Short Stories: The Dog Surrogate Twins
The eyes of the Dog Surrogate Twins blinked open at exactly the same time in the morning. It was part of their routine. Twin lingered abed while Twin got up to modulate the air between them. A thin finger pressed the intercom button, and a well-defined voice buzzed pleasantly across the apartment, partially obscured by the 60-cycle hum from the electrical apparatus that served to connect them.
Dragon Leader to Red One, intoned the voice. Twin groaned and rolled over in bed, wondering whether to respond electrically or merely pound on the wall and shout. Twin’s diet had not been as good lately as Twin’s. Naked slants of eyes groped around the room, searching for the disembodied plastic voice conveyor. It was in the kitchen, next to the miso that had not been put away after last night’s frenzy.
What do you want? came the shout. There was a pause. Twin knew that Twin, waiting for an answer but knowing of the slugabed condition of Twin, would have started Morning Task while awaiting confirmation. In Twin’s mind, he could see Twin walking across the room to once again activate the voice conveyor. The plastic conveyor spoke.
One endlessly bloody civil war, with religious overtones, millions of casualties, rumors of genocide, and denial of entry to the Red Cross. To go, please. Twin got out of bed and went to write down the order. He fingered his own conveyor.
Was that with or without pandemic diseases? he asked.
Hold the diseases, but make sure there are no painkillers, crackled the voice of Twin over the conveyor. Twin always wanted to save something for later.
Meet you outside with your order in a second, Twin, replied Twin. And he would. He was up now. He ran his natural-bristle brush through his waist-length hair, brushed his teeth, and put on his T-shirt. Next door, he knew that Twin would he running his hands through his hair and selecting a tie to go with his smart new cotton blend dress shirt. The black leather dance shoes had been polished the night before.
The two nearly identical doors leading to the two nearly identical apartments opened at almost exactly the same time. The Twins stepped out, locked their doors, and glanced at one another to make sure. They were sure. Stepping off of their porches in unison, they swung their reality generators over their shoulders in time. The buckles and leather of the reality generator carry cases gleamed and glistened in the new morning sun. They stood next to their shiny blue mobile. Its individuality beneath the plain exterior could not be hidden from their eyes. Twin squinted up at the sun.
I wonder if it will be Minority Driver Day today? The day before had been Drive Backwards Day, the day before that had been Fix Your Mobile in the Street Day, the day before that had been Burning Mobiles in Vacant Lot day, and the day before that had been Kill Twins Day. Twin was wise to guess it would be Minority Driver Day again today. Twin guessed that Twin was probably right.
I have no doubt in my mind that you are right, Twin. said he.
As our accountant, concerned with our monetary standings, it will be in our best interest not to say out on the streets any longer than necessary. I therefore advise you to take us quickly to get snow cones. The money we save from not staying on the streets will easily pay for our snow cones.
The day was bright with a thousand waiting insults as they stood there on the sidewalk next to their blue mobile. As if to verify the day’s cycle, two Minority Drivers — each on the wrong side of the road, each running his boulevard stop — tried to drive on the sidewalk to avoid the other. One tried to drive on a fence, but it was made of stone, and kept some of the paint from his car. The other tried to drive on a street sign, but only managed to change its orientation. The Twins witnessed this. They turned to each other and nodded in their mutual recognition of the wisdom that they had just received. Their eyes turned again to watch the two cars speed off in their separate directions to avoid imaginary capture. Twin wrote down the license plate numbers of the two cars, one for the owner of the fence, and one so the street department could know who had knocked down the street sign. Twin opened the passenger-side door for Twin so they could go downtown for snow cones.
As they drove downtown, Twins talked about the outcome of some experiments that seemed to contradict the Second Law of Thermodynamics. So engrossed, they almost did not see their reserved parking place across from the snow cone store on the busy street. Fortunately, they both realized the folly of artificially maintaining the Second Law of Thermodynamics in time, and spotted the parking space. Because traffic was temporarily light in the intersection, Twin made a U-turn against the light and slid into the space just ahead of two police cars coming the other way. The police did not bother the Twins. Anyone who drove like that with policemen in plain sight, and one block from the police headquarters was either undercover or owned the town. The Twins owned the town. They could do what they liked. What they liked was to drive so fast it made it appear that other drivers were on drugs. It would have been no surprise to the Twins to hear there was Angel Dust in the water supply and that everybody else was suffering a massive whack attack. The Twins did not care. There was too much to be done, and Twins never drink water anyway. Twins eat snow cones.
