Esmeralda, Rebecca, Sebastian and Wilf

Esmeralda, Rebecca, Sebastian and Wilf

A Story by Andrew John
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Story about a pair of weird guys

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Esmeralda, Rebecca, Sebastian and Wilf are not all people: two are autonomous robots. Our UK story takes place 35 years after the two humans were born, which was 2024. And there’s some humour here - we hope!

 

- - - - -

 

My name is Dominic. Yes, it's Dominic. People have funny names for me. Dom, Doodlypom, Dum-Dum, Diddle. But it's Dominic. Dominic Diddle. Er, yes, Diddle. Dominic. Diddle. I decided that, if idiots wanted to call me Diddle, I'd call myself that. That takes the fun out of it for all those prats. And talking of prats: I have a pal called Sebastian. He’s a bit of a loony. Kind of like him, kind of hate him, often ridicule him. I’ll tell you about this particular prat later.

 

Anyway, you've been able to change your name to whatever you want to change it to for centuries. And I'm a mature man, aged thirty-five. I was born in 2024. It's now 2059. When I was born I was called Wilf. Wilf Smith. My parents did that to me. Silly sods. Wilf bloody Smith? Wilf? In 2024? So what's wrong with my having a bit of fun with my name?

 

Parents were still around when I changed it to Dominic Diddle. At first, they were both annoyed, then rather amused. Nice people, really, those folks. My folks. My mum and dad. Gone now: Mum in a car crash; Dad with a covid thing some months later. That was all about ten years ago. They were really quite good parents: they taught me to cook. I made, oh, fried eggs; spicy delightful dumplings; mashed potatoes; gravy; spotted dick.

 

I have an attractive friend called Rebekah. Spelled the fancy way: REBEKAH. She's quite beautiful, when she's turned on. Yes, we are still allowed to switch our sweet-looking electronic friends on and off, though there's a rumour that the government are going to change that. Make us keep them turned on. I often feel like turning her on. Ha-ha! Anyway, more electricity to pay for. They keep changing things. Conservatives way back. Labour way back. Liberals in between. And funny political parties I've never heard of. All the bloody same. I lose interest in politics.

 

As for Rebekah - Rebekah with that lovely name - I had to change it to something. When she was in the store, she was called Dora. These stores seem to call all the female electronic marvels Dora. Oh, dear. Oh, don't get me wrong. Nothing wrong with Dora as a name. I once had an aunt called Dora. Very nice Dora. Mind you, she was a silly sod. Mental, she was. Totally cranky. Absolute screwball. Hah! Dora indeed! It's as bad as Wilf. And male electronic thingies are just Dave. Dave and Dora! You don't have to keep those names, although I bet many people do.

 

Anyway, I don't know who's reading or listening to this story of mine, but I'm trying to be intelligent and straightforward, unequivocal and unambiguous. I may make the odd mistake: a c**k-up. Oh, we shouldn't say that, these days. So many expressions have changed since my infancy and youth. Things change.

 

I think I should explain, too, that we can't have sex any more - with or without face masks. Or prophylactic condoms. We still have a version of covid - that horrible illness stuff that happened to some of us before I was born. Then some of our governments got it under control, and then it took hold of us with a strange power. There was Dad, of course. Many others. What a phenomenon! They call it, er, covid, er, something-or-other now. A set of letters and numbers. I just call it “covid thing”.

 

It's very baffling and frustrating. If we go to bed with someone, we can pass covid on, or pick it up. It was one thing catching a cold or a dose of pox, but covid? So it's become rather frustrating. Being told we're not to do it. You could find yourself in jail for a long time if you're found in bed with someone - whichever gender. Mind you, look what could happen in jail!

 

As for the nation's biological process of birthing, well, we're expected to donate. That stuff. Yes, you know what I'm talking about. No need for me to spill it - er, spell it - out.

 

We keep covid at bay to some extent with our face masks. I'm told people were wearing those things for a while before I was born in 2024. They stopped insisting on them - well, here in Europe, anyway - but, well, that covid thing took hold.

 

The masks are a bit different now: kind of special, extraordinary, bang-on. They're machine-like, give off a little buzz to tell you they're working. If you can't hear a little buzz from my mask, it's because I'm not wearing it at the moment. Have to wear it if I'm in company, of course. But not with Rebekah. She doesn't actually breathe. Hmm, she doesn't burp or fart, either. I suppose that's rather a blessing.

 

Anyway, the masks are expensive. Not sold or given away by the government, oh, no: they're handled by companies, all in competition with each other. If you can't afford one, you're not allowed to go out into the street without one; if you can't go out into the street, how can you go to a store and buy one? You try to buy it online and have it delivered. But if you can't buy it on line . . .? Oh, you're getting my magnificent message. We're bombarded by problems.

