Purby Stolafson took a deep breath and regarded the man and woman across his desk. He recognized the womanâ€”with her luxurious blond hair, hourglass figure and delicate features, she was unmistakably one of his. He still didnâ€™t know what to make of the man, other than he wanted him out of his office.
â€œIâ€™m sorry,â€ Purby said, reshuffling the papers on his desk. â€œWhat was the problem with her?â€
â€œHer breathing. She breathes. She doesnâ€™t stop.â€
â€œMost of our customers appreciate the breathing.â€
Purby sagged a bit in his chair. He knew where this was going. â€œIs that all? Just the breathing?â€
â€œNo! Itâ€™s not just the breathing! Itâ€™s everything! I can feel her pulse. I can hear her stomach gurgling. She eats! Itâ€™s disgusting!â€
Purby sighed. He looked at the woman, at her blank, forward stare. â€œSo, if Iâ€™m understanding you correctly, your problem with the X-3â€”you are an X-3, right?â€ She nodded. â€œYour problem with the X-3 model is that sheâ€™s too life-like.â€
â€œExactly! If I want a woman, I can go get one.â€
â€œIâ€™m sure you can, sir.â€
â€œAnd theyâ€™re a fair sight cheaper than this squishy monstrosity youâ€™ve saddled me with. Donâ€™t you have anything in chrome?â€
â€œWe donâ€™t do chrome, sir.â€
â€œExposed piston-joints, then. Blinking lights. An atomic power source. Gimme something! For Godâ€™s sake, man, youâ€™re supposed to be building robots! Is it too much to ask for them to look like it?â€ The man was on the verge of leaping out of the chair. Purby, by contrast, was sinking deeper into his.
â€œYouâ€™re not the first person to come to us with this complaint,â€ Purby said, removing a small brown business card and a voucher from his desk drawer. â€œThis is an antiques dealer down in Old Town. Heâ€™s got a machinist on staff. Iâ€™m sure they have something that meets your needs. And tell the girl out front to give you a full X-3 refund.â€
The manâ€™s attitude instantly reversed. â€œOh, thank you, Mr. Stolafson! I do appreciate it!â€ Fortunately, the man wasted no time leaving Purbyâ€™s office.
Purby relaxed and turned his attention to the woman. Her expression had not changed. â€œWell, what do you make of all this?â€
â€œTo be honest,â€ the woman said. â€œIâ€™m quite relieved.â€