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The Conversationalist

After a long puff, Max butted out the cigarette in the clean ashtray. He sat there at the table, looking at the man sitting across from him. The man was cold and efficient, like an automaton, hands clasped on the table before him.

"So Mr. Cube, what else do you have to say?" the automaton asked.

Max drummed his fingers on the oak table; he could feel that it was real wood and he liked the touch of it. He reached over to the pack of cigarettes to his left, which caused Mr. Automaton to frown more. "Smoking does kill you," it said.

"I know," Max said. "Same with crossing the street."