by Margaret Karmazin
“Okay, I’m ready. Are you sufficiently turned on?”
Julie arches her pelvis so as to better connect sperm and egg. The look on her face is one of studious determination, a far cry from aroused female expressions in male fantasy.
“Uh, yeah,” Garrett grunts as he maneuvers into position. He wants this potential child about sixty percent as much as his wife does, but anything to make her happy.
“Okay, hon,” Julie says, “let’s send this one home!”
He is working up the necessary level of mental excitement when his chip chirps. He had the thing implanted a year before to save himself the trouble of keeping communication devices in easy reach. After misplacing several outrageously expensive ones over the years, he’d just about had it.
The Deva chip incorporates telephone, GPS, movies, television, newsfeed, financial layout, virtual sports and games, which run by the use of specific eye or finger movements. For some apps, only certain thoughts are the switch, but this has not yet been worked to perfection, so that one still observes people on the street or in stores jerking their eyes about oddly or flicking their fingers in midair. Right now, he’s got the someone-calling signal and snaps his eyes leftward to open an internal screen.
“Mom,” he says, voice sardonic.
Under him, Julie lets out an agonized groan.
“Just a sec,” he says to her as he climbs off and settles cross-legged on the bed. The internal screen, which appears in his left eye, displays his mother’s anxious and oddly stretched face. Plastic surgery has not been kind.
“What is it, Mom?” he speaks aloud.
Julie gouges him with a fingernail. “Ouch!” he yelps.
“What’s the matter?” questions his mother.
“Mom, I’m in the middle of something. What is it?”
“Well, excuse me for bothering you. I mean, I’m exhausting myself here planning our holiday dinner and only calling to ask if you want ham or turkey or both and do you want Aunt Jean’s green bean recipe or Lynn’s? I need to know what supplies to get.”
Julie clamps her legs together and loudly rolls over.
“I don’t care, Mom. Either one’s fine. Listen, I gotta go.”
“Turkey or ham? Which?” insists the put-upon voice in his head.
“Turkey. Gotta go, Mom, love you,” and with a hard blink of his eyes, shuts her down.
“Sorry,” he murmurs to Julie.
“Did you lose it?”
“Lose what? Oh. Yeah. Just give me a sec, okay?” He uses his favorite fantasy of a certain blonde movie star who for no explicable reason has suddenly become his harem slave and manages to get the flag at half-mast. Julie turns back over and reassumes her position.
“Let’s go,” she says. “You know we only have a three-day leeway. And these hormones are killing me.”
He’s just about to give her what she wants when a “bling!” sounds in his ear. OMG, it’s the boss. And it’s Sunday, so WTF?
“It’s Susan,” he mouths to Julie. He doesn’t need to say more; Julie knows what a ball-breaker he works for and they are hardly in a financial position for him to risk his job. Not when hers is hanging by a thread.
“Uh-huh,” he says to Susan. “Uh-huh. I did get through to them. Yeah, last night at one a.m. He was at Brisbane’s, drunk out of his mind. He’s still considering the deal. I think he’s also playing around with Cole’s. But he did say he’d let me know by tonight.”
Long pause. “Frankly, Susan, I don’t think it would be a good idea to wake up someone with a probably vicious hangover....He plays drunk? Are you serious? How weird... All right, I’ll buzz him.”
Julie once again clamps her legs shut, this time with an audible smack. Her sigh can possibly be heard next door. Suddenly she jerks and sits up. “Oh no,” she says. “Unbelievable.”
“What?” whispers Garrett, having finally gotten rid of Susan, but now bound to call the difficult client.
“Newsfeed just alerted! Some politico in a bribe scandal in California. Never heard of him, but I’d better find out. Now I’ve got to spend hours coming up with a piece on it. That new editor is a nasty piece of work and implies that I spend all my time goofing off on feature articles.
“Couldn’t you just deposit some sperm before I get to work, Garrett? Do I ask much, really? Seriously, do I? You owe me after that horrible evening with Kevin and his maniacally religious bimbo.” Her hair is askew and somehow standing in off-kilter points.
