One thing most people don’t know about the body beneath me is that it loves movies, and not the lowbrow kind. It will watch Herzog, Truffaut, Kurosawa. The other night, it invited a high roller over to watch a futuristic sci-fi movie. As always, it claimed a personal connection with a famous body in the movie.
I remember when the body wasn’t famous, when it was first born. Its parents brought us to Queens Botanical Garden. I was so thin then, struggling to be seen, but I smelled a salmon-colored rose. I never saw one of those again. Now I can’t smell. My favorite memory from when I was grown was riding a ferry all the way to Staten Island to see the Statue of Liberty. The body never put its hands on me, so the wind lifted me in its own rhythm. I could taste the salty mist.
“You know, I dated Sean Young a couple of times,” it said. “My memory is impeccable, and I’m pretty sure she was a lousy kisser. Like one of those little dogs my wives always talk about wanting. But if I dated her, if I kissed her, I guarantee she had the date of her life. She was one lucky lady.”
I had always had nightmares. In a recurring one, a servant would carefully peel me from the body, take me to a quiet room, clean me with sprays and miniature brushes. Then another servant would apply something sticky to my backside. Picture yourself paralyzed below the waist. I would always awake in a sweat, its hand dabbing me with a monogrammed towel.
It stopped talking for as long as it will stop talking, watched a woman cry as a man explained who she was to her. It smiled.
So many people say it speaks what’s on its mind, shares a common anger with the voting bodies. It says, “Let’s make America great again” but never says what used to be great. It doesn’t talk about the salmon-colored roses, long ferry rides, sunsets in a John Ford movie. It mentions memories that never happened.
“I know Don Jr. has wanted to do that to me dozens of times,” it says after a robot murders its father. “He’s always asking for more of everything. To be honest, he needs to be told ‘no.’ All I ever got from my father was a million dollars and a kick in the ass.”
Sometimes I move like fingers when the body is asleep. I can reach the phone on the end table and look things up. I just found pictures of myself with numbers tattooed on the bottom. I found copies of me; my tattoo is two less than the tattoo on one of them. I know I was made at Guangzhou JSUS Hair Products Co. in China in May 2015. I retailed for $1,320. My manual says I should be retired after a year.
At the end of the movie, it asks, “Do you think he’s a robot? The little Mexican guy left the paper dolly for him. I think the Mexican was telling him he’s a robot. He had to have been really, really stupid not to have known he was a robot. Really, really stupid.”
There’s no way it could know I know. I expect I’ll do what I need to do when it’s asleep, though there would be poetic justice to do it during a speech, while it’s trash-talking immigrants. It knows I’m an immigrant. I told you I can move like fingers. My fists can turn to plugs. I’m long enough to reach into its eyes. I’m strong enough to burrow deep, to dig like roots. I know the aftermath will leave me unable to be salvaged. I’ll end up on a garbage barge. I’ll get to feel the wind and spray for real.
Daniel M. Shapiro is the author of How the Potato Chip Was Invented (sunnyoutside press, 2013), a collection of celebrity-centered poems. He's relatively new to flash fiction writing, but a couple of his pop culture pieces will be published soon in Jellyfish Review and Jersey Devil Press. He is a special education teacher who lives in Pittsburgh.