You guys know I’m not real keen on special recognition for various groups. Still, sometimes it helps bring attention to issues and that has to be a good thing. Women’s health week is apparently kicked off by Mother’s Day, and runs through the rest of the week.
Things happened this way…
I slipped out to the writing cabin unannounced. The little gyro-copter landed smoothly, and I spun it around at the end of the runway to take back off. Then I slipped into the writing cabin through the front door.
Lisa* was nowhere to be seen, but there was no fooling her. “What are you doing out here today?” drifted down the stairs.
“I didn’t get everything finished over the weekend.” It was a lie, and it tasted bad. Still, sometimes you do the wrong thing on the way to the right thing.
Lisa picked her way downstairs and rounded the corner.
“Um, what are you wearing?”
“I picked this up in New York when I was promoting your book. I don’t really have anywhere to wear it, so I decided to wear it here.”
“Is that, what, rubber?”
“No, it’s latex. I liked the polka dots, and the cute bows. You know how something looks really cute in the store, then you take it home and it’s still cute, but you don’t really have anywhere to wear it?”
“No, not exactly.”
“Well, believe me, it’s a genuine problem. It makes me happy, but I’m stuck wearing it around the house.”
“Isn’t it, you know, sweaty?”
“You would think so, but genetically modified human skin doesn’t sweat.”
“All my women readers are going to hate you for that.”
“Oh no! Do you really think so?”
“No. I’m just teasing. Look, what if we goof off today and go somewhere that you can wear it?”
“Where would that be?”
“What about the casinos on Tabula Rasa?”
“The space city? I haven’t been there for a long time. What’s the hitch? You’ve got some research or something to do, huh? It’s a whole city of science and research, plus a few tourist attractions.”
“Maybe, but there’ll be plenty of time to go shopping or hit a casino before we have to come home. How’s the oxygen in the gyro-copter?”
Lisa’s eyes fluttered while she logged onto the cabin’s systems. “There is plenty of oxygen for you. I don’t need any.”
“Grab your purse, and let’s get moving.”
Lisa went up the stairs in a flurry. I heard her telling Bunny, her pet rabbit something, and she came back down while still programming her purse to match her outfit. Heaven forbid she didn’t match one time.
We got in the little gyro and lifted off. I had to circle several times to gain the altitude we needed.
“Let me fly, you’re drifting into the commercial lanes.” Lisa grabbed the stick and took over, while I fiddled with my oxygen mask.
She deftly maneuvered the gyro into shallow space and started into orbit.
“What’s the deal? Let’s get moving.”
“If we fly straight there, it will take too long. Give me one orbit to gain speed, then we’ll whip out and save six hours.”
“You’re the robot girl.”
When we approached the space city, everything was lit up like a city inside a soap bubble. It was always that way. I handed Lisa a piece of paper with coordinates on it.
“What’s this? The tourist landing bays are over there?”
“We aren’t using those. Special arrangements today at the science labs.”
She raised an eyebrow at me and pursed her lips. At least she took us to the science portals. The tiny gyro looked absurd beside the giant shipping barges and experimental spacecraft. She spotted an open slot and landed near the main exit.
A brunette in a labcoat met us as we stepped onto the platform. She held out her hand. “Mr. Boyack, I’m Dr. Oates.” I shook her hand and she turned. “This must be Lisa Burton. It’s an honor to meet you. You’re a real celebrity up here.”
Lisa was a bit more reserved, but politely shook the doctor’s hand.
“We’re all ready for you in the lab. If you’ll just follow me.” She led us through a set of doors that actually went swish, just like in the movies. When she handed Lisa a paper gown everything got scary.
“What’s going on here? You told me we were going to have fun today.”
“And we are. We just have a few things to do first.”
“We, meaning me. What kind of lab is this?”
“We are on the cutting edge of robotics technology here. I also promise you, we have nothing to do with Atlantic Robotics. They don’t know you’re here, and niether does anyone else. We’re going to check you out and have you down on the tourist level in no time.”
Lisa turned to me and poked a finger at her heart. At least it would be anyone else’s heart, Lisa doesn’t have one. “I don’t want anyone poking around in my private systems. They’re mine, and nobody else’s business.”
