Mr. and Mrs. Smith|
Rumor had it the dome the Radinova mansion was in was designed after a book entitled 'Tales from Margaritaville' by someone named Jimmy Buffett. If this world he wrote about truly existed, people before The Event were quite curious, indeed.
Or proof that alcohol kills brain cells.
The Radinova residence was a large brick mansion located in the dome housing the mid-upper class of doctors and lawyers. The artificial sun overhead shined brightly as plants known as 'palm trees' swayed gently in an unfelt breeze. From somewhere within the dome, the scent of saltspray filled the air.
"We're going to have to work on your flank attack," Roger commented as they approached the front door of the Radinova mansion.
"What's wrong with my flank attack?" Dorothy asked.
"Try not to destroy property."
A high-pitched, screechy laugh came from Dorothy for a long moment. Her face fell back into an expressionless mask. "As if you have any room to talk, my husband who is the Dominus of Big O."
"Don't confuse the issue with facts, Dora-girl," he replied as he pushed the doorbell.
After a moment, the door opened, revealing a young girl in a maid's outfit and white apron. "May I help you?"
"We're here to see Dr. Dasha Radinova," Roger said. "I'm Roger Smith."
"Yes, this way," the maid said quietly as she opened the door and allowed the two in. She bowed her head. "If you will follow me, I will take you to the study and Mistress Radinova will see you."
Roger and Dorothy looked around the large entry hall, done up in ornately carved dark wood and molding. A single chandelier hung from the center of the hall's ceiling, dripping with a waterfall of crystals amid cleverly disguised lightbulbs.
The maid opened one of the doors lining the hall and gestured inside. "Please, make yourselves comfortable. There is brandy available."
Dorothy went to sit down while Roger helped himself to the brandy. Both gazed around the study. The room was also done in dark wood, but was not as ornate. Old-fashioned guns and what could only be animal heads lined the walls, while a bookcase filled a wall behind a desk. A fire was crackling in a fireplace on one wall.
"Such a waste," Dorothy commented.
"Of what?" Roger asked.
"Of art space. There must be something morbid about collecting the heads of extinct animals." She turned to look at him. "Why stop at animal heads? Why not animal bodies? Or human heads, even? Perhaps a human hand would look nice over in that corner."
Roger chuckled, taking a sip from the brandy. "Dora-girl, you have a sarcastic streak wider than the river."
"Who was being sarcastic?"
The door opened and the Smiths composed themselves - Dorothy sitting at attention and Roger taking a sip from the brandy glass.
Dr. Dasha Radinova was a tired-looking woman in her mid-thirties, her obviously-dyed blonde hair off-set the dark regrowth of her own hair, all pulled up into a utilitarian bun on top of her head. Her quite curvy body was wrapped up in a blue skirt-suit while a thin gold necklace hung from her neck.
Her blue eyes peered at them through a pair of slender glasses.
"Mr. Smith?" she said. "I'm Dasha Radinova."
Roger put the glass down and offered his gloved hand to shake. "Good to meet you, Dr. Radinova. This is Dorothy Smith, my wife and partner."
Dorothy stood and shook hands with the woman. "Pleased to meet you, Doctor."
Dasha Radinova smiled briefly. "Please, sit down." All three did so. "I wish to thank you for saving the lives of my nurses. I am not able to pay them much, so I can at least make sure they are safe."
Roger raised an eyebrow. "Not able to pay them much?"
Radinova returned his stare. "I run a free-clinic, Mr. Smith. I am into medicine and surgery to help people. This house and all within it belong to my husband who works at the hospital."
Roger leaned back and crossed his legs. "Ah, one of those med school romances, eh?"
She nodded. "It was ... a long time ago." She pulled a checkbook out of her suit jacket. "Again, I thank you. What is your fee?"
Roger told her. Dorothy peered at the woman as she began writing the check.
"Excuse me, Doctor Radinova."
"I am curious ... why did you say 'a long time ago'?"
Radinova looked up. "Well ... I may as well bring it up now. Mr. Smith, I have another job for you."
