By Jeff Baker
The evening was cool and starry, the grass soft and the blanket spread on the ground was warm as Bryan kissed Nico under the lighted canopy.
“I could do this forever,” Nico said, in-between kisses and breaths.
“Yeah,” Bryan said. “Me, too.” But after a few minutes the two of them lay down on their backs, listened to the crickets and watched some of the other couples walking around the gardens, some holding hands, some kissing, many of them passing couples kissing or making out on blankets on the ground. Some of the couples were male, some female some mixed.
“You know, I don’t even remember how this weekend started,” Nico said. “I don’t even know how I could afford to come to a place like this.”
“I remember,” Bryan said. “The acclimation thing didn’t work on me all the way. Sometimes it doesn’t.”
Nico sat up on his elbows.
“Wait, what ‘acclimation thing?’”
“Programming,” Bryan said. “They hooked you up to an, an encephalic mind thingie. Programmed you,” he said flatly. “Me too.”
“Programmed?” Nico asked. Bryan nodded.
“We’re supposed to believe that this is really us, that this is how we really feel. It’s the programming. We were programmed to fall in love and get romantic and physical and, and, oh, God you have nice legs!”
Bryan started rubbing Nico’s leg, and playfully stuck a thumb under Nico’s shorts.
“Programming,” Nico said as he rubbed Bryan’s chest. “Like robots? Oh, God, we’re not robots are we?”
Nico had a flash of an old black-and-white TV show where a character had discovered they weren’t human.
“No,” Bryan said, in between kisses. “We’re not robots.” After a few more minutes of kissing, Nico pulled away and stared up at the sky.
“But who did this to us?” Nico asked. “Who messed with our minds and our emotions and played with us like we’re, we’re…”
“You did!” Bryan said. “We both signed up for this. We were hired.”
“Hired?” Nico asked.
“Yeah,” Bryan said, nuzzling Nico’s neck. “People pay a lot to come to this romantic resort. We’re hired to add atmosphere. They pay us pretty well. But we always stop just short of, well, doing what the customers do when they get back to their rooms.”
Nico stopped. He didn’t really remember anything about yesterday evening after they’d spent the day making out.
“You sure know a lot about this setup,” Nico said.
“I’ve done this a couple of times before,” Bryan said.
“Hey, what happens to us when this weekend’s over?”
“Well, we get our credit receipt for our,” Bryan started to say.
“No, no,” Nico said, rolling over on top of Bryan so he was staring down at his face. “I mean us. You and me. When this is all done? I mean, do we forget this or, or…”
“No we remember,” Bryan said. “I’m not sure about our feelings.”
“So, do you want to go out for, you know, coffee when this is all over?” Nico said.
Bryan grinned and kissed him again. “It’s a date!”
Over by the small Koi pond the couple in evening clothes pressed together.
“You were right about this weekend,” she said. “Look at those guys on the blanket. Acting like teenagers.”
“Maybe we should too,” he said as he smiled and gave her a long kiss that spoke of wondrous evenings and a vast expanse of starry, starry sky.