The Twins got out of the car and crossed in the middle of the block to get to the snow cone store. Other drivers used other streets while the Twins wanted to cross. Twins ate five snow cones apiece.
With the sun beating down upon them in a favorable fashion, the Twins walked over to a temple to watch the Old Men play their ancient Asian-Pacific game. It was a very ethnic pair who got back into the blue mobile.
I wish they had made this car for a bigger race of people, said Twin, hitting his head on the dome light while attempting to fold his legs to fit.
It fits my race just fine, said Twin.
That’s because we’re Twins, said Twin.
It could not possibly fit both of us.
You are right, I see, said Twin, who fit very well in the mobile, although his feet barely reached the pedals.
The Twins motored gently back to the freeway, but Twin’s prediction of Minority Driver’s Day was indeed correct, and Minority Drivers from all over the state were packed onto the freeway, no one moving.
Twin pointed off to one side of the freeway.
Why not use our private road? Twin looked over and saw what Twin was referring to. It was the nearly empty bus lane that runs parallel to the freeway — but without interruptions and with no appreciable traffic — to exactly where the Twins needed to go.
A wise choice, observed Twin, as he accelerated smoothly onto the forbidden strip of concrete. The walls on either side of the bus lane were high, so no one could see the Twins traveling 120 miles-per-hour. When the blue mobile re-emerged from their newly-discovered private road, they were within seconds of their destination: A store at which Twin wished to buy some supplies.
Because the day was still young, the parking lot behind the store had but a few cars in it, and these were spaced out as if they might catch a disease from each other if they were closer. The Twins practiced their emergency evasive maneuvers for a while using the parked cars as pylons. When this activity seemed to be attracting some attention, the Twins parked the blue mobile and entered the store.
Inside the store, however, something was not right, and the Twins went almost unnoticed. Twin stepped behind the counter and sold several thousands of dollars worth of merchandise … better than any of the salespeople would do that day. In the back of the store, Twin fixed some equipment for several waiting customers in the service department and did more work in a few minutes than the repair department did all day.
But something still was not right. Twin traced the problem to his reality generator. It had the wrong carry case. Fortunately, a luggage shop just down the street had precisely what the Twins needed. There was a new saleslady with red hair just the same height as Twin, and Twin felt physical attraction for her. He contacted her concerning several pieces of expensive luggage. The Twins are professional consumers, however, and it was all a ruse. Twins know exactly what they want long before they enter a shop.
Twin was correct about the reality generator malfunction, and the owner of the store soon was seen to be upset that Twins were taking so much of the time of his salesgirl. He stood nearby and muttered under his breath. He slammed luggage around to shame the saleslady. The Twins were sad he did not know they owned the entire city. Just when the owner’s head seemed ready to explode, Twin pulled out $170 and bought the new carry case. Suddenly, the store owner smiled and came over to assist with the purchase. He tried to dismiss the saleslady, but Twins made sure the store owner knew that it was she who had made the sale, and they could have easily gone someplace else, had the service not been so good. The store owner did not realize he was dealing with two professional consumers, but he did feel the effect of the now-functioning reality generator, and was very happy about everything.
Twins went back to the first store and, with the reality generator operating perfectly, now received immediate attention from almost everybody.
As they were leaving the store, however, a business-associate of the Twins spotted them, and made himself known. This person was suffering from great sickness, and did not feel the effects of the reality generator, nor anything else good. He started to tell a racial joke to the Twins. The Twins tried to stop him. He told it anyway. Twins looked after him, as he walked away satisfied with the pointless slur he had relayed. Twin was not happy. He found the mobile of the man and kicked the sides in, then filled it with trash from a nearby container. When the man returned he was upset. He suspected the Twins, and threatened to show them his Mafia card. Twins told the man it was too bad the Mafia card had not stopped the vandals from putting trash into the man’s van. When they left, the man was red in the face. He was truly suffering from a great sickness.
Protein intake interval was upon the Twins, and it was decided that only one restaurant would suffice to ease the massive Twin hunger. The blue mobile soon transported them to their point of embarkation, and they sat at a table for four in the exclusive atmosphere of the plush oceanside restaurant. It was that magic time of day when only the very rich could eat at this restaurant. The reality generator secured a table for the Twins with no problems.
