“I’m bored!” Sasha declared.
Jim, intent on the monitor in front of him didn’t respond.
She slid off her desk where she had been resting her behind, and said, “I’m going to take Eam for a drive.”
Jim looked up in alarm.
“You can’t!” he protested.
“Kevin will have a fit!”
“He’s gone to a conference for three days. He won’t know. Or are you going to tell him?”
“He’ll blame me if anything goes wrong.”
“Nothing’s going to go wrong,” she assured him.
“And if anything does, I’ll take full responsibility.”
“Fat lot of good that’ll do me. He put me in charge. I’ll still get the blame, so, no, you can’t take him.”
“Oh Jimbo, please?” she wheedled.
“No,” he said stubbornly.
She walked closer to his desk and stood facing him. She slowly unzipped the top of her tunic, exposing the tops of her breasts. His eyes bulged, as, to his mortification, did his pants.
“No,” he said.
“That’s all you do, just flash your breasts at me. I need more than that.”
“Ok,” she said briskly.
“When I get back, you can take me out to dinner.”
“You’re just saying that,” he muttered.
“You won’t follow through.”
“I promise, on my mother’s grave,” she told him.
“Yes,” she said firmly.
“Alright, but if he finds out and I lose my job over this…”
“You won’t. Thanks Jim!”
She almost danced out of the room.
When she was gone, he sat staring blindly at the monitor, then something hit him like a ton of bricks. Sasha’s mother wasn’t dead. He’d talked to the woman on the phone for Pete’s sake! How could he have been so stupid? Blinded by lust. His erection was gone as if it had never been. Kevin would find out and he’d lose his job for sure.
Sasha hurried down the corridor. She opened the door of the nearest room. A man was sitting on a chair. He was speed reading a book, or so it appeared as he seemed to rapidly flip through the pages.
“Hi Eam,” Sasha said.
“Why are you reading a book? What’s wrong with the iPad?”
“Nothing. I like books. I enjoy flipping through the pages. It’s not the same with the iPad,” he said in a deep sonorous voice.
“Ok, feel like going for a drive?”
He looked at her and asked, “Have you cleared it with Kevin?”
“No, with Jim.”
“Kevin would not approve,” he told her.
“He’s away for a few days. He’ll never know,” she said airily.
“Why are we doing this?” he asked.
“I’m bored,” she said frankly.
He said nothing more, just got up, put the book on a table and followed her out of the room. They walked to a lift and took it down to an underground carpark.
“You drive,” she said, handing him the keys to a black SUV. He walked to the vehicle, got in the driver’s seat, started it up, and, after she had seated herself, drove towards the gate that led to the outside. Sasha pressed a button on a key fob and it slid open. It closed behind them as Eam drove through. A short driveway led to a t junction.
“Which way?” he asked.
“Right,” she said promptly.
“There’s a redneck town about seventy miles away.”
He obeyed and recited, “Redneck. A derogatory term generally applied to poorly educated politically reactionary white persons from the southern states.”
“Very good,” she applauded.
“Let’s go and stir them up!”
“Why?” he asked.
“I told you. I’m bored,” she replied.
He said nothing further. Sasha pulled out her phone, inserted ear pods and was soon lost in Vivaldi’s ‘Winter,’ her favourite of his ‘Four seasons’ suite.
The SUV ate up the miles. The road was generally deserted, they encountered very few vehicles. An hour or so later, just on dusk, they were on the outskirts of a small town. A billboard on the approach read, ‘Welcome to Betsyville. Obey all rules while you are in our town.’
“Friendly,’ Sasha commented.
“Wonder who Betsy is or was. Let’s see if you can find a diner.”
They drove down the Main Street. Sasha pointed.
“There. Danny’s Diner. That’ll do.”
Eam pulled up in front alongside several other vehicles. They exited the car and walked inside. There were quite a few people sitting inside, some in booths, others on stools at a bar that ran almost the length of the diner. Everyone stopped what they were doing and stared at them. Sasha marched to a vacant booth and sat down. Eam sat down next to her.
There was silence in the diner. Nobody said a word. A waitress behind the bar disappeared out the back. She soon re-emerged followed by a burly red-faced man wearing a stained apron. Another waitress at the other end of the diner dropped some cutlery on the floor. The sound seemed startling in the silence. The burly man walked over to them. He stared at Sasha, jerked a thumb at Eam and said, “We don’t serve his kind in here.”
