It was going to be one of those nights. Lorelei knew it. She sighed and turned on the TV. She read articles saying if one were looking to fall asleep, it’s best NOT to watch TV. But she couldn’t lay there, alone in the dark anymore.
“Everyone please welcome Jorjanna Byers and Knozall!” The handsome man in a blue suit introduced a dark haired woman standing next to a twelve inch metallic robot. Lorelei stumbled upon the channel that showed nothing but infomercials all day and apparently, all night. She had nothing better to watch, so she decided to stick around to see what useless item they were peddling.
“Thank you, Dante. I am happy to be here. We’re happy to be here.” Jorjanna Byers gave the camera a big smile that captivated Lorelei.
“Tell us more about Knozall,” Dante egged Jorjanna on.
“I’d love to.” Jorjanna pressed a green button on Knozall’s head and it sprung to life.
“Hello Dante,” it said in a high, mechanical voice. “My name is Knozall. I am here to help you repair your life.”
“How are you planning on doing that?” Dante asked with a chuckle.
“Now Dante, Knozall is a highly powerful and intuitive robot,” Jorjanna said. “The more you interact with him, the more he will get to know you and your flaws.”
The live audience oohed and ahhed. Lorelei saw a bead of sweat fall from Dante’s perfectly coiffed blonde hair. To his credit though, Dante didn’t miss a beat.
“I will be surprised if he could find any of my flaws,” he said. “I think most people would agree that I don’t have any.” The audience cheered.
“He will.” Jorjanna had a smug smile on her face. “Tell us, Dante, how long have you had this particular Knozall?”
“About a month now,” Dante replied.
“Did you keep it in an area where you are most likely to be?”
“I’m a workaholic so it has been in my office for the past month.”
“Have you been interacting with him on a daily basis?”
“Yes. We… chat. About little things, you know, like the weather or the show.”
“Ah. See, while you were interacting with him, Knozall has also been keeping an eye on you, Dante.”
“He has indeed. He takes note on your life, your personality and finds flaws. Knozall has it all stored in his brain and if you need his help, all you have to do is ask for his assistance.”
“Okay.” Dante cautiously stepped closer toward Knozall and looked quizzically at the little robot. “Knozall, I need some assistance.”
Knozall cocked his head in the direction of Dante’s voice.
“Do you want me to do a full report, Dante?”
“Y… yes. Tell me what in my life needs repair.” Whirring noises and beeps came from Knozall. Then he became quiet. “Did I say something wrong?”
“No, Dante. Knozall is calculating the perfect solution for you. All you need is a bit of patience,” Jorjanna said.
“Dante.” The lights on Knozall's chest lit up. “One of your biggest flaws is pushing those closest to you away. I can help you fix that. I will set a reminder for you to call your mother.”
“Wow, I… I do have a tendency to do that.” Dante was flustered. “I didn’t think he would pick up on it.”
“Knozall knows ALL,” Jorjanna smiled. “I created him so that he can help anyone, anywhere with any problems they may have. In fact, there’s someone else here who could use Knozall’s help right now.” Jorjanna walked the small stage, looking closely at each audience member she passed. Then she looked directly into the camera. “Lorelei! Lorelei, are you out there?”
“No,” Lorelei said out loud to herself. “She’s not talking about me.” Lorelei wasn’t a common name, but it wasn’t an uncommon name either. She had known a few other Loreleis.
“Oh, but I am talking to you! Lorelei Chau!” Jorjanna batted her long dark eyelashes.
“There are other Lorelei Chaus,” Lorelei said to herself. In a world of over seven billion people, surely, surely there are other Lorelei Chaus running around. Lorelei picked up the remote and was about to change the channel, when Jorjanna cried out again.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you, Lorelei,” she warned, a smile on her lips. “You will regret doing so.”
“You don’t know me.” The combination of the late hour and zero sleep made Lorelei reply back to the woman on TV. If she had more sleep, she’d like to believe she wouldn’t have started a conversation with a woman who wasn’t actually there.
“I do,” Jorjanna insisted. “I know about how tired you are. I know how you’ve tried every sleep aid in existence, and none of them have helped.”
“Yes, I’m talking to you,” Jorjanna said. “Lorelei Chau, sitting alone in the dark watching TV because she can’t go to sleep. Knozall knows about your sleepless nights. He can help you get the sleep you so desperately crave.”
“You’ve seen him in action. Give us a call and try him out. What do you have to lose?”
Lorelei picked up the phone and dialed the number on the screen.
It came a week later. Lorelei opened the box, excited about her life finally changing for the better. She took out Knozall, carefully wrapped in plastic and foam to prevent it from becoming damaged in transit.
Finally unwrapped, Lorelei took Knozall in all its glory. It was smooth and shiny. Its glass eyes stared at her and its small red mouth curved in a perpetual smile. She reached out to touch it.
It was cold and unmoving, nothing at all like the infomercial. She picked it up and examined it. Knozall needed batteries, because of course it did.
Lorelei found some in the junk drawer in the kitchen and put them in. She turned Knozall on and waited for her life to finally change into something better, something that she has always wanted.
Knozall remained still. She picked it up, re-examined the position of the batteries, and turned it on. It still did nothing.
Lorelei took out the batteries. She put them back in. She shook it and pressed all the buttons. Knozall didn't light up, didn't move, and didn't talk. It was broken.