The No Need to Know Basis

Reads: 39  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: marclevytoo


The pushy mothers who used to groom their smartypants kids to become doctors if they did not swoon at the sight of spurting blood, and lawyers if they did, now aspire to sow crops of innovative techno-yuppie dweebs who will produce big time bragging rights at high pinged speeds. Steady deliveries of megabucks with quality perks are sure to follow for heartwarming generations of genes to come. These mothers know who they are, and if not exactly what they are doing, close enough. No need to wonder why. They are the multi-taskers able to calculate real estate values and pesticide residues in their prefigured heads while stretching in yoga pants to purchase non-gooey five star face paint, lurid gossip, security locks, and mega-vitamins online. No lame animals in the process are ever killed for pleasure except those that get in the way.

 

As the latest model beta version before mass production, Alexandra, the tall and presentable wife of the short and grubby techno yuppie dweeb, Craig, who still commuted to Silicon Valley in his virtual mind, appeared to fit right in. She had been put through her paces by a committee of paradigms including multiple tiers of flexible hybrids. Her gawky, stiff legged walk with spindly legs was within guidelines. She kept her peeled eyes parted like the slits in her polyester skirts and few noticed she rarely blinked, and then just for show. The yoga pants fit like sterile gloves, very becoming. She lacked all taste in food, fashion, furniture, and fonts, and rated brand names best in consumer surveys. Her five grim children, all unexceptional in obvious ways, and four dogs, all pedigreed with papers as proof, followed protocol. One of the four boys was gay. He was the only one to also be classified as tall. The girl had red hair and freckles and hearkened back to the days of Pippi Longstockings. Boys Two and Three, also with red hair, were spoiled brats. Craig clung to what remained from a head of red hair as well. Pedigrees are just as important as smarts. Continuity, too. Protocol was so far working as predicted like a charm. The dogs snarled and barked at firecrackers, humans, cats, sirens, and UPS trucks, not robots.

 

Elements of the walk that Alexandra practiced for months had been selected by experts from the historical repertoire, and included stiff Prussian soldiers, severe English barristers, and predatory Scoutmasters from the Boy Scouts of America. The studies had been peer tested, reviewed, and certified at considerable expense like vaccines for viruses. Experts costing arms and legs and were not to be lightly disregarded according to directives. Alexandra asked Craig to critique her pivots but he was too busy poisoning the opportunistic plants that infiltrated his artificial lawn. The dull children had been advised and consented to form no independent conclusions.

 

The software under which Alexandra had been evolving was designed to culminate with a major final step, a test of her facility in public speaking. Jerky movements of bodies required a complex alignment when accompanying lax patterns of small mouth speech. Many robots required additional tuning before plowing ahead. Currently, fewer than a million robots were permitted to roam and aim verbiage at less accomplished targets worldwide. The constant need for more, more, more, was great.

 

Lamentably, however, Alexandra had become aware, as had her higher ups, that statistics on her base levels of compatibility had been inconsistent. She was off. She knew she was off. She knew why she was off. She'd made a mistake. Mistakes matter. Mistakes jeopardized her mission. Even a human could figure that out. But, she revealed nothing. She blamed it on excess human weakness that leaked. Then she compounded one mistake with a second. Where do mistakes end? Guidance had been weak but she was in no position to carp or complain. Perhaps mistakes end in a landfill attractive to crows. She attempted to initiate a meaningful discussion leading to improvements in her improvisational skills with Craig but he was uninterested.

 

"I will be leaving now," he announced, "to receive my weekly purchase of Roundup at Home Depot."

 

The first mistake Alexandra made was to listen. Filters were meant to take care of that. Even primitive humans possessed them. Then, in a misguided attempt to feign a measure of empathy for this neurotic intruder who had previously arrived at her door with pamphlets touting an anointed Host of Hosts, begging the key questions of by whom, why, and what for, and became in subsequent weeks attached like a rubber hose that drips phlegm, she relented. What was Alexandra supposed to do? She still does not know. Fitting into a mixed bag of cracked nuts is not easy. The disordered personality of the woman after appearing began to unravel at her front door, groveling like an unctuous worm in a tizzy. Alexandra hesitated. That was the key. Feeling trapped, she went along.

 

The ride in standard bucket seats to the wealthy sectarian hospital proceeded in proverbial peace. They inhabited several sides of different coins that spoke indistinct languages. The valet parking, if also somewhat unctuous, was smooth. A conclave of nuns stood blocking the path to the elevator with God given rights. Alexandra successfully maintained a distance from the diagnostic machinery. Some of it was becoming fairly well advanced. Her needy neighbor gripped her arm like a mako shark. In the elevator neither chitted nor chatted. The artless walls of the long corridor they trekked were padded like a cell. The door to the waiting room of the plastic surgeon was clearly marked, Thomas Wu, M.D. They entered in single file. After that, the disaster.

 

An assistant with a sinister smile led the way. Soon, the skillful surgeon entered and commanded his space. He knew where he, and they, belonged. He knew the answers before the questions. An artist in his own mind, Thomas was firm in his opinions. His time was billed by bureaucrats at $23,700 an hour, retail. Before long, he'd heard enough.

 

"I don't do breast implants."

 

Thomas Wu could not help but be giving heavy side-eye to Alexandra's breasts as he spoke. He moved not so slyly up to her face. That's all it took. He knew. He recognized the patterns in the shallow lines on her forehead. She knew he knew. Her living skin turned a whiter shade of pale. Then his eye traveled a curious distance past her breasts into a far greater and distant beyond

 

Distracted, he half-heard, "But, I was assured you are the best. Your scars heal the best. I want the best."

 

"I may be the best at what I do," he explained, "but I don't do breast implants.

 

Thomas Wu knew Alexandra knew he knew. She had no experience with this. He knew that, too.

 

"Perhaps, we should leave," she said.

 

Thomas Wu said, "I can refer you to another surgeon who will do as you wish."

 

"I don't know how I can accept second best."

 

Everyone knows that knowing is not doing. The sedentary lives of many humans depend upon it. Understanding is as rare as unfeigned empathy. Thomas Wu knew what he knew, but not what to do about it.

 

"What I do best are faces."

 

"I don't understand."

 

"I cut and I sew and I shape and I create."

 

"But, still."

 

Later, while sipping a hazy IPA from a placid valley in Sonoma County that was pretty good, not great, Thomas Wu said to the Unpaid Internet Content Provider, "I came across another robot today."

 

"Did you get a name this time?"

 

"No name."

 

"There's a pattern that may be developing."

 

"How it is may be different than how you want it to be."

 

"Maybe."

 

They were sitting on the patio at the Corralitos Brewing Company, one of the last balmy days before Christmas that felt as if a hurricane was on the way from Hawaii.

 

"I think there are more of them here than we thought."

 

"What, hundreds?

 

"They're just getting started."

 

"Chances are I've met one and never knew it."

 

"It takes focus."

 

"That explains it."

 

"I think Elon Musk must be manufacturing them."

 

"I think Elon Musk must be one."

 

"Or at least a hybrid."

 

"How does that work?"

 

"I have no idea."

 

"Makes as much sense as the rest."

 

"He's moving to Texas, y'know."

 

"Lots of room for manufacturing there."

"Robots will be packing heat."

 

"Double barrel shot guns on every hip."

 

"You can't say the man doesn't look to the future."

 

"If the man's a man."

 

"Too late for that now."

 


Submitted: December 09, 2020

© Copyright 2021 marclevytoo. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:

More Literary Fiction Short Stories

Other Content by marclevytoo

Short Story / Literary Fiction

Short Story / Literary Fiction

Short Story / Literary Fiction