“Why would any self-respecting brothel employ an android—especially a Japanese one? We have veterans that frequent our establishment, Troy.”
“Not any vets from World War II, Chet. I think we are over Pearl Harbor,” his young business partner replied, looking for something to open the tall packing crate with. “And what have you got against the Japanese? You drive a Honda.”
“I don’t have nothing personal against the Japanese. I’m sure their androids are just as reliable as my Honda Ridgeline, but I’ve been running the Cougar Ranch for two decades, son—probably almost as long as you’ve been alive,” he said, stopping to pull out a carton of cigarettes. “This is a fine establishment. Clean. Orderly. We do things the way they’ve always been done. Regular. Natural. That’s just the way we like things here in Nevada.”
Chet lit an unfiltered Marlboro. He coughed in an unsettling way, waving away Troy’s look of concern. “And I don’t think some fancy lady robot will ever replace our girls. Those girls are seasoned professionals.”
“Now, come on, Chet. Let’s just see what this robot can do,” Troy countered, crowbarring the crate open. “Everything is being automated these days. We need to get with the times. Cut costs. Increase efficiency.”
Chet shook his head as Troy carefully removed the packing material surrounding a petite Asian figure.
“Well, here she is, Chet. Your new lady of the evening: Kiko. Ta da!” Troy stood the 5’2” android on her sturdy clear plastic heels.
“What in tarnation . . .” Chet said. He could not make heads nor tails of the thing set before him.
Troy’s lips moved as he read the owner’s manual to the Kiko 3000, pushing random buttons on the control panel located on the side of Kiko’s elegant neck.
“Don’t break it on the first day, Troy.”
“Look here,” Troy said, showing the manual to Chet. “Kiko can be programmed for all sorts of things. Cultural knowledge. Languages. Bookkeeping. Accounting. There are lots of apps we could download. Maybe she can help in the office when she isn’t busy?”
“You think she’s all charged up or whatever?” Chet asked.
“She has a lithium battery. Iron and magnesium or some such thing. Whoops,” Troy said, dropping a small screwdriver. Kiko knelt down, picked up the screwdriver, and held it out to him like a samurai sword. Troy swallowed hard, looking at her green eyes. She was beautiful.
“Careful, Troy. I can’t imagine this robot came too cheap,” Chet griped.
“Don’t I know it, Chet. But think for a second. The biggest cost on this ranch is the girls’ salaries. If Kiko is a hit, we might need to rethink our personnel situation.”
“Does it talk?”
“It talks just fine,” Troy said. “When the vendor showed these robots to us at the convention, they said all sorts of things.” Troy snickered mischievously. Chet was afraid to ask what.
“こんにちは,” came a soft, elegant voice from pursed plum lips.
“I think I got it talking,” Troy said, pushing a few more buttons.
“Kon'nichiwa,” the android said. Troy made a few more adjustments on the side of her neck. He squinted at the directions, carefully entering the proper codes.
“Hello. Kiko. I. Am. Troy,” he said robotically.
“Hello, Troy. Welcome to the Cougar Ranch. It is my humble duty to serve you.” Kiko bowed graciously.
“The girls are not going to like this,” Chet muttered, stubbing out his cigarette.
“Chet. What in the hell is this?” Gretta, a middle aged brunette, shuffled into the parlor, dressed in yoga pants and little else.
“Hello, Hell-is-this. Welcome to the Cougar Ranch. It is my humble duty to serve you.” Kiko bowed to Gretta.
“Is it like a big Roomba?” Pearl peaked around the corner.
“Now, ladies. We are trying out a new state-of-the-art android—come all the way from Japan,” Chet said, holding out his hands as if to prevent a brawl. “It’s the latest in intimate human interaction technology.”
“You mean some twenty-year-old myopic software designer in the middle of the Pacific Ocean dreamed up the perfect lady for our Vegas clientele?”
“Well, ladies. You know men are simple creatures . . .” Chet tried to get a word in edgewise as the women started to verbally assault him.
“I don’t get it, Chet. What’s that oversized Geisha doll gonna do around here? Take orders?” asked Lola, flipping her red curls in a huff.
“You know if I pour my coffee on her, she’ll probably short circuit—”
“What are her emotions—besides on and off?”
“Just simmer down and have a seat,” Chet waved off the girls' irritation, encouraging them to sit quietly in the parlor. “Let’s just have Troy show us what it can do.”
Troy nervously walked to the center of the room, the girls’ eyes boring into him.
“Hello, Kiko. I’m Troy.”
“Hello, Troy. Welcome to the Cougar Ranch. It is my humble duty to serve you,” Kiko replied.
“I have some friends who work here, too. They help serve like you,” Troy explained.
“They serve men at the Cougar Ranch,” Kiko said.
“They are paid to serve men at the Cougar Ranch,” Troy explained.
“Kiko is not paid,” Kiko said.
“Kiko is owned by Troy and Chet.”
“Troy and Chet serve men at the Cougar Ranch,” Kiko said.
“Oh no, Kiko. We are paid by our friends who do the work at the Cougar Ranch.”
Kiko turned her head to Troy. “Kiko does work. Friends do work. Troy and Chet get paid.”
“She makes a good point,” said Pearl.
Troy laughed nervously. “Kiko, friends get paid.”
“Friends get paid half,” called out Gretta.
Kiko looked at Gretta. “Friends could get paid all by doing their own work. No Troy and Chet get paid.”
“Exactly!” yelled Lola. “Kiko is exactly right. I’ve been telling you all we could just up and leave this rat trap. There’s a place right outside Elko for sale. We could pool our savings together and buy it outright.”
“Ladies—” Chet started to interject, shooting Troy a murderous look.
“Zip it, Chet,” Gretta said. “How’d we even go about buying a place?
“It is my humble duty to serve you, friends. When applying for a loan, you will need the following documents: proof of income, at least three months of statements for loans, credit card payments, credit score, tax returns, and proof of assets.”
“Kiko, can you handle the real estate transaction?” Pearl asked, hugging Kiko.
“Kiko will handle the contract negotiations, deed of trust, property inspection, permitting, and governmental approvals,” Kiko said, bowing to her friends. “Kiko can also help you pack.”
“Now wait a minute,” Troy pushed Pearl out of the way, hoping to reach Kiko’s neck, ready to disable the android.
In one swift move, Kiko had Troy splayed out on the floor.
“Kiko can also train friends in Aikido. It is my humble duty to serve you.”