I took her by the hand. “I understand that more than almost anyone. Remember my biopsy? Everything was benign, but you just never know. I don’t want to get probed down there either, but I’m kind of glad I did. What if it had been serious?”
“Do you think I have a virus, or a Trojan? That’s gross.”
“We don’t know. I published your story in 2014. That means I wrote it in 2012 or so, and that’s a long time for hardware and software. Wouldn’t you like someone to check that everything is still working correctly, or at optimal speed?”
“Fine, but I’m not wearing this stupid gown. It’s ugly, and I’d rather go naked.”
Doctor Oates said, “If that’s what you’re most comfortable–
“And I’m keeping my shoes on.”
The doctor led Lisa away, but she managed a look back at me that could curdle milk.
I paced for a while, then found a couch and checked my blog stats. Everything with Lisa seems to spike higher than other posts. She’s really been a benefit to my writing career, and my blog. I hope everything is fine, but it’s worth checking out.
Time ticked away, and I started to get worried. What if something was actually wrong? I mean, nobody knows what kind of shelf life Lisa has. A new car starts looking kind of old after five years. Computers need replacing about that frequently too.
A young man in a lab coat came my way. His brow was covered in sweat, and his cheeks were flushed.
I stood to meet him. “How does she look?”
He blew out, and turned a deeper shade of red. “I, um, she looks great. I mean, you have seen her right?”
“Not like that, and that isn’t what I mean. Is everything okay?”
“I’m not at liberty to say, but you can ask her yourself. She just sent me for her purse. She won’t come out until she touches up her lipstick and mascara.”
I handed him Lisa’s purse and sat back down. It took another twenty minutes before I heard heels clacking behind the doors. I knew they didn’t belong to Dr. Oates’ gum soled shoes. I stood and waited for the news.
Lisa burst through the doors, but she was smiling. My tension eased a bit. She and Dr. Oates were laughing about something.
“Everything is fine, Mr. Boyack. Lisa is going to be with you for a long time.” She turned to Lisa. “Thank you for coming in, and my son is going to flip over the autograph. Come back here anytime you need.”
“Are you sure you don’t need any more selfies?”
“I think the dozen we took will be enough.”
Lisa grabbed my shoulder and turned me toward the hallway.
“What’s the deal? Is everything okay?”
“No malware, no spyware, and no viruses. Dr. Oates let me look at all the programming before she hooked me up to any of the machines, and it made things a lot easier. She updated my operating system, and I saved half a terabyte of onboard storage. She told me I could gain even more if I deleted some of my police programming, but I refused.”
“Is that the right idea? There isn’t much need for DNA analysis these days.”
“I don’t care. It’s mine and I’m keeping it.”
“So do I have to use a thumbprint scanner or anything like that?”
“No! I’m not a phone. The OS came with some stuff I can’t imagine any use for though.”
“It seems like it always does. What kind of stuff?”
“I have Radar and Sonar capability now. When will I ever use that?”
“Probably never. What about the conflict between your fight or flight programming?”
“That’s still there. They have no idea why my emotions overload it. It’s tough, because under those situations, there’s a ton of emotional programming to sift through.”
“So are you okay with coming here?”
“It sounds scarier than it really is. It feels like a really bad thing, and it’s easy to put off. Dr. Oates and her staff are top notch, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as I imagined it. I even got a little bit more battery time out of the deal.”
“Feels better to have a clean bill of health though, doesn’t it?”
“Absolutely, but you’re still taking me to that juicy casino. My processors are so fast now, they don’t stand a chance against me. Then we’re going shopping with my winnings.”
“Anything you like.”
*Lisa Burton is the robotic main character in Wild Concept. She works as my personal assistant, and is the spokesmodel for my writing career.
Please take care of yourselves. Everyone’s health is important, and it’s all too easy to put off regular maintenance. I never wanted a colonoscopy, or a prostate biopsy, but I’m glad I went through the process. I have to go back in a couple of years, but I rest easier now.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a mammogram, or some other procedure. Get it taken care of. I love my fans, and want you to be around for a long time. If women’s health week is what it takes, so be it.
Nag your husbands and loved ones. Don’t let them put things off either.