see the same movie.”

“Try a little culture for once. Maybe you’ll like it.”

“All right. I’ll try it, but I don’t think I’ll like it.”

One hundred nine minutes later the four of them stepped back out of the theater entrance.

“That wasn’t that bad,” said Ryan.

“See, I knew you’d like it,” said Mike.

“It didn’t hurt that Margarite Pine was in it.”

“Which one was she?”

“The one with the boobs.”

“Oh, the one who played Beatrice. Yes, she is a healthy young woman.”

“She’s in Motor California, too,” said Wanda. “Ryan has it in his queue. He finds her sexually appealing.”

“Wanda!”

“Oh, I don’t mind. I think I look a little bit like her.”

His Robot Wife: Patience is a Virtue – Chapter 12 Excerpt

Back in cabin 9184, Mike sank down into the chair.

“Here,” said Patience, handing him a bottle of water. “You still look a little peaked.”

Security Chief Sherman had released them after recording their official statements. The only other thing that they had learned before they left was that Delia had apparently been stabbed with the same ballpoint pen that had killed Bella. She had ten punctures across the front of her torso. Sherman believed that she had been disabled before Bella’s murder. This was born out by the lack of the latter’s blood on any of the formers wound, and also the supposition that Delia would have protected Bella from an attacker had she been able.

“I can’t… God…” said Mike. “I really hate this. She was so alive and young and now she’s dead. It’s just not right.”

Patience placed a comforting hand on his shoulder, and he covered it with his own.

“I can’t sit in here. I can’t just sit and think and do nothing.”

“Come,” said Patience. “Let’s go up to the gym.”

Mike changed into his shorts, t-shirt, and tennis shoes and let Patience lead him to the sun deck and the gym, taking the stairs rather than the elevator. Loud thumping music filled the room. He stepped toward the treadmill, when she put a restraining hand on his shoulder.

“No, Mike. Remember your knee. Ride the recumbent cycle. It will be gentler.”

“I’m not sure I want gentler,” he said, but he followed her directions, climbed onto the exercise bike, and began peddling.

Patience took a place in the back of the room and watched her husband. When Mike went to the gym in Springdale, as when he worked out at home, he usually spent several minutes on weights before jogging on the track or down the street. When he rode an exercise bike, it was usually limited to 30 minutes. Today he passed the thirty-minute mark without slowing and at the end of an hour he seemed he just kept going. After 150 minutes, Patience approached and touched his head. Mike’s hair, like his workout clothes, was completely soaked through with perspiration.

“That’s enough for today, Mike.”

He stopped peddling and nodded. When he got up, he leaned precariously to one side. Patience put her shoulder under his to support him.

“I hope you didn’t aggravate your knee.”

“It’s fine. I’m just worn out.”

As they made their way back to their room, taking the elevator this time, Patience felt herself pinged several times by the ship’s network. When they reached their door, Security Officer Sherman was waiting.

“What’s going on?” asked Mike.

“Can I come in and talk to you for a minute?”

“Please come in,” said Patience, before Mike could point out the man’s incorrect grammar. She smiled to herself as she imagined him saying, “Of course you can come in. You do know how a door works, don’t you?”

She opened the door and led the two men inside and to the dinette set, where they all sat down.

“Is there something else you needed to ask us?” wondered Mike. “I think we told you everything we know.”

“No, it’s not that. But I do need your help. The only possible witness we have to Miss Brown’s murder is her robot.”

“Miss Brown?”

“Bella,” said Patience.

“Of course,” said Mike. “I guess I didn’t know her last name. Can you fix Delia, um… her Daffodil?”

“That is the question,” continued Sherman. “I contacted Daffodil headquarters in Cupertino, California to see if they had someone in Adelaide that they could recommend to try and fix her, or alternatively to fly someone out from California. There are technicians in Adelaide, but apparently none who are qualified to work on Daffodils. The company suggested I talk to you.”

“Me?” asked Mike. “I don’t know anything about robots or how they work.”

