Love, Modified

by O.J. Anderson


I met Judy at the Mo’ Joe café on a night when the Kwayzars played groovy ballads that made everyone there seem very very cool. She had green eyes and we sat at a small round table in the corner under a red neon beer light and strange paintings for sale done by local artists with names like 10 Gerbil, The Fellow, and Crud.

We saw each other for six months.

Now we sit at the exact same table as The Syndrom plays crappy free beats cut with deconstructed 3-4 arias. The buzzed-out beats send dull shivers throughout the thin flooring. Blue wavelights turn the café into a liquid disco.

I never liked The Syndrom or their post-intellectual temporal meanderings. I like them even less with Judy telling me, “It’s not me. It’s you.”

“What?”

“I’m sorry,” she says. “It’s you.”

“Me?” I say. “But you’re a freakin’ robot.”

That was stupid. Why did I say that? She hates it when I call her a robot. Technically, she is a biosynthetic life form, but they don’t like being called that either; they don’t like being called anything.

She crosses her arms, tilts her head to the side, and squints icepicks at me. Judy is ten times more intelligent, ten times as strong, and, with her sweet job at DMI Superconductor, makes ten times more money than I ever will writing crappy music reviews. Better than me in every way, and we both know it.

“I’m sorry,” I say. “I didn’t mean that. Really. It just slipped out.”

“That’s okay,” Judy says. “You only said what you feel. That’s all.”

She accuses me of being “Humanocentric.” I tell her I had no idea that was wrong. She says, “That’s your problem.” Soon adding, “among other things.” And we argue for a while until I realize what a hopeless cause reconciliation is.

Then, dramatically, I stand up, shove the chair under the table, turn away, and say, “Let’s just get your things out of my apartment and be done with it then.”

“Things?” she says. “What things?”

Ah, she thinks I haven’t noticed her looking around my place for her stuff all those times. That’s why I kept them hidden.

“Um, that red blouse, couple CDs, and a bracelet I think.”

She doesn’t say anything until I start for the door mumbling, “Fine. I’ll throw them away.”

“Okay, okay,” she says.

I have thrown in the towel. The breakup is complete, and Judy takes pity on me, agreeing to go back to my apartment one more time, just like I knew she would.

The fact is, I knew this was coming. I expected it for the past couple weeks. I could sense it in the way she spoke, or didn’t speak, to me. That is why I prepared. That is why I duct-taped the stun gun to the back of my door. And that is why the tools are ready.

Judy walks behind me the entire way. And I, continuing the charade, hang my head and mope for six blocks. All the while rehearsing what I will tell her when she regains consciousness and discovers herself bound. I will tell her that I love her, and that breaking up is out of the question.

I will show her the plans. Explain the modification.

She will say, “Please. You don’t have to do this.”

“Yes, I do,” I will tell her. “I wish I never met you. My life would be so much easier. But I did meet you, and now I can’t live without you.” Then I will kiss her softly on the cheek and whisper into her ear:

There now,

shhhhhhhhh...

don’t cry.


Copyright © 2006 by O. J. Anderson

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