“Futuristic Humanoid” by Petr Kratochvil (Public Domain Pictures)

Android Love

Michael Fowler

“Shit babe, washing my car!”

That is X-14, washing his car. The first thing you notice about X-14 is this odd expression of his: Shit babe. He usually begins a conversation with “Shit babe,” and considers the phrase casual and friendly and not in the least offensive. To him it’s like “Hey man” or “Tell you what.” An easy way to get his metal mouth moving.

Then you notice X-14’s devotion to his car. He really loves his car, a replica of a Volkswagen van c. 1967 that he fabricated himself over the last few years, working day and night so that it’s nearly drivable. Not that X-14 has any special mechanical aptitude: he doesn’t. That is also something you notice about him. A cheap all-purpose male android, he lacks marketable skills and has no advanced training in anything. Though he speaks passable English he isn’t good at math or science. He has trouble figuring daylight savings time and pointing a remote. His VW van won’t start and never will. But he’s friendly and cooperative, and good to know if you need someone to help move furniture. As his designer and producer, the late Dr. Alan Eyebold, claimed, “He is what he is. I had in mind a sort of useful but not too useful body. A stock clerk, say, or a messenger. I probably won’t make another like him.”

X-14 is in love, or thinks he is, and has thought so from his first day of existence. “Shit babe, thinking about my girl!” he says repeatedly, polishing his car with a chamois. “Thinking about my girl all the time now! Monica is her name, sir! Yes indeed, sir!”

X-14 sends a poem to Monica, his love:

Shit babe, I pick red and yellow flowers for you.

I pick them all day long.

Shit babe, I call out your name: Monica.

I call it all day long.

You may call me simple, for I am a simple man.

My love for you is simple and I am a simple man.


Monica, X-14’s girl, is frankly surprised to find his feelings run so deep.

“I didn’t expect that in an artificial man, to tell the truth. I thought a robot, or I think these bots prefer android or AI, would be superficial and just want sex all the time. But X-14 really is tender and full of deep feelings. He sweeps me off my feet with his poetry and when he drives us out to the countryside to see crops growing and bodies of water in that old car of his that he takes really good care of. Yes, he finally got that heap started. Aside from me, his car is what he cares about most.”

Asked by her family if she can really love an artificial man, Monica replies, “Sure, I’m not prejudiced. AIs are the same as you and me, and they’re really not all that different. How are they different? X-14 does say ‘Shit babe’ a lot. Like he says, he’s a simple man, but I like his simplicity. I know what to expect.”

Inspired by the success of his poem, as measured by Monica’s delight, X-14 attends open mic on poetry night at the McAllister Tavern. He fails to recite a single line of verse. Instead he gets so flustered before the live audience that he keeps pacing the stage before the mic and pointing to people in the crowd he knows and in general cutting up. This is how he plays:

“I say hey to all my friends out there, hey! I see you!...Shit babe, I see you too, good you made it!...I see you in the corner there, Ralph and Anna, shit!”

Later, realizing later from peoples’ reactions, or lack thereof, that he botched his performance, X-14 loses self-esteem. He stops talking and withdraws into himself.

Monica says, “There’s one thing he does when he loses confidence and gets withdrawn. He gets out his box sets of Danny Kaye, Victor Borge, and Carmen Miranda videos. I don’t know how many times he’s watched those dusty old things. He has this weird sense of nostalgia, so odd in a modern-day android. The amount of time he spends on that replica van is mind-boggling. He reads one novel, an old Dan Turner mystery, over and over again, and he collects Coke bottles. But those old movies! He howls at them, and I don’t see why. They’re so outdated.”

To bring him around, Monica takes his virginity, with unexpected results. No matter the company or the provocation, X-14 announces to everyone, “Shit babe, I a man now! Shit babe, I a man now, I spell M-A-N, man!”

“I expected X-14 to crow a little bit, sure,” says Monica. “Men do that, and I made him wait a good while before following him into the bedroom. But his whole appearance changed. He went from a wide-eyed innocent to a sneering jerk, his face wrinkling up and his lips parting to reveal long, yellow teeth like a pony’s. I didn’t know there were teeth like that in his entire head. He started to give off a vibe that he was superior to everyone, and instead of his usual steady walk he began lurching from side to side like no one dared get in his way. I thought, Jeeze, control yourself, plus everyone knew what it meant about our sex life, so it was embarrassing.”

“Shit babe, here is a ring?” X-14, now deeply in love and totally devoted, is down on one knee before Monica, his beloved. She is enchanted. “Please accept my ring?” Behind them is a Dollar Store, and beside that a tuxedo rental place. “Shit babe, be mine forever? Be mine forever, babe? Be mine forever?” X-14 is quite insistent.

“So, yeah, we decided to get married,” says Monica, who didn’t take much time to make up her mind, despite the rock-solid skepticism of her family. “X-14 was just so cute after I told him I’d be his. He attached all these gauges to himself, bolting them onto his forehead and chest with a wrench: an odometer, an altimeter, a barometer, an old bombsite, so that he looked like the cockpit of an old plane, if a cockpit had a face and could walk. That was so funny, but he promised to unbolt them for our wedding and I was really happy to hear that.”      

“Shit babe, we’ll be together for all time, babe! The big day will be here before you know it, babe! You’ll be mine all day soon, babe!”

“His friends, his three AI buddies, are weird,” says Monica. “I do kind of dread seeing them at our wedding. They’re a lot nerdier and more focused, I guess, than X-14. They wear blue suits that have their names stitched on their lapels in cursive. Q-38 recognizes me by my retinal pattern, and Filtron-47 by my pheromones. Pops-85, a robot who looks like an 85-year-old, is a lay minister and will officiate the wedding ceremony. It’s disturbing to see them all in our kitchen together, in their monogrammed suits bashing their metal heads together and laughing about the dents. But they’re fun and get along well together.”

The marriage takes place in a hot air balloon, the passenger basket holding X-14’s three AI buddies including the officiant Pops, who has sprayed himself with flame retardant so the balloon’s hot-air engine doesn’t accidently combust his Madras jacket. Also in the basket are a couple of Monica’s girlfriends to round out the party. “Fuck my family,” she says. “They’re not invited and I didn’t even inform them of the ceremony. Not with their current attitude about X-14. They told me he had the brains of a toaster. Besides, they wouldn’t lift off to see me married in the clouds anyway.”

After the nuptials, the ladies all parachute down, while the androids simply heave themselves over the sides of the basket and crash in. After the AIs dig themselves out of the ground, they meet the ladies at a pub near the small airfield where they took off. There the ladies enjoy appletinis while the AIs toast each other with shots of WD-40.

“Now to let my family know,” says Monica, holding aloft her third appletini. “It’s too late for them to cause trouble, and anyway, screw them. We’re happy.”  

Michael Fowler writes humor and horror in Ohio, USA.