Roger leaned forward again. "And what do you need help on, Dr. Radinova?"
She bit her lip, then ripped the check out of the book and handed it to Roger. "There, now that payment for that service is rendered, the other job is this - I wish for you to mediate the divorce settlement between my husband and myself."
Dorothy's eyebrow raised while Roger - an old veteran at negotiating divorce settlements - nodded. "I see. How do you want it done? Out of court?"
"Preferably." She folded her hands in her lap. "Don't worry, Mr. Smith, there won't be any name-calling or under-handedness. We decided this would be best for both of us."
"It happens," Roger commented. "Should we go over the settlement this afternoon?"
"Yes. Due to the accident at the clinic I sent the girls home, and I consequently have the day off. My husband - Benjamin Radinov - is on the beach on the west side of the dome. He can be called home."
Roger uncrossed his legs and went into professional mode. "Then let's get him in here and start to sort everything out." He smirked. "And I'll make sure you get a fair deal out of it to keep the clinic open."
She smiled. "Thank-you, Mr. Smith." She looked at both of them and asked, "I hate to pry, but how long have you two been married?"
"Almost a week," Dorothy replied.
Radinova giggled softly. "Still young. I hope your marriage remains strong for several decades. Mine lost steam after fifteen years."
Roger did not notice Dorothy's look of discomfort.
* * *
The ride home was silent.
Dorothy was lost in thought about Doctors Dasha Radinova and Benjamin Radinov (the pronunciation of their names was quite strange, but Dorothy decided they were just being eccentric). From what she gathered during the settlement, both had met in medical school and had fallen in love and married before they finished their internships. They had worked together at the hospital until Dasha Radinova decided to work with the poor outside the domes.
All of her funding came from patrons and a grant from the hospital, along with a small allowance from her husband. The money generated covered the bills and equipment and the paychecks of her staff, with very little leftover for herself.
Benjamin Radinov was one of the highest paid doctors in all of Paradigm City, as well as being the private physician of all the government officials of the city. And if you lived in a dome, you got a housecall.
Benjamin preferred to spend his days off at the artificial beach: a stretch of dome wall dedicated to a bank of sand and a wave-generated rolling ocean, always warm and welcoming. He would just lay in the shade of a palm tree, digging his toes in the sand, and drinking bottled beer while listening to a music style called 'Islands'.
It was quite strange sitting at the table with the doctors - Dr. Radinova prim and serious in her blue suit and Dr. Radinov relaxed and casual in his shorts and ugly plant-print shirt.
"Penny for your thoughts," Roger remarked.
"Do you have a penny?" Dorothy asked.
"Just an expression. What are you thinking about?"
"The doctors. They're divorcing, even though they loved each other."
Roger shrugged. "Sometimes love's not that durable. You get used to seeing it when you've worked as long as I have - people grow, people separate, and they get divorced so they can get on with their lives."
Dorothy blinked slowly. "Will that happen to us, Roger?"
He glanced at her, a concerned smile on his face, and he reached over to pick up her hand and kiss her palm. "I hope not, Dora-girl. I just married you and I don't want to give you up yet. You, at least, won't get rid of me that easily."
She smiled slightly. Human hearts were unpredictable. Perhaps that is what he felt now, but what of in ten years? Fifteen? Twenty? In the far future when he was old and frail and she was still young-looking and ageless?
Dorothy sat back in her seat and thought worried thoughts.
* * *
Meanwhile, in Paradigm City Prison ...
"Mail Call!" the warden yelled through the block.
Grumbles mumbled through steel doors as bunks and chairs creaked from inmates getting up to approach their doors. Their hands appeared between the bars of the windows, begging for mail they may never have.
Beck continued to sprawl on his bunk, holding a notepad in the air and writing out 'Crow Boy must die!' in several different handwriting forgeries.
"Hey, Beck," his Goth-looking minion stated. "Don't you wanna know if you got any mail?"
Beck snorted. "Why would anyone want to write lil' ol' me?" he drawled.