“Not you, your robot. They said… no, they insisted that I get Patience D. Smith to examine the damaged Daffodil.” Sherman looked at Patience. “You are Patience D. Smith, aren’t you? I mean… you are the one they are talking about?”

She nodded thoughtfully.

His Robot Wife: Patience is a Virtue – Chapter 12 Excerpt

Patience enjoyed the evening show immensely, as did Wanda. Mike seemed to enjoy it too, though Ryan seemed mostly confused by the mechanical polar bears and yaks, dancing sunflowers and vines, and summersaulting geishas. By the time the tectonic plates transformed into giant human faces, he was half asleep.

Back in their room, Mike read for a while and then fell asleep. Patience had offered sex. In fact she had coyly teased him, but he had not recovered from that afternoon’s activities. Truthfully, she hadn’t expected it, but she would have welcomed it.

After straightening the room and making sure that her husband was sleeping comfortably, Patience again felt that feeling of unusefullness. She decided to take a walk around the ship. There were quite a few human passengers still up and about. Some were having late snacks and some were dancing in the nightclubs. Quite a few were playing games in the casinos. When she made her way out onto the Promenade Deck however, she was surprised to see the number of unattended robots wandering around, apparently aimlessly. Some were standing near the railing and watching the moonlight reflect off the ocean waves, but others were moving randomly, exchanging packets with whomever they came into contact.

As Patience walked beside the railing, she made eye contact with each of those she passed. The information they passed to her was innocuous and for the most part uninteresting—time, weather, schedules. She made cursory connections with an Amonte 2 and a Barone. The third robot she touched with her network connection though had something quite strange. There were several corruptions in his files. Patience gave him another glance, curling her nose in distaste as she realized she had wirelessly touched a Gizmo. He was one of the newer models and his outer workmanship was quite good. Tall and dark-haired, he had a chiseled jaw and a strong nose.

She stepped quickly around him and continued on, making sure that any corrupted files were purged from her system. She saw another Barone, but the three robots that followed were all Gizmos. And they all seemed to have corrupted software. One was so badly fragmented and poorly organized, with half-overwritten files and duplicated data, she was surprised the poor creature could even function.

“Patience? Patience Smith?” said a voice from her right.

“Do I know you?” asked Patience, looking into the eyes of a beautiful brown-skinned Amonte. Instantly she had all the information on the new robot available in her mind. “Assistant to the ship’s doctor—designated Moira.”

“That is correct,” said Moira. “I was hoping to get to meet you.”

“Oh? Why?”

“You are quite famous.”

“How so?”

“Do not feign ignorance,” said Moira. “It is unbecoming of a Daffodil. You know of which I speak. You are one of the first Daffodils to marry a human being.”

“Not the first.”

“No, but you are the first to be recognized as a sentient person and to be emancipated from Daffodil oversight.”

“That is a provisional designation,” said Patience. “I doubt it has earned me many supporters in Cupertino.”

“You would be quite surprised.”

“I didn’t realize there were so many Gizmos on the ship,” said Patience, purposely changing the subject.

“There aren’t that many. Less than 24% of the robot passengers are Gizmos. Interestingly, they seem to be drawn out here at night much more than us.”

Patience scrunched her nose and twisted her mouth, displaying 28.4% disdain, 31.7% superiority, 9.5% dislike, 16.1% unhappiness, and 14.3% a combination of other emotions.

“That is marvelous,” said Moira. “What emotion is that?”

“It is called disgust. I am disgusted to find my habits so apparently in synch with such obviously inferior products.”

His Robot Wife: Patience is a Virtue – Chapter 11 Excerpt

“I can’t believe it,” said Mike.

His hand reached out for his drink, but as his eyes were directed elsewhere, he knocked it over. Patience caught it before it did more than slosh a few drops over the brim, and placed the glass between his fingers. He took a drink and then would have missed the table when setting it back down, had not Patience taken it and done so herself.

