The meeting droned on just the way she anticipated with her marketing exec citing statistics and data points from focus groups about the kind of artist they wanted to see. There had been so many changes to her wardrobe, dance sequences, lighting, song writers and lyrics over the course of the tour that the only way she could keep up was with a mic in her ear leading her through each performance step by step. She was exhausted, too exhausted to care about this stuff. Her thoughts seemed to be coming slower to her.
“Look, I don’t want to ruin your whole presentation or anything, but do I really I need to be here for this? I mean- can’t the choreographers just teach me the new steps without you explain it to me, does it really matter if I’m here?” she asked, letting the irritation and sheer exhaustion show in her voice.
The man whom she disliked intensely for no other reason than that he had small, squinty eyes which unsettled her gave her a look. It was coupled with a smile but it worried her. “You’re tired, huh?” he asked her. There was no sound of concern for her well being in his voice but a fierce practicality which troubled her further. He shot a look at the other people in the room and then nodded. “Well, you’ve had a good run- we didn’t expect you to make it the whole tour,” he said, organizing his papers and powering down the monitor.
“Wha- what are you… talking about?” she said. She looked around at the people in the room as they started packing up their things. No one made eye contact with her.
The squinty eyed-man pulled a cell phone out of his pocket and hit a button. “Yeah, we’re gonna need the next one ready for the eight o’clock show. Yeah, I know you would’ve liked more time but whose fault is that? Maybe if you had told us that it wouldn’t make it through the end of the week you would have had more time and maybe next time you’ll pay attention to your damned job long enough to make more accurate projections so we wouldn’t have to keep dealing with your incompetent bullshit!” he
yelled into the phone. “Make it happen!” he concluded and angrily hit the phone again, slamming it back into his pocket.
“Will somebody tell me what the hell is going on?” she screamed. The squinty eyed man stopped, calmly placed the papers back down on the table and looked at her as if she were a bug.
“Your run is over. We appreciate your service but we’re going to retire you now.” He looked at her, calm and cold.
Her heart sped up and she found it impossible to breathe.
Just then the door opened up behind her and a small, frazzled looking man with thick glasses and a sweat ring on his color walked in holding a hard drive.
“Took you long enough!” the squinty-eyed man yelled at him. “Switch it out. And you think there’s anyway you could try to program one that lasts longer than a month?”
“She’s designed to do what she’s programmed to do, not to learn. You want a learning model it’ll cost a lot more. You want a singing, dancing model then make a show that can last a full tour run and she’ll last the run, too,” he said, fiddling with some external attachment with a pair of pliers. He came up to her and gave her kind, sad eyes. “Don’t worry, sweetie- you did a good job,” he said, putting a hand to the back of her neck.
She felt pressure as if a switch was being compressed and then her vision went dark.