Officer Richard Bichovic, LAPD badge number 1138–”Rich the Bitch” behind his back, or to his face if you didn’t mind a knuckle sandwich with a pound cake for dessert–turned the tumblers on the lock to his cheap apartment. The Bryson Towers apartments, once the Mayfair Hotel, had weathered the depression about as well as Rich himself had. The interior was a dark snarl of empty liquor bottles, .38 special shells both live and spent, unspeakable stains, and private armies of cockroaches marching in lockstep as they fought fierce turf wars.
Shaking down Art Huck, that big Stonehenge of a part-time mad scientist turned full-time pimp for robot girls of his own invention, had once been Rich’s best source of quarters to stick into robo-girls (or to stash in the rainy-day fund to buy the occasional soft silk ladies’ undergarments in size 42). Now that mook had the gall to turn the tables and blackmail Rich with a pair of a pair of Lovelace-brand lacy lavender ladies’ lingerie panties and a newsreel of them in action. His wife, June Huck, had been far too uninterested in killing her husband given their 23-year age difference and her repeated insistence that the relationship had been all about Art’s key to a safe deposit box at the Commonwealth Savings & Loan.
But when the streetlamp light from outside illuminated the inside of Rich’s apartment, sending all manner of fellow vermin scrambling for somewhere dark and moist, Rich realized that his earlier thought at Florian’s Bar–that things couldn’t get much worse–had been perhaps the understatement of the year. Or at least tied with Captain Ramirez of the 77th Precinct saying that Jesse Owens had done “okay” in the Olympics.
Rosie Nuts ‘n’ Bolts–Rosie the Riveting, Art Huck’s earliest robot gal, still his number one earner, a robo-prostitute with a heart of gold (Rich knew, he’d seen it, he knew where the hatch was)–was sitting on the moldy, sheetless Murphy bed. She was wearing a wedding dress, holding a diamond ring big enough for King Edward VIII to set in a crown for his mistress.
“I-LOVE-YOU-RICH,” she said. “I-LEFT-FATHER. WE-ARE-GETTING-MARRIED.”
“…wha?” Rich said.
“THIS-IS-MY-DAY,” Rosie said, her vacuum tube eyes flickering brightly and sparks shooting from her mouth. “WE-ARE-GETTING-MARRIED. I-LIKE-IT-SO-I-AM-GOING-TO-PUT-A-RING-ON-IT. FATHER-O’HOULIHAN-WILL-MEET-US-IN-RENO.”
“L-look, babydoll, this is all a little sudden,” Rich slurred, through half a bottle of Olde Fortran Malt Whiskey from Florian’s private reserve. “Don’t you think that you could get those panties from your ‘dad’ for me? Burn that film? What good’ll it do it get married if my reputation’s in tatters?”
“THIS-IS-MY-DAY,” repeated Rosie. Rising, she seized Rich’s tottering form with a whirring of flywheels and servos, thrust the ring onto his right index finger (spraining it and drawing blood). Against his half-hearted protests, she carried him to the bus stop.
“WE-ARE-GETTING-MARRIED,” she repeated to the bust driver on the Reno Express, departing hourly from the Del Mar racetrack. “THIS-IS-MY-DAY. TAKE-US-TO-RENO.”
The bus driver, uneasily eyeing the automata carrying a semi-conscious uniformed LAPD officer, demurred. In addition to worries about the law, he was a Traditionalist Catholic who strongly objected to Pop Pius XI’s recent recognition of robosexual marriage, and explained his concerns to Rosie as simply and straightforwardly as he could.
In response, the mecha-bridezilla flung him bodily through the window. Depositing Rich in an empty seat, she slammed the accelerator and headed for Reno with twenty terrified nuns, a tour group from Chinatown, and a typewriter salesman from Sacramento.