 

I do have another problem: I can become ill. Is it that fancy covid? Something else? I often feel funny, then OK, then funny again. In the head. It's weird. I tried to book an appointment with my doctor, but he's put up his prices. I'd have to save for ages to be able to afford to visit him. An emergency is one thing - they'll try to see you; feeling a bit ill is quite another - they don't give a bugger.

 

Now, where was I? Oh, yes: Rebekah. She said to me the other day, “Oh Dominic, I see you're looking bad. // What sort of illness have you lately had?”

 

Yes, that's iambic bloody pentameter. Even rhymes in that case. I didn't ask for an iambic, rhyming, rhythmic, cadenced, measured, prosodic, metrical load of rubbish. But she was at a slightly cut price because she was second hand. If they'd had to get rid of her iambic pentameters, her cadences, her rhythms, and tried to make her talk normal - all very technical - they'd have put the price up. Right up! I know what I'd like to put right up them. But there you go. Previous owner had buggered about with her dialect, her idiom, her mode. He was a pathetically poetical prat.

 

I've got this friend I mentioned. He’s called Sebastian. About my age. He's a total prat, idiot, cretin, moron - and artificially blond. But I kind of like him, hate him, stick with him. Yeah, he's a friend. Of sorts. Sometimes you can love despising people. But that's Sebastian. Talks posh. Often calls me Dom. I say, Don't call me Dom. It's Dominic. Then he says, rather poshly, “Oh, you say, Don't call me Dom. Don't tell me off, Dominic, or I'll call you Dom - or even Wilf.”

 

“Well be careful, Mr Sebastian,” I'd say as an attempt at a witty reply. “I might find myself calling you Seb. Oh, you'd love that one.”

 

Yes, I suppose we do have a bit of fun. It's what being good mates is all about, isn't it? And he's a bit of a silly posh sod.

 

I work at the same office as Sebastian. Our desks are next to each other's. He talks posh and I talk normal. We handle paper: put some in this slot, some in that. Yes, it's odd that everything's on a screen, but we still find ourselves mucking about with paper. I feel like Winston Smith in Ninety Eighty-Four by George Orwell.

 

There's another one that calls me Dom, of course. It's dear Rebekah. I tell her off and she says, “I called you Dom because I couldn't do // the rhythms that I needed to, boo, hoo!” Oh, dear, she gets worse! And calls that verse? Blimey, I find myself doing that bloody rubbish, too. It's just a curse.

 

Sebastian - yeah, that guy, that posh-sounding pillock guy with the artificially blond hair - has an electronic companion, too. She was called Dora when she was still in the shop. But she wasn't second-hand. And she doesn't speak in rhyme. He changed her name to Esmeralda.

 

When Sebastian's been in my apartment he's often had Esmeralda with him, and she and Rebekah have a conversation. But it's all just an electronic babble, gibberish, nonsensical bunk and hokum. That's electronic companions for you. Rebekah going babble-babble-babble-babble-babble with electronic babbly sounds; Esmeralda going gibber-gibber-gibber-gibber-gibber, with electronic gibbery sounds. Does Rebekah's babbly gibberish stuff rhyme? Can't tell, of course. It's all whizzes and buzzes and fuzzes.

 

“How are you, Mr Diddle?” Dominic's electronic friend Esmeralda - rather posh-sounding Esmeralda - asks, politely when she sees me. “It is a very charming and delightful experience to behold your visual aspect, Mr Diddle. And have you made some fried eggs today?”

 

“Esmeralda! Do shut your stupid gob!” Sebastian talks like that.

 

Right, it's time to tell you, dear listener or reader - whoever the hell you are - what happened to me and that guy called Sebastian.

 

We fell out. We'd had a few drinkypoos. So really had a go at each other. A fight. You're not allowed to fight. Didn't use to be this way. Oh, no, you could have a good scrap, beat the diabolical hell out of each other. Have a great time.

 

But these days they arrest you if you're seen having a pugilistic fisticuffs session. Sebastian and I had scrapped, then tried to make up by putting our arms around each other. You're not allowed to do that, either.

 

And that was when two cops saw us. They thought we were scrapping and then showing male affection. That's naughty these days. Abominable, dreadful, dire, awful and all that nonsense. Haven't been able to do that for about twenty years. It was one of those funny political parties I'd never heard of. There were Tories, then Labour then this lot came into power. Something religious about them. Oh, dear! The other religions were OK, welcomed gay people and even people with amazing, amusing faces. But not this new party.

 

Right, now Sebastian and I aren't gay, but we might be a little bit along the line, as it were. But never do anything. So many people are, of course. Along the line, that is. No such thing as bang-on gay and bang-on straight. Well, for most folk, that is. It is - or was - quite acceptable. Who gave a bugger - as it were - whether you were gay, straight or something in the middle? But then you get politicians. These politicians. These religious, god-fearing, wrong-type-of-churchy types.