The darker minion pulled his hand in. "Well, someone did. 'Mr. Beck Gold, Paradigm City Prison, inmate #2460 - '"
Beck jumped up and grabbed the envelope from the henchman's hand, tearing open the expensive seal and unfolding the paper within.
"Uh, Beck?" the pale minion asked
Beck began cackling. "Pack your bags, boys! We're busting out tonight!"
They stared at him for a moment, then began rushing around the cell to collect their nudie magazines and marked card decks (as well as hidden packs of cigarettes).
Beck continued giggling, tracing a fingertip over the single, ornate initial of 'R'.
* * *
Dorothy and Roger had stepped into the elevator and began ascending to the top floors of the building to the mansion.
'Home already, Master Roger and Mistress Dorothy?' Norman's voice asked over an intercom.
"Already, Norman," Roger replied. "Any messages?"
"Is there a mansion left?" Dorothy wondered. "Did you have any of those wild parties you and I used to have whenever Roger went out?"
Roger smirked, then reached over and pinched her hip. After a second she giggled and said, "Ouch."
'No wild parties this time, Mistress Dorothy,' Norman's voice answered. 'And no messages for you, Master Roger.'
"Good, Norman." Roger looked at Dorothy and grinned, then pulled a glove off and cupped her chin, his other hand going around her waist to pull her close. "Now, Dora-girl, where were we ... ?"
Dorothy smirked, pressing her wrists together up toward him. "Oh, Master Roger, please be gentle with your little maid - !"
The elevator halted and the doors opened -
"SURPRISE!" a gaggle of voices cried out.
Roger and Dorothy immediately released each other and looked around the brightly lit common room.
The room was filled with people. People in uniforms, suits, some in their best clothes, which were not much, some in wild costumes.
"What's going on??" Roger demanded. "And who are all these people?? Norman!"
Norman appeared, his old face remaining stoic. "A surprise party for you and Mistress Dorothy, Master Roger. After all, you did not have anyone at your wedding."
Dorothy smiled and slipped into hostess mode, beginning to circulate among the guests. Roger shook his head. "There was a reason for that, Norman. And you know my rule of no one entering my house without my permission. Expect to get a dock in pay for this."
"Don't blame him, Negotiator," a familiar bass voice said. "It was my idea."
Roger turned to see Big Ear next to him. "Yours?"
Big Ear grinned. "I expected it when you brought her into the Speakeasy a few weeks ago. When I heard from my sources about you taking the vows, I decided to share it with everyone."
Roger looked around, accepting a martini from Norman. "Hey, I know these people."
Big Ear chuckled. "Clients and colleagues. Those who think they matter. Including someone who is rather disappointed about your marriage."
Roger nodded, rolling his eyes. "Angel."
The older man grinned wickedly. "Don't tell me it hasn't crossed your mind to see the cat fight."
Roger smirked. "I refuse to answer on grounds that I might be locked out of the bedroom."
Big Ear laughed. "Well, my work is done. See you around, Negotiator." He chuckled. "Give my regards to the Missus."
Roger watched him leave, then shoved a hand in his pocket and took a sip of martini from the other. Norman stood by, holding the tray the martini had been sitting on.
"Did you really expect to keep your marriage to Mistress Dorothy a secret, sir?"
Roger shook his head. "Not really, especially after we ... agreed ... to work together." He chuckled. He agreed after she locked him out of the bedroom one night.
"Then this just speeded the news along," Norman concluded.
Roger nodded, then looked down at the martini he had been drinking. "Instro's here? Haven't had this type of martini in ages."
"Mr. Instro assured me you used to drink it often when you patronized his club 'Amadeus'."
Roger stared at the mixed drink of vodka, extra-dry vermouth, and a black olive. "The Demonic Big Godlike," he chuckled. "Instro never asked why I called it that."
"I think he knows now, considering your case involving Constanze and himself," Norman bowed his head. "Excuse me, sir, I must attend to the guests."
As Norman left, Roger was immediately surrounded by his former colleagues of the military police, including Dastun, who all offered congratulations and slaps on the back.
