Short Story by LaVern Spencer McCarthy
At the Reddy Robot Store, a young couple was browsing. An eager salesman walked behind them, hoping to make a sale and earn a commission. Robots of every size were on display. There were robots that vacuumed the floor, robots that climbed walls and scrubbed ceilings; dog-walking robots, as well as human-like robots that did all sorts of household chores.
The couple, Rita and John, were dazzled by the thought that a servant could be bought to assist them with their busy lives. They were both successful attorneys in an upscale office. They had active social lives and often entertained in their apartment… A robot that would do their bidding without question was exactly what they needed.
After looking at most of the robots, John and Rita noticed a robot in a dark corner. It was male, dressed as a butler or a waiter in a fine restaurant. The robot was slightly dusty, as though it had not been maintained well. However, it only cost $25,000, which was in the price range John and Rita had in mind.
The sales representative pulled the robot into the aisle for the couple’s inspection. It stood unmoving with eyes straight ahead, not unlike a private in the army being scrutinized by a drill sergeant.
“This is Jordo,” the sales agent said. “He is one of our older models, but very good at taking orders and cleaning. He is durable and needs little care. He comes with a fine wardrobe and accessories.”
“He was specially made to attend parties and serve drinks. He has a few human-like mannerisms along with several words he was programmed to speak. For example, he was programmed to smile occasionally. If you choose him, you will not be disappointed.” John and Rita looked at each other.
“We’ll take him!” they exclaimed in unison. John reached for his checkbook while Rita looked over their new purchase. The robot’s face greatly resembled a human’s, and it was tall and muscular. Its skin was human-like also. Actually, it might be called handsome by some if not for the dead, vacant look in its eyes.
The salesman suggested that Rita and John go to a nearby coffee shop for a while and have a hot drink while the robot was being checked and having its screws tightened. They eagerly did so. The salesman knew that Jordo was not top-of-the-line and had been passed over several times for more up-to-date models. It would be good to get the robot out the door and gone.
When John and Rita returned from the coffee shop, the salesman suggested that they might want to update to a newer model in a few years. More modern robots were almost indistinguishable from a real human. They could carry on a conversation and do most of the things that humans could. When John and Rita were ready to leave, Jordo dutifully followed them out. He opened the back door of the car and got inside. He continued to stare ahead with lifeless eyes, which made Rita a little nervous. But she could not wait to show him off to her friends. Most of them could not afford a robot like Jordo, even if he was slightly old.
The next weekend John and Rita invited several friends over for drinks and dinner and to meet Jordo. Jordo opened the door for each of them as they arrived. Mitzi, a ditzy blonde, looked at Jordo and squealed,
“He’s so cute! If he was not a robot, I would like to date him! Disgusted, Rita muttered,
“You would date a tree stump if you could!” Mitzi ignored her and headed for the drink bar.
At dinner, one of the guests spilled his water on the table. Jordo was there immediately. He whipped a cleaning cloth from his pocket.
“Jordo clean,” he said. He began wiping up the spill immediately.
“Oh! exclaimed Mitzi. “He talks!”
“He can say several words,” Rita assured her. “He is not one of the super models that are newer and can carry on a full conversation. We plan on buying one of those later on. Right now we are happy with him the way he is.” Mitzi fished an olive from her drink and ate it.
“I would be happy too, if I had one,” she remarked wistfully. Rita took a bite of her steak.
“Maybe you could find an older one like we did. They are rather expensive.”
“Oh, no,” Mitzi replied. “We would want a brand new one. Her husband nodded in agreement.
“But not too handsome. Mitzi might get ideas,” he teased.
Time moved on, and Jordo continued his excellent work, aiding in household duties. Rita and John, busy with their professional lives, failed to take Jordo into the maintenance department of the business where they had purchased him. They did not notice that his clothing was grimy and his shoes needed a polish. He was ever-faithful Jordo, considered part of the family.
Jordo began making little messes, such as spilling sugar on the floor or flinging shampoo on the walls. He never failed to eliminate every spot and stain, saying, as he furiously plied mop, cloth, or broom,
At first, John and Rita thought his antics were cute. But then, such shenanigans grew worse. Jordo began throwing the contents of the refrigerator against the wall and strewing garbage everywhere, each time assuring his owners,
“Jordo clean.” John and Rita grew more alarmed and concerned. Their finances had improved immensely, so they decided to buy a new robot. They were sorry that Jordo had to go, but they thought he would still make a good trade-in.
One night a big commotion jolted them from sleep. They stumbled to the kitchen and found that Jordo had pulled all the dishes from the shelves to the floor and broken them. He already had the broom and dustpan.
“Jordo clean,” he said. John and Rita were very angry.
“Get out of here, Jordo!” she yelled. “Leave this mess until morning.” She thought she saw a glint of resentment in his eyes, but she was too tired and sleepy to care. Jordo continued sweeping, ignoring her. Hoping he would not cause any more destruction, the couple went back to bed.
The next day, Monday, neither John nor Rita showed up for work. Their boss grew very worried after he had called them several times without an answer. He sent the police to do a welfare check. The landlord let them in with a pass-key since their door was locked, and there was no answer to the knocking.
Upon entering their bedroom, the authorities were horrified to see blood everywhere. Pieces of scalp with hair still attached were scattered on the bed. Obviously dead, John and Rita lay on the floor in their night clothes. The two had huge chunks of flesh torn from their bodies. Their faces were unrecognizable.
Jordo sat on the floor beside them, a grotesque smile on his face. Through a mouthful of blood, he said,
LaVern Spencer McCarthy has published ten books of short stories and poetry. She has won five hundred state awards for her poetry and thirty-four national awards. She is a life member of the Poetry Society Of Texas. She resides in Blair, Oklahoma. To view more of her work, check out her book Unhallowed Musings: Strange and Unusual Tales.