Sunday, January 4, 2009

His Robot Girlfriend - Chapter 4 Part 1


“Time to get up, Mike,” said Patience. “Take your shower and I will have breakfast ready for you when you get out.”

“I don’t know if I’m hungry.”

“A healthy breakfast is important.”

Mike tilted his head and looked questioningly.

“It is important for you to be healthy, Mike. I’ve already started you on a regimen of exercise. It is important that you eat well too.”

“Alright then.” He got up and made his way to the shower.

True to her word and her name, Patience was waiting patiently with a piece of whole wheat toast and a glass of grapefruit-pineapple juice.

“What now?” he asked as he ate.

“You have to work today,” Patience replied. “We will go to the gym for our workout later.

It was Mike’s last day of the school year. He had already packed away everything that needed to be packed, so all he really had to do was show up and wait for the principal to check him out. By eleven, he was done. He had walked to school, and he walked back home to find Patience at the door in a tight pair of red shorts and a white spaghetti tank. He had a small salad for lunch, and then they went to the gym.

“Are we going to exercise every day over the summer?” Mike asked on the way.

“Five times a week.”

Time at the gym went quickly and Mike suffered only a small amount of discomfort from his stomach. Afterwards, as they drove home, Mike asked Patience to stop at the cemetery.

“I promised Tiffany that I would stop by every week, but I haven’t been there in months. Of course, she was dead when I promised her, so it’s not like she heard me.”

Patience pulled the car into the cemetery gate and drove around at Mike’s direction until they reached the southeast corner, where the green of the grass met the tan of the surrounding desert. Mike climbed out and walked to the marker at the head of his wife’s grave. The marker was covered with bits of grass from the last time the lawn was mowed, as well as bits of dirt. He knelt down and brushed it off. Tiffany Louise Smith 1984-2021, little enough to sum up a lifetime. 2021! Could it really be eleven years? That didn’t seem possible.

“Who is buried here?” asked Patience.

Mike looked up. A few feet from Tiffany’s grave was another. Affixed to the flat grave marker was an upright statue, about a foot tall, of an angel, a little girl with wings, wearing a nightgown and holding a flower in her left hand, her right hand raising a handkerchief to her eye.

“Some poor little child.”

Home once again, Mike took another shower and had a quick nap before getting up to play a few games of Age of Destruction on vueTee. Pausing the game, he went to the kitchen to get a diet Pepsi and noticed for the first time that the kitchen cabinets had been scrubbed clean. He opened one to find it reorganized inside. This sent him on a tour around the house. He went into the garage to find that what had once been only the home of a gigantic mound of surplus junk had been reorganized. Tiffany’s Tesla, which hadn’t been driven or even charged in more than two years, was clean and polished. There was actually enough room for Mike’s Chevy to sit beside it, and it had never known the interior of the garage. Most of the room’s contents were now on the shelves along the walls, and what remained was neatly stacked against the west wall to either side of the inside door.

He went upstairs to find that Harriet’s old room, once almost as buried as the garage floor, had also been cleaned and organized. Though the right side of the room was now filled with labeled boxes, the left side had been cleared completely out. Mike noticed that the closet now contained Patience’s growing wardrobe. Even the pictures on the walls had been dusted, though they still were just as oddly placed as they had been. Lucas’s room, which had not been nearly so cluttered, was now empty, with the exception of an exercise mat in the center of the room.

“Just as you wanted.” said Patience speaking right behind his left ear.

“Crap! You startled me.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I can’t believe how much you’ve done in a week. What are you doing now—alphabetizing my underwear?”

“No. I was on the phone with Harriet. She invited us to dinner.”

“Hmm. Both of us?”

“Yes. She specifically asked that I come too.”

“Speaking of Harriet, what are you planning for her room?”

“I didn’t have any plans yet,” said Patience.

“Why don’t we make it a guest room. You can move your clothes into my closet. God knows I don’t need all that room.”

“As you wish,” she replied sweetly.

Later Mike hopped in the passenger side of the car and let Patience drive them to Greendale, to Harriet’s house. Patience wore what she referred to as a red bra-top dress, though it didn’t look at all bra-like to Mike, and a pair of matching three and a half inch wedge shoes. Mike wore a pair of tan slacks and a matching pullover sweater which Patience picked out for him. He was quite happy as they made their journey. It was a beautiful day. There wasn't much traffic. And just having Patience with him seemed to make him happy.

Harriet greeted them with a smile. When Harriet’s husband Jack saw Patience, his mouth fell open.

“Put your tongue and your eyeballs back in your head,” said Mike, as he walked passed him.

Then for good measure, Harriet smacked Jack on the back of the head. As he sat down, Mike looked at Patience to see alarm on her face.

"What?" he asked.

"Are you mad at me, Mike?"

"No. Of course not. Why?"

"You were making an angry face."

"Was I?"

"Yes."

“Oh. I'm sorry. I was just worrying about something I don't even need to worry about."

"I don’t like for you to worry, Mike." she said. "I want to make all of your worries go away."

"Thanks."

Inside, they sat and talked for a while. Harriet, who worked at a dentist’s office, regaled them with stories of bad teeth and bad breath. Then she talked about Jack’s baseball team. He played with a group of men from his office. Finally, she started telling them about her gardening. She described in great detail all of the plants that she had recently added to her yard. Mike wasn't paying too much attention. He tended to zone out. Once Harriet got started on a topic, she usually wrestled it to the ground and killed it.

"Get away!" shouted Mike, when one of Harriet's dogs suddenly stuck its nose in his crotch.

"I know you really like dogs, Daddy," said Harriet. "You just pretend you don't."

"I like dogs fine, when they aren't sniffing where they shouldn't be sniffing."

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