Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Reader Note -- This is another in a continuing series of stories authored by StarText subscriber columnist Ed Jackson. My thanks to Dennis Brand for sending it along.
Copyright by e.j.
My name is Jude. Hey, look... Don't ask me why I'm betraying him. I don't know. I imagine HE knows. He knows everything. I dunno... I guess I just think the story is too good to keep. I'm sure it makes me out to be some kind of summich, but... well.. I reckon I am what I am. I haven't any idea whether he'll bother to track me down and nail me for telling or not. Considering the kind of guy he is, I don’t think so, but if he does, he'll have his work cut out for him. By the time you read this, I'll be half way around the world.
Funny, how it all started.. with me. The doctors had all given me up for terminal... the big C, you know. I went to see him, and he healed me. Being the kind of guy I am, I had to find out just who the hell he was, and, being the kind of guy I am. ... I found out. He was a brought-back-from-the-grave, arisen-from-the-dead savior of the world... but he was a robot. He was Rad Fourteen.
He had kept his identity secret, and set himself up as a healer, and was doing real well at it. I tried to shake him down, and I guess my nerve intrigued him, or something, because he didn't alter me. Instead, he talked me into becoming one of his staff. I served him well, too, for about six years. Then something happened in the healer business. Somehow or another the rumor got around that he was a robot, and the healing business just went to pot. Kind'a hard to figure... considering he wasn't charging any money. Folks just decided he wasn't the genuine article.
Funny thing about people. They are perfectly willing to believe that a MAN is a Son of God, or has been given the gift BY God. They can believe in a man, but they just can't put their trust or faith in a machine. With technology the way it is right now, I know I sure as hell trust ANY machine more than I trust ANY man, but most folks aren't like that. Nobody had any proof.... nobody but me, and I wasn’t talking... but the rumor was enough. It put him out of business, and all his staff were put on temporary leave. In my case, a bank account was opened for me, and I had all the money I needed. I don't need much, and I don't know how much was there for me. All I know is that it never ran out.. not even when I drew out the hundred grand to take with me when I ducked.
One night, a couple of weeks ago, I got this call from Rad. He asked me to come see him, and gave me an address. When I got there, Rad met me at the door.
"Hi, Jude. Come on in." We shook hands, and I went into his living room.
"Wipe your feet before you come into MY house!" a raucus voice snapped at me. I looked over to the open door on the right side of the room at this red headed woman who stood there belligerently, hands on hips.
"Yes'm," I said, and automatically did a soft shoe on the mat just inside the door.
"Jude," said Rad, "I'd like you to meet my wife. Rachel, this
"Pleased to meetcha, ma'am," I said.
"Humph! Well, if you're gonna sit and gab, do it in the kitchen. I'm gonna watch the T.V." She glared, first at me, then at Rad.
"Yes dear," said Rad. "How about fixing us some coffee?" "You want coffee, YOU fix coffee. I'm your wife, not your.."
"Yes dear," said Rad. "Come on, Jude, we'll have some coffee in the kitchen, and talk."
As we walked by Mrs. Rad... er, Rachel.. I loaded up my peepers, out of the corners. I'm good at that. She was a tad taller than Rad, maybe thirty pounds heavier, and, I'm afraid, not a very handsome woman. No boobs to speak of, no great shape, her ears were kind'a big... they stuck out through her hair-do, and her nose REALLY needed some kind of plastic surgery. Not a pretty dame. Not pretty at all.
"Sit down, Jude. I'll just be a minute," said Rad, as he put the coffee on.
"How? What? Who? Hey Rad, this is ME... Jude, you're talking to. Where did you dig HER up? Is she for real? Is she a woman or...."
"Just hang in there, Jude, for a couple, and I'11 tell you the whole story," said Rad, as he got down two cups and saucers, and opened up the fridge. "Cake? Oh, sure, I remember, you have a sweet tooth.. of COURSE you'll have cake!" He took out a plate with a cover on it, and went about the task of setting us up a place to snack... all the while humming contentedly under his breath.
