The Mountain View squad car kicks up gravel on the driveway at the large Morris Avenue house and comes to a stop behind a white Lexus. Officer Jim Bellows steps out of his black and white patrol car, straightens his hat and the gun belt around his expanding waist and strides to the front door.
He rings the doorbell a few times and waits. Reads his watch: 7:22 a.m. No answer. He pounds the door loudly with his fists. “Mr. Anderson, open up, it’s the police. Your daughter Anne called us. She’s worried about you.” For a moment he stands back, and then he puts his ear to the door. His instincts warn him that silence is not a good sign.
From the edge of the house, he peeks into the back yard. No dog, no outdoor furniture. No activity. Bellows pauses and takes a few deep breaths. The early morning air invigorates him. He moves to the bay window near the entrance, puts his hands to the glass and peers into the living room. He goes back to the front door and knocks louder.
“Mr. Anderson, are you there?” Silence. Bellows pulls out his walkie-talkie. “Dispatch, no answer at the Anderson house. Too quiet. I’m trying the door.” The doorknob turns. “I’m going in.” The house is warm and a slightly unpleasant odor overtakes him. “Better get an ambulance here. I’m in the hallway. Quite a place. So far everything seems in order.”
Carpeting masks the sound of his footsteps as he continues to the bedroom. “Pretty dark in here” he reports. “Something’s humming. The shades are drawn but I can make out a body in the bed. It looks like it’s vibrating … the bed, not the body.” Bellows pulls up the shades and sunlight showers the room. He walks closer, lifts the covers, and feels for signs of life on the bluish body. “White male lying face down. No pulse. Body’s already cold.” He bends over for a closer inspection. “Late sixties or maybe early seventies. Gotta be the father. Wait a sec.” Blonde curls peek out. He spies a woman’s torso. “He’s on top of another body.” Bellows brushes back the hair to feel for the neck pulse. “Holy shit.” He yanks his hand away. “Better get the coroner here and someone to pronounce.”
“The bed is definitely purring.” Bending over, he searches the floor. “I’ll look for the source of the humming. Let’s try to get the body outta here before the daughter arrives.” A remote control for the bed lies on the ground. Bellows switches it off and the noise ceases. “Now I’ve seen everything,” he mutters and walks out of the bedroom.
The ambulance pulls into the driveway, and alongside it a black Honda Accord. The door opens and a visibly upset woman bolts out of the car and pushes past the EMTs.
“Dad?” Puzzled, she looks at the ambulance and runs toward the house, screaming. “Dad, are you alright? Daddy?”
Too late, Bellows thinks as he steps out of the house hat in hand. “Ms. Anderson? I’m Officer Bellows.”
“Did you find my dad? Why is the ambulance here? Is he okay?” Thirtyish, dressed in jeans, no make-up, Anne Anderson is petite with short blonde hair. Her bluish-grey eyes dart about.
“Ms. Anderson, please stop for a moment.” Bellows stands in front of her. He hates this part of the job. Reactions are hard to predict. “I’m afraid your father is dead.”
“What?” Confused, Anne halts. “Dead? Impossible. I talked to him only yesterday.”
“His body is already cold. He’s been gone for a while, and I’ll need you to make a positive identification. Right now we’re waiting for the coroner’s truck to arrive so your father’s body can be removed.”
Anne pushes the officer out of the way. “But I want to see him right now. Can’t I see him?” She breaks through the door and runs down the hall. “Daddy!”
The EMTs wait near the porch. One carries a black medical bag and the other pushes a stretcher. The men glance at each other, and at Bellows, who holds up his hands in a gesture of surrender. As they proceed inside, Bellows shrugs his shoulders and rolls his eyes. “Don’t ask.”
He enters the living room waiting for the scream he knows will come and then joins the EMTs. Bellows takes a deep breath. “I’ll escort her out of there,” he says. “Shut the bedroom door, fellas, and open the windows, will ya?”
Anne rushes from the room. “Who’s … who’s … who’s that with my father?” She is hyperventilating. “That woman? He’s on top of her. Were they having … sex? It looks like they were having sex. Is she dead, too?” She puts her face in her hands and sobs. “I didn’t know he was seeing anyone. He never wanted to date. Do you think he met her on one of those on-line dating sites? Oh, my god, I’m rambling … Oh, Daddy.” She snorts and searches for a tissue. “They’re both dead, aren’t they? Oh, god, is this a double suicide?”
“Why don’t you sit down, Ms. Anderson. You’re in shock.” Bellows gently guides her to a chair. “So that is your father?” Bellows takes a seat across from her. She nods her head as he jots a few notes on small pad he removes from his shirt pocket.
“Of course, it’s my father. But the woman … good god, don’t tell me …”
“Ms. Anderson, try not to jump to conclusions.” Bellows stiffens in his chair. He needs coffee. A drink would be better. “It’s probably not what you’re thinking.” He coughs and tries to mentally formulate answers to questions he knows are coming. Maybe a course in sensitive training might help. Oh, well. He looks at her.
“But who is that woman? Maybe she’s a neighbor. I don’t know his neighbors. Do you know who she is?” Wringing her hands, Anne fidgets in her chair.
“Ms. Anderson, it’s not another body.”
“Not another body? But, she looks like someone I know. I don’t understand.”
Bellows squirms. “Let me think about how to say this.” He pauses and searches for the words. “It’s a Sexbot.”
“A what?” She stares at him and reddens.
“A Sexbot,” he coughs again. “A robot sex doll.”
She jerks upright and spits out each word. “Are you telling me my father died having sex with a robot?” Her mouth dry, her voice rises to a screech. “My father had a fatal heart attack having sex with a robot?”
“I can’t answer that, Ms. Anderson.” Bellows sits immobile. “Only the medical examiner can determine the exact cause of death.”
Holding her arms tight-fisted at her side, Anne Anderson shrieks. She sinks slowly into an armchair, exhausted. After a moment of quiet, she raises her head. “That’s a doll? But, that face…I recognize it. I just can’t place it.” Her expression changes. “Oh no,” she says as her hand covers her mouth. “Of course, I know it … I just can’t believe it … it’s … my mother’s …” She bows her head. “When she was young … from their wedding picture.” Anne surveys the room and points to a black and white framed picture hanging on a wall across from where she sits. She walks over to the photo and removes it and shows it to Bellows, who remains unfazed.
“Oh, god, I’m so embarrassed. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.” She brushes off a layer of dust from the glass. “My mother and father hated each other. They divorced years ago.” The words pour out. “I don’t even want to think what this means. My father’s in there … with a sex doll. It’s not something I could’ve imagined.” Her face is a grimace. “I may need therapy.” She places the picture on her lap. Her eyes are wet as she gazes at Bellows, who maintains his practiced police pose.
“I can’t advise you there, Ms. Anderson. You might see your minister. Church folks have plenty of experience,” he hesitates and coughs again, “with unusual situations.”
“But, Officer Bellows, how am I ever going to explain this to my mother?”
Hamilton resident Jo Sutera is a weaver of fictional stories, plays and poetry. Retired, she finds time to nourish her passion, when not procrastinating. She is published in Zest Magazine and U.S. 1. She belongs to several writing groups in Princeton.