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Music Box

Chapter 1

The name's Roger Smith. I perform a much-needed job here in the city of amnesia. In order to do this I must understand everything about every little detail in every situation. Yet there is one thing that I cannot comprehend... and that is the relationship between me and R. Dorothy Wayneright.

For the first time in many years I never had anything so disorderly in my life. My feelings for her jump here and there in the pit of my stomach, even when she does call me a louse. After a year of having her living in my home, I have finally established my feelings for her. Well, at least to myself. I'm certain people suspect, but no one has mentioned a thing.

I could never deal with losing her. There have been numerous instances in which she was torn from my protection, some of them seeming like they would be forever. I still can't deal with it. But I never considered that maybe, just maybe, I might lose Dorothy again, but to someone else's affection.

The gates to the elevator opened as it reached the top floor. Roger Smith stepped out, beginning to take off his black jacket.

"Oh, you're home early, Master Roger," exclaimed Norman as he dusted the grandfather clock. "I assume your client cut straight to the chase."

"He sure did. Shortest negotiation of my career." He took a whiff of the air, smelling chocolate and baked dough. "Where's Dorothy? I need to speak to her about something important."

"Oh, she is in the kitchen making cookies, sir."

"Thanks Norman." He made his way through the large house. Every step he took the scent became stronger.

Ah, Dorothy sure makes good cookies. His mouth began to water as he walked into the kitchen. His hardened expression softened as he saw Dorothy in her usual black dress, except now she had included an apron. She was mixing the ingredients of the cookie dough in a bowl.

"Hello Roger," she said. "You are early. It is unusual for you to be back three hours after you have woken up."

"Yes, it's quite strange isn't it?" Roger smiled into the nothing, while Dorothy kept silent.

"Listen, Dorothy, I ran into one of my old clients, Amanda Hart."

"The one with the kidnapped dog and the expensive harmonica?"

"Yes. Well, she is having a party tomorrow night."

"And you declined." Dorothy made it a statement.

"Normally I would have, but she asked me for a special favor." Dorothy kept silent. "She has a piano in her home-"

"And she wants me to play."

"Well, yes, she does. She also asked me if you could sing for her. She saw you at the Nightingale Club the night you performed, and she thought you were an amazing singer."

"Oh," was all Dorothy could say. Memories of the gruesome death of Dr. Wayneright rushed through her head. She began placing chunks of the dough on a flat pan.

"This is all you, Dorothy. Your decision."

Dorothy looked up at him. "Then, if I decide to go, will you accompany me? I know you despise parties, but-"

Roger held up his hand, exposing his palm. "Dorothy, I know that that is what you do in the morning, and that you enjoy it. Why not?"

She looked back down and placed the last chunk on the pan. "Thank you Roger."

"Hey, you asked me for your protection, and that is what I'm gonna do." He used his thumbs to pull his suspenders outward and smiled. "I shall be a first-class date." He let the suspenders go with a snap.

"Just try not to embarrass yourself this time, Roger. I know how much of a louse you can be."

"Well, uh..." Roger was left blushing and rubbing the back of his neck, remembering when he was accidentally caught with his pants down; his suspenders weren't placed on properly and his pants fell in front of a (lady) client (and you know she enjoyed it). But it was Dorothy who escorted him out in his moment of need, which made the moment a little better.

Roger started to exit the kitchen, when a thought occurred to him. "You need a dress, don't you?"

"I still have that red dress I wore when I performed at the Nightingale."

"Are you sure you don't need another one?"

"You mean something to match your black suit? Don't waste your money Roger. I know you have bad taste in clothing."

"Hmph. Alright then, we're set. So does that signify a yes?"

"Yes, Roger, I'll go."

"Under one condition though. We leave as soon as possible after your performance. I don't want to waste my time with small talk."

"Funny, I was just about to say the same thing."

"Miss Dorothy Wayneright! Such a pleasure to see you!" Amanda Hart came up happily and held Dorothy's hand after struggling to get through a crowd of people in suits and dresses, laughing, chatting and drinking champagne. The piano's notes were floating all around the largest room of Ms. Hart's home.

She turned to Roger and said "Thank you for coming and bringing her here. I think she is so talented."

"Yes, many people think so." They looked at each other.

"Oh and your dress is so pretty," she commented, holding the material of the black skirt just high enough that she could see it, yet low enough not to disrespect Dorothy. It made Roger remember Dorothy's weird behavior hours before they left.

I thought it would be best this way, she said, holding up the Nightingale dress that was once red, but had been dyed black. He had just looked on in surprise.

"Well then, would you mind playing something for us?" asked Amanda eagerly, disrupting Roger's thoughts. He saw Dorothy nod and head for the piano. She sat on the bench and began playing whatever song popped into her circuitry. It never occurred to her to ask herself, or anyone else for that matter, who Mozart was, but she did play his 40th Symphony. The crowd grew silent as her gloved fingers gently played the keys, as if the fingers and keys were long-time lovers. As always, she played the notes beautifully and perfectly, and the crowd stood (those who weren't already standing) and clapped and cheered and whistled. She noticed one man in the background, though, out of the corner of her eye. He wasn't going gaga for her performance, which made him stand out, but he seemed pleased. She then turned to Roger, who was leaning against the wall, smiling, quietly praising her work.

