After Frank washed his face and did other human tasks that are required occasionally we sat quietly in the guestroom. I was surprised Frank did not wish to discuss what we had seen. This was unusual for him. I decided to anticipate my master and asked him if he wished for a synopsis of what had transpired or review the photographs I took.
“No, Jack. I think we better wait until we are back at the hotel room.”
Silly me, I should have guessed ahead of Frank’s comment that it would not be wise to discuss what we had just seen. You'd think I was manufactured yesterday. Yes, of course, the room might be monitored by Lutts’s security or maybe even by Lutts himself. Mum's the word then. After about ten minutes Lutts’s GAIC came and fetched us. We proceeded down a number of hallways and then took the elevator up to the surface. An electric cart waited for us and was driven by GAIC to the castle entrance. The GAIC gave us what sounded like a narrative for a group tour telling us about the history of the estate and castle that now belonged to Dr. Lutts.
It was an imposing edifice, built in the late 1700s when castles looked more like palaces. There must have been forty chimneys on the roof. The gardens were well groomed in the French style and in front was a very Italianesque fountain that featured numerous statues of perfect specimens of the human species. It was very heroic looking with lots of water action. It must have taken a 500 horsepower pump to move all that water. I am sure it impressed humans very much as they drove up to Lutts’s domicile. Frank was too busy trying to light a cigarette to be interested in being impressed. Besides he was not easily impressed. Not that he did not appreciate massive works of art, he just was not very demonstrative with the world. Having traveled with him all over the planet I knew he always found time for the local museums like the Louvre or the Galleria degli Uffizi.
Frank barely had a dozen inhales of his cigarette before we pulled up. I could tell he was about to just flick the half smoked cigarette when he thought better of it. He crushed the burning end against his shoe bottom and put it back in his cigarette pack.
“Please follow me, sir,” intoned the posh GAIC. I knew if I answered with a Cockney accent that my master would crack up, but I was not programmed to take such liberties. We walked up a lovely grouping of steps into the main entrance. The door was opened by a livery servant – human, too, and female.
She showed us to a room big enough for a royal assemblage. The only thing missing was a throne. Frank had barely had the time to give the room a once over when the door opened and Lutts entered. He was not alone. With him was a drop dead gorgeous lady that took Frank only a nanosecond to recognize. It did not show on his face, but I could see his vitals visibly changed – at least it is visible to me. I can monitor any human’s heart beat, blood pressure and perspiration rate just be looking at him. And Frank obviously did not expect the Princess Marianne to come through that door with Sir Terrance.
“Mr. Huntington, may I introduce my wife, Marianne.”
“I did not know you were married. Nor you, Princess. Every policeman from Scotland Yard to Interpol is looking for you.”
“She gave Frank a coy smile and said, “I didn’t think I was lost. Some times the police are just as bad as the Paparazzi.”
“Shall we proceed to lunch? This way Mr. Huntington. My dear,” and taking her hand they went to the garden. I and my fellow robot followed the humans to a small pavilion where several butlers were waiting to serve lunch. I am sure Frank found the setting rather posh. I stayed back of Frank on the side. I looked frozen, but I was busy recording the entire luncheon. Frank's standing orders, you know.
Frank kept it to pleasantries until the wine was served. He realized that there was a story here. First off, this was rather a sudden development. Secondly, I am sure Frank remembered that Lutts was a card carrying atheist. In fact, several years ago, he was sued by some born again Christian biologist who had applied to Lutts’s lab and was turned down in the final interview. It was meant to be where Lutts offered the young biologist a position, but after informally chatting about the world Lutts discovered the man was smitten with religious zealotries. Lutts himself told the poor sot that religion and science don’t mix and he didn’t want any employees with mixed and confused notions of reality. It was settled out of court, but still was front page news.
“Princess Marianne, when did you and the doctor get hitched?”
“I was married just two weeks ago. On Tarrance’s yacht the “Mermaid”.
“How long have you known each other?”
Lutts spoke up and answered the question, “Actually we met at the Proms. There was a mix up and we were given the same box. I offered to leave, but the Princess was gracious enough to share it. To thank her I offered her a short trip to Bermuda on the Mermaid and we left before the performance was over.”
“I found Terrance more interesting than Sergei Prokofiev's “Symphony No. 3,” said the princess as she beamed at her new husband.
“How could such opposites attract?” asked Frank.
“What do you mean?” she asked with a quizzical look. “We have so much in common.”
“You have been compared to Mother Theresa for your religious convictions and your husband has been condemned by many of the cloth.”
“Actually, I am now an atheist.”
“How did that happen?”
“While on the Mermaid, Terrance and I had many discussions about religion. I remember arguing fiercely with him. He would show me scripture supporting misogyny and slavery. I would show him other scripture that more than made up for those things with love and forgiveness. It was all very civil, but I refused to admit he was right and Jesus was just an imperfect demagogue. I remember going to bed being quite miffed with him.” Looking at Lutts she said, “You are rather persistent, dear.”
“So what changed your mind?”
“I am not sure. I just remember waking up the next morning and feeling very happy and very unreligious. All of a sudden God just did not matter.”
“Was it what your future husband had said to you the night before?”
“No, not really. It is hard to explain, but I completely lost my urge to pray. All my strong feelings for the Holy Trinity were dead. Gone.”
