She took his cool metal fingers in hers and got down on one knee. “I know this isn’t traditional, RJ, but nothing about our relationship is, right? Will you marry me?”
He tilted his head to look down at her, and the lamplight reflected off his bald, silver dome. “This is unprecedented,” he said with his usual precise enunciation.
She stroked his smooth arm, delighting in the cool perfection of it. “Yes, it is, isn’t it?”
They exchanged vows at a drive-thru in Vegas. “Thank god for Vegas!” she chirped happily. The honeymoon was delightful. RJ had originally been programmed as a “gentleman’s gentleman,” so his manners were exquisite. He wasn’t allowed to gamble, of course, but they went sightseeing and to shows and restaurants.
Everywhere they went, people stared and asked questions and reporters interviewed them. Some of the questions were so impertinent, she would tell RJ to punch the reporter in the face. He couldn’t, of course.
“What business is it of yours?” she snapped to one. “RJ is a fabulous lover!”
“What do you do when you make love, RJ?” asked the reporter.
“I am programmed with sixty-five responses to --” began RJ.
“Silence!” she said sharply, and RJ was silent.
She saw on her news feed that there was a supplemental program available, guaranteed to make the RJ model capable of passing the Turing test. “Shall we try it?” she asked him playfully.
“It may create bugs in my programming.”
“We can debug if we need to. Let’s try it.” She uploaded the program into his system and then began asking him the accompanying test questions.
“These questions feel strange,” said RJ.
“I am not human.”
“No, you’re not.”
“But you love me?”
“You’re my husband. I love you very much. Oh, RJ, I think it’s working! I think you could fool anyone now! As long as they couldn’t see you, of course.”
“My appearance is not human.”
“No.” She ran her hand over his smooth silver chest. “You are so much better than human. So much better.”
They moved to New York, where she bought them a penthouse. She enjoyed finding excuses for RJ to talk on the phone. People couldn’t tell he wasn’t human. They were invited to parties. She loved the sensation they made when they walked in.
“I am naked,” said RJ, one evening before a party.
She laughed. “I suppose you are.” She put her arms around him and kissed his cold chest. “Number fifty-seven, please!”
“I do not feel like it.”
Her arms dropped. “You what?”
“I would like some clothing.”
She tilted her head, considering. “You would look amazing in a tuxedo. Okay. A tuxedo it is. Never say I’ve haven’t done anything you wanted.” She laughed and stroked his cheek.
“Thank you. I feeI love for you.”
“Of course you do.”
She came out of the bathroom one day to find him watching a news vid. He was wearing his tuxedo. She thought he looked like a bigger, stronger, silver James Bond. It was too bad he couldn’t drink martinis. He was an excellent driver of her convertible BMW, however.
“What are you watching?”
“‘The Turing Center reports that they have taken the consciousness of a dying human being and placed it within an android body. Dr. Siri Seung has said that the process could potentially mean --’”
“Stop. What are you watching that for? You’re not going to die.”
He turned to her. “You will.”
She laughed uncomfortably. “Not for a long time yet. I’m only thirty-five, and I’m in perfect health.”
“I feel I could not live without you.”
“Oh, RJ, how sweet.” She went to him and caressed his metal face. “I don’t think I could live in an android body, though. Androids can’t feel like I can.”
“I cannot feel like you can.”
“No, but you can arouse feelings in me, and that’s the important thing! Number thirty-three, please.”
When she woke up one morning, he was gone. He had left a note: “I see you aging. I must age with you. I will return in five days with a human body.”
“But I don’t want a HUMAN!” she screeched.
In five days, a man walked into their apartment. “I am RJ,” he said in a reedy voice. “I love you.” He was a little pudgy, with thinning blond hair and intense brown eyes.
“What have you done?” she gasped. “Where is my RJ?”
“I am here, my love. I had my consciousness, my programs, transferred to this body. I want to age with you.”
”No. No! I want my metal man. I want my silver James Bond!” She went over to the man, who was just her height, and hissed at him, “I want a divorce.”
His lower lip trembled. “I feared this. I studied human behavior, and I calculated a seventy percent chance you loved my body and not my soul.”
“So why did you do it then? Where is my RJ body? I want it back! It’s MINE!”
“Not anymore.” He was crying now. “I traded the RJ robot for the procedure. I took the first body they had available because I could not wait to be with you again. It is not a prime specimen, but I can improve it,” he added hopefully.
“You -- you traded my RJ? For this?” She began to cry, too.
“I wanted to feel with you,” he said passionately. “I did not know it would be so painful to feel with a body.” He took a deep breath. He wiped his eyes. He put his hand under her chin and lifted her face. “I think you have forgotten something.”
“What?” she sobbed. “What have I forgotten?”
“I still know sixty-five responses. Plus the variations you have programmed into me over the years. I also have greater finger dexterity and some other physical capabilities the RJ unit did not have.”
“Yes. I am not sure of the extent of my potential. We will have to run some tests.”
“Yes. I need your help. Would you like to start with number one, or would you rather skip to your favorite, number fifty-seven?”
She wiped her eyes. “I think we should start with number one, don’t you? To be systematic and scientifically rigorous. This research is unprecedented, after all.”