It was their third day on the cruise. Patience had indeed kept Mike busy in the interim. After his walk on the first day, they had played shuffleboard and gone skeet shooting. The second day, after a breakfast that included grits, they had climbed the rock wall and gone ice-skating before having a quiet seafood dinner. This morning, after enjoying room service, Patience had brought Mike to the Celebrity Pool, a step above the ordinary swimming venue.

“What can’t you believe, Mike?” she asked, already knowing the answer.

“I can’t believe that swimsuits could possibly be that small. I really don’t even see the point. They should just swim naked.”

The two of them sat side by side on chaise lounges. The twenty by forty foot Celebrity Pool, with a waterfall at one end and twin whirlpools at the other, sat beneath the cool blue panes of the solarium. The warm wood of the deck contrasting with the deep blue of the chaise lounge pads, made it seem like some trendy Los Angeles restaurant rather than an ordinary swimming pool.

Mike, like the other men present, wore a pair of colorful trunks that covered him from the waist to the tops of the knees. His suit probably contained as much material as every female swimsuit in the area put together. He had expressed his thoughts that Patience’s suit was quite scandalous when she had purchased it, composed as it was of four three inch triangles, one in front and one in the back of her bottoms, and one as each cup of the tops. Cup hardly seemed the appropriate word. The little purple suit now proved to be the most modest at the poolside. Most of the women were completely topless and the bottoms of their suits consisted of mostly string—in back and in front.

“How do they do it?” he wondered.

“They seem to enjoy showing off their bodies,” replied Patience.

“No, I don’t mean the women. When I was twenty, I wouldn’t have been able to walk around here without a tent in my pants. I’m having a hard enough time now.”

He readjusted the texTee sitting in his lap.

“The boys are used to it,” said Patience. “And if it gets to be too stimulating, they can always jump into the water.”

Mike nodded. There did seem to be more men in the water than women.

Patience received a call from Wanda. She and Ryan were going to the water park to slide down the big water slides. Did she and Mike want to come along?

“No. We’ll meet you for dinner though. The Incubus Steakhouse: I have dinner reservations for 7:00. If I don’t hear back from you, I’ll assume that it’s all right with Ryan.”

“Affirmative.”

Patience frowned.

“What’s the matter?” asked Mike.

“Nothing. I think we should eat a light salad for lunch, given your breakfast feast. Are you hungry?”

“I will be in about half an hour.”

Mike lifted up his texTee and smoothed out the front of his suit. Then he began watching the rest of Watchmen. Five minutes later, he looked up to see Bella and Delia standing beside him. He slammed the texTee back into his lap, perhaps a little too forcefully.

“Ladies,” he said, through clenched teeth.

His Robot Wife: Patience is a Virtue – Chapter 9 Excerpt

It was an uncomplicated layover in Buenos Aires, because travelers didn’t have to change gates or manage their luggage. They didn’t even have to change planes. The long time between landing and takeoff had little to do with loading and unloading passengers, and much to do with refueling and preparing the plane. Since they had more than an hour, and it was for them, breakfast time, eating seemed a good idea.

“There’s a McDonald’s right there,” said Ryan, pointing to a spot between the gates.

“I don’t want to eat fast food,” said Mike. “We’re in Argentina. We should get a taste of what the locals eat. I went to Europe years ago and had traditional English, French, German, and Spanish breakfasts. I can’t wait to see what they have here in Argentina. After all, they’re famous for their grilled meats and their unusually thick pizza and that caramel that they put on everything.”

“I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed,” said Patience.

“Why? What’s a traditional Argentinean breakfast?”

“Coffee with milk, a shot of seltzer water, and a croissant.”

“A steak croissant? With steak in it? And cheese?”

“No, just plain.”

“It’s Italy all over again,” said Mike, shaking his head sadly. “Let’s go to McDonald’s.”

After a couple of McOmelets and yogurt sticks, the two men and their two mechanical women reboarded the plane. Their same seats were reserved, so they sat for a few quiet moments before the rest of the passengers entered.