“Is that when you fell in love with Sir Terrance?”
“No, that happened a few days later. Once you get to know Terrance you realize he is an amazing man. He’s charming. Intelligent. And he truly cares for humankind. He supports a lot of charity work – just not through any religious organizations. And curing cancer has relieved more suffering than any son of god has ever done.”
She squeezed her husband’s hand and then continued, “Once I was free of religion I saw him in an entirely new light. Lucky for me he fell in love with me just as fast as I did. I can’t imagine what my friends will say when they find out.”
“How come you have not made this public?”
“Actually, we just wanted to enjoy our honeymoon without every damn photographer shoving their cameras in our faces.”
“I can understand that. A couple of times some of my fellow reporters have tried to interview me on their television channels or on radio and I always decline. I prefer the anonymity of reporting and not being reported. But Princess, come on, your wallflower act is not in keeping with your public relations history. Most of the time I think you keep your publicist very busy.”
“I seem to have shed that trait as well, Mr. Huntington. I just don’t feel the need. Maybe it is just a temporary thing, but right now I am enjoying my husband – both in and out of bed.”
“Sir Terrance, did you think you were going to marry someone like Princess Marianne?”
“Not the one we all knew in the papers. I found her rather sanctimonious and needy. Sorry dear, but it was true. As far as this country goes, you were seen as more religious than the Pope.”
She gave out an honest laugh, and at the same time color came to her cheeks. “A month ago I would have slapped you, but that persona has left the building.”
“It sounds like your new found atheism was more emotional than intellectual?”
“Yes, that is what is strange. From what I have read (and I have been reading a lot of atheist authors in our library in the castle and online) it seems to start on an intellectual level for most people who give up God, Jesus and the blessed Mary. I would find praying very tedious now, not to mention a high mass. My turn now, Mr. Huntington. When did you give up God?”
“College. I was hot on a girl in one of my journalism classes. She insisted on having long conversations about life, the Universe, and Carl Sagan. Her forcing me to confront religion with skepticism was the most lasting gift she gave me. Skepticism has served me well. It freed me from many logical fallacies and it helped me to be a better reporter.”
“Do you ever still have religious yearnings?” asked Lutts to Frank.
“Yes, there are moments when I have felt those emotional pangs. I try to ignore them. I just put it down as coming from my paleopallium. I figure that is the time to have a drink. Princess, what are your long term goals now that you have given up becoming a saint?”
“I guess that makes me a sinner like everyone else in the world. I don’t know. My work with children still appeals to me, but I also now see how religion has really messed up the world. The war in Africa is a prime example where Christianity and Islam are killing people of all ages. Sad to say, most of them would not do such horrible acts if they were not motivated by the promise of a heavenly reward. I would like to help find a way for more to become free of religion.”
“Good luck with that. Most prophets of freedom end up being killed as heretics. While I don’t hide my atheism, I don’t wear it on my sleeve. “
“You should wear it like a medal,” Lutts said rather firmly.
“If I was as rich as you, I would, but us mere minions [but we who are mere minions] do need to eat and in my case drink. Doctor, do you share your new wife’s quest to end religion?”
“I will support all her endeavors. She will be my conscience. My Jiminy Cricket.”
“Did you know that Jiminy Cricket originated in the 1930s as a euphemism for saying Jesus Christ in vain?”
“Seriously?” Marianne started to giggle a little, “I am always amazed at all the euphemisms for swearing. The funniest was frack from ‘Battlestar Galactica’.”
“I wonder what would happen to the profanity “God damn it” if religion died? Lutts said quietly looking at his empty plate. “Oh well, it is time to have dessert, Mr. Huntington. Time to show off one of my harmless inventions in the process. We will need to go to my personal planetarium because we will need darkness.”
With that curious comment the humans all got up and everyone, man and machine, followed Mr. Lutts. We went up a beautiful marble winding stairway and entered a planetarium with lots of shiny brass work and a large Zeiss-Jena Universal Projection Planetarium Type 23/6. Plush red velvet chairs were distributed around the room. Over on the north side was a black table and more plush red velvet chairs around it. Lutts led the group over there and told the butler to serve after the lights went out. Slowly the lights dimmed and out came the night sky. The moon was in its first phase and the Milky Way shone across the dome. Three butlers came in and set down three silver covered goblets and spoons. When Frank lifted off the lid he immediately said, “Whoa! How cool. It glows.”
In the goblet were four perfectly round scoops of ice cream. Each glowed brightly in a different color – red, green, blue and yellow. I think Frank was a little hesitant to taste it, but after seeing both his hosts start in he gingerly took a small spoonful of the red ice cream.
“Cherry. Is it natural flavoring or is the flavoring also one of your inventions? It is so intense a taste,” Frank asked now showing red glowing teeth. When Lutts started talking Frank noticed his mouth glowed like some nuclear reactor core.
“I always get a chuckle seeing how people react to my confection. Yes, the flavors are natural, but the coloring is one of my biotech inventions. Originally, each color was used to help determine if certain genes were turned on, but I realized it could also be used in milk production. I have a special herd of 24 cows that make glow-in-the-dark milk. I assure you it is all perfectly harmless, but I must warn you that you might be surprised the next time you go to the bathroom in the dark. Your urine will be like those tracer projectiles. As a man, you will probably enjoy it more than my wife.”
With that all the humans roared with laughter.
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