“Spin me. Roll me around in the corner of your mind. Cynicism is so passé. I’m the electric pulse of your brand new conscience. Kiss me and feel the surge,” Voice says.
Martin has been hearing the voice for weeks. He’s been afraid to tell anyone. He doesn’t want to sound like one of those nuts whose teeth pick up signals from the Federales. He’s not sure whether this new conscience is supposed to keep him clean at work or if it’s a message warning him away from Kate.
At night he hears Voice in his dreams, does as she says, and wakes sticky.
“Clean or dirty, that’s the question. Fire up the furnace and burn away those nasty thoughts. Bathe. Run the cloth all over your thinker. You’re filthy, but the cleansing is coming. Buy more razor blades,” Voice looks yellow with orange stripes.
He comes to think of Voice as a wife. Of course she doesn’t cook for him or pick up his dry cleaning. But she keeps him company now, more and more of the time. She reminds of what he needs to do.
One day he thinks he feels her tug his jacket straight before a presentation at work. As he’s about to start the power point she whispers in his ear, “I’ll give you a present if you do well.” He nearly turns to thank her. He feels her breath on his neck, in his ear. No doubt about that. The jacket, he’s not so sure.
He wishes she would knock it off about the nasty thoughts. Each day her presence is more palpable than the day before. More and more often he feels her rubbing against him. Sometimes her touch is comradely, but other times, perfectly intimate.
“You don’t listen,” she hisses. He thinks Voice is a Shayna.
“What?” He wants to cry.
“Buy razor blades.” She sounds like classic radio. “Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion of The Shadow‚ after this message from The Ford Motor Company.” The lights go to neon red. “I’ll never touch you again,” Voice says. “Drop and give me fifty.”
He follows her orders and drops. His dress shirt is tight across his back, but he starts. He hears her count along with him. “This is right,” he thinks.
Her hands are everywhere on his body at once, caressing, unbuttoning, Voice never stops, and she laughs, and she starts the count back at twenty-three when he’d been almost to fifty, and he hears “bad boy”, and he slams himself into her to the count, which she restarts again and again, and she won’t let him stop and Voice competes with a howling wind and it’s her laughter and counting until finally he spills himself into night.
(c) 2004 Bill Turner and Miriam N. Kotzin