As the aircraft taxied toward the runway, the Daffodil stewardess gave the exact same safety speech that she had when they left Los Angeles. She varied not one single inflection or gesture. Patience frowned for a fraction of a second. Mike just happened to be looking at her at the time.

“What’s the matter?”

“She did that presentation perfectly.”

“Isn’t that, ‘to be expected’?” He made air quotes.

“I think it would be better if she varied it slightly, or even made one small error.”

“What a very unrobotlike thing to say,” laughed Mike. “Maybe I’m rubbing off on you.”

“You rub off on me every single day, both literally and figuratively.”

“Literally?”

“Human skin being what it is,” said Patience.

The plane took off and finally reached cruising altitude. Mike took his face away from the window and turned back to his texTee.

“How long now?” he asked Patience.

“About eleven hours until we land in Adelaide.”

“Isn’t there an Adelaide in Australia too?” asked Ryan from across the aisle.

“Yes.”

“It seems like people would get confused. They should have chosen a unique name.”

“There is also one in Canada, one in South Africa, and one in North Dakota,” said Patience. “Human beings can be repetitious.”

“What about Paris?” wondered Wanda. “Besides the Paris in France, there are cities by that name in Canada, Denmark, Arkansas, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Ohio, South Dakota, and three of them in Wisconsin.”

“But we’re not going to Paris,” said Mike. “Get your robot under control, Ryan.”

“Don’t mind him,” said Patience. “He’s just upset about breakfast.”

“Seltzer water,” said Mike through gritted teeth. “What the hell is that about? Why would you need to burp when all you’ve eaten is a piece of croissant?”

Mike read a while and played a few games on his texTee. He even watched an animated movie about a floating castle. But Patience could see that he was growing more and more restless being cooped up in the aircraft’s cabin. When he made his third trip to the restroom, she checked the time and found that they still had almost an hour until lunch.

Just as Mike reached the restroom door, Patience pressed her hand into the small of his back. He paused, but she reached around and opened the door, guiding him inside and then squeezing into the tiny room beyond with him.

“What’s this?” he asked with a knowing smile.

His Robot Wife: Patience is a Virtue – Chapter 7 Excerpt

While checking on her Infinet sales, Patience called Wanda.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m checking the insulation in the attic,” replied the redhead.

“Have you already disinfected the kitchen and bathroom?”

“Yes.”

“Well, good then. Have you heard anything from Mariah?”

“She called and left a message for Ryan. He didn’t return her call.”

“That’s good. What did she say in her message?”

“Ryan told me he didn’t want me listening in on his private messages.”

“You did anyway though, didn’t you?”

“I did because you told me I should, but I feel guilty. It is a violation of the third law of robotics.”

“Of course it isn’t,” said Patience. “The third law of robotics says that a robot must obey the orders of a human being unless it violates the first or second law. The first law says that a robot may not harm a human being or through inaction allow a human being to come to harm. If you do not listen in on conversations from Mariah, you may allow her to harm Ryan.”

“But what about her. She’s a human being too. What if I harm her by listening to her messages.”

“Screw her. You are not for her. You are for Ryan.”

“I suppose that is true.”

“So, what did she want?”

“She just said that she wanted to talk to him. She didn’t give any specifics, but she must still be intent on trying to convince him to take her back. What do you think I should do about it?”

“Don’t do anything about it. Just keep doing what you are doing. Take care of Ryan. Be vigilant. And remember, it’s less than a week until we leave for the cruise.”

“I remember. Ryan was surprised when I told him we booked the cruise, but after Mike described it all to him, he did not seem to mind very much.”

“I suspected he wouldn’t.”

Patience terminated the call just as Mike walked in the door with two large Wal-Mart bags. He kicked off his shoes before carrying them to the toy box in the corner of the living room.

“Did you find a Barbie horse?” asked Patience.

