The cigarette

He lit a second cigarette and took a drag.

“I don’t think that there is any way that I could care less about that job. I mean, they just treat us like…” he slurred, then stopped, shut his eyes, repressed a burp and tried to remember what he was talking about. Steve winked at Natasha and joined in.

“Robots?”

“Yeah. Yeah, robots, you know what I mean.”

“Nah, monkeys.” Natasha giggled.

“Yeah, yeah,” Rob opened his eyes, took a drag from his cigarette, pointed his other hand at Natasha, and noticed a lit, half-smoked cigarette in his hand. He held both his hands out, looked at the two cigarettes, measured them up, shrugged and put the shorter one out in the ashtray. “Like monkeys. And robots.”

“Robot monkeys?” Natasha choked a laugh into her beer. Steve gave her a nod.

“Robot monkeys. They treat us like robot monkeys, just counting dealing with scum and all they give us is bananas.”

“Do robot monkeys even eat bananas?”
“Yes! Yes, we do, because it’s all we have.” Rob shook his head, and the weight of the thought seemed to drag him over to one side in his seat. “Bananas. With microchips. That control our minds.”

He reached for his beer, knocked it over and the glass smashed on the ground. Steve stood and started to help Rob to his feet.

“Ok, mate, that’s probably enough for you now. Let’s get you home.” Rob allowed himself to be picked up. Natasha helped him with him jacket, which was especially hard as Rob seemed to have lost all of the joints in his arms.

“I’m going to tell them tomorrow. That I don’t want their chicken feed anymore.”

Natasha made a mock-confused face.

“Robot monkeys eat chicken feed?”

Rob started to respond, but neither heard it because he was muttering into his shirtfront. Natasha and Steve took an arm each and walked Rob out the door and to his house, three doors down from the pub.

Natasha looked over the slumped body to Steve as they walked. “Do you think we celebrated his promotion enough?”

“I’m not sure. Perhaps I’ll drop past with some bananas tomorrow.”

 

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