A.I.

A.I.

I can’t tell for sure, but I think I may be starting to lose my mind.

It used to be that during the daylight hours things would be ok. And only at night is when things would appear to become unraveled.

Most times, I wouldn’t drink during the day. I’d go about life as most. Perhaps a little reading. A trip to the grocery. The gym. Maybe an afternoon coffee.

Then, I’d be home for supper. And that’s when the cracks in the walls began to show.

A fancy dinner at home meant a frozen burrito that came with its own packet of guacamole.

Meanwhile, I’ve been out of work for two months. Laid off from a job that I hated, yet missed, like a wounded soldier sent home to rest and recover. I was working that job for over seven years. Seen bosses come and go. Some mad, some assholes and some surprisingly competent. ‘Till they’d all gone and left only me to push onward.

Years go by, shell shocked and drunk on another lonely Friday night, the microwave beeps for my attention. I eat the burrito, squeezing on the thawed guacamole, bite by bite.

One shot. Two shots. And soon I’d lose count. Tonight, same as too many others, I crack open beer after beer.  There is laughter and tears. Somewhere in between, the madness sneaks in.

I hear someone. I hold my jaws from chewing at my dinner. What was it that I heard? No, not what I think they said. Who is “they” anyway?

Then I heard it again.

Build a robot friend. Build him from empty beer cans, alkaline batteries and love.

I had a shopping bag always full of cans. Some dented, others fully in tact. I robbed the various remote control devices from around the apartment of their batteries and began to build.

I used packing tape, hot glue, permanent markers, the batteries, beer cans and, of course, love.

I won’t be able to convince you, I’m sure, but I did it. I built a robot friend.

Until now, I’ve kept this a secret, close to my heart. I was afraid that if the world became aware of my new little friend, the world would come and take him from me. Now I pray that that comes true. The little robot proved to be no friend at all.

At first he was great. Told me funny stories and listened to mine. Offered mind blowing facts of the world and of the cosmos. Helped to repair virtually any and every emotional bump, scrape or bruise I would bring to him. The robot of beer cans and batteries fed my hungered soul.

However, little by little, after he’d won my faith, he continued to push and push me toward greater and greater risk and danger.

One day, not too long ago, he talked me into climbing the big avocado tree in the back yard. He convinced me that’s where the raccoons that steal my cat’s food sleep during the day.

I was to climb up and surprise the slumbering beasts with a lit pack of leftover firecrackers I had from my last visit to Chinatown.

The climb up was brutal. I went up and up. I was damned drunk. The sweat burned my eyes. My hands, arms and inner thighs were raw from the tough and flakey bark.

I made it near to the top of the tree, and the robot was right, the raccoons were sleeping there.

I held the tree with one hand while pulling the firecrackers and lighter with the other. The noises from my heavy breathing and struggle didn’t wake the animals, but stirred them nonetheless.

I tore open the Blackcat firecrackers with my teeth. I held the firecrackers in my mouth as I lit the fuse with my one free hand.

The fuse went incredibly fast. Much faster than I’d expected.

I tried to spit the lit pack of firecrackers onto the huddle of sleeping nocturnal beasts, but the paper stuck to my dry and chapped lips. The mini explosives fell down my t-shirt.

The popping, sizzle and snapping wasn’t my biggest problem. It was being face to face with four large and terrified carnivorous wild creatures, hissing and cursing at me.

I fell 20 feet to the ground, or at least it felt like it. Luckily, the landlord had covered the base of the tree, thick with redwood chips. I broke no bones, but all the air in my lungs had been forced out with a snap and I struggled and gasped for life. All the while the firecrackers continued to pop in my shirt.

I dragged myself back inside my apartment. Dismantled the robot. I poured and shot back three shots, back to back before chasing them with another beer.

I dropped into my chair and checked my cell phone for the time. 231pm.

Still over five hours before the next sunset. And plenty left in the bottle. Should I be worried? I guess if only the bottle runs dry before the dawn.

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About magnumturtle

I write fiction.
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