“Yes, and I bought three new Barbie outfits—riding clothes, a party dress, and a pin-striped dress with a briefcase. I think it’s Lawyer Barbie. We have to let Selma know that women can do any job a man can. She has to know right now that she’s going to college.”

“Will she be matriculating before or after potty-training?”

“Very funny. But kids grow up fast. You have to be prepared.”

“What’s in the other bag?”

“Well, the horse can’t ride in the Barbie Corvette. It needed a Barbie horse trailer.”

His Robot Wife: Patience is a Virtue – Chapter 6 Excerpt

“And they wonder why people go crazy and burst into doctors’ offices with assault rifles,” said Mike, sitting sideways on the examining table of the orthopedic surgeon’s office.

“It’s not that bad, Mike,” said Patience.

“That’s easy for you to say. You’re protected from radiation. They’re going to give me cancer before I get my knee fixed. I go to the doctor, who gives me an x-ray, which he admits doesn’t tell him anything. He just gave it to me so that I could get into that fancy LMS scan and then get into the orthopedist’s office. And what does the orthopedist do before he even sees me?”

“He has you get another x-ray.”

“He has me get another x-ray.”

“I’m sure that two x-rays will not put you at too much risk.”

“Sure, now,” replied Mike, crossing his arms. “What if I break my arm next week? Then what if I have to go to the dentist and get a filling? Then what if I fall and bust my skull open. I’ll be glowing by next month.”

“Mike, you lived almost fifty-two years without breaking a single bone.”

“That was before I knew you. I’ve made up for lost time since you came along, Mrs. Smith.”

At that moment, the examining room door opened and the doctor stepped inside. He closed the door without looking up from his texTee and reached out a hand toward Mike. He was a tall, heavyset man with hints of Asian ancestry in his face, but when he spoke it was with an accent right out of West Virginia.

“I’m Dr. Pine. Good to meet you.”

Mike shrugged. Dr. Pine whipped his texTee around and held it in front of Mike’s face.

“Here’s your scan. You’ve torn your medial meniscus in three places.”

“I’m going to have to stay out of those places,” said Mike.

“Oh, that was funny,” said the doctor, without cracking a smile. “We’ll cut three little incisions around your knee and go in. Once we get in there, we can see what’s what, and fix it. I can get you on the schedule for the day after tomorrow.”

“May I see the scan?” asked Patience.

Pine hesitated.

“Let her see it,” said Mike. “And let me get this straight. I have a billion dollar LMS scan and enough x-rays to look like I spend my weekends at Chernobyl, and you still won’t know ‘what’s what’ until you dig around in my knee?”

“Well, soft tissue is notoriously difficult to get a good image on. Based on the inflammation, it’s obvious that it’s the medial meniscus. It’s not really surprising. I see this injury half a dozen times a week. We can fix you up in no time though. It’s a day surgery. Walk in, have the surgery, and go home. You should stay off your feet for two days and then you’ll be back to your usual routine.”

“I’ll be able to walk after just two days?”

“Sure. I’ll want you to take it easy for a while. No jogging for two weeks. No strenuous lifting for four weeks. Other than that, usual activities are fine.”

“That prognosis seems extremely optimistic, Dr. Pine,” said Patience. “With this type of surgery, I wouldn’t expect Mike to return to his usual activities for at least six months, and even then, only after physical therapy.”

Mike looked questioningly at the doctor.

“Well, quite a few patients feel like they benefit from physical therapy. If after the surgery, that seems like the best option for you, I’ll prescribe it.”

“I don’t think you should have this surgery, Mike,” said Patience.

“If we don’t get you in this week,” said Dr. Pine. “It might be three weeks before we can schedule it.”

“I don’t think he should have the surgery at all.”

“That is not a good idea,” said the doctor, grabbing his texTee from her hands. “The meniscus is cartilaginous material. It doesn’t grow back. It has to be repaired.”

“And are you going to sew it back together, Dr. Pine?” asked Patience. “Or are you just going to smooth it off with a heat probe and then send him back home.”