Happy Valentine’s Day! Before you go off and have your Valentine’s Day orgy, or whatever couples do on Valentine’s Day (I’m not very good at this holiday), why don’t you read the 2nd part of my romantic horror comedy? If you need a refresher on what happened in Part 1.0 or need to read it for the first time here is the link to it.
Expect Part 3.0 next Saturday, the 21st. Until then, enjoy!
Dan and Gary ended up meeting Casey a few days later, at a place called Hal’s Bar and Grill. When Casey and Phil were dating, they met there every week for a trivia night. The tradition crumbled along with Phil and Casey’s relationship, but the place still held nostalgic memories for all parties involved.
The three sat a booth in the back, which was where they often sat for trivia, giving the meeting a bittersweet feeling. They were waiting for their food, sipping on drinks and making small talk. Finally, Casey’s curiosity got the best of her.
“Alright guys,” she said, “what the hell is this about?”
Dan and Gary looked at each other with fake confusion.
“I don’t understand,” Dan said.
“Yeah,” Gary agreed, “why can’t three friends just hang out and enjoy a dinner together?”
“Because we haven’t done this in ages,” Casey explained, “I mean sure, we still text now and then, but actually seeing each other? Is Phil okay with this?”
“Ha!” Dan chortled, “It was him who actually gave us the idea.”
“Yeeeeeaaah,” Gary played along, “he said, ‘You know what fellas, it’s unfair of me to not let you see your good friend Casey, so why don’t you go to Hal’s Bar and Grill and have a few drinks, and who knows, you may even get lucky. You have my permission to do anything!’”
Dan kicked Gary under the table, rocking the drinks in their glasses.
“Sounds legit,” Casey said, unconvinced.
Dan and Gary both sighed, realizing the fragile charade was broken.
“I’m going to say this as politely as possible,” Gary whispered, leaning in with the air of a therapist trying to get closer with his patient,
“Phil has fucking gone completely fucking nutso.”
Casey gave a knowing nod.
“Yeah, well, I suspected he hasn’t been taking the break up well.”
“I mean, not to attack you,” Dan said, “but he was talking to us about it, and he does raise some good points. Why the hell would you not respond to any of his calls or texts? I thought you two were going to make an effort to remain friends.”
“I mean, I tried,” Casey said with an exasperated sigh, “I really did. But he just was so…I dunno…overbearing. Like, when the break up happened, we both agreed that it would have been smart to keep our distance for a few weeks, just to give each other room.”
“And?” Dan asked.
“Well, he interpreted that as, ‘Stand outside my office building with a different floral arrangement everyday.’ And then there was the time he ran into me and my cousin.”
“Your cousin?” Gary inquired. “Wait, is that the guy he caught you on a date with a few days after the break up? God damn Casey, you were dating your cousin?”
“Of course not! He’s from California, so I don’t see him that often and he was in town so we went out for a few drinks. Funnily enough, it was here where we found us. He tried to play it off that he had just run in here to use the bathroom, because that’s not weird at all, and he started crying and sprinted out.”
“Jesus,” Gary mumbled.
The waitress arrived with the trio’s food and as they dug in, Casey continued.
“And that night he left a message on my machine, obviously drunk, like I’m surprised I didn’t get tipsy listening to it He’s going on about how he can’t believe I’d date a guy so soon after the break up.”
“Why didn’t you explain that it was only your cousin you were banging?” Gary asked with a sly grin, which instantly disappeared when Casey glared at him. “Just kidding.”
“So it was then I decided that a clean break was the healthiest thing for him. For me to, for lack of a better word, ignore him and hope that he’d cool down a bit. And then, maybe, just maybe, we could go back to being friends.”
“Has it worked?” Dan asked in between a gigantic mouthful of his burger.
Casey rolled her eyes and brought her purse onto the table. She leafed through it and pulled out six pieces of paper. She laid them out in front of Dan and Gary who examined the sheets.
