My BuddyBuddy just sits there with a stupid look on its face. I read the assembly instructions on my tablet again, but can’t see where I’ve done anything wrong. I really don’t want to take its arms, legs, and head back off. I’m sure I’d never get everything to fit in the crate again. And what the hell did I do with the return label?
It looks side to side, then grins at me. “Diag-what?”
“BuddyBuddy, are you defective?”
“I like chocolate.”
So much for that. I might as well get this over with. I start to retrieve my tool box, then decide to try one more thing. I search for “troubleshooting stupid” in the manual and learn that “Your unit has been shipped with average intelligence, but your BuddyBuddy’s intellectual capacity is fully adjustable. You will find a Smart Screw recessed in the base of the skull. Turn clockwise to increase intelligence, counter-clockwise to reduce.”
I try to reach behind my BuddyBuddy, but it keeps pushing at my hand and saying “Pattycake.”
“BuddyBuddy, stop!” I command. It puts its hands on its lap and slouches in the chair. I feel behind its head and discover that its SmartScrew must have loosened during shipping because it’s about to fall out. I tighten it as far as it’ll go with my Torque Driver. Then I give an extra grunt for good measure…and break off the head of the screw.
BuddyBuddy sits up. “Unzipping files…Installing…Syncing.” Then it stands and reaches out its hand. “BuddyBuddy here. And whom might you be?”
“Uh, Fred, Fred Peters.”
“Pleased to meet you Fred Fred. I have a thought experiment for you. Imagine that–“
“Not Fred Fred, just Fred.”
“Fine, Just Fred. Now, imagine…”
Great. Now it’s so smart it doesn’t have any common sense. It goes on and on with its “thought experiment”…something about super strings and brains actually being the same things in alternate realities. I take a quick bathroom break, and when I come back BuddyBuddy’s grabbed a black marker.
“…and I can prove this mathematically.” It starts writing on the wall.
It ignores me. I grab my tablet, open the remote control screen, and hit the Off button repeatedly.
“Hey, that tickles.” BuddyBuddy quits writing and turns toward me. “I made some software adjustments, Just Fred.” It looks at the equations on the wall and then at me. “This is way over your head, isn’t it?”
“Don’t be patroni–“ At that moment, my black Lab bounds into the room and gives me a big wet kiss. “Louis, boy, I love you, too, but now’s not a good time.”
BuddyBuddy looks at me…then at Louis…then back at me.
“Oh, no you don’t,” I say. “I’m not your pet. Don’t even think about it.”
BuddyBuddy holds out its hand toward me with its fingers curled under. “Good boy, good boy.”
“BuddyBuddy, cut it out,” I shout.
“Easy, big fellla, easy,” it says to me. “Want a treat? Would you like that? Treat?”
Enough’s enough. There’s gotta be some way to stop this. I grab my tablet and search “troubleshooting–emergency shutoff.” Yes.
I walk slowly toward BuddyBuddy. “Treat?” I say. “Yes, want treat. Treat!” I point a finger toward my open mouth as I creep closer and closer.
“Hm, what might we have for a treat?” BuddyBuddy looks around, and when it does, I reach down and press the button recessed between its legs. It immediately collapses in a heap at my feet.
An hour or so later, after finding the return label and struggling for the umpteenth time to get the head, torso, arms, and legs to fit in the crate, I close the lid as best I can and sit on it. I hear something crack, and the cover clicks into place.
I breathe a sigh of relief. Thank goodness for the emergency shut-off. I wonder where it is on the SexBuddy model? I’ll have to ask my ex-girlfriend. If she ever returns my calls.
David Henson and his wife have lived in Belgium and Hong Kong over the years. They now reside in Peoria, Illinois with their dog, who loves to walk them in the woods. His work has appeared in Theme of Absence, Fiction on the Web, Literally Stories, 365 Tomorrows, Flash Fiction Magazine, The Eunoia Review, and Dime Show Review, among others. His website is http://writings217.wordpress.com