Twins deported themselves admirably through the oysters, the lobster, the crab, and the steak, and dessert was upon them before a waitress asked Twins if they were driving a green mobile. No, they replied, they were borne on the back of a miraculous duck, that was hovering over the roof of the restaurant at that moment, and would, at a sign, come through the door to ferry them to their next destination. The waitress experienced disbelief. Twin pulled out a duck call and proceeded to send a message to their duck that meal was almost over, and to prepare transportation. Waitress squealed with delight to think such fine Twins would travel in such high fashion, and ran to the kitchen. A moment later, the waitress returned, and said while all believed there was a duck above, none had heard the secret signal. Twin gave the secret signal again, only this time, loudly enough for one in the kitchen to hear, if one was so disposed. One in the kitchen heard. So did all the other diners, the manager, and various and sundry of others. The waitress again, not believing the beauty in her ears, covered herself and fled the table. The manager approached. He was upset that Twins would communicate by secret code with an animal without. He spoke harshly.
This is a place of business, and I’d like to remind you that others enjoy the use of this facility. He was asserting himself.
Twin acted ashamed.
You are right, he said.
Twins have behaved badly. He proffered the rather large bill to the manager.
I suggest that you throw us out. The manager, however, decided that he had exercised his authority enough already, and bade Twins good day.
The reality pack informed Twins that pre-ordered goods were awaiting at a point distant from their present location, so they made ready to travel to such coordinates as might put them within easy reach of said goods. The goods secured, it was time to professionally consume some stereo information. The blue mobile pointed in the direction of the store that wanted investigation. However, they were in a bad section of town, and the people there were foolish. They neglected the impulses from the reality generator indicating the ownership of the town by Twins, and abrogated such privilege unto themselves. They did it not in a clever way, but rather with a way that made Twins see that they were under the influence of their parent’s money, thinking this would give them that for which they could otherwise never hope.
Thus it was that, as Twins’ blue mobile approached an intersection and the light turned green — as it should have — the Twins found themselves unable to enter the intersection without knocking down two humanoid couples who were walking against the light. This was very bad. However, Twin decided not to hammer the four, but rather wait until they passed. This he did, and made his right turn. One of the male humanoids, however, was not satisfied that he had done the wrong thing, and as the blue mobile passed, humanoid pivoted and pretended to kick the blue mobile.
Twin was witness to this folly. Humanoid kicker was so stoned on his money that it, along with the others, now began to cross the street perpendicular to their previous line of travel, even though the light was about to change. This angered Twins, that humanoids with so little brains should challenge omnipotent authority and knowledge. Twin pushed the accelerator pedal down hard and swung the wheel over to make the car skid at a high rate of speed in a figure eight. Within seconds, the blue mobile was traveling in the crosswalk, pointed at the four, at about 40 miles-per-hour. The four humanoids were so stupid they did not see nor hear the blue mobile thundering down upon them until the last moment. Twin swung the wheel of the blue mobile slightly and missed the humanoids, but not by much. Humanoids were shaken. The female humanoids fled for safety of the sidewalk where they should have been originally. The male humanoids were afraid, and froze in place, and so had to run to get out of the way of traffic now coming when the light changed anew. This time, they waited for the light. They understood.
Once back in a better part of town, the reality generator functioned as designed, and by the time Twins entered the stereo store, was emitting full strength. The sight of its superior aluminum exterior caught the eye of an elder salesperson, who pushed aside the quicker but less tenured salesperson who reached Twins first. Because nothing was to be purchased and the salesperson’s time was to be wasted, Twins let this apparent injustice occur. The store was stocked with many expensive but poor quality components, and, after correcting the thinking of the elderly salesperson as to the merits of the equipment, much to the disgust of the elderly salesperson, Twins allowed to each other that this person was not communicating, and should be left alone to re-establish contact. Twins left, while elderly salesperson was still establishing contact with herself.
