Rabbit's First Kiss
2013-03-12 7:17 a.m.
Rabbit peered around the doorway, the photosensors in his eyes whirling his focus from near to far until they rested on Amanda, the newest Walter Girl, sitting at her table, soldering together a tiny circuit board. She was working so intently he didn't want to interrupt her so he just stood there and waited. Rabbit was good at waiting. Suddenly she looked up like she was surprised even though he hadn't moved in quite a long time.
"Rabbit, how long have you been there?" she asked, wiping the sweat off her brow with her forearm. Her blonde hair was slowly escaping the careless bun at the top of her had, held in place by a dull pencil. As if he had caused it, the pencil began to slide away and her hair fell down to her shoulders, finally free.
"I-I-I'm sorry," said Rabbit.
"What are you sorry about?" she asked.
"I'm not quite sure."
She laughed and Rabbit found himself smiling too, although he wasn't sure what was funny. He understood puns but other parts of human humour escaped him.
"What can I do for you, Rabbit?" Amanda asked. "It's not time for your maintenance."
"Of course not, I wouldn't be here if it was." Rabbit was known for avoiding maintenance at all costs. "I do want to ask you about my last maintenance, however. You see, I lost something."
"What did you lose? Did that rivet from your wrist come out again?" Amanda asked, her narrow brows knotting together in concern.
"I'm missing my first kiss."
Rabbit wrung his hands together. "The Spine told me that your fist kiss is suppose to be very special. If I had known that ahead of time, I would have downloaded it from temporary to long term memory, but now it's gone. I thought perhaps you still had it?" Rabbit looked at her expectantly, his clockwork innards purring as his gears spun.
"I'm sorry Rabbit. I don't have it." Amanda tapped the pencil against the palm of her hand before placing it between her teeth. "When did this kiss happen?" She asked around the wood as she gathered her hair behind her head and began to twist and turn it into a knot before working the pencil back through it. Rabbit almost forgot to answer her as he watched her careful machinations.
"It was after the show on Saturday. The Spine said a very pretty girl came behind the stage to tell me how much she liked my singing. He said she had short black hair and was wearing a dress with cherries on it. He said she stood on her toes and kissed me, just here." Rabbit's fingers went up and rested on his lips. "If I had known it was such an important memory, I would have saved it. Stupid, stupid Rabbit!"
"Maybe you'll see her again and you can ask for another kiss." Amanda suggested.
"It's not the same thing though, is it?" Rabbit took a couple of jerky steps backwards. Please tell me if you happen to find it, okay Miss Amanda?"
"I will," Amanda leaned against the work table, ignoring the tiny drops of oil that stained her forearms and watched Rabbit dejectedly march out of the room. She rested her chin on her palm and tapped her temple.
* * * *
It was four o'clock which meant Miss Mary was hosting high tea in the parlor. A shiny silver tea set sat on one trolley, the smell of orange and spices seeping from the polished teapot. Small bowls of cream, sugar and lemon wedges sat nearby. On another cart sat a lovely brass tea set with a teapot filled with thirty weight motor oil and a new can of WD40 perched on a porcelain saucer.
The Spine casually filled up his cup with oil as he listened to the conversation and began sidling over to the silver tea trolley inch by inch. Miss Mary encouraged the robots to attend tea so they could become more sophisticated and fill their head with proper human etiquette. Today they were telling robot riddles.
"You are in a room with two doors that are guarded by two robots. One door leads to infinite pleasure and happiness and the other door leads to hell. One robot always lies and the other always tells the truth. What one question can you ask that will help you discover which door leads to pleasure and happiness?" Miss Mary posed.
"Th-th-that's easy," said Rabbit. "You ask the robot that tells the truth to tell you which door leads to happiness."
"But you don't know which robot is telling the truth and which one is lying," Miss Mary said, sipping her tea.
"According to phrenology, 67 percent of liars have shifty eyes that are set close together. Whichever robot has his eyes closer together is the liar," offered Hatchworth.
"I heard that 80 percent of robots with mustaches are liars," Rabbit said innocently, causing Hatchworth to stroke his mustache guiltily.
"I know for a fact that 85 percent of all statics are made up." The Spine said as he poured cream into his teacup.
"The Spine! How many times have told you not to add cream to your motor oil!" Miss Mary admonished.
"But I enjoy the texture and it creates these neat swirls that remind me of fractals. It's truly magnificent!"
Hatchworth stood up and began reaching for the creamer. Luckily, Miss Mary was wearing her boots with the pointed toes and was able to hook her foot under the tea trolley and roll it to the other side of herself, away from the grabbing hands of curious robots.
"Cream is not good for clockwork. You're going to give Miss Amanda twice as much work to do during maintenance." Miss Mary said.
