Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Satisfaction Guaranteed - chapter three

(go back to chapters one or two)

When Charley finally left in a flurry of disappointed curiosity, Andy opened the envelope. Inside was a full color brochure, forms, and a letter from "Acme Mail Order Brides." He looked at the pictures, glanced at the forms, and read the letter. The girls in the pictures were beautiful, all three of them. But no where in the letter did it say that THOSE girls were the mail order brides. It did say in the letter, that he would get exactly what he wanted, exactly what he ordered, and exactly what he paid for. And the service wasn't cheap either - $189.95 per bride - satisfaction guaranteed.

Foreign girls, Andy decided, it had to be. Well, he'd have to think about it. And think about it he did.

He thought about it that afternoon as he bent over the remains of the brand new riding lawn mower Sally Eckert had set on fire the night she caught her husband John kissing Carla leBeau on the mouth for a very long time in the kissing booth at the 4th annual School Daze Fair. Carla LeBeau was a foreign girl. She wasn't exactly his type, but she was built for pleasure, and not shy about it either.

He thought about it that evening while his TV dinner cooled, the turkey gravy congealing over spongy instant potatoes, and he sat at the dining room table and looked around the room actually seeing it for the first time in years. Thick cobwebs crowded the corners of the windows, piles of rumpled clothing, boxes of junk, scattered books, papers, oily rags, and gutted machines littered the floor and covered the faded sagging furniture.

And again that night as he lay in bed, alone, he thought about brown eyes, warm lips, a body he could get lost in... a golden beauty who would care for him, pleasure him, love him.

"I need a woman," he decided, foreign or no.

The next morning, he looked the forms over - $189.95! Andy pulled a battered bank book out of his back pocket. The balance was $62.17. Well, he could always sell the microwave oven. He'd found it in the landfill, boasting nothing more serious than a faulty timer. He didn't have much else to sell. There was the TV, his complete set of Space Alien comics, and his bike, his trusty bike. $189.95 was a lot of money, but he could scrape it up.

It took the better part of a day, but Andy worked steadily, answering questions, filling in the lines, and even adding a few of his own. From physical attributes to inner qualities, he painstakingly described the ideal woman, his dream lover. If he was going to have to sell his cherished possessions, he definitely wanted the most for his money, the best - and why not? at those prices!

At last it was done, the forms filled out, the money collected, the order sent out first class mail to a post office box in an obscure country overseas. Not even Charley Shafer was sure where it was.

The days dragged by with such irritating slowness that Andy found it impossible to sit still. He cleaned the little house inside and out, trimmed his hair, mended his clothes, washed the curtains, and cut the straggling grass in the front yard. Once a week he walked the 5 long miles to town to pick up groceries and other small necessities. But he never stayed for his Saturday beer. What if she came while he was gone?

Every day he burned a hole in the long dirt road, watching for her bus, her car, her cab....

How was she going to come anyway? Maybe he was supposed to pick her up somewhere! Did it say in the brochure? Andy tore through the house in a frenzy, dumping out boxes, rummaging through drawers, upending the furniture. He finally found it carefully folded and tucked into the inside pocket of his only good coat.

UPS - yes, there it was in small print on the bottom of the last page of the brochure. "Your mail order bride will be shipped UPS. Please allow 4 - 6 weeks for delivery."

Andy stared at the brochure. "Holy shit!" he said out loud, "It's some sort of robot! I've ordered a goddamn robot!" he was so upset at first, that all he could do was sit and stare out the window. He didn't eat, he didn't sleep, he didn't clean up the mess he'd made.

But after a day or two of sitting and staring, it didn't sound quite so bad. So what if she was a robot. She'd be beautiful, beautiful and capable, or by golly he'd send her back.

He tried to imagine his beautiful robot bride draped lovingly over his arm, but all he could come up with was a vision of a round metal canister, crushing his arm, looking like she came right out of "Lost in Space" saying, "I love you, Will Rogers."

The days ticked by. He was in a fever of anticipation on day - a robot! It must be state of the art equipment, he'd duplicate her and make millions! - and deep in a fit of depression the next, as his dream of tawny golden love and delicious sex filled nights expired in a tangle of microchips and chrome.

Then one day a big brown truck pulled up in front of his house. UPS! Andy broke out in a sweat. His heart thudded painfully against his throat. He could hardly walk to the door. (read more)

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