Across the room, Dorothy was engaged in conversation with several people she had met through Roger's work: clients mostly, but some scientists, then there was Instro playing the piano and smiling in that way only androids knew ... And she was relieved to see Cassandra Neuwirth among the guests. Miss Neuwirth gave her a hug and both talked about the possibility of revealing the 'lost books' Dorothy had rescued from the library fire.
They were interrupted by a cultured female voice saying, "Well, well ... "
Both looked up to see Angel standing next to them, her body sheathed in a lowcut, tight pink dress and her blonde locks falling over her shoulders. Her arms were crossed, while her face volleyed between bemused and angry.
Dorothy bowed her head. "Pleased to have you here, Miss Jenkins. Or Angel - "
Angel pulled out a cigarette, lighting up. "Cut the crap, Wayneright," she snapped. She took a drag of the cigarette and exhaled the synthetic tobacco smoke in Dorothy's face. "I know you're a manipulative mechanical monster - "
Cassandra burst into laughter. Comparably, Cassandra was the bigger girl, with a well-defined curvy body and swirling red hair, her movements, clothing, and persona larger-than-life due to being an actress. She had no reason to be afraid of other women. "Oh, what have we here? An ex-girlfriend of Roger's? A jilted lover?" She sniffed, then snickered, "Oh, I get it, one of those destiny things that you wanted to twist around."
Dorothy glanced quizzically at Cassandra, who was smirking in the way only seers could smirk.
Angel narrowed her eyes at the woman. "No, exhibitionistic cow. Merely a colleague who has worked with Roger - "
Dorothy interrupted in a very precise tone, "I know you lusted after my husband. During the incident involving the Fitzgeralds, you implied several things about our relationship which - at the time - were not true. You threw fits every time we three were together, which simply meant you could not get my husband into trouble and make him take the rap when you turned coward and ran out."
Angel's hand holding the cigarette began to visibly shake from anger. "Well, the poor man is trapped, knowing only the cold touch of a perverse android - "
"Quite the contrary," Dorothy stated. "But the fact is that I have been run into exhaustion keeping up with his sexual appetites - "
Cassandra broke into another laughing fit.
" - for he wants it morning, noon, and night, and I can hardly get any work done because he is constantly pulling me down on the bed or the floor or whatever else happens to be handy for him." She made sure to remain expressionless. "Of course, if I were a human, I would have been battered and dead of exhaustion by now, so perhaps it was ideal that it turned out like this. You would not have survived the wedding night itself."
Angel, now almost purple with rage, stomped off, not even bothering to excuse herself.
Cassandra whooped in laughter, clapping. "That was beautiful, Dorothy! A wonderful pack of lies."
Dorothy finally smirked. "I wasn't lying."
Cassandra smirked as well. "Oh, you really have my sympathy."
Dorothy giggled. "I do have tactile sense, but I cannot fully participate in such activities. However, it is fascinating."
Cassandra nodded, grinning. "Never loses its fascination."
A dreamy smile crossed Dorothy's face. "Especially the cute face Roger makes when he crosses his eyes at the moment of -"
Let us now draw the curtain on this scene, Gentle Reader, and return at a later point.
In fact, let us see where Angel had stomped off to.
Roger was not at all surprised to find Angel standing before him, her fine brows slanted low over her dark eyes and her lips pursed, her cigarette fuming as much as her face.
"Why, hello, Angel," Roger chuckled.
"Don't 'hello, Angel' me, you big creep. That Dorothy Wayneright is an ill-tempered lying android bi - "
Roger shook his head. "That's Dorothy Smith - my wife - you're talking about." He smirked. "Love to flirt with you, Angel, but I'm a happily married man."
"Yes," Angel sneered, taking a puff on the cigarette. "According to her, you're a sex maniac."
He shrugged, keeping the blush from his face. "I like girls who stick around and don't get me in trouble. And she makes a heck of a batch of battered toast. Makes me very appreciative."
Angel took another frustrated puff on the cigarette. "I know this body is what really turns you on."
Roger switched his smirk up another two notches. "Yes, too bad you can't figure out what to do with it."
