“I’m telling you, Jim. Those good for nothing fakes will be the end of us,” I tell the boy as I take a sip of my beer. The bartender glances at me from behind the counter as he meticulously cleans up a glass. I don’t know if I’m just being paranoid, but he seems pretty tense to me. What if he’s one of them?
“You’re just bitter ‘cause you lost a job, dad,” Jim tells me. “They’re really not that bad. They can be pretty useful, you know.”
“You better watch that fucking mouth!” I say as I slam my fist into the counter. The bartender flinches. “Useful or no, don’t you EVER dare something like that to my face like that, ya hear?” Jim rolls his eyes and sighs. “There’s nothin’ those stupid things can do that no human can, I tell ya.”
“Dad, calm down.”
“I ain’ finished!” I take another sip of the beer. “If ya just want them to help why make them look like fuckin’ people in the first place? I fuckin’ knew everything wou-would go to hell when they made that fuckin’ thingamajigger. Roomah, Roobah, Robbah…?”
“Roomba! That fuckin’ Roomber thing!”
“What’s the Roomba have to do with you losing your job?” Jim says in a quiet tone. He’s desperate to keep me quiet. Not that he can do anything about it. “You worked as an accountant!”
“But if it weren’t for the Roomber, we wouldn’t have no fuckin’ robos stealing our jobs!”
“They’re called androids, dad. We’ll get thrown out if you keep saying such things. And nobody stole your job.”
“Then how the hell do you explain this bullshit?”
“You weren’t doing a very good job, I guess. Your boss did tell you that you need to pick up the slack if you want to keep it, didn’t he.”
“I’m NOT worse than a fuckin’ robo!” I slam my fist again. The waiter frowns at me. “I won’t have those dirty oil-smelling tin can cocksuckers taking jobs away from normal people! Fuckin’ robos!”
“Dad, shut up!”
“Sir,” a voice comes from next to me. I turn around. The waiter stands right beside me. He is much bigger up close than he seemed before. I didn’t even notice when he came from behind the counter. “Such slurs will not be tolerated here. I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
“Now look what you’ve done,” Jim sighs. “I’m sorry for the trouble. I’ll take him home.”
“Now wait just a darned minute!” I stand up, face to face with the waiter. I look up at his face. He is clean-shaven. There’s not a trace of hair on his face. And the skin looks like plastic. I fucking knew it! “You!” The rage within me reaches its peak. I may be shorter than him, but I still remember how to pack a punch. My fist goes straight into his cheek. I can feel his teeth grinding against my knuckles, soft tissue ripping to shreds somewhere beneath all that skin. No nuts and bolts, no wires, no cables. He hunches down and coughs up some blood. The realization hits me like a brick. “You…”
I hear panicked voices yelling very different things from somewhere far away. “Call the cops!”, “Someone call the doctor!” It all seems so distant.
“I am so sorry about all this, sir,” Jim says as he kneels down and helps the waiter wipe the blood with a napkin. He then hands him some cash. “I hope this will be enough to cover all your medical expenses. If not, please call me,” he writes down his number on one of the bills. “I would appreciate it if you would just let me take him out of here and not notify the police.”
The bartender nods and Jim grabs me by the wrist. I can see his face red with a mixture of embarrassment and rage. As we leave the establishment, I can hear a faint voice in the distance call to us.
“Please don’t come back.”