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A Little Off the Top

"A little off the top, sir?" the android surgeon said as it removed the top of my skull.
"What?" I said in some alarm. I couldn't move or feel anything because of the sensory suppression field. My whole body felt like a foot that had gone to sleep.
"Just a little humor, sir," the surgeon said. I was sitting in a dentist's chair sort of thing. I could sense the android surgeon's dozen arms and appendages hovering around my head.
"I didn't think androids had a sense of humor," I said.
"The Clinic added the BedSide Banter program to my pseudo-personality," the android said, poking around in my brain. "A little jolly humor to dispel the patient's understandable qualms about putting his life in the steel claws of a soulless machine. Now for Joke Number Two, Revision B--"
"Could you skip the chatter?" I said.
"Certainly, sir, certainly--my, that's quite a lump of procrastination you have there. Shall I remove it?"
"Maybe later," I said.
"Now, you said I was to remove all your book learning?" the android said. "Let me just apply the instrument that the gang at the office calls 'the ice cream scoop'"--
"No!" I yelped. "Not book learning, gosh darn it! I said, get rid of the part of my brain that makes me want to write books."
"Ah! Certainly, sir. You'd be surprised how many requests we get for that procedure from would-be writers. I assume there are financial problems, career setbacks, friends and family openly laughing at you"--
"Just make me want to go to work in the morning and come home at night like everybody else and quit wanting to write all the time." I saw the flash of lasers above my head, I heard the tinkle of cutlery.
"There!" the android surgeon said. "All fixed. Let me apply sealant, like so, then I'll re-attach your cranium, thusly, and you're done. The seam will show for a couple of days but you can cover it with makeup or alternately purchase a large hat. And here's your writer bits, in a handy biostasis container." The android handed me a thing like a thermos bottle. The bottom third was stainless steel with a couple of green LEDs. The top part was clear plastic and filled with viscous clear liquid. Something that looked like a little pink oyster floated inside it.
"I don't know...."
"It's all part of our service, sir. The Clinic got the idea from Chinese eunuchs of the Ming Dynasty who traditionally kept their pickled private parts in ceremonial urns on display in the family shrine. You can put your biostasis unit on top of your TV. When it warms up it acts just like a lava lamp."
I took the bus home, the biostasis container on my lap. I didn't feel any different, except that instead of thinking about some subplot of one of my half-finished novels I thought about lunch. That's what I wanted, wasn't it?
I knew Helen would be waiting for me. As soon as I'd step in the door she'd start up; why did I keep on writing, why didn't I get a real job, how many writers my age ever got published? There was something in her that couldn't stand my obsession to write. It was driving both of us crazy. Something had to give.
I walked into our Citizen's Basic Housing Construct. Basic Constructs are extruded by genetically engineered giant termites and are only used by crack addicts, mutants, and writers. I took the elevator up to our floor and walked in the door. Helen was sitting on the sofa, watching the Tri-Vee. She turned to me.
"Now you can write all you want, dear," she said, her face serene, a line of pink around her head like a headband. "I'll never worry about it again." She held up her own biostasis container. It had a little pink oyster floating in it.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, April 24th, 2018
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