 

Anyway, into the magistrates' court right in the centre of town. Little crowd crowding, caught there outside the court, because they'd heard that we'd been doing a teeny little combat and then a teensy little cuddle. We got fined a thousand pounds each. A thousand pounds! OK, not seen as a big amount these days, but it's still a thousand bloody pounds! Then there's the amusement there, for the little crowd and some electronic companions, too, and embarrassment, for us two.

 

Thing is, we had to take Rebekah and Esmeralda into court with us. We have to do that these days. Because, if our electronic companions have witnessed anything, they're summoned into the court - whether it's magistrates' or crown court - to back up our evidence. The authorities can plug into their brains somehow, see? Stick a little electronic device into one of their ears or bung it up their bums and read stuff on a screen. “Oh,” the court may say, “we can see you're not telling the truth, because your electronic companion isn't backing you up.” And they have to, you see. They can't be wrong.

 

It's how the administrators keep you in order. They encourage you to have your electronic being with you at all times. We hear they're going to make a law for it. So Rebekah and Dominic - that's me, by the way: Dominic, not Wilf - will always be together. And Sebastian and Esmeralda will always be together. Every pair are always there. I'll have to keep her charged up, or she'll run out of lecky. Why is life so complicated?

 

And we know what sodding Esmeralda says whenever she sees me: “How are you, Mr Diddle?” she'll ask, politely. “It is a very charming and delightful experience to behold your visual aspect, Mr Diddle. And have you made some spicy delightful dumplings today?”

 

“Esmeralda! Do shut your stupid gob!” Sebastian talks like that.

 

That chairman of the magistrates looked ponderously at me. A woman. Oh, yes, this current government insists that both men and women be called chairman, spokesman, this-man or that-man. I seem to recall that we used to change it to “chairperson”. Or, if we knew it was female, we could say “chairwoman”. All very gentlemanly. Er, gentlepersonly.

 

Anyway, the dear sweet chairman - er, I think I can say chairwoman here, because you are the only person reading or listening to my folderol, my bilge, codswallop, guff and crap. This dear, sweet and rather mesmeric chairwoman seemed to have a split-second smile in her twinkling eyes. I rather liked her. Only about my age. Quite attractive. But she had to say her stuff - even if she did have that twinkle. I rather fell in love with her. Even if she was about to fine me a thousand pounds.

 

Sebastian looked at me. And frowned. Even his frowns look posh. And rather silly, zany and wacky. But that's Sebastian.

 

And that was when I fainted. Fell to the floor. Remembered bugger all till they woke me up in a hospital. Yeah, I knew I'd get the bill. But, as I say, they would have to look after me. I had, after all, dropped to the floor. Was deemed an emergency. And I do have these little mental problems.

 

Sebastian visited me in that hospital. He had his Esmeralda with him.

 

“How are you, Mr Diddle?” she asked, politely. “It is a very charming and delightful experience to behold your visual aspect, Mr Diddle. And have you made some mashed potato today?”

 

“Esmeralda! Do shut your stupid gob!” Sebastian talks like that. “You can see we're in a hospital, and that Mr Bloody Diddly-Doodly-Diddle here looks like a bag of s**t.” He looked at me. I frowned at him. He frowned back. His posh frown. Rather silly.

 

“Where's my Rebekah?” I asked him.

 

“Oh, she's with me,” he said. “I'll call her in. She's waiting in the, er, waiting room. She's just sitting there babbling to herself. She's doing what you call her babble-babble-babble stuff.”

 

“Is she still rhyming?” I asked him. I smiled. I knew she would be.

 

“Oh, when she's talking nearly normal,” said Sebastian. “Not fuzzy-wuzzing with her electronic gibbery sounds. It's all those whizzes and buzzes and fuzzes you like to talk about. I wonder if she's crying with her fuzzy noises. That's Rebekah for you. Mind you, I do kind of fancy her.”

 

Don't lay your hands on my Rebekah,” I commanded, rather jokingly, but kind of serious about it.

 

What would I have done with him if he'd laid his hands on my Rebekah? Not that we could do anything with these electronic thingies. Any little holes under their clothes have a particular purpose - something that mechanics and electricians understand, as do officials with funny hats on. If we'd played with their holes they might have objected with squeaky squawks and electronic signals going off in all directions to the authorities. Very pretty, lovely to look at, even kiss - on the cheek - but kind of purposeful. You could fondle her face, nuzzle her neck, but mustn't wobble her wibblies.