She began to play another, this time, a blues song. As she played, her head motioned left to right, back and forth, (what Roger once called) imitating human motions. The crowd was so pleased, they clapped and whistled and cheered even louder and longer that time. Dorothy stood and grabbed the sides of her skirt. She bobbed her head down and did a curtsy. She looked up, and the man, once again, grabbed Dorothy's attention. He was looking straight into her eyes.

"Thank you so much Dorothy," said Amanda in Dorothy's ear over the dying applause, breaking the gaze.

"You're welcome, Ms. Hart. I can see that the audience liked my performance."

Then she asked aloud, "Would you mind if you sang a song or two for us, Dorothy?" The crowd went wild with noise and eagerness, waiting to see what the young woman could do.

Dorothy nodded. "Certainly." She walked behind the microphone, set up beforehand, and began to sing to the pianist's playing. Roger gazed admiringly at her. Hate her piano playing, but she sure sings lovely.

She started to sing a song called "Who Would have Thought...", about a couple who, although completely different, spent many years together, and expressing the beauty of the relationship. She cast glances over the crowd, but most were at Roger.

It was beautiful, and the cheering crowd loved Dorothy once more, demanding an encore. But she felt uneasy all of a sudden, and wanted to leave. She moved around the microphone and through the crowd to Roger. She could see that an old man had walked up to him. The two began conversing.

"Roger, I believe it is best that we left," Dorothy proclaimed, grabbing onto his elbow.

"Excuse me, young lady," calmly exclaimed the old man, "but we are having a very important discussion."

"Dorothy, this is Mr. Joseph Harlow, and it so happens he has a job for me." He turned to Harlow. "Shall we step out into the balcony in order to discuss this on more-" he looked around "-private terms?"

"Of course, Mr. Smith." He motioned his hand for Roger to proceed. Roger walked through the doors, while Dorothy followed. The old man grabbed her wrist.

"I'd prefer this be something between Mr. Smith and I." They stared at each other. She looked at Roger, who had overheard. He just shrugged at her. Joseph Harlow let go, and proceeded into the balcony. Roger's face once again appeared in the doorway.

"Wait for me outside. It won't take long." She looked at him, then turned and disappeared into the crowd. He shut the glass door, and was left with only the old man and the moonlight.

Meanwhile, Dorothy waited on the front steps of Ms. Hart's home, unaffected by the late-night chill. She took a few glances at her brightly lit surroundings, her eyes falling to a couple strolling on the sidewalk, lovingly holding hands. If she could, she would have sighed. The image of Roger appeared only to her mind, and a feeling she had took her by surprise, as if something fell from her chest and into her stomach, tickling her from the inside. And again she thought to herself Is this what people call love?

"Hello," said a voice from the nothing. She turned and saw a fair-haired man of about twenty-five or so smiling and standing right next to her. The same man who, for a moment, caught her attention during her performance. "You played exquisitely, and you sang divinely."

"You have an accent."

"Well yes, I got that from my father. During his last days on the bed he muttered something to me about Irish. Maybe that is what we are, where we came from," motioning his hand around, looking up, "some strange forgotten, maybe fake, place." He laughed to himself, exposing a dimple on his cheek, but Dorothy just stared.

"Oh, I apologize, I haven't properly introduced myself. My name is Maxwell Roland, but you may call me Max. And you're Dorothy..."

"Dorothy Wayneright." Max held out his hand, and she placed hers in his, expecting a handshake. Instead, he lifted her hand to his lips. He had figured out she was an android, but it didn't matter much to him.

"Well, it is a pleasure Ms. Wayneright." He looked at her with, she noticed now, olive-colored eyes.

"Dorothy, we-" Roger stepped out calling for her...and noticed Max holding Dorothy's hand. For the first time in many years, he felt a pang of the little green monster in him. He quickly walked up to her.

"Dorothy, we need to go now."

"Oh, you have a lovely young lady here with you. She is a wonderful performer."

"Yes I know," said Roger, trying not to speak with gritted teeth.

"It was nice meeting you, Mr. Roland," said Dorothy.

"Likewise. And please, call me Max. Maybe we can get together sometime."

Roger locked arms with Dorothy. "I highly doubt she has the time," he said coldly. "C'mon Dorothy." He took her to the passenger seat of the Griffon. After they both got in, he sped off, finally able to cool down.

"You are such a louse, Roger Smith. You were very rude with the gentleman."

"Dorothy, you never know. He could have been some sort of psychopath. I was only doing my job, giving you my protection."

"You made a complete fool out of yourself."

They stayed quiet until they got home.

"Roger, what did that man want?"


"The old man at the party."

"Ah. He just wanted a way to reach me. Said he had a job for me, but didn't want to discuss it there. Said he felt uncomfortable."

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