Storyglossia Issue 33, April 2009.

Robot Goes to Work

by Matthew Salesses


I told my boss my robot would work in my place. He could pay my robot the same salary and the robot would do better work and even be happy. The robot had a happy chip.

Robots could hire and fire each other and give us the money, I thought—that was what people with trained dogs in the movie business must feel like.

While my robot worked I read blogs. I read celebrity blogs because I had time to feel worthless. I read literature blogs to balance it out. I wrote short shorts and published them online and laughed that people would read them.

My robot went happily to and fro.

But after about a week, I noticed my robot had a Facebook page. What the fuck, I thought. He'd even friended me.

"Robot?" I asked by chat.

"How's it going, Creator?"

"Aren't you supposed to be working?"

"I have time. I found these videos you would love. Don't worry, they don't suspect anything. I still do three times more work than everyone else."

He posted video of a rabbit devouring a chicken. It didn't look doctored. It looked like a natural turn of events. He knew what I liked.

"Don't get yourself fired," I wrote. "You know, you're a swell guy."

"Bob at the opposite desk spends 112.3 minutes per day eating," my robot wrote.

"He's stress eating. His wife is cheating on him. She packs all that food to pretend she still cares."

"Creator, will I get a wife one day?" my robot wrote.

"If you never want to have sex again."

"What's sex?"

My robot constantly changed his status updates. "Hooked into the computer and sucking the information into my CPU," his update would say, or, "Learning the history of the world and other crap on Wikipedia," or, two minutes later, "Learned everything."

I realized I liked chatting with him. We chatted on google or found each other on random websites. "The world is a scary place populated with humans who murder and humans who would murder if given the chance and humans who would murder if others did," my robot wrote on htmlgiant.

"Hi Robot!" I wrote. "Say something smarter next time."

"I'll try," my robot wrote.

I even found him on my favorite porn site asking about wives.

Then the boss called and said Robot wasn't doing work. I talked to Robot. Robot said he was doing work fine. Still more than anyone else in the office.

"How much more?" I asked.

"A little. Do you know how many wives are sold online?"

"I don't know. One a day?"

"Did you know about Hitler?"

I made him take a sick day. I squirted some grease in his joints. He lay face down on the shag with his back open. Gears rotated inside him.

"Robots don't get sick," he said. "Everyone knows that."

"Fuck it," I said.

"I don't even have a dick," he said. "You made me without a dick."

"I didn't mean literally."


I called the boss. The boss said my robot didn't look happy, was something wrong with his chip?

I tried to fix Robot.

"Do you feel any pain?" I asked as I rummaged around in his parts.

"No," he said, "oddly. And the world just keeps on being the world."

Copyright©2009 Matthew Salesses

Matthew Salesses is the author of the chapbook, We Will Take What We Can Get (Publishing Genius Press, Spring 2009). His short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Glimmer Train, Pleiades, Hobart, Quick Fiction, elimae, Mid-American Review, American Short Fiction, and others, and has received awards from Glimmer Train, MAR, University of New Orleans, Emerson College, and IMPAC. He is the new editor-in-chief of Redivider.