They were sheets of carbon paper with various poems typed on them. There were drawings and illustrations bordering the poems as well, immaculately and beautifully crafted. Gary and Dan were taken a back by the craftsmanship.
“Are these from Phil?” Dan asked.
“Yep,” Casey replied.
“Jesus,” Gary muttered, inspecting them even more closely, “didn’t realize he was so artsy. Maybe he has sculptures of you too.”
“Not funny,” Casey noted.
“So he did all these in the past eight months?” Dan questioned.
“Nope. These are from last week.”
Gary, who was in the middle of taking a swig of his pint of porter, started coughing in surprise. He blew some of the dark beer out of his nostrils while hacking out, “Fucking last week?”
“Yes, last week,” Casey stated in a business like tone as she poked at her salad, “as in, over the past seven days.”
“Yeah, that’s a week,” Gary said wryly, shaking his head.
“Think that’s over the top? Wait till you hear this.”
Casey drew her phone out of her purse and flicked through menus for a few seconds. She found what she wanted and set the phone on the table. Gary and Dan leaned in to listen over the noise of the restaurant.
“Hey there,” Casey’s voice issued from the phone speaker, “This is Casey. I couldn’t answer the phone right now but if you leave a message, I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Thaaaanks, bye!”
A beep followed, which was then proceeded by soft strumming of an acoustic guitar.
“What.” Gary flatly muttered.
“She’s got a smile that it seems to me,” sang Phil’s cracking voice, “reminds me of childhood memories, where everything was as fresh as the bright blue sky.”
“Is…is that ‘Sweet Child O’Mine?” Dan asked incredulously.
Gary broke down laughing.
“Holy shit!” he said, smacking the table in joy, “This is too good! Axl Rose is spinning in his grave!”
“He’s not dead,” Dan corrected.
“Well, I’m jumping ahead in time to the part where he hears this and blow his brains out.”
“Shut up,” Casey said, shutting off the message and snatching her phone back off the table, “this is why I haven’t talked to Phil in a while.”
Gary wiped away a tear from his eye.
“I have to admit,” he said, “this makes it a lot harder to ask you what we wanted to ask you.”
“I knew there was something more to this!” Casey exclaimed.
“Don’t take it personally,” Dan said, “we’re definitely glad to see you.”
“Definitely,” Gary said, seductively.
“Ugh,” Casey rolled her eyes, “Gary, stop.”
“But we did ask you here for a purpose,” Dan continued, undeterred, “there is a dinner party that Gary and I are going to, it’s going to be at Phil’s house. It’s this Saturday. And he wants you there.”
“Me? Why me?”
Dan and Gary looked at each other from the corner of their eyes, unsure how much to disclose.
“I think he just misses you?” Dan said, unconvincingly, trying to hide Sam’s existence.
“Well, duh,” Casey said, pointing at the poems, “I think we established he’s had some abandonment issues over the past few months. But what’s the dinner party for?”
“A new invention,” Dan shot out, hoping that would be enough to satisfy Casey’s curiosity.
“A new invention?” Casey repeated, her eyes not cloaking her sense of skepticism.
“He’s trying to get it mass produced. His main buyer is there, the guy that put out all of his other inventions.”
“Like Carmichael?” Casey asked.
“Just like him,” Gary said.
“Has he destroyed that thing yet? It always kept begging me to crush it with a baseball bat.”
“It still does that,” Gary noted.
“Right,” Dan said, rapping his fist on the table as if the negotiations were closed, “so you’ll come to the dinner party, see the new invention, and have a good time. And you’ll get Phil off your back for a little while, I bet. Everybody wins!”
Casey looked down at her salad, as if she was expecting the chopped romaine to chime in on the subject. After a little a while, she gave a meek nod.
“Good!” Dan said, letting out a huge sigh of relief.
“But tell me,” Casey whispered conspiratorially, “what’s the new invention?”
Another panicked exchange of glances between Dan and Gary.
