The hard life of a 2020's entrepreneur.
Yet again, I didn't hear the alarm.
I threw myself out of bed, shrieking like a banshee caught naked in the shower. I was late for the most important job of the day; fully aware of the reality that the plausibility of my justifications had been running drier than my bank account.
"Jenny? Is breakfast ready?"I snarled, flinging open the wardrobe. Shirt; suit; shoes; necktie: all equipment check. I put everything on with the hastiness of an NBC soldier wearing a radiation suit after Defcon 1.
"Of course, dearie. Home made croissants, organic juice and your coffee, brewed to perfection!"
I rushed to the table, wolfing down the breakfast without even looking at my dearest partner's pretty face. Not that I had to. I knew Jenny would always look stunning as the they she came to my home. And if I ever grew tired of her looks, all I had to do was to change them.
With a bellyful of calories in my stomach to keep my boiler burning for the rest of the day, I scrambled out of the apartment, reached the elevator and shouted for the first floor, pronto.
As the doors were closing, my phone rumbled. I fished it out of the suit and checked whoever the hell could have had the great idea to make me waste two precious nanoseconds just for their message.
Good day, Honey!
I smiled. My dearest Jenny. Always there for me. I thought I should give her a well deserved upgrade, one day.
"Ground floor" creaked the elevator speaker in a British accent faker than a Rolls Royce made in China. Well, at least compared to the times when there was still a thing called British Britain.
I rushed to the street. The car was already there. I threw myself in the back seat and barked "C'mon Alfred. Chop chop! I'm already late."
"Of course, Sir. But please be warned we might encounter some traffic inconvenience on the main street."
"Then take another route, bloody clanker!"
"Very well, Sir."
The car picked up pace right as I was hand-picking in my mind some insults to throw at those poor suckers who still couldn't afford a self-driving car and always ended up clugging the city's arteries with their 2010s' junk.
I typed a string of numbers on the phone and waited for a reply, drumming my fingers in a falsetto of anxiety.
"Yes, Mr. Marlowe? How can I be of service?" jingled a voice from the speaker.
"Nadeshiko. I'm coming up to the office as we speak. I want that production report on my desk when I arrive, capiche?"
"It'll be my pleasure, Mr. Marlowe."
The car sailed through the city and reached the company's skyscraper. I threw a glance at my watch and phewed in relief: right on time.
"Have a good day, Sir" said Alfred.
"Yeah, Yeah. See ya" I answered, irritated by the umpteenth attempt from that pile of bolts to establish some "Master-Servant" kinda human relationship. But, at least, I knew I had to be thankful he would have never asked for a tip as a human drivers used to do.
I entered the building and made for the safety of the elevator as a choir of "Good Morning, Mr. Marlowe" followed my passage like the trail of a dress. I twitched my head in a series of nods, hating every and each moment of it.
The elevator dinged the sixtieth floor and I scrambled for the office door. Finally, I was there.
"Good morning, Mr. Marlowe. The production report you requested is on your terminal and at your disposal."
"Good morning, Nadeshiko. Did anybody call?" I asked, freeing myself from the grip of the tie around my neck.
"Only your father, Sir."
"Oh. And what's the great old man's will, this time?"
"He wished to inquire about your whereabouts, as it seems you didn't attend his birthday, last night. And he says he is very, very displeased with your conduct."
I felt wounded by those words. Each and every birthday of the old man was a year nearer to the big prize. I just had a different way of celebrating them. "Oh-- you know-- I was attending an important business meeting, with very, very knowledgeable entrepreneurs."
"Your father wishes me to report he was expecting this kind of reply, and tasked me to communicate that, as long as your business in the red district of this fine town doesn't cease, your bank account will stay in the red."
I rolled my eyes. There wasn't much difference between a whore and a businessman, to be honest. Both were just experts in trading valuable commodities: the former their own body, the latter their soul. "Of course, of course. Now, let's get to work, shall we?"
I threw myself on the armchair and stared at the computer, trying to make sense of the platoons of numbers and letters on review on the screen. As expected, I didn't understand a damn thing. Despite being written in English, the report looked to me like the bizarre result of a threesome between Chinese, Aramaic and ancient Nahuatl.
"Oh fuck--" I murmured. Panic followed the realization I could've at least been able to decipher the first paragraph, had I been less friendly to girls and more to textbooks in college. Money can only fill a professor's pocket, but not a student's head.
"Say—Nadeshiko. Wouldn't you help me with all this paperwork?"
"It would be my pleasure, Mr. Marlowe."
I put my legs on the desk, closed my eyes and started counting. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven.
"All done, Mr. Marlowe. All is on your terminal, to read at your discretion.
I smirked: she was getting slow. Just a year before she used to do it in only five. Maybe, I concluded, Nadeshiko too was in dire need of an upgrade. But it didn't truly matter. A task executed in just seven seconds, still saved my own neck from execution.
"Thank you, Nadeshiko. Now I need to-- ponder on our next marketing strategies. Could you please take care of the rest?"
"With pleasure, Mr. Marlowe."
I leant back on the chair and relaxed my muscles, still aching from the tension of the day.
"Artificial Intelligence. Now that's some real progress!"