Monday, September 28, 2009

78. Platinum


Platinum Blonde

She was singing in a smoky little dive on Bourbon Street when I first met her. Her third album had just gone platinum. But there wasn't much of a crowd. That's because there was a lot of her to go around.

"Can I buy you a drink?" I asked between sets. She favored me with a cool glance, then shook out that fabulous platinum hair and nodded.

I ordered two aperitif glasses of oil—the good stuff, not the house thirty-weight—and said, "My name's Dan Steel. What's yours, doll?"

"Platinum. We're all named Platinum."

"It's a crying shame they made such a large production run of you. With pipes like those, you should be rich."

She studied me through the thin platinum film over her eyes. "Well, that's the music industry for you. Tell me about yourself, Mr. Steel. What do you do?"

"I work as a riveter. I play a little piano. I collect antique video games. I fall in love with angels."

She threw her head back and laughed, and the light bounced off her platinum skin, and I was lost forever.

That night, I took her back to my place and we made love.

Afterwards, Platinum lay alongside me, naked and shiny and beautiful. "We're a permanent thing now, aren't we?" she said.

"You're fast on the uptake."

"I have platinum contacts."

Platinum is of course a noble metal and thus conducts electricity at a greater speed than do, say, copper or aluminum. Silver and gold wires are only marginally slower. But for maximum efficiency, platinum is best. So of course a CPU with platinum contacts is going to be superior to a silver-contact brain like my own. I put my forehead against hers. I could hear her thoughts sparking away.

She drew away from me, and stared moodily out the window. There was nothing out there but neon and brick and a sad old moon afloat in a sky that was far too big for it. "You're a tough guy," Platinum said. "I'll bet that stainless steel skin of yours is a quarter-inch thick. But platinum's expensive. All I've got is electroplate over tin. Twenty years from now, I'll be all dings and scuff marks. I'll be ugly and you won't be able to bear looking at me!"

She began to cry. Glycerine tears glistened down her cheeks.

I put my arms around her and drew her close. "Baby," I said, "you'll always look like a million to me."

© 2002 by Michael Swanwick and SCIFI.COM.

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