Autonomously Yours

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Chapter 6 - Endearment

Patricia and James sat down for dinner in the dining room at a table almost as long as the house itself. Patricia sat at one end while James took his place way down at the other. Miriam brought in the roast chicken, placed it in the middle of the table and began cutting portions for the two people sitting opposite each other.

Miss, white or dark meat?” Miriam asked Patricia.

“What?”

Miriam raised her voice. “White or dark, miss?

“A little of both please!” she screamed back, purposely in a voice louder than it had to be, most likely to prove a point.

Patricia waited patiently as Miriam served the both of them, then waited until she left the room to say anything else.

“Jimmy,” she called out, but he just continued to eat his dinner as if he heard nothing. She tried again.

“Hey, Jimmy!” That time she followed it with a sharp whistle to make sure he wouldn’t miss it. He raised his head.

“Yes?”

“This is ridiculous and you know it,” she said as she stuck out her finger and beckoned him. He grabbed his plate and made his way over. As he reached her, she pulled out the seat next to her and patted it, inviting him to take it.

“Now, what was that?” she asked him.

“I wanted to give you a little privacy to eat your dinner without interruption.”

“You wanted to give me privacy. At dinner. A dinner we’re eating together. In the same room,” she said, with an extra helping of sarcasm.

“Well, when you put it that way…” he said.

“Honey, that sounds silly no matter what way you put it.”

“I’m sorry. You’re right. As you can probably tell I’m more than a little nervous,” he said, as he awkwardly stuffed a large piece of potato into his mouth.

“Jimmy, you had your head on my lap. You had no sense of nervousness then.”

He choked a little on his mouth full of food. “What? My head was on your lap?” he asked with genuine ignorance. He started to sweat into his carrots and potatoes.

Patricia grabbed his hand to calm him down.

“Why don’t we have that personal chat you were waiting for this occasion to have?”

“Yes, let’s,” he said and he lay his utensils down beside his plate.

“Castillo, explain,” she pressed.

“Ah, yes. Well, as you stated it’s Spanish in origin, but my father was Filipino, so you hit the nail on the head. And my mother’s great, great grandmother was from Guatemala.”

“My, what a varied background you have.”

“And you, what about your family?”

“Let’s see, my great, great, great grandfather was a teddy bear that sang songs when you pressed his palm. He had this amazing feature in where you could put a thing called a cassette tape into his back and it would play directly from his mouth. And he married a Barbie doll if you can believe it. Generations of wire transfers later has produced this magnificent piece of hardware you see here today,” she said with a chuckle.

“I keep forgetting,” James said through cupped fingers as he buried his face in his hands, no doubt embarrassed by his blunder. Patricia caressed his head.

“Let’s keep conversation focused on you, okay?”

He lifted his head and composed himself the best he could. She continued.

“Now, what do you do for a living if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Of course I don’t. I am the CEO of Castillo Transport,” he said.

That’s why I knew him. His family was well known for years for their work in engineering and transportation. This guy was also known for his immense generosity and philanthropy: his charity organization, Cast Iron Hearts, raises billions for charity a year. But he keeps a low profile; I had never seen so much as a picture of him until this moment.

“I’m not sure you have heard of it,” he continued.

“I have. But what I’m not sure of is exactly what your company does,” she answered.

“Well, are you familiar with the driverless vehicles on the road today?”

“That was you?”

“That was us. Well, not all us. Other companies had a hand in first creating the technology years ago. But, ninety percent of the automobiles in the developed world use our specific systems today.”

“Impressive.”

“My company also introduced, then perfected the specific maglev system that the city’s public transportation rides on. It’s unique to this city. Not even Japan uses anything like it, although theirs is equally impressive, I must say. Have you…”

“No, I haven’t ridden on it,” she said, finishing his sentence for him.

“Ah, of course you haven’t.”

She then looked up, as in thought, then, looked back to him and said, “Ah, now that I think about it I have heard your name before. I also seem to recall you winning some sort of award recently,” she said.

She didn’t know that. Not previously anyway. He didn’t notice it, but she had just used her built-in AirFi capabilities to search for information on him. I’m particularly proud of that function and was glad to see it was working correctly. She also used it quite sparingly; I’m sure she could of looked up everything about him if she wanted to, but she didn’t.

“Which do you speak of?” he asked her.

“Not a humble bone in your body, Jimmy.”

“I did not mean it that way.”

“Kidding, Jimmy. Please explain.” She touched his hand lovingly.

“We have won quite a bit of awards as of late.”

He crossed his arms proudly.

“Perhaps the one you’re speaking of is our most recent: we’ve just received one for best gender and machine equality in the work force. We have an equal amount of female, male and robotic workers, the first in the nation to do so. And, of those machines we have an equal amount of female and male types of each,” he said. I could see the pride gleaming off of his teeth as his smile reached from ear to ear.