 

So dear old Sebastian summoned Rebekah. Rebekah displayed her rather posh-looking manner of walking and talking. Sebastian just frowned in his zany wacky way. That posh frown. That kind of guy. A silly, stupid, imbecilic Sebastian.

 

Rebekah spoke: “How do you feel now, Mr Diddle, pray? // Do please excuse my asking in this way.”

 

“Yeah, yeah, dear old Becky,” I said. “I often want to switch off your lecky. See what you've made me do? Again?!

 

She said, “I really feel you rather like this rhyme. // I'm sure you'd like to hear it all the time.”

 

“Can't you stuff something into her mouth?” Sebastian asked. But he couldn't keep a little smile off his face. I'm pretty sure he kind of enjoyed her manner of speaking. I sometimes wonder if he'd prefer to have picked up a rhymer. Did he like being with our Rebekah, becoming a two-timer?

 

I put my hand to my chin - and felt something of a thickness of whisker. Almost a beard.

 

What. The. Hell?” I demanded. “Have I grown a beard in a few minutes?”

 

“Oh, forgot to tell you, old boy,” said Sebastian. He was trying to hide a smile, but it was there. “You've, er, been in this state for ten weeks. We've even had a general election. The sun's been in and out and that funny goblin woman down the street from you dropped dead, and -”

 

I was rather perplexed. “You mean I've been here for two and a half months? There's been a general election? And that funny female goblin git has gone?”

 

“That's rather what's happened, old chum,” he said. “First thing the election winners did was to drop this nonsense of making us all be referred to as he and him. We can say she and her and they. They're not the same churchy types, full of religion. Well, there'll be some rather nice religion, but you know who I'm referring to. Different party now. More liberal. No more charging us the earth to get some treatment at the doctor's surgery or the hospital. All rather like it used to be. Bit like before we were born.”

 

“So all this,” I said, “all this has, has happened while I've been in hospital?”

 

“Oh, yes,” said Sebastian. “Oh, and I got Rebekah to come in and give you the odd shave.”

 

Rebekah widened her eyes. She seemed so pleased that Sebastian had mentioned her. She blurted out with, “I really rather like this kind of thing. // I love to rattle, chat and sing, sing, sing.”

 

“I'll put you in bloody Sing Sing correctional facility,” said Sebastian, “if you carry on like that.”

 

“Oh dearest Mr Seb you're often rough // and make me have to hear that kind of stuff.”

 

Sebastian almost screamed. “She's had to live with me and Esmeralda for so bloody long, doing that rhyme all the time.”

 

“Oh, what lovely raves!” I said. “And she's been giving me shaves?”

 

Rebekah piped up, quickly: “Oh yes I've been so pleased to groom and trim. // Been often nice to get away from him.”

 

“Well, I'm feeling much better,” I said. “What's been happening?”

 

“Well, that change of government brought all kinds of change,” said Sebastian. “Treatment's been found; you're on some weird medicines and stuff. They've been sticking needles into your arm. Or was it your bum? I decided I wouldn't be around here while they did it. In case it was your -”

 

“Yes, yes, yes,” I thundered. “No need to go into it.”

 

“So,” added Sebastian, “you've been like Rip Van Winkle. Oh, by the way, you've been saving a bit of money for all these weeks - while you've been in hospital, half dead, not having to buy food, pay bus fares, buy condoms or gob-stoppers, have a pee or a poo, that sort of thing. Oh, I don't mind giving you a bit of financial help, old mate.”

 

He glanced at Rebekah.

 

“And we'll take Rebekah to the store and have her doctored. Have her bits played with. See if her n*****s are in the wrong place. Get rid of that rhyme stuff. Oh, and the company we work for understands you've had difficulties. As soon as you're out of here, it's back to that desk. Oh, I know we've still got problems with covid, although it'll get sorted out. Happened just before we were born.”

 

Then Rebekah had to contribute to our otherwise rather remarkably intelligent conversation:

 

“I'm very grateful, gentlemen, to both of you. // I know that you'll believe me, it's so true. // You'll take away this rhyming, tra-la-la. // I know now, Mr Diddle, we'll go far.”

 

Sebastian just growled. I just laughed. And Esmeralda - rather posh-sounding Esmeralda - just said rather politely, of course, “How are you, Mr Diddle? It is a very charming and delightful experience to behold your visual aspect, Mr Diddle. And have you made some lemon drizzle today? Toad-in-the hole? Bubble-and-squeak? Stargazey pie? Spotted dick? Or giblet gravy?”

 

“Esmeralda! Do shut your stupid gob!” Sebastian talks like that.

 

 

THE END

© 2024 Andrew John


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Added on February 29, 2024
Last Updated on April 4, 2024
Tags: comedy, friends, robots, electronic beings

Author

Andrew John
Andrew John

Carmarthen, Wales, United Kingdom



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