“And what kind would that be?” she asked.
“Niggers,” he said bluntly.
Sasha looked at him and said reprovingly, “That’s politically incorrect as well as derogatory, insulting and racist.”
“Don’t give a shit. I’m Danny. This is my diner. I serve who I like and say what I like. I ain’t servin’ him, or you. So you can both get out.”
Eam looked up at him and asked Sasha, “Is he a redneck?”
“It certainly sounds like it,” she replied.
“What should I do?”
“You calling me a redneck?” the man raised his voice.
“You called him a nigger,” Sasha reminded him.
“Get out, both of you. Now!”
There were murmurings of agreement from the other diners.
“You all think we should leave?” Sasha asked, looking around.
“Yeah, bitch. Take your nigger and get out,” a rough-looking bearded man in a flannel shirt sitting at the bar told her.
“He called me a bitch,” Sasha said to Eam.
“Is that a derogatory term?” he asked.
“Well, it’s not as bad as nigger, but it’s not pleasant,” she replied.
“So what should I do?” he asked again.
“I think we should give them one last chance to apologise,” she said.
“Are you shitting me?” Danny erupted.
He reached out and grabbed Eam by the shoulder. He sat immobile, then looked at Sasha.
“I don’t think he’s going to apologise,” she said
“Perhaps it’s time for some exercise. But maim only, alright?”
Eam nodded. He got up, brushed off Danny’s hand, then effortlessly picked him up and threw him across the diner. He took down all the occupants of the stools who were sitting at the bar. All men, they went down like ninepins. The flannel shirt man was first on his feet and he charged at Eam, who spun him around and threw him through one of the front windows. He landed on the bonnet of a parked car, before rolling off and crashing to the ground. The other diners scattered, some ran outside and vehicles took off in all directions. One by one, the men who Eam had skittled, got up. None seemed inclined to confront him. They edged to the door and left with the other patrons.
Sasha beckoned one of the waitresses who had been standing in petrified silence, and said, “I’d like a coffee, please. Just black.”
The girl nodded, pointed at Eam who had sat down again, and asked, “And the gentleman?”
“See Eam. You’re a gentleman,” Sasha said approvingly.
“He doesn’t want anything.”
The girl hurried behind the counter, stepping over an unconscious Danny on the way. She soon came back with a cup of coffee, and trembling, put it down in front of Sasha. She looked at Eam.
“He’s very strong,” she ventured.
“Yes he is,” Sasha smiled, and sipped her coffee.
The girl retreated behind the counter with the other waitress. The diner was empty. Everyone had left. Sasha wondered if anyone would call the police, but the nearest police post was several hours away, so she wasn’t too concerned. She finished her coffee, left some money under the cup, and got up.
“Let’s go,” she said to Eam.
Obediently, he too rose, and they left the diner. Danny was still unconscious, but Sasha didn’t think there was too much wrong with him. Eam would have been very precise. He had only been ordered to maim. As for the wreckage, as far as she was concerned, Danny deserved it.
‘Thanks for the coffee, it was very nice,” she called to the waitress, who nodded in bemusement.
They got into the car.
“We can go back now,” she said to Eam.
He nodded, started the car and they headed back out of Betsyville.
She put on her earbuds and was soon listening to another Vivaldi concerto. He was her favourite composer by far. The little trip had certainly relieved her boredom. And exposing Eam to the broader community, even if only to a small redneck town was a fruitful experience. They had all assumed him to be an African American. They would have been totally freaked out if they knew he wasn’t real. Eam stood for Experimental Android Model. He was Kevin’s brainchild. An eccentric billionaire, and a tech nerd, he had been experimenting with robots for years. While she and Jim had played no part in his creation, as the brightest graduates at Caltech, Kevin had hired them to more or less babysit Eim. He had devised a number of training exercises for them to use to monitor how adaptable he was. Excited at first, Sasha was now bored and restless.
She had no idea why Kevin had made him African American. She really didn’t care. It certainly made going into places like Betsyville interesting. Now, she had to deal with Jim when she got back. Maybe she would let him take her out to dinner. He was a bit of a nerd, actually a lot of a nerd. But she could work on him. Maybe even get him into bed. You just never knew. It might not work. But it was something to do to relieve the boredom.