He has that horrible client to contact before Susan has his balls, but he says, “I’ll try, honey, but I don’t know. How are you going to work when you have to lie there for an hour after with your pelvis tilted?”
Julie is turning meaner by the second. “Duh. I can work in that position using Speak. What do you think, I’m going to keyboard it?”
“References?” he asks.
“I’ll get Shane to do it. He’s got everything on his chip. He’s not doing anything today anyway, just writing his piece on food poisoning and watching his kids.”
Maybe you ought to get him to donate sperm, Garrett thinks, but of course does not say so. “Let me just work up some steam here,” he says, trying to imagine the neighbor’s seventeen-year old daughter leaning against her boyfriend’s new electric Player sports car. She’s wearing that little red mini outfit she had on the other—
“Oh no,” he blurts. “It’s Richie. I’ve gotta take this.” To Richie he says, “So what happened?”
Julie dramatically slips off the bed and screams.
“Wait a sec, Bro,” says Garrett, turning to look at her. “What’s the matter, geesh? You know Richie just had those gastro tests!”
She abruptly cuts off the scream and sits on the edge of the bed. “I hate you,” she whispers, then calmly flicks her finger in the air three times and says, “Shane! What’re you up to? Too busy to save my ass?”
For a second, Garrett turns his attention from his brother to listen. “Save your ass?” he whispers. “What exactly does that mean?”
She ignores him and speaks sweetly aloud. “Shane? Did you hear about the bribe scandal in California? Can you do some digging until I get done with what I’m doing here? Won’t take long....” She shoots a nasty glance at Garrett. “Well, it wouldn’t take long if I could just get to it!” She pauses. “Thanks, I knew you’d help. You’re the one person I can count on.” She blinks extra hard, call ended.
Garrett says to the air, “So what does that mean? That you have to have more tests or what?”
Julie gets a nail file out of the nightstand drawer and works at one of her toenails.
“More blood tests? Well, what do they think you have?”
She flips her legs back up onto the bed, lies back and examines one of her nipples in a clinical manner.
“Oh God,” says Garrett. “But unlikely though, right? Okay then, we’ll hope for the best. Keep me posted, Bro.”
He rather defensively turns to Julie. “He might be really sick, Julie. He might actually have something serious.”
“Uh-huh,” she says, now examining her other nipple.
“How would you feel if he had cancer or something?”
“Bad,” she says, not looking at him. “Are we going to do this or not, Garrett? Because if we’re not, there’s only tomorrow and you’re going away. Then nothing till next month. I am going nuts on these hormones. If you don’t want a kid, why don’t you just say so?” From the side, he sees a tear teeter on the edge of her lower eye lid then slowly trickle down her cheek.
He sighs. “Sorry, sorry, sorry, Sweetheart. I’m sorry. Let’s give it another go, okay? I just gotta get myself back in the mood. Do we have any of that Chardonnay left?”
“I don’t know,” she sniffs.
He pads down the hall and retrieves the bottle from the fridge, ignoring as he does so, two Newsfeed flashes, a call from their broker, one from his racketball buddy and an influx of vacation pics from his old college roommate.
As he climbs back into bed, he passes on a long set of jokes from his sister, a dire political warning from a workmate and a pleading from his grandmother to come fix her toilet seat which is sliding sideways when she sits down.
Then he suffers a stab of panic. “Oh my God,” he says. “I forgot to call the client! Our livelihood depends on it, honey, I mean if I don’t make money, how’re we going to support this kid?”
Julie gives him the longest, hardest stare he has ever seen her produce before she grabs the wine bottle, takes a hefty slug, then stands up. “I’m getting dressed,” she says. “And you know what? I might just call up that artificial insemination place the doctor mentioned. I’ll just go get me some green-eyed, tall dark and handsome, genius, athletic sperm! And you can just lie here and make your freakin’ calls, okay?”
But he has already flicked his finger eight times and the call to the client is going through.
Copyright © 2011 by Margaret Karmazin