A young man and woman sit at a table in a London pub. The woman is almost inscrutably calm, just back from a third fag. The man aligns the lip of an ashtray with the tabletop grain, clutches his elbow, flicks his nose.
Man: And by the third novel, it was like, Houellebecq man, this is the first two again.
Woman: Yeah, like he’s trying to work something out, and does, but it won’t take.
Man: Yeah. Ah, this is peaceful isn’t it. I haven’t had this for… must be five years.
Woman: About two here. I don’t want to spoil it by getting piddled though eh.
Man: Yeah, no. But sod’s law, I’ve been just about deaf in my left ear all day. Every bloody time I’m due to meet up with a woman…
Man: It’s just a coincidence, it’s not psychosomatic. This morning some water fell in my ear and–
Woman: Some water fell in your ear?!
Man: Yeah, you know like when some water falls in your ear? That. I was in the shower, which has tended to increase the likelihood.
Woman: Your voice just went falsetto then as well, what are you nervous about?
Man: I’m not nervous, it’s–
Unfortunately it has happened again during the word ‘not’. At this point another man appears. He’s at least 7 foot 16; leather jacket; thick, glossy brown hair seldom seen on non-equine lifeforms. He comes to a stop at the table and fixes his gaze on the woman. The first man’s eyes swoop to his knees, the woman does a double-take.
2nd Man: [to the woman] I think you’re done here, aren’t you?
His voice is so rich that several patrons’ internal organs dissolve. The furniture’s varnish ages drastically. He holds out his arm to receive hers. She rises like a snake. I’m not implying anything there, I’m being literal, it’s just how it looks.
Woman: I’ll just… go… to the Ladies’…
2nd Man: [bowing] But of course.
The woman goes to the toilet. The second man sits down with the first. The first man reaches out – a screwdriver is in his hand.
Man: Part of your neck covering’s come loose. We’re lucky she didn’t notice. I’ll just…
He screws the artificial flesh back in place.
Man: Okay, as usual it turns out she doesn’t give a shit, push to shove. Well if we keep this up, one a day, two at weekends, you’ll have paid for yourself before I hit 60. Superb. Let’s go before she gets back.
The man lifts a control pad and presses a button. The robot rises.
2nd man: Yes, Master.
The two leave. A woman sitting at the bar turns, clearly grumbling. A similar control pad is in her hand. She looks over at the Ladies’, huffs and puffs.
2nd Woman: These bloody things, where the fuck is…
The barman turns to the second woman with a chuckle.
Barman: Oh ho ho ho! Oh ho ho ho! Now don’t you worry your pretty little head about technology there Madam…