“Well…uhh…you’ll see,” Dan said, cryptically.
“No, tell me, I wanna know,” Casey insisted.
“It’s better if it’s a surprise.”
“Come on, is it-”
“It’s a robot girlfriend,” Gary blurted out, “and we’re pretty sure Phil made it to make you jealous.” Gary cupped his hand over his mouth like he had just revealed C.I.A. secrets to a terrorist organization.
The three finished their meals in complete silence.
That same day, while Gary and Dan had the dark, embarrassing secrets of Phil’s love for Casey laid before them, Phil was thinking about chicken Parmesan. He sat at the table in his living room, getting things together for the dinner party and he had completed the menu, deciding the entree would be chicken parmesan.
“Sam,” Phil stated as he wrote ‘chicken parmesan’ on his menu sheet, “can you do me a favor?”
Sam was seated on the couch, watching TV. She turned around and replied, “Absolutely. Anything for you, Phillip.”
“Find me a recipe for chicken parmesan and then send it to my computer to print. I want to give it to Carmichael so he can cook it for the party tomorrow.”
“Why don’t I just send the information straight to Carmichael? It would expedite the process.”
“You can’t,” Phil informed, “he’s not synced up to the house’s network like you are, honey.”
Phil couldn’t believe the word ‘honey’ had slipped out of his mouth. He looked over at Sam to see if she had caught it and sure enough, she had. She had a huge smile on her face (thankfully, he had fixed the whole creepy serial killer smile issue and her smile was more more human like).
“I see,” Sam said through her beaming visage.
“So, yeah, the recipe,” Phil asserted, trying to get her mind on something else.
Phil heard the familiar whirring that accompanied Sam when she was searching for something through her nearly infinite database that was constantly being supplied with information by the internet. “I have found approximately 6,300,000 recipes for chicken parmesan. Would you like me to print them all out?”
“What? God no. Just pick whatever looks the most delicious.”
“I do not eat food. I do not know what delicious is.”
“Right,” Phil nodded, “just pick whichever calls for the most cheese.”
A few more seconds of whirring followed by, “Done. The recipe has been sent to and printed out from the computer in your study.”
“Wonderful, thanks,” Phil said, getting up from his seat at the table. He was eager to leave the room after his faux pas with the word ‘honey’. Looking to rationalize it, Phil figured that, again, he should be proud that he had created a robot that was so life like that he treats her like an actual friend. That was her overall purpose, wasn’t it?
In the back of Phil’s mind, he also wondered if it had something to do how much she reminded him of Casey. She did physically resemble Casey, which he did somewhat on purpose. Having someone walking around who looked like Casey made Phil feel like she never actually left and he reasoned that was another reason for the whole ‘honey’ incident.
Phil got to his study and retrieved the recipe from the printer that sat on his desk. He also opened up a drawer on the desk and retrieved a headset with a microphone and tiny flesh colored earpiece. He took all three of these items and set out through the house to find Carmichael. He found the robot butler in the kitchen, holding a large butcher knife. He was fruitlessly trying to slice the knife along his long metal arms.
“Come on, come on,” Carmichael said, desperately trying to draw blood that didn’t exist, “work, DAMMIT, WORK.”
“Carmichael,” Phil began to admonish, “I thought I told you not to play with the knives.” Phil went over and easily plucked the knife from the robot butler’s grasp. Carmichael’s arms slumped to the ground, defeated.
“I have some things for you,” Phil continued, handing the chicken parmesan recipe to him.
“What is this?” Carmichael questioned, his green lit eyes narrowing as the focused on the document.
“It’s a chicken parmesan recipe. It’s one of the things I’d like you to make for the dinner party this weekend.”
“I’ll have some other recipes from the menu for you as well. I’ll buy all the supplies, don’t worry.”
“Oh thank you so much,” Carmichael said, “that’s so nice of you to not make me attempt to drive a car to the store with my nonexistent legs and pay for food with my nonexistent money. You truly are the best master a robot butler could ask for.”