It was dusk, now. A time magic with Twins. As they motored down the avenue, they noticed the many attractive young women walking along the streets. At one stoplight, one such young, attractive woman put her knuckle against the glass of the blue mobile and asked if Twins might have an extra ride she could share. Twins knew to themselves that there was some trickery afoot, but decided to learn the extent of it. Twin opened the door for the woman, but she turned, instead, and motioned to the recess of a building, were a friend was secreted. The friend was a male of the species, and each was unwashed. It was time to repay in kind this trickery. Twins waited until each of the two humanoids was in the back seat. Twin then accelerated the blue mobile to a very fast speed within a short space of time, so that the blue mobile was traveling 50 miles-per-hour down the crowded night avenue. He made sure that the right side of the blue mobile was nearly hitting the left sides of the long row of parked cars by the curb before he turned around to address the passengers.
It’s a good thing we’re not on Angel Dust, he said.
We always drive like this, nodded Twin in agreement. In the back seat, the already uncomfortable riders were in a panic.
Are you guys on Angel Dust? Oh, my god! said the untrustworthy (and untrusting) female humanoid.
We’re going to be killed, said the untrusting male humanoid. Female humanoid started climbing over the seat back to get to the front.
Let me drive, she said.
No, don’t let her! She doesn’t know how, claimed the untrusting male humanoid. He grabbed at the female to keep her from interfering with the natural process of Twin’s driving, which now appeared erratic as the blue mobile swerved down the street.
I can drive better than these guys, lied the untrusting female humanoid, and continued climbing. Twin looked around at female humanoid.
You want to drive? he asked. He knew of a driveway ahead, and pulled into it without slowing down, then put on the brakes and skidded to a stop. Twin got out of the passenger side of the blue mobile, ran to the other side, and started climbing into the back seat. The passengers panicked, and fled the unused side of the car. Twins sat laughing as they watched the passengers running for their lives down the alleyway.
Darkness brought hunger, so the Twins took the blue mobile over the hill to a restaurant they had been eager to try. It was a natural-food restaurant, which meant that the service would be poor. Twins, however, are accustomed to good service, and drew attention to the fact that they were getting none. Twin combed his waist-length hair over his face, put on his dark glasses, and ate a napkin. Twin swept all the tablewear and glasses to the floor in response to a similar crash in the kitchen area. Twin tried to drink water by pouring it on his forehead. Twin started kissing the woman in the next booth, and then the waitress when she finally came. Twin exclaimed,
I’ve had better service in a UFO.
Twins were finally served, however, and the waitress promised to sleep with them. The food was good enough that there were no more complaints. But it was a boring place, and Twins had to leave for the other side of the mountain to see friends perform at a club.
In the club there was more bad service, but the food was not good, and the waitress did not make up her mind whether or not to sleep with the Twins. She coquettishly agreed, then disagreed. Finally, Twin who had been doing all the talking got up to leave, saying it was then or never. Waitress watched him leave, and decided she had dallied enough. She turned to Twin.
All I want to know is, can I trust you guys? She giggled hideously. Twin looked deeply into her eyes and reassured her. Waitress sighed, and looked around the room. She didn’t want to appear loose; she already had no face. She finally hit upon a way to go with Twins that would not make her appear loose. She turned to Twin.
Okay, I’ll go with you guys. Just let me tell female over there. Waitress indicated another female humanoid who couldn’t care less about anything. Timing was critical at this point. Twin knew that by now Twin had the blue mobile warmed up and ready to run. As soon as waitress turned her back to chat and play coquette for a few more minutes, Twin got up and quickly walked to the door, without the waitress seeing him. Twin had the blue mobile ready to go. Twin got in, and Twins left. Inside, waitress thought she had Twins in the palm of her hand. When she turned around, she found no Twins at all. She looked around and called. She went to the door and looked out. No Twins. Waitress was so upset that her game had not worked that she went home with a male humanoid who helped her get pregnant, although she did not need to be.
Twins arrived home to find a male humanoid writing on the walls of their apartment. They offered the male humanoid a one-way ride deep into a lonely mountain canyon in the middle of the dark, cold night. The male humanoid thanked Twins for the offer, but said it would be inconvenient for him, since he had an appointment first thing in the morning to be at Twins’ apartment to do some painting. Twins found out where he lived, and released him.
Inside the apartments, Twin’s voices crackled over the plastic voice conveyor, and the telecommunicator was utilized to inform others of Twin’s whereabouts. The waitress from the health food restaurant came over and the Twins were happy as always ever after.