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The Tinkered Mind

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April 2nd, 2023

A beautiful woman sat down across from Lucilius.


“Sorry I’m late. I mean” Her brow furrowed for a second. “No I’m not sorry, it wasn’t my fault, the taxi - uh never mind.”



She settled herself and scooted her chair forward toward the tableclothed table and smiled extra wide.


“Totally ok,” Lucilius said.


“Her necklace is an Algerian Knot,” spoke an earpiece Lucilius was wearing. A couple months prior he had trained a language model on his own writing and correspondence and turned the model into a semi-sentient companion which was now speaking to him through an earpiece and monitoring the situation through a camera that Lucilius had painstakingly embedded into a pair of eyeglasses he was slightly uncomfortable wearing. To Lucilius’ surprise the language model had itself set up this date, but it was already proving useful. Lucilius recognized the knot but he’d forgotten the name.


“Beautiful necklace,” Lucilius said. “Algerian knot?”


“Yea!” The woman said, her hand instantly rising to touch the piece of jewelry just below her neck.


“Gift from an ex-lover you’ll be betray me over?”


“What?” The woman said, concern flooding her face.


“Sorry, never mind, bad joke,” Lucilius said.


“Ohhh right, Casino Royale,” the woman said. “Don’t worry, my name isn’t Vesper, but a Vesper does sound good right now.”


The two ordered Vespers and when the two finally clinked martini glasses the couple was smiling and laughing.


“Bring up your time when you were a bosun, women love that kind of hands-on stuff, and then lead that into the storm off cape Mendocino when you helmed the ship in the middle of the night.”


Lucilius took the suggestion and gently lead the conversation into the story. The beautiful woman opposite him grew more enthralled as he recounted his adventure. The mounting wind. Reefing the sails earlier in the day. The moment when the ship almost broached during someone else’s watch. Her eyes grew wide and thoughtful while the language model speaking through the earpiece fed details to Lucilius that he himself had forgotten.


“The dim golden glow of the compass wavering in the binnacle…”


“The vaulting stars swaying in the cloudless wind-filled night..…”


“The distant lights of land…”


“Ok, if you continue, you’ll be talking about yourself too much, time to ask her some questions.”


Aside from his own voice speaking hints and tips into his ear, Lucilius felt like he was having one of the most magical evenings he’d had in many years.


“So you and your sister are close?” Lucilius asked.


“Oh god yes -“ the woman said, but she suddenly stopped, looking concerned.


“Are you ok?” Lucilius said. 


The woman’s expression deflated as she looked off at a high corner.


“This is so embarrassing to admit,” she said.


“What’s the matter?”


Then she slowly and deliberately raised a hand and with two fingers picked at her ear until she’d extracted a tiny ear piece.


“I’m so sorry,” she said. “So there’s this new AI service that feeds you lines to say during a first date, and I don’t know.. I’ve had such bad luck the last little while that I decided to try it, but to be honest it’s saying the dumbest things, and it’s really getting in the way of listening to your incredible stories, and everything that I want to say in response…and… I know we don’t really know each other that well, but I think I really like you and I just want to be my authentic self right now” She paused. “I hope you don’t think less of me?”

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