Today’s story prompt comes from my younger brother, Ben. I should start off by commending him for his restraint, considering the words I was certain he would suggest for “P”!
The word he has picked was pleasantly surprising, as well as quite interesting. Today’s word is “POLYGAMY”. I was initially toying with the idea of writing something dark surrounding this topic, as there are unfortunately several real-life horror stories which I could have drawn inspiration from. However, I decided that I would ignore that impulse for today and come up with something a little more light-hearted. This one has a sci-fi feel to it, too. Thanks again, bro!
Here’s what I came up with. I hope you enjoy it.
By Adam Dixon
“Come on, John, just one more drink!” Samuel pleaded, holding tight to John’s coat as he stood up. “Just one more! I…don’t want to go home yet…” Samuel looked down at his friend, meeting his green eyes and seeing something very close to desperation within them. He sighed and sat back down.
“Alright, Sammy,” he relented, “But only one more; I’ve got a meeting in the morning and I’m not facing those androids with bloodshot eyes and beer-breath! They’ve been programmed to detect alcohol in the air now, so I’d have no chance at hiding it!”
“Right, right, just one!” Samuel beamed his gratitude and waved at a passing Server. The mechanical man turned its expressionless face towards their table and strode over, buzzing and whirring as it lifted its heavy metal legs.
“YES, SIRS, HOW MAY I ASSIST?” It looked and sounded almost exactly alike the four other Servers in the pub. The two men wouldn’t have known if they had been served by this particular model before, they were so similar. Samuel raised two fingers in front of the Server’s front sensors.
“We’ll have two more beers, please,” he commanded. “Add the cost to my tab. My code is 080292.”
“CERTAINLY, SIR,” the droid replied, bowing awkwardly before moving in the direction of the bar. They could hear its internal fans from ten feet away. Samuel and John sat in a comfortable silence as they waited for their drinks. The pub was designed to look and feel just like a typical public house from the previous century, complete with wooden tables and chairs and blackboards denoting the prices of various drinks. No-one present knew who J.D. Wetherspoon was, but apparently he had owned several such places. They looked presentable enough, in a dated kind of way, and at least the booze was cheap. It smelled faintly of sweaty feet, but neither man knew if that was intentional.
“Thanks, Johnny-boy, I really appreciate it,” Samuel said as the droid returned with their drinks. The beer was a luminous green and the head on them was a mottled white. The two men clinked their glasses and each took a deep mouthful.
“So, this polygamy thing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, eh?” John asked with a wry smile. Samuel grimaced and took another long swig.
“You can say that again, my friend!” he responded, wiping foam from his lips with the back of his hand. “I understand now why it used to be illegal! So many problems every single day!”
“There must be some good things, though?” John ventured. “One thing springs immediately to mind…”
“Oh, forget it!” Samuel waved his hand dismissively. “My sex life isn’t much better for it, and mostly because I’m too exhausted from dealing with them during the day! Even then it’s not like I’m settled on that score. Of course they aren’t always going to be willing to get in the sack, and there is nothing quite as soul-destroying as being rejected by three women in one night…” John burst out laughing and tried vainly to disguise it with another mouthful of beer.
“Yes, go on! Laugh it up!” Samuel sighed. “I can see the funny side, honestly. I just can’t bring myself to laugh at it!”
“I’m sorry, Sammy,” John said, his mirth fading. Samuel only nodded. The two men sat in silence once again, listening to the buzz of conversation as men, women and cyborgs chattered to one another or spoke into their surgically-attached headsets.
“You know, I think our forefathers had it much easier,” Samuel spoke up after a short while. “They mostly married for love rather than business. I mean, look at me: I’ve married three times, strictly for business arrangements and I’m not any happier for it. I’ve become very successful, of course, but I’m stuck in dumps like this every night because I can barely bring myself to go home to my business partners! That’s not living, surely?” John was about to respond when two shrill voices cut through the ambience of the pub.
“SAMUEL! THERE YOU ARE! COME HOME THIS INSTANT!”
“I KNEW WE’D FIND YOU IN THIS PIT AGAIN!”
Everyone in the building stopped what they were doing and turned to look at the two angry women who had burst in through the large front doors. One was older, tall and bony, and the other was young, short and plump. Both were fairly attractive and both wore masks of fury and contempt. Samuel groaned aloud.
“Speak of the Devils and they shall appear!” he said resentfully, lifting his beer and downing the last couple of mouthfuls. John didn’t quite know what to say, merely sitting and staring into his half-finished beer. Samuel clapped him on the shoulder as he stood to leave.
“This is one of the perks, I suppose,” he said, with a forced smile. “My wives are quite old-fashioned; they’d rather march in here to embarrass me personally instead of calling me on my headset! Looks like my second wife has stayed at home…that can’t be a good sign…Anyway, I must be off. See you around, Johnny-boy, and wish me luck!” John nodded and grasped Samuel’s wrist.
“Good luck, Sammy,” he said, smiling at Samuel with sympathy in his eyes. Samuel cleared his throat and strode over to greet his wives. John could still hear them chiding him as the thick doors closed behind them. He raised his pint to his lips, contemplating his friend’s pitiable position. He grimaced as he finished the green dregs.
“You may be right, Sammy,” he muttered to himself. “Our forefathers did have it easier: they had better marriages and better beer!” He left a tip for the android and made his own way home, happily and gratefully alone.