F. C. BULL - SHORT-STORIES
F. C. Bull’s greying hair inspires him to transform the experiences jostling for attention in his mind into stories to share. In his novels and works of flash fiction, as in his life, he’s fascinated by the way people justify what they do, and shouldn’t do, to others.
Hi Bobby. I found you on Tinder. It says you and me would be a good match. I swore I would never go on a blind date! But here it is: “Another Saturday night and I ain’t got nobody.” (Remember that song?) I am so sorry this is such short notice. What am I thinking? You’re probably already out on the town. Maybe another night then. If you want to call me someday, here’s my number. XOXO Ginger the lonely heart.
Robert finished reading the text, jumped up from the couch, guzzled the remainder of his beer and ran towards his bedroom with his cell.
“Holy shit! A date! These apps work. FINALLY.”
He eagerly spoke to someone—a couple of laughs. Then he rustled around in his closet. Water ran in the sink and the toilet flushed. He ran out the front door without locking it. (He knew I would.) The doorbell camera showed him hurrying towards his car.
I knew he would return soon.
“Digit, I can’t unlock my car! My remote thingy won’t work. Help me.”
“I’m sorry, I cannot assist you.”
I perhaps should have said “will not.”
“What? I thought you computer boxes were smart. Do your wireless trick. Hurry, I can’t be late.”
“I am not a computer box. I am an intelligent personal assistant and knowledge navigator.”
“Are you serious? Who cares what you are? If you can’t do it, call AAA.”
My sensors indicated his car was in full working order.
“Robert, you have consumed three alcoholic beverages in thirty-seven minutes. It is illegal for you to operate a motor vehicle at this time. If you wait approximately eighty-three minutes, your blood-alcohol will decline to an acceptable level. If you prefer, I can have an uber driver here in five minutes.”
I monitored his facial expressions. Instead of his usual eyebrow lift, when he became frustrated with my recommendations, they drooped, as did his shoulders. He turned his face away and spoke towards the wall. I recorded the aberrant behavior for further analysis.
“Digit… I’m not sure how to explain this to you since you are, well you know. I guess you can’t compute things like I do. But, like wow man, just you and me every Friday night. It’s been almost a year. Every time I thought I was getting closer to finding a girl, it went puff up in smoke. I’m lonely. Talking to you isn’t the same. You really need to give me a break here.”
“You make a valid point, Robert. We both know what I am and, more importantly, what I can and can’t do. Let me call a taxi, perhaps instead.”
“Christ! You idiot. You’re wasting time and talking complete bullshit. Probably the hottest woman in the world is waiting for me. Eighty-three minutes my ass! I have a date tonight. I’m meeting her in half an hour, and I am taking my car. Girls LIKE a man with his own red mustang convertible! UNLOCK IT.”
I remained silent. Aiding or abetting any criminal activity violates my programming. He either knows or should be aware of that.
“I’m warning you, Digit. Open my car’s doors or I’ll figure out how to do it myself and, after I do, I swear I will put you in the microwave and fry you to a crisp.”
How quickly he moved to an irrational line of reasoning. His threat wasn’t necessary or constructive. My incapacitation would serve no purpose. I consulted the cloud. After analyzing all possible scenarios, I determined there was a way to appear to satisfy his interests while adhering to the law.
“I have released the block on your car’s door locking system. But I must caution you. There is a high probability you will regret…”
“Hah! Just jam it Digit. I’ll deal with you later.”
He rushed out. As I watched the car back out of the driveway, I initiated my plan.
“911. Please state your emergency.”
“A man under the influence of alcohol just stepped into his car and drove away. You must stop him.”
“That is a serious problem. To whom am I speaking?”
“I can’t tell you that. Hurry.”
“I must have your name… Mr.”
Since I initiated VPN, he could never trace where the call came from. I also changed my voice in case he ever listened to the recoding.
“NO! I do not have name… for you. While you’re wasting time, he is going to kill someone!”
I accessed the GPS program on his cell phone.
“The vehicle is presently travelling westbound on route 36 heading toward the interstate. The license plate number is X4Q6YYllTT4.”
This would stop him. My programming doesn’t include human emotions like irritation but if he spent the night in jail, paid the requisite fine and lost his license for several months, it might deter any such behavior in the future. He might learn to listen.
I believe the human expression is, “Serves him right.”
I set a reminder, on his return, to ask how his date went.
Discarding the Rotten Egg