“Wow,” she exclaimed as she quietly clapped for him, “I’m proud of you. Congratulations.”

“It’s kind of a shame that such an award for such recognition still exists in the year 2116, but I’m still happy to have won it. It took a while to achieve. I strived for it.”

“I’m sure your family must be proud as well,” she stroked his hand, and he grabbed it and kissed it.

“Speaking of which, there’s someone I’d like you to meet,” he said.

“Really? Who?”

“It might be a little early, or awkward to meet this person for you. You know what, it might be a bad idea actually.”

“Jimmy. Spit it out. Who?”

“Well… it’s… it’s my mother.”

“Jimmy, that’s a fabulous idea.”

“Really, you think so?”

“I’d love to meet her.”

“Okay. I’ll make the call after dinner,” he said.

“Why wait? Make it now. You got me all excited.”

“Yes, why not?”

He pressed behind his ear lobe and spoke the word “Mother.” He looked into Patricia’s eyes and smiled as he waited for an answer.

“Hello. Mother. How are you this evening?” he asked. His mother’s answer took an especially long time to finish, as he spoke his next words two minutes later.

“Nice to hear… That’s fine… No. I know it’s been a while... I’m sorry, mother. I will.”

His expression was strained as he spoke to her.
“Anyway, mother, I was calling to see if you had plans next Friday… Well, I’d tell you why if you’d just let me.”

He looked at Patricia with sympathetic eyes

“Well, I have someone I’d like you to meet… No, not another colleague. It’s a woman, a special someone… Mother, please, enough with the sarcasm. Yes, she’s real,” he said and he looked, with worried eyes, at Patricia to see her expression.

“Yes. Next Friday at 7pm at Tides of the Sea… Yes, that place you like… Well, because I wanted to give you an early invitation… That’s wonderful… Yes. I will… I will. I will see you then… Good night, mother. I love––”

He didn’t get a chance to finish the end of that last statement before the person on the other end ended the conversation.

“It’s all set,” he said to Patricia.

“Great. I can’t wait to meet her.”

“I can’t wait for you to meet her, either. Patricia, that bit about you being real…”

“I appreciated that.”

“Oh, I’m so happy to hear that. I know that you aren’t completely real, but…” Patricia placed her hand over his mouth.

“I’m as real as you need me to be.”

They both smiled at each other and returned to their dinner of roasted chicken and vegetables.


The rest of that week and a half was pretty tame. Nothing of importance happened, nothing noteworthy, anyway.

They spent most of the week talking about his business, or food, or history, specifically the history of technology and transportation in America. Truthfully, it was fascinating to me, as he was quite knowledgeable about the subject; he would have to be to be in this business. Had she been a normal, live human being I suspect she would have been bored to tears, but being the good, programmed android that she was she lapped up every word and anecdote he told her. She laughed, as if on cue, to all his corny jokes, and she sympathized with him when he would come home from a particularly stressful workday. Afterwards, at night, he would take her to all the best eateries he knew. They ranged from the most lavish, extravagant Mediterranean fusion restaurant in the city to the cheapest, ‘tastiest burger joint in the county.’ His words.

She couldn’t taste a thing, but you wouldn’t know it by the way she reacted to everything he treated her to. She went on and on about how succulent each morsel of meat was, how wonderful the texture of this and that dish were, how she was able to notice the subtle differences between the French wines and the ones from Italy. All lies, of course. Well, not lies, per say, but slight embellishments to endure her to him.

He took her to his company three of the seven days and introduced her to all the workers he could. Some were surprised to see her, some weren’t, but all were cordial, treating her with the utmost respect, as if she had been his newly wedded wife. And he, in turn, treated her as such.

When the skins weren’t looking, she bonded with some of the robotic workers––I recognized quite a bit of them as ones I had worked on in the past. She tried to covertly ask a couple of them if they had known or remembered someone named ‘Harold,’ trying to recreate the experience she had with Miriam. Of course, they had no idea of whom she was speaking of, but I appreciated the effort. Miriam was either a fluke or a glitch, I had surmised.

All in all, this was a wholly different experience than it was with the other client. Where Rob walked down the street with her like a piece of arm jewelry with the express purpose of being gawked at, James treated her like a friend rather than a romantic partner. I saw no signs of him trying to show her off in any way or manner. He was, however, very chivalrous; opening doors ahead of her, bringing food to her when it was up for order, pulling out chairs and such. It was refreshing to see these actions. I can’t remember the last time I’ve witnessed someone act this way toward a woman.

Well, someone other than myself. I used to be that way with my wife.

Finally, I had some hope for this project.

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