Joey Sturm said she lived in Guam, but Doug Dressler said she was a robot, and didn't live anywhere. We debated the merits of each case between sips of orange pop, which we'd have preferred to drink out of cans, but which Mrs. Sturm had forced us to pour into oversized plastic cups, so big they almost required two hands to hold. Dress made a convincing point: When the voice said, "three," which it said in nearly every broadcast, it always came at the same pitch, and sounded vaguely like a question. Actually, it reminded us a lot of our principal, a proud ex-nun who never believed you. She'd listen to your story and then crush the curls of her hairdo with one wiry hand, crooning "Really," until either she lost interest or you admitted you were a liar. "Really." That's what the "three" sounded like. Every time. The other numbers were also consistent; the commanding "five," the flirty "eight." It was just the order of them that changed, never the pitch. We'd been tracking them since Thursday night. It looked like Dress was right; she was a machine. But then Joey impressed us all.
"Wait a sec. She has a British accent. Robots don't have accents."
And so it was agreed. Cherry Ripe was a real woman. And we were in love with her.
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