Richard Pierce

Life, Writing

Day 316

After yesterday’s radio disaster, I’ve moved all the studio gear from the office into our bedroom. I spent most of the day clearing space on some shelves for all the gear, and then almost an hour getting the microphone and its holder to sit somewhere useful and useable, and for the sound of the boom’s spring not to get caught by the mike (because that wouldn’t do, would it, to have the metally springy sound interfering with my voice when I’m talking – especially bearing in mind that I sue this set-up to record spoken word material as well?).Then the software didn’t play ball, and I was getting very frustrated, so decided to walk away from it and go for a long walk. That did the trick – I’d thought about reverting to an old version of the braodcast software while I was out walking, did it just as soon as I’d got in and brought the dew-sodden clothes in off the line (I’d forgotten that M had hung them out before she went out for the afternoon) and chucked half of them in the tumbler (yes, I know it’s electricity we can ill afford, but we can’t afford to be putting on wet clothes, and the indoor drying rack was full to capacity). What a rock’n’roll lifestyle.

The writing on Aggie is getting way too sporadic. I’d planned to put up three new chapters today, but I think I’ll be lucky to put up one.

A horde of black dogs invaded my brain last night, which probably explains a lot, too. Mind you, this new routine of stretches plus, leg raises, plus press-ups in the morning, does have an invigorating and mind-clearing effect. Only problem is that I crave coffee constantly.

B, a good friend and Radio Stradbroke listener, had a cardiac arrest during her hip replacement surgery yesterday. She has messaged me to say she’s fine. I hope she remains so, because she’s one of the very good people, and the world can’t afford to lose her like.



When Aggie opens the door from the bathroom back into the hotel room, Valentine’s robot is nowhere to be seen. She glides across the floor to the far side of the bed, and sees him lying on the floor, his eyes wide open. ‘What are you doing?’ she says.

No answer.

Aggie kneels down next to him, checks his pulse. He’s still got one, which is a strange source of relief to her. She catches a thought which has been drifting in and out of her mind for the last hour or so – is there any way she could break the connection between the robot and Valentine central? And what would happen if she could? He might just collapse and not be able to move. She shakes her head. Something needs to be done. Her simple phone vibrates and distracts her. She pulls it out and looks at the tiny screen. It’s another message from Marion. Have you still got that file? Aggie nods, but can’t be bothered to reply. She’s not parting from it. She wants to read it thoroughly. There’s got to be something in there that’s different from the other files. A master file? That might explain while it’s still there.

The robot shifts next to her, and draws her attention back to him. She gets up and sits on the edge of the bed.

He gets to his knees slowly, like an old man, groans, pulls himself up by pushing down on the bed, and finally collapses into a sitting position next to her. He shakes his head, puts his right index finger to his lips.

Aggie says nothing, stays out of the line of sight of his eyes. That way Valentine shouldn’t be able to know she’s here. She’s sure that if she even as much as touches the robot, the real Valantine, wherever he is, will know she’s still there. She wracks her brain with how to get that disconnection, because she can’t really communicate with the robot honestly if Valentine is watching their every move, listening to every word, living each touch. At least, for now, she’s avoided the thorny issue of sex. She wishes she could just phone Lily and hear her voice, or even just text her and see words and imagine she’s hearing her voice.

Valentine’s image next to her, groans again, sighs, shakes his head again, points at his heart without looking at her.

Aggie doesn’t want to believe what she thinks he’s telling her, and just ignores him.

His hand shoots out towards her without his head turning, a piece of paper in it.

Aggie takes the paper, looks at it. The scrawl is dreadful, almost illegible. Wrote without looking, she finally manages to decipher. Perhaps can’t read hand movement. Aggie shrugs. Maybe the robot can read the shrug through the movement of the mattress. She screws up her eyes, focuses on the next line. No point now. Just turn off. Kill me. You right.

Aggie moves her body in a way she hopes conveys a negative answer to that request. Then looks down at the paper again, making sure it doesn’t rustle. Thought so. Too late.

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