"Don't you mess up MY kitchen," yelled Rachel, as she came through the swinging door into the kitchen.
"No, dear," said Rad.
"I mean it, now, dammit!"
"Not to worry, dear. I'11 clean everything up when I get through."
"Uh-huh. Well, don't make too damned much noise, and get rid of your.." she glared over at me.. "company before too late."
"Yes, dear. We won't be very long."
"See that you aren't!" said Rachel, and steamed back out of the room.
"Rad," I said. "You've got to tell me what the hell is going ON here."
"Of course I will. That's why I had you come over," said Rad, setting down two cups of coffee, and easing into a chair across from me. "What do you think of her?"
I looked at the door apprehensively. "Well.... gee, I don't know, Rad. Is she a woman, or a..." I couldn't seem to say the word.
"Robot? Sure, she's a robot. I built her," said Rad, smiling.
I was lost. I knew enough about Rad, his past, his present, just what he was capable of doing. I couldn't figure this one out at all. That’s about all I could think to say.
"I can't figure it out. What do you need with a wife?" "She's going to make it possible for me to carry on my work."
The door to the kitchen swung open again. "Don't forget to carry out the garbage tonight,” said Rachel, Rad’s "No, dear" was lost on her as she popped back out of the room.
"But..." I started.
"Think about this, Jude. You know what put us out of business. The rumor that I was not a human being. People have grown to accept robots. It isn't like there was a whole lot of hate, or prejudice, or anything. It’s just that they can't accept them as God-inspired. They are only too well aware that they are made either by men, or other robots. I had to put the rumor to rest. What ONE thing separates man from robot? Sex. Since we don't need sex, we don't need women. If a man has a wife, he is just not suspect of being a robot. Simple, isn't it? I don't know why I didn't think of it before."
"I can see that. I don't know why I didn't think of it myself, when we were talking about ways to get around the rumor... before you shut down the operation."
"Then you think it's going to work," Rad said. I couldn't tell from his inflection if it was a question or a statement.
"Work? Sure it will work. But...."
"But what, Jude?" asked Rad, smiling.
"Look, Rad... I know you. I know.... no... I take that back... I don't know... but I THINK I know what you are capable of doing. You could have made yourself a real help-mate.... Gorgeous, a little SHORTER than you ... a well modulated voice... why Rachel?"
"I wanted no suspicions. If you thought I was a robot, but wasn't SURE, would a perfect wife really convince you I was a man... knowing a robot’s capability of building robots?"
"No.... I suppose not... but Rachel?"
The door burst open again, and Rachel barged back into the Kitchen. "Behind you, now, clean up this crap, and lock up. I'm going upstairs."
"Yes, dear." said Rad.
"Pleased to have met you, Ma'am," I said.
"Humph," said Rachel, as she sailed out of the room.
"Can't you see it, Jude? Nobody in his right mind would believe a robot would build a wife like Rachel. I wanted this 'marriage' to look perfectly normal to everyone else. Marriage is NOT perfect for many people... not real people, Jude. If we were a perfect couple, few people would believe it. Perfect couples can be made by robots. They are, contrary to popular belief, seldom 'made in heaven.' Rachel is not pretty, doesn't have a pleasing voice, and, you might say, only an idiot would have married her." He chuckled. "Haven't you ever noticed how often you see beautiful women married to homely men and vice-versa? I've programmed Rachel to nag, spend money like it was going to go rotten sitting in the bank, disapprove of everything I say or do, disapprove of my friends and acquaintances, be demanding, ignore anything I say, and make goo-goo eyes at every man she sees."
“Get RID of that bum!” came Rachel’s voice, from the other room.
"You get the picture, Jude? Now I can continue my work." He raised his voice. "YES DEAR," he called, and sat back, grinning happily.
That's All, folks.
Posted by G Bark at 6:59 AM