Sylvester was deeply engrossed, fusing two wires together, when there suddenly came a thunderous banging upon the workshop door.
Setting down the soldering iron, he caught a glimpse of his reflection in the polished metal chassis. The doctors had promised him he'd grow accustomed to his reconstructed face, but sometimes he felt like a Mr. Potato Head toy whose features had been affixed by an impatient, blind child. He threw a sheet over the pile of circuitry and wiring.
Melissa, Alex, and Kiki came spilling in with the sunlight. They were dressed in their typical garish ensembles: wraparound dresses fashioned from scrap leather, cotton-paper crop tops, oversized cable-knit jumpers in appalling shades of bruise purple and baby-shit yellow.
"What is that dreadful noise?" inquired Alex, planting a peck on his cheek as she scurried about the room.
"It's Sigue Sigue Sputnik," he answered. "We were on Top of the Pops together in 1985."
"Would it kill you to listen to music made in this century?" asked Melissa with raised eyebrows, "or to simply make some more of your own?" She ran her fingers along one of the many keyboards, scrutinizing the dust she accumulated for effect.
"Nobody wants to hear another record from me," sighed Sylvester. "Even prior to the accident, I was a has-been."
"That is a dirty lie," quipped Kiki. "I loved 'Oppenheimer Cha-Cha' when I was a wee lass." She began leaping about, flailing her arms, and singing "10-9-8-7/Sayonara, Nagasaki. . . ." The other two joined in; Sylvester clasped his ears with his hands until the shrieking subsided.
"God, don't you harpies ever get tired?"
"No, never," grinned Alex. "In fact, that's why we're here: We're going out of town for a few days to serve as curators at a big Munich installation." Sylvester realized all three were looking at him like he was a wounded bird.
"Don't worry," he said. "I'm totally preoccupied with a new project; I'll be so busy I won't have time to get lonely." With that assurance, the young ladies smothered him in a flush of hugs and kisses, and hurried home to pack.
But the truth was, even when the girls were in town (which wasn't often now that they'd been written up in ARTFORUM), Sylvester did get lonely. That was why he had decided to build the robot.
Alas, Sylvester's plans went awry as soon as his handiwork was completed. It wasn't that the robot didn't operate properly. Au contraire, it worked far too well, particularly the untested Empathy Emulation software. The robot wanted to cheer its creator every waking moment. It hopped about in an awkward approximation of human dancing, sang all his favorite new wave hits, and recorded his most inane mutterings for future playback. If Sylvester attempted to leave the house (or hit the OFF switch), it would immobilize him with a bear hug.
Worst of all, the robot wouldn't let its master sleep. When he laid down to retire, the misguided automaton mistook his actions for depression and would crank up the stereo. Finally, after several days, Sylvester collapsed on the floor from utter exhaustion. The robot tickled him vigorously to revive him, to no avail. Sylvester was dead.
The robot couldn't believe its misfortune. Its sole function was negated. There was no reason to remain in Sylvester's dingy abode any longer, yet the errant creation wanted to take something of its master to remember him by. At that moment, it spied the gold record of "Oppenheimer Cha-Cha" hanging on the wall and knew what it must do.
It took hours and hours of work, but the task was just completed when the robot heard a commotion coming up the workshop path. Scared the authorities would discover its crime, the misguided machine took one last look at its beloved, fallen master, then crawled out a window and disappeared into the night.
Melissa, Alex, and Kiki found Sylvester's body where the robot had left it, slumped in a chair. All the keyboards and drum machines were on, and a sound-editing program was running on the computer. After ascertaining that their friend was, sadly, dead, they began scouring the workshop for anything that Sylvester might not want prying eyes to find—which was how Alex discovered the unmarked CD lying by the window.
The minute they heard the adenoidal voice chanting "10-9-8-7," the girls realized what Sylvester had been working on in secret: a comeback album (or so they believed). At first they listened quietly, but, as was their nature, the trio couldn't sit still for long. This music, bubbling with octave bass lines and jittering synthesizers, was catchier than Visage, Kim Wilde, Bronski Beat, and all the other '80s acts Sylvester had rubbed padded shoulders with. And the girls would make sure the rest of the world heard it.
The new CD Monsters Rule This World by Sylvester Boy is out now on Chicksonspeed Records.