Author : Gray Blix, Featured Writer [ bio ]

Richard walks the dark streets of the worst part of town, a noir figure in a fedora and trench coat, his eyes casting about for shadows that move, his ears yearning to hear a cry for help. Nothing. He can’t remember his last assignment, his last rendezvous, his last secret password, his last foreign intrigue… no memory of claptrap from a bygone era, because memory was at a premium in the old days, and they’d only issued him 16K.

Even though he’s a walking relic, he feels young, as if he’d joined the Service just yesterday. His girl has a lot to do with that. The girl of his dreams come to life, she has Grable’s million dollar gams, and Russell’s voluptuous bazongas, and Bacall’s sultry pillow talk. What a dame. But deep down he knows he doesn’t deserve her. He hasn’t won her for sending the bad guys to jail, or to hell.

And worst of all, he’s a kept man. Yeah, it crushes his soul to depend on her for everything, for life itself — for vacuum tubes.

Back home, Constance sits by the window, looking onto the dimly lit street below, waiting for him to return from his midnight walk. She knows he aches to get into the fight, to right wrongs, to defend his country, to earn the devotion of a dame like her. It was designed into his circuits, and she loves him for it.

He is the man of her dreams. Literally one of a kind. The shining achievement of a top secret project to make a robot agent generations ahead of its time — able to outthink Enigma, to shed bullets, to overcome evil, to go 24 hours without recharging, and most important to her personally, to pleasure women. That last feature was added in hopes of turning foreign fems into spies for America. Connie gladly role-plays Axis Fraulein to stimulate Dick’s Allied Powers.

She had come across him at a government surplus auction, standing next to the crate that had preserved him for nearly 70 years. Others had thought he was a statue or a clothes mannequin and passed by without stopping. But she immediately saw something special about him. He was a hunk of a guy — healthy mop of brown hair, laughing green eyes, kissable lips, square jaw, and the body of an Olympic athlete. Lingering to examine him carefully from head to toe, she marveled at the attention to detail. Moles, scars, hairs in nose and ears. She found his power cord and wondered what it was for. Some sort of pre-Disney animatronics? Whatever. It didn’t matter. She had to have him. Didn’t bargain. Just paid the $100 cash and had him placed in the passenger seat of her Prius. Almost forgot his user manual!

To this day, three years later, she still wakes up in a panic from the recurring nightmare of forgetting to take the user manual. But it’s always right there on her bedside table, and he’s next to her, emitting the reassuring hum of his battery charger.

He stops. A muffled cry? Over there, in the alley behind the tavern. Two figures silhouetted, a man and a woman, struggling. He runs towards them, kicking a can, alerting the man.

“This is between me and her. And I got a gun.”

He’s just twenty feet away when the bullets ricochet off of him. He slams into the man, who collapses like a broken mannequin. The girl runs away.

He dusts off his coat, picks up his fedora, and heads for home. There will be no need for role-play tonight.

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