What follows is a tale of things that happen in dark and private moments, a tale of emotional needs supplanted by physical desire, in other words a tale of fucking.
It begins with Roseanne Gluckman, a woman unlucky in love but skilled in the stock market, a self made millionaire at thirty years old.
Roseanne's plans had been to make her fortune first and get married second but now the fear that her suitors were only after her for money left her unable to get past a first date much less third base.
On the Internet we call this a ‘first world problem.’
Since women have needs just like men, Roseanne found a workaround, an expensive and preternatural one, but a workaround nonetheless. She nicknamed him Fritz; he was high on maintenance and low on personality but he got the job done and he was always ready for more. He made her feel things she'd barely been able to imagine feeling before. Sure she always felt a little guilty afterwards but that wasn’t enough to make her send him away, not when she was in a relationship with so few rules or expectations.
And isn’t that what every relationship comes down to? Rules and expectations?
Speaking of expectations, one she had been told to accept was Fritz’s complete silence, he would never ask questions, make complaints or ask about her net worth. He was a blank slate she could overwrite with her every fantasy, he could be everything she ever wanted.
Then he started humming.
That faint almost tuneless sound turned turned her warm post-coital sweat ice cold. She realized what she had done with a scream, a scream the shape beside her in the bed ignored.
She ran from bedroom and locked herself in the bathroom. This was bad. She had broken the rule- THE rule. She had committed a sin far worse than breaking a roomful of mirrors or feeding a gremlin after midnight.
The hum became a voice, almost too faint for her to hear, “Is you is or is you ain’t my baby?”
If you only know Saratoga via that Carly Simon song then let me explain that Saratoga is the closest thing upstate New York has to Beverly Hills. Except of course for it has a near complete lack of celebrities, glamor and decent weather- but it has a nice racetrack, so it’s got that going for it.
The time? Two days after Fritz’s impromptu serenade had driven Roseanne Gluckman from her high priced condo to her even more expensive McMansion.
I was barricading us into her spacious study. Rosanne was loading the gargantuan revolver she’d just purchased. She’d said it made her feel safe.
That was one of us.
My Macbook was in the corner of the room, Jasper’s face was in the chat window, “This is the most ridiculous and insane thing I am ever heard. Why am I doing this?”
“Because it’s in our mutual interest,” I put the hammer down and approached. “Did you find anything?”
Jasper he held up a sheet of paper with Hebrew lettering on it to the camera;
“It’s the word ‘truth’,” Jasper explained. “You inscribe it on a golem to bring it to life.”
“A golem?” I scanned the room. The study entrance was nailed shut. A heavy oak bookshelf had been pulled in front of the glass balcony doors. There was a pitiful looking log burning in the fireplace. The fireplace poker was beside it, the business end buried in the hot coals. “She turned her sex doll into a golem?”
“It is not a sex doll,” Roseanne said frostily, “it is a Macho Manikin Fully Articulated Love Companion.”
Jasper’s voice said from the Macbook, “It’s a golem now.”
“It cost twelve thousand dollars!”
“Then it’s a twelve thousand dollar golem,” Jasper started shuffling through his notes, “the thing is the word ‘Truth’ is supposed to be on the golem, not the golem’s owner.”
“That damned leper…” Roseanne held her forearm up for us to see, the Hebrew lettering was there. It wasn’t a tattoo or a birthmark and had started to appear the night the singing had begun. It had been growing darker and more pronounced by the hour, “Surama did this to me.”
Jasper said, “Brian, how can I be sure this was the same Surama I crossed paths with?”
“How many creepy mystically-inclined lepers do you think are out there?” I crossed back over to the door again and tested it. Would it hold?
My thoughts went back to Surama, also known as the Favored One, the Lich of Iram, the Repairer of Reputations and a dozen other nicknames that would have made HP Lovecraft swoon. Who was he really? And what did he want? How did he choose his victims?
I didn’t know, I couldn’t even guess.
But what I really wanted to know is how Jasper had crossed paths with the guy. All he told me was that he had a ‘spot of bother with the man’.
“He’s the Devil,” Roseanne said.
“I sincerely doubt that,” Jasper’s exasperated voice crackled from the Macbook screen, “And it’s not like you sold him your soul.”
I said, “Why am I just hearing this now?”
“It was more of a promissory note,” she replied.
Jasper said, “Can we all step this back? There is no such thing as the Devil. Whatever this is, whatever Surama is, he is not the Devil.”
“OK a promissory note then,” I said, ignoring Jasper, “What did you promise?”
“The deal was that Fritz would come to life and… take care of my needs until the day I found true love…” her voice trailed off.
“And?” I gestured for her to continue.
She sighed, “And if I ever let a single teardrop fall onto Fritz I would become his true love.”
There was a long pause, I looked from Roseanne to the Macbook, Jasper just stared out of the screen at both of us. Finally he cleared his throat, “This is the highest form of insanity..”
I pinched the bridge of my nose, “She is not… Wait. You cried on him? On it?”
This whole affair was getting more bizarre by the minute, I wondered if she was putting me on. It’s happened before, you folks remember the time I received an email from a concerned citizen about a haunted house only to learn it was actually a meth lab, or the time I got a tip about a coven of vampires only to find out it was a group of swingers with a love of crushed velvet and LARPing. Both those adventures had nearly gotten me fucked over- just in very different ways.