“And here’s something else,” Phil said, ignoring Carmichael’s jabs, “I have a headset for you. I want you to use this during the party so I can communicate with you whenever I need something. I don’t have time to run around the house searching for you, I need to be with my guests at all times. I need this night to be perfect.”
“Of course. Anything for my loving, gracious master.”
“I’m serious, Carmichael. A lot is riding on this night.”
Phil brought the headset down over Carmichael’s rounded head so that the earphones rested on the side of his frame and the microphone sat in front of Carmichael’s voice box.
“Like a glove,” Phil remarked, “I’ll have my own earpiece set to talk through.” Phil rolled the flesh colored earpiece between his fingers and showed it to Carmichael.
“I can’t wait to hear your countless demands as if you’re in the room with me,” Carmichael said.
“It’s going to be a good night, Carmichael, cheer up.”
Phil took the headset off Carmichael.
“Alright,” Phil concluded, “just wanted to let you know the drill for the party. You can get back to work.”
“I’ll need the knife back, then,” Carmichael told Phil as he ignored him, leaving the kitchen.
Phil found himself back in the living room, where he found Sam up and at the table, looking at the sheets of papers that Phil laid out. Her eyes were set on the seating chart Phil had drawn up.
“Sam,” Phil began, “what’s the matter?”
“This Casey person,” Sam said, picking up the seating chart and putting it close up to her face to inspect, “it appears you have her sitting next to you. And I’m on the other side of the table, across from you. Why.”
Phil’s stomach dropped, not thinking this would even be a problem.
“Wait, did I do that?” Phil lied, “I didn’t even think of who was sitting next to who. That was just a rough draft, Sam.”
“A rough draft.”
“Yes,” Phil maintained, “that was going to be subject to change. In fact, I’m glad you found it, I wanted to get your input.”
“Well,” she said, her face contorting in concentration, “I was hoping to sit next to you. If at all possible.”
“Then that’s what we’ll do,” Phil avowed, nodding aggressively.
He went over next to Sam and grabbed the seating chart from her grasp. He took the pencil he had on the table and used it to erase Sam and Casey’s names in order to switch their places at the dining room table.
“There,” Phil showed Sam.
Sam gave an approving nod, but then looked crestfallen again. She turned around and started to head back towards the couch.
“What’s wrong?” Phil ventured.
Sam stopped and sighed. She turned back to face Phil and said, “It’s nothing. I suppose I am a little disappointed that you had decided to place Casey next to you at the dinner table instead of me.”
“I said that was a rough draft, Sam! No need to be upset.”
“I remember you saying that, but it still was just a little disappointing. I hope you understand and that this doesn’t make you think less of me.”
“Not at all,” Phil placated. He went over to her and put her hand on her shoulder.
“Sam,” he continued, peering into her Casey-blue eyes, “I told you, Casey’s just a friend. Don’t forget that.”
Sam appeared confused, and stared down at Phil’s hand.
“What is this?” she inquired.
“This?” Phil repeated, unsure how to answer it. He didn’t realize that a simple human gesture would leave her so confused, but he figured he should have expected it.
“This is a sign of caring,” Phil said, pointing at his hand on the shoulder, “when you care for someone, sometimes putting her hand on their shoulder like this shows that. It can be used to comfort and make someone feel loved.”
“Ahhh, very interesting. I shall remember this.” Sam put her hand on Phil’s shoulder and gave a light smile. They awkwardly stood there with their hands on the other’s shoulders, and Phil wasn’t sure how to escape this.
“Okay,” Phil finally said, releasing his hand off of Sam, “I need to go check the mail, maybe see if anyone RSVP’d.”
“A great idea,” Sam said, also taking her hand off of Phil’s shoulder, “I shall return to watching the television.”