Her mouth flew open -
He smiled apologetically, cutting her off with, "Now that you insulted my wife and impugned my character, I must ask that you leave."
Angel growled. "Next time you need help I won't be there."
"It was never like that. As I recall, whenever you were around was when I got into trouble in the first place." He made 'shooing' motions. "Go. Fly away, Angel."
Angel stalked to the elevator and left, too angry to tell him off.
* * *
The last guests had left by seven that night, leaving a mess of used champagne glasses and small plates of half-eaten appetizers. Streamers hung crazily about (mostly due to young Tami McGowen running through them and laughing), while the banner reading 'CONGRATULATIONS ROGER AND DOROTHY SMITH' sagged in a few places. Norman quietly went about clean-up detail, humming to himself.
Roger lay on the couch, his tie undone and a few buttons of his shirt unbuttoned, Dorothy laying in the cradle of his arm.
"Guess I can't keep you hidden here, can I?" he murmured, kissing her forehead.
"Of course not, Roger-dear," she answered, her fingertips gently stroking his throat. "Are you so ashamed of me, my husband?"
"No, of course not." He hugged her, feeling her 'give' slightly like a human body. "I've never been married, so I don't know what husbands and wives do ... "
Dorothy kissed him, being gentle. She pulled away. "Neither do I. The logical thing to do would be to figure out what works best for us."
"Agreed." He ran a hand down her back. "I like working with you, Dora-girl. Didn't realize how easy it was."
"I've always liked working with you, Roger. And it's easy because you are predictable."
"Predictable??" he repeated in an offended manner.
"Yes, husband. That's why I fell for you - you are more predictable than an android would be."
Roger smirked, rolling on top of her. "I'll show you predictable, Mrs. Smith!"
"I knew you would do that."
* * *
Meanwhile, back at the Paradigm City Prison ...
"Ow! My foot!"
"Will you two dolts shut up?!" Beck demanded. "Do you want the guards to hear us?!"
"Sorry, Beck," Dove muttered.
"Yeah, sorry, boss," T-Bone added.
Beck cackled, combing back his blonde hair with a pocketcomb. "We're gonna be free in two minutes, boys! As soon as our 'patron' drops the ladder, up we go!"
All three were the only beings present in the exercise yard of the prison, their brightly colored jumpsuits smeared with mud as they crowed against the yard's wall to blend into the surroundings.
The rain was a steady downpour, the dark clouds hanging low over the prison. There was not even an electrical charge to the air for lightning, just darkness extending as far as the eye cared to see, broken only by the security lights of the penitentiary.
The lights of the security towers suddenly went out, as did all the lights within the prison. Beck and his gang could hear voices over the rain demanding lanterns to be lit and flashlights to be found.
A 'plop' sound came from in front of them. Beck reached out and his hand enclosed over a rope ladder.
"Time to leave, boys," Beck announced as he began climbing. The henchmen followed at his heels, climbing up the length of the rope ladder and into a small space.
"Welcome aboard, Mr. Beck," a female voice commented. "Is everyone here?"
"Sure are, sugar," Beck answered, leaning forward. "And what may I address you as?"
"Think of me as an Angel come to free you from your unjust servitude," she answered. Her dark outline pulled at a rope, and they rose into the air.
Beck turned and looked down into the prison yard, now dotted with flashlights. "So long, bastitches!" he called, waving.
The woman smacked him in the back of the head. "Drawing attention like that is going to get you shot." She pulled another rope, gliding over Paradigm City.
The soft light from the domes illuminated everything around the criminals slightly better - they were in a hot air balloon. Sailing above the city toward the outskirts to the northwest.
The lights also illuminated their patron: a woman in a red cloak, the hood covering her face.
"So, Angel-baby," Beck began. "I'm sure you didn't spring us out of the goodness of your soul. So, what can I do for ya'? Need my brilliant mind and genius to make you something?"
She chuckled. "As a matter of fact, Mr. Beck, I do have need of your genius ... and I can pay you very well."
Beck leered. "Talk to me, baby."
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