Always the gentleman, Bill carried his new bride over the threshold of the diner. Her long wedding dress train cascaded onto a less than mopped floor, as it dragged a thin layer of dust along with it. Noticing this spot of luck, Nora was grateful that she wouldn’t have to sweep the entryway later.
The other hostess saw he had his hands full and led Bill and his wife to a booth, where he carefully set her down. After a little pleasant patter with the hostess, Nora took to taking care of them.
Water was all he wanted, not for the missus, just a full glass for himself after a long drive. Bill gazed into his soul mate’s eyes from across the booth and his heart leapt as it always did, for he was sitting across from his Jenny. Not so much like peas and carrots, Bill’s love for Jenny went much deeper in his own mind. He thought of the two of them as a two magnets of opposite polarity who needed each other. Bill thought back to when they met…
“Good evening and thank you for joining us at VisionCore News. I’m your host, Jenny Kline, with headlines from Today, June 18th.”
How those eyes sparkled, like marbles in the sun. Her skin was unblemished and lips as rich as merlot. She could announce the earth being knocked out of orbit and it would still bring appeal to one admirer. A lonely, middle-aged fellow known only as Bill sighed audibly from his crappy little apartment as she paused for a commercial break. This gave him enough time for a cigarette before she returned with more news of the world from within a small flat screen.
The studio where she worked wasn’t far from Bill’s apartment in Burbank. He had been to the lobby on numerous occasions, with no luck of spotting her. On Bill’s next visit, he would wait. As long as it took to spot her, he would wait. After all, this was his only companion at 6 o’clock and any other hour day or night. He owed her a visit to tell this woman how much she meant to him. Time was always a factor in a state that could be swallowed up by the ocean due to ‘quakes. Probably from all the weight of National Geographics people collected over the years. At least that was Bill’s assumption of his fellow Californians. He kept these periodicals and many others stacked in his cluttered abode and figured everyone else did the same.
The tour of this impressive facility was always a bore to him. Bill didn’t care about an old set built for seven stranded castaways (to which he had a theory about figuratively being the seven deadly sins), or British double agent’s tuxedo and martini glass, which held shaken—not stirred.
However, the full scale model of a killer shark from some summer blockbuster in the 70’s did hold his interest long enough for Bill to punch it in the decaying foam head while the guide wasn’t looking. This antique monstrosity terrorizing the beaches of a supposedly fictitious island near Martha’s Vineyard was the reason Bill could not even so much as swim in a hotel pool without paranoia since the movie’s release. He felt a bit of closure with each left swing and right cross on every tour he attended.
Bill’s exit was approaching. When he saw the familiar VisionCore sign, this was his cue to discretely break off from the pack. He paid for the tour and this time, nothing would stop him from meeting his Jenny. Even a mere glimpse of her this time would satisfy Bill’s obsessive behavior. Bill sat down on his usual couch in the lobby. He was the type that never got a second glance from anyone throughout his entire monotonous life. For this particular occasion, it served him well to be hum-drum. Security guards and the receptionist had not so much as given Bill a second glance, as usual. Perfect. VisionCore was always buzzing with little worker ants. Production assistants, stage-hands and grips are always so important in their own minds. Little did these folks realize, their jobs were one spilled coffee stain on a director’s shirt from being terminated.
Jenny wouldn’t be hard to spot and Bill had all the time in the world. His walking about all day made the couch in the reception room extra cozy this time. The tired man reluctantly let his heavy eyes drop for the evening.
Waking with a start and glancing around, Bill had a small panic attack when he realized he wasn’t in his own bed. Glancing nervously, the details of his daytrip came back to him with a sense of relief. A VisionCore sign was the only light source illuminating the lobby. How long had he been asleep? Darn it, he missed another chance to meet his dream girl. Or was he still dreaming? “Awe, piss on it!” Bill muttered to himself. If he were still asleep, his back wouldn’t be so sore. His only day off from lonely work as an ATM repairman this week and he spent it without so much of a glimpse of her. Another thought crept up on Bill. His time going unnoticed through life had finally paid off. Bill could have a look around where Jenny worked without anyone telling him an area was off limits. Not even one security guard in the area. Bill had his run of the place!
