When I was a very young person I was having tea at a friend’s house. It was ravioli in a bowl. My friend, the other child, suggested it’d be hilarious if we were to carry the bowls back to the kitchen without eating it. That was the entire skit. I’m not going to say I tried to talk him out of it because I didn’t, I was all for it. He knew his mum much better than I did so I just went with it.
Giggling we carried our bowls through the very narrow house back to the kitchen which is where my friend’s mother went completely ape-shit. The bowls had been full to the brim, it’s true, but come on, that was a minor consideration as, hey, it was supposed to be funny! That had been a very confusing dinner.
I thought about that episode for the first time in ages as I tried to find Enrique through the eye-holes. He was angry – though not quite ape-shit – and I was hot. He was moving around muttering and I struggled to keep him in view. I flicked my head to try and line up my eyes again. If I tried to straighten it with my hands I’d crush the boxes on my arms and it’d look shit. I’d lost him and couldn’t even hear him properly. I flicked my shoulder but all I could hear was cardboard rubbing. I felt somebody grab my head and not worrying about the boxes on my arm I grabbed my head, to keep it on.
“Why chu do dis?” I heard Enrique ask.
“Just a bit of fun, mate,” I replied. Although my suit was far from air-tight there seemed to be too much carbon dioxide in my head. I took shallow breaths and now that one arm was already ruined I took the opportunity and lined up the ragged eye-holes and looked around until Enrique was in view. He’d given up grabbing at my head and was just stood there looking. “Talk about a sense of humour failure,” I told him and then we just stood looking at each other. “Bleep!” I said but he didn’t react.
“‘Ello, ello, ello,” said Paula from my rear, “what’s all this then?”
Thank fuck Paula had arrived, things had become awkward. I turned to her and found her. She was looking at me and nodding appreciatively. “I-am-a-ro-bot,” I told her.
“I can see that,” she replied and then took her coat off and went off somewhere. I turned back to Enrique.
“Chu know I save dem boxes, man!”
“Is that what you’re worried about? The fucking boxes? We’re in a shop!” I held my arms up and at this point a box fell off my arm. While going for my head I’d snapped the sticky tape. “Shit, I knew that would happen,” I said and took a step back. I looked for it for a second but wouldn’t be able to find it without taking my head off and I wasn’t doing that. The cardboard box on my head with a robot’s mechanical face drawn on it was like a shield and I understood why robots are so confident.
I wished I’d been wearing one when the ravioli mum was shouting at me even though I wasn’t even her kid. The fact Enrique could just see an excellently drawn reel to reel tape instead of my real eyes seemed to give me an advantage. My mouth, a row of buttons, concealed my frown. “You’ve got three weeks to collect boxes!”
“I want dem box,” said Enrique. I’d lost him again, but assumed he was pointing when he said it.
I found him in time to see him enter his office.
“Excuse me,” came a voice from behind me. I turned and after a moment found a woman.
“Are the papers in?”
“Are they in?”
“Go over to the window,” I said extending my one fully intact robotized right arm. “Tell me what you see.” The woman, clearly fearful of dealing with robots, followed my orders to the letter.
“A black car… a wall… tree…”
“Sorry, it’s foggy.”
“There you go then, you fancy landing a plane in that?”
“Erm, thank you… Enrique.” The woman seemed to bow slightly. I was shaking my head but don’t know if it showed. Just because the name ‘Enrique’ was written on me it didn’t mean my name was Enrique. What kind of name is that for a robot? It just meant they were his boxes. I knew that. Of course I knew that. I’d seen his collection of boxes grow. I didn’t think they were important though. He could get loads of boxes. To pack up his things. For when he… If he moves.
I waved at the woman with my good arm. She waved back and left. I stood a while longer and then went to remove my suit. Took ages to get the legs off because I’d used all the parcel tape on them