Sam went back to sit on the couch, watching her movie (which appeared to be a romantic comedy of some sort). Phil went outside to head down the long driveway to his mailbox. He opened it, not really expecting an RSVP. He already knew who was all coming and was going to get Casey’s answer through Gary and Dan (he was unaware that they were currently all eating in stunned silence, like prisoners about to head to the gallows). But he still needed to check the mailbox.
Inside he found a few bills, a menu for a new pizzeria in town, and a-
“What the fuck?” Phil mumbled, looking at the last piece of mail.
It was a bridal magazine called Perfect Wedding. An ecstatic bride on the cover held a bouquet of flowers with large blocky letters saying “HOW TO FIND THE PERFECT VENUE” next to her. Confused, Phil assumed that it was sent to the wrong address but checking the address he saw that the address was right. The thing that really caught Phil’s eye is the name the magazine was addressed to.
Phil’s blood ran ice cold, like he had just decided to skinny dip in the Arctic Ocean. Sam Vernon? First off, how did she order it? Phil knew that she could access and use the internet from her own body, but how did she get credit card information? Over the past few days, Phil had let her stay awake and operational during the day with him so that he could get a better handle on what things to fix and improve upon for the dinner party. The only explanation was that she had somehow borrowed his credit card while he was busy with something.
And then the name. Why did she use Vernon as her last name?
Phil walked back up to the house and entered through the door. Sam’s eyes were still locked on the TV, which Phil now recognized as The Wedding Singer. Normally, Phil would love to sit down and watch the movie but he was more occupied with how his robot invention stole his credit card and then ordered a bridal magazine, using a name that indicated she and him were married.
“Uh, Sam?” Phil asked.
“Yes?” she looked from the TV to Phil and saw the magazine in his hand. “Ah, my Perfect Wedding issue has arrived. Thank you very much for retrieving it from the mailbox, I appreciate it very much.”
She got up and came over to get it, but Phil hid it behind his back and held out his hand to stop her from getting it.
“What is this?” Sam innocently asked, “Is this another sign of caring?”
“No,” Phil said, “this is me wanting to ask a few questions. Sam…how did you order this?”
“Oh, I must have forgotten to notify you,” she said, “I took the liberty of borrowing your credit card from you wallet and supplying the magazine the information. I apologize for neglecting to let you know this earlier.”
Phil shook his head.
“You don’t do that, Sam. That’s stealing.”
“Stealing? I gave it back, Phillip. By definition that is borrowing. Let me read the exact definition. ‘Borrow, a verb. To take or obtain with the promise to return the same or an equivalent.’ Shall I compare that with the definition of steal? ‘Steal, a verb. To take-”
“Sam,” Phil interrupted, “you have to ask. Especially with a credit card! Never do that again, I’m being serious here.”
“I will remember to ask for your permission next time. Now, may I please have that issue to begin reading.”
“One more thing. The name on the magazine.”
“It says ‘Sam Vernon’,” Phil stated, bringing the magazine back out to show Sam, “why did you use that name?”
“Why wouldn’t I have?”
That cold feeling in Phil’s veins again.
“Huh?” he choked out.
“I live in the Vernon estate. You did not create me to have a last name, so I decided to use the name of the owner of the property. It just seemed to make the most sense. Would you like to give me a last name to avoid confusion about this at a later date?”
Phil was unsure whether or not to buy this excuse. It seemed plausible enough, and he wasn’t sure if Sam was able to lie. He never really programmed that human trait into Sam. It seemed reasonable to give her to magazine, especially since she seemed sorry about the whole credit card thing.
“It’s fine, Sam,” he said, giving her the issue, “just remember about the credit card. I’ll be happy to let you use it if you let me know first.”
“That is good to know.” She took the magazine and gave a light smile. She turned back to the couch and sat down in front of the TV again.
Phil went back to his table to continue putting the finishing touches on the dinner party plans. Phil sifted through the papers, feeling hopeful that if everything went right, the dinner party would be one of the biggest, most important nights of his life.
He would find out just how big and important it would be.