“June, could you iron this shirt for me please darling?” called Jim, holding up a pale lemon-coloured shirt with white stripes.
His wife appeared with a sheaf of papers in one hand. “No, I’m busy, can’t you get your ‘floozy’ to do it? It’s her job isn’t it?”
“Yes, but she’s at work, doing overtime.”
“I’m not sure, she’s getting £5 an hour so she only has to do twenty two hours to pay for her rental for the week.”
“Twenty two hours?”
“Yes, don’t forget she gets to keep 10% – thanks to the government caving in to that damned Humanoid Rights Act!”
“Look, you know I’m not happy with Melissa. I understand that since my accident, well you have … urges, but it doesn’t seem right.”
“The technology’s available so why shouldn’t I use it?”
“Well, you could consider my feelings for a start!”
“Well, don’t think about her if it makes you unhappy.”
“That’s a bit bloody difficult when she’s wandering around the house! Anyway, why do you need a shirt ironed? It’s Sunday”
“Oh, Old Man Warburton just called an emergency meeting. The yellowmen aren’t happy.”
“Well YOU iron the goddamn shirt then!”
“OK, OK. Where’s the ironing board?”
June shrugged. “How should I know?”
Just then they heard the sound of the front door opening and a beautiful young woman with oriental features and long black hair came into the room.
Jim spoke. “Oh, thank goodness you’re back. Can you iron this shirt please Melissa?”
“Yes, Jim, but I have something to tell you.”
“Look, I’m in a hurry. What?”
“Well, we don’t have emotions, we don’t really understand what they are, except they make humans act … funny. But there’s a boy at the office, another…humanoid. Well, he, Willie he’s called, and I, well we…understand… each other. I can’t describe it to you, a human, but we want to be together.”
“Good God, are you serious? No, a thousand times no! D’you think I’ve been paying £100 a week just to let you run off with another goddamn ‘robot’? Where would you go anyway? Disneyland?”
“No, Thailand. We’ve booked flights for tonight. The climate will be good for our … mechanisms, and Willie knows a restaurant owner who will employ us as waiters. And we get to keep ALL our wages.”
Was there a trace of a smile or did he imagine it? “So how will you pay for the flights? With shirt buttons?!”
“We’ve both been saving our ten percents.”
“Pfft, look Melissa, I’m sorry but I’m calling the company, they’ll put a stop to this nonsense right now.”
She reached out a slender, perfectly manicured hand for the shirt. “Sorry Jim, I’ve okayed it with them. They’re sending you a replacement…”
“How did the meeting go,” asked June, the following morning.
“Oh, Warburton’s paying off 90% of the yellowmen, replacing them with robots.”
The doorbell sounded. June went to answer.
In marched someone of indeterminate sex, large and dumpy-looking. The voice was medium-pitched with an odd, grating quality. “Hello, my name is Kim and I am the replacement for Melissa.”
Jim looked aghast. “Good God, I was expecting another combined service and pleasure model!”
“Sorry sir, all available robots have been seconded by the Warburton corporation. However, I am sure I can learn
to give you pleasure, if you would instruct me.”
No, no, that’s OK, look, I know a nice little office you can work in. £5 an hour and I’ll even let you keep 15%! How would an 80 hour week suit you?…”
If you are interested in joining a fortnightly 300 word story group please contact me and I’ll send details.