The door to the soundstage was locked. Hardly a problem, as Bill dabbled in locksmithing as part of his trade. He grinned as he felt the tumblers in the lock gently give way and release the deadbolt. Bill opened the door. The set was dark. He fumbled for a light switch. Knowing that if he was caught, Bill could pretend to be mentally impaired, something that occasionally got him out of paying for his ticket on the train when a conductor came by checking. Bill froze. There was someone sitting in the news anchor’s chair across the room. Could it be? Perhaps Jenny fell asleep in the same manner as he did, getting locked in with him. “Wow!” he thought. “We are soul mates after all!” No longer thinking of any consequences whatsoever, Bill flicked the switch to the stage lights. It was Jenny alright… But something wasn’t right. There was more to this. Bill took a step back, having trouble breathing. The harsh lights revealed what television viewers at home were never going to be privileged enough to see. There was a reason camera level never dropped below Jenny’s waist, she didn’t have one. Or anything below it that resembled human. Just a two foot steel pole bolted to the floor, wrapped in wires and pistons. Bill wondered no more about why the producers had chosen not to show off this beautiful woman’s legs. They hadn’t designed her with any!
This newscaster had the shape of a seamstress’ mannequin, if you added a head and arms. Her desk, with the familiar station’s logo had been moved and a technician’s toolbox was in its place next to her base. As he walked over to this modern marvel of science, Bill tried to grasp the fact that he had been in love with a machine all along. No wonder her skin was unblemished, it was made of silicone. The merlot of her lips had been carefully painted on and the reason Jenny’s eyes sparkled like marbles is because they probably were.
Still in shock and equally fascinated at the same time, Bill followed the wires to a console. The control panel was intricate, but everything of importance was clearly marked. He turned a dial marked INTRO. Jenny’s facial expressions sprang to life.
“Good evening and thank you for joining VisionCore News. I’m your host, Jenny Cline, for…” Click.
Bill assumed the current date and time had to be programmed in for each broadcast. He located the SETTINGS button and pressed it. Jenny announced it to be Monday. She reminded him of an alarm clock radio when he continued to tap the button. “Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday…” she announced, simulating a breath in between. That was a very lifelike touch the engineers added, caused by compressed air through a tube running up Jenny’s skirt and into a set of artificial lungs.
Looking at the control board, Bill noticed the news anchor could be placed in CONVERSATION mode. He figured this purpose served for interviewing celebrities. Yet another reason for the large desk that usually covered her lower half. “To keep the network’s dirty little secret,” Bill mumbled. The prop designer even added small curtains to hide Jenny’s lower half from any prying eyes on the set. This was like some bizarre twist to The Wizard of OZ. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain, I am the Great and Powerful Jenny Cline, with today’s national weather report.
Bill didn’t care anymore. He loved her, machine or not. He flipped the switch to CONVERSATION and waited. Jenny looked over at the booth where Bill was standing. “Hello… I’m Jenny Cline. Who might you be?” Wow. Artificial Intelligence had certainly come a long way since the electrician first heard about a theory at the World Fair as a small boy.
Bill looked at her with more surprise, but answered, “Hi Jenny, I’m Bill. It’s really a pleasure to make your acquaintance.” Her number one fan still couldn’t get over how life-like she was.
“The pleasure’s mine, Bill. Are you my new technician?” she asked in the friendly tone Bill was so used to while all alone in his apartment. He pondered her question for a moment, as he looked at the tools lying beside her. “Well, that depends. Would you like me to be?”
To Whom it May Concern,
This memo doubles as letter of resignation and an apology for stealing.