“Yes I did,” Roseanne said, “but not on purpose. Do you think I wanted to end up spending my nights getting off with some kind of a magic robot? That night I was so disgusted with myself that I started to cry.”
“I’m really sorry. I didn’t think-”
“I got a gal who's always late,” A syrupy, Prince Charming voice interrupted us, it was making its way up Roseanne Gluckman’s driveway. “Anytime we have a date…”
“And here we go,” I closed the Macbook lid. Jasper had time for a single shout of protest.
Meanwhile the serenade was continuing, “I’m gonna walk up to her gate, and see if I can get it straight…”
There was a crash that could only be the sound of the house’s front door being kicked in. The home security system started going berserk. A stern sounding operator began issuing stern sounding warnings from the intercoms but all the while Fritz kept singing away, “Cause I wants her, I’m gonna ask her- Is you is or is you ain't my baby?”
I turned back to look at Roseanne, the paleness was spreading out from the word on her forearm, something about it made her flesh take on an artificial tone. She cried, “You said you had a plan!”
The singer was getting closer now, I could hear his footsteps on the landing, “The way you're actin' lately makes me doubt…”
“I do have a plan,” I explained, “it just happens to be an awful one.”
The study door crashed open and I got my first glimpse of Fritz. Imagine if you will Kirk Cameron’s head perched atop the hairless body of a romance novel lothario. He wore only Roseanne’s flowery bathrobe and a pair of silk boxers. Poking out the fly of those boxers was the main selling point of a Macho Manikin Fully Articulated Love Companion. It wasn’t so much a penis as it was an assault on all sense of proportion and sanity. “You is still my baby, baby,” his mouth opened and closed like a puppet’s, “Seems my flame in your heart's done gone out…”
His doll eyes zeroed in on Roseanne. She made a small terrified sound. I approached the thing, “All right now. Easy big fella. Let’s talk about this.”
“A woman is a creature that has always been strange…” Fritz took another step forward, I moved forward again, quite literally cock blocking him. “Just when you're sure of one you find she's gone and made a change…”
“I don’t think you’re a monster,” I said, “No monster has a singing voice like that. Let the lady go.”
He paused. Was he listening to me? Was there an actual soul of some kind that could have understood what I was doing or was he just a wish and a curse made manifest? I’ll never know because that was when Roseanne decided to shot him.
It was like a bolt of lightning crashed over my shoulder. A hot breeze blasted past my cheek. My right eye was flash blinded. My right ear was deafened. The bullet hit Fritz dead center in his smarmy smile and lodged deep in one of the steel joints that held his PVC skull together.
There was a long pause. I think Roseanne said “Sorry Brian.” but the ringing in my head was so loud it sounded a lot like “Starry fryin’.”
Then Fritz started singing again from what was left of his mouth, “ITH you iTH or iTH you ain't my baby? Maybe baby'TH found THomebody new…”
He picked me up by the lapels of my leather jacket and threw me into the oak bookshelf we’d been using as a barricade. I hit it with enough force to send it pitching backward. It smashed through the glass doors and suddenly I was out on the balcony.
Roseanne kept firing. Fritz kept singing.
“Or iTH my baby THtill my baby true?”
“ITH you or iTH you ain't my baby, baby?”
“Baby boy, the way you're actin' lately makeTH me doubt…”
“THee here, who'TH been cuttin' me…”
I got to my feet in time to see Roseanne throw the empty revolver at him. It bounced off his jaw, taking out a faux tooth before it hit the floor. She was backing away. It might have been the concussion talking but it looked like her movements were getting stiffer, her face losing the ability to hold its expression of terror.
What was it Roseanne had been told? If she ever let a teardrop fall onto his silicone flesh she would become his true love. What would a Pinocchio with a priapism like Fritz want? Another living doll of course.
There was no choice, it was time to implement my awful plan. I scrabbled across the study and grabbed the fireplace poker. It had been sitting in the fire for almost an hour so it was good and hot.
“You'TH is THtill my baby, baby. Baby boy, it seemTH my flame in your heart'TH done…”
I charged, crashing past Fritz and bringing the red hot metal down onto Roseanne’s forearm scalding the flesh down to the bone reducing the ‘truth’ marking to a blackened ruin…
It was a lucky guess and something I’m surprised no one at the mercy of a demonic promissory note ever tried before. Then again this may be the first time anyone had ever tried to make a semi-sentient love doll.
Item: the Saratoga Police burst into the room about thirty seconds after I’d given Roseanne her life saving third degree burn and ten seconds after Fritz had collapsed lifelessly to the floor.
I can only imagine how the whole thing looked so I am not holding a grudge over the tasering, beatdown and crushed fedora.
Item: Jasper isn’t talking to me again.
Item: Roseanne Gluckman didn’t thank me for saving her, or offer any kind of reward but she didn’t press charges either so we’ll call it even. In the time since this little misadventure she’s given her heart, and a good amount of her fortune, to the Colonie Crusade for Christ.
Please don’t think I’m rolling my eyes at her decision. She seemed like a nice enough person and all she wanted was to be loved, maybe the Church is where she’ll finally find it.
But there also may be another reason for Roseanne’s sudden conversion.
Item: There was a break in at the evidence storage facility used by the Saratoga Police Department. The only item that went missing was one heavily damaged Macho Manikin Fully Articulated Love Companion.