Rabbit, who had snuck behind the couch and was on the other side of Miss Mary, sneakily reaching for the creamer, had second thoughts and gave up on the idea of adding cream to his motor oil. Instead he slunk back around the couch and sprayed the WD40 in his mouth before taking another sip of his oil.
Although peeved, Miss Mary ignored his breech of etiquette.
"What if you asked one of the robots if the other one was lying?" Miss Amanda said out loud. "If he was the liar he'd say, yes."
"If he was the truther he'd also say yes." The Spine said as he reached for the WD40, took of his hat and spritzed his head before putting his fedora back on with a squeak. Miss Mary bit her lower lip, but took a dainty sip of tea before composing herself.
"You could ask them which door they shouldn't go out," Hatchwork mused.
"The liar would give a double negative and the truth teller would just give a negative."
"But how would you know it's a double negative?" Rabbit asked. "He's not going to say, don't not go out that door."
"Wasn't that a triple negative?" The Spine asked.
"Would it work if you asked one robot if the other door is safe?" Amanda asked then tapped her temple. "No that wouldn’t work at all."
"Oh, I know!" Hatchworth said. "You would ask one robot, which door would the other robot tell me leads to paradise and then go through the opposite door."
The room was silent for a second as everyone worked through the scenario, then everyone said "Aaaaah!" together.
In a celebratory mood, Hatchworth stood up, grabbed the WD40, pulled out his pants and liberally sprayed his crotch. Miss Amanda choked on her tea and began to have a coughing fit. Miss Mary, abandoning her own etiquette, rolled her eyes and drank the rest of her tea in a single gulp as if it were bourbon.
* * * *
After the fantastically disastrous tea party, Amanda decided to head back to the workshop to clean up. The work day was nearly over and she was at a good place in her soldering to call it a day. At the end of the hall she saw a bouncing red light skitter down the floor and dot the side wall before a mechanical penguin rolled around the corner.
"How terribly cute!" she murmured to herself and began walking towards it. The penguin's eyes went from red to green and it opened its beak. Amanda thought it might perhaps say something, but instead a laser beam shot past her head and knocked a painting off the wall.
"In tru der." The penguin said simply and started rolling towards her firing more laser beams from its tiny beak.
"But I work here!" Amanda screamed over her shoulder as she began running away. As she rounded the corner, she nearly ran over Rabbit who was strolling down the corridor with a kazoo in his mouth.
"Run, Rabbit! Run!" Amanda shrieked and Rabbit began running with her.
"Hum hum hum!" Rabbit said then thought he better take the kazoo out of his mouth. "This is t-t-tremendous fun, but why are we running?" he asked.
"Attack, penguin, laser beams!" Amanda yelled, out of breath as she pointed behind her.
Rabbit stopped running and faced the penguin, making sure to put himself between it and Amanda. A laser hit his shoulder, making a crackling sound as it caught his jacket on fire. When the penguin got close enough, Rabbit gave it a measured kick so it flew down the end of the hall and crashed through the drywall and stuck there. It smoldered for a bit before there was an explosion of sparks and the robot penguin was still.
Rabbit turned to Amanda. "Viola! Who says penguins can't fly? I do hope it can be repaired. I t-t-tried to talk to it through the Walter Wifi but it wasn't set up for internet yet."
Just then Professor Moleskin ran around the corner and fell to his knees, pulling out what little was left of his graying hair. "Oh dear! What happened?" he then turned his attention down the hallway. "Oh my, was anyone hurt?" The Professor asked as an after thought, as if aggressive laser spouting penguins were common place. "It turned on while I was welding and raced away!"
"Rabbit was scorched but other than that we're okay." Amanda yelled back.
"Miss Amanda?" Rabbit asked, his hand held out towards her. "You're leaking."
Amanda looked down and saw that her upper arm had been sliced by the laser. Blood was dripping down arm; spilling from her fingertips to form a pool on the floor.
"Oh bugger," she said and the world tilted sideways.
* * * *
Sometime later Amanda woke up to find herself laying flat on her work bench. Rabbit was winding some gauze around her upper arm. Her shirt was off, but someone had thoughtfully draped it across her chest. Amanda was glad she had decided to wear a bra that day.
"What are you doing?" Amanda asked, even though she knew the answer.
"I'm performing maintenance on you," Rabbit said. "ha ha!"
"Ha ha indeed," Amanda echoed.
"Professor Moleskin is getting a doctor so I am just providing first aid."
Amanda heard a noise in the corridor and turned just her head to find The Spine looking around the doorway holding a potted petunia plant.
"I heard you were attacked by a penguin," he said, marching into the room. "I believe bringing foliage is customary," He placed the flowers by her head. Amanda thought she recognized the petunias from Miss Mary's parlour.
"News travels fast," Amanda said.
"News travels instantaneously on the Walter Wifi," The Spine mused.
"By the way, Rabbit, are you all right?" Amanda lifted her good arm to touch the part of his jacket that had been burnt away.
"I rather did like that jacket," he answered. "My arm has a mark but it didn't harm me, unlike you." Rabbit tucked in the end of the bandage.
Rabbit froze for a second, his eyes rolling towards the ceiling as if receiving a message from God. "Miss Mary says to move you to your room."
Amanda made a spinning motion with her finger. "Will both of you turn around so I can put my shirt on?" she asked.
"This must be what's called modesty," The Spine said and obediently they turned around.
Amanda was able to get her good arm through the shirt sleeve but she cried out when the fabric tugged against her wound. Rabbit spun around and pulled the material away from her arm and helped guide her fingers through the sleeve.
"Your face is red," said Rabbit, "Do you have a fever?"
"She's embarrassed," The Spine said, still turned away. "Did you see her boobs?"
From her seat, Amanda was able to kick The Spine in the butt and was pleased at the loud clanging sound it made.
"We're just automatons," Rabbit said, "we're not pervbots." He helped her off the table. "Should I carry you? Professor said your internal pressure was too low and that's why you fell over."
"I'll be all right, maybe if I could just hold onto you," Amanda said and let Rabbit and The Spine escort her back to her room. Her face felt hot and flushed the whole way and she didn't think it was because of her injury.
* * * *
Amanda didn't need stitches, but she did have to wear her arm in a sling for a week and couldn't work for three days. Tonight she was going to the robot show in the park. She had promised them that she would go. Plus, getting out of the mansion for awhile would do her good, she had heard that Professor Moleskin was rebuilding his security penguin.
Everyone associated with the show had gone ahead, so Amanda and a perky Walter girl named, Sunny and a Buxom Walter girl with tattoos and bright red lipstick named Elena followed Ms. Mary to the park. Ms. Mary wore a lovely lavender taffeta sundress and sported a parasol, although Amanda and the other Walter girls loved the feel of the late afternoon sun on their faces and shoulders. There was a slight breeze and it felt like a perfect night for a show in the park.
Sunny and Elena mixed in with the crowd so they could stand near the front for the show. Normally, Amanda would have gone with them, but if her arm got jostled the pain would have been excruciating, so she contented herself to sit with Miss Mary, whose company she did enjoy, even if she was more like a mother figure.
"You'll be up there with them at the next show," Miss Mary said, as if reading her thoughts.
"I don't mind hanging out with you," Amanda said, rocking back and forth in time to the music.
"Young girls should hang out with other young people and do reckless things and regret them before they are too old to regret not doing them." Miss Mary mused.
"Do you have any regrets?" Amanda asked suddenly.
Miss Mary turned and looked her directly in the eyes. "None whatsoever." Her smile was brilliant and she suddenly looked twenty years younger. Amanda shook her head and the illusion was gone. "Remember that, girl."
Amanda smiled and did a pretend clap when the song was over. After the last song, Amanda fought the milling crowd and made her way to the stage. It was empty and the lights were off so she walked around the stage and slipped between a slit in the black curtains. The robots were walking down the small staircase from the stage to the trampled grass.
"Great show, guys." Amanda said.
"Thanks for coming!" said Hatchworth.
"Did you have fun?" The Spine asked.
"I did, thank you!" Amanda said.
"Rabbit, can I talk to you for a minute?"
"I have a minute," said Rabbit happily.
The Spine and Hatchworth continued on their way and they were alone.
Suddenly Amanda was nervous.
"Your face is red, are you embarrassed again or are you feverish this time?" Rabbit stuck his finger in her ear.
"Your temperature is normal."
Amanda batted his hand away and climbed onto the second step and pulled Rabbit so he was standing in front of her. Now they were the same height. "Rabbit, close your eyes."
Rabbit obediently closed his eyes. His eyelids, although functional, were built primarily to make him appear more human.
"Rabbit, I found your first kiss in the lab today and I wanted to give it back to you," Amanda put her hands on his shoulders and tilted her head to the side. She carefully leaned forward and pressed her lips against his. His mouth was cool to the touch, but it was not unpleasant. His lips were firm but yielding and he seemed to be kissing her back. She could hear his clockwork gears speeding up inside his metal chest.
Rabbit reached his hand up and carefully touched the side of her head and stroked her hair. The bun she had secured with a chopstick came sliding down and he could sense the silky strands of her hair enveloping his hand.
Amanda pulled away, a little warm and breathless. She walked down the steps.
"You can open your eyes now, Rabbit." She said and disappeared through the heavy black curtains.
Rabbit studied the pretty lacquered chopstick he was holding before putting his finger up to his lips. "Silly girl, that was my second kiss." He quickly downloaded the memory from temporary to long term storage.
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