“2.0” by K.A. Polzin

Handshake by K.A. Polzin

The CEO of Altrutek would spend most of his days in meetings—some IRL, some via telepresence. Often big clients wanted (or is it needed?) to meet him in person, shake his hand, before they’d cut the deal. It’s atavistic: when you shake hands, you either get a trustworthy, sign-the-papers feeling, or you don’t.

Thing is, the CEO couldn’t be everywhere he was wanted/needed. That’s where I came in. I auditioned like everyone else, was one of the last three candidates due to looking very much like the CEO, but I took to instruction the best, so I got the role. I played the CEO when he couldn’t be in two places simultaneously, or just preferred not to. Maybe he had his kid’s taekwondo match and couldn’t fly to Delhi. So I’d go. 

They trained me up, taught me how to alpha. Posture, voice, aspect. Then they gave me all the accouterments. Even I was impressed with myself afterward. 

I flew first class, drank the good stuff, got my ass kissed. And I really took to the part, closed all my deals. The suits really liked me, and I started to like them. Being from a theater background, I wasn’t as prone to the insensitivity and misogyny of CEO 1.0, so I forged more alliances, such that I was told profits were up at Altrutek, higher than with 1.0 alone. 

So they dry-docked 1.0, and now I play him about 90 percent of the time. They still bring him out for company events where families are present—people who might notice a small physical difference. But I’m the preferred version—I do most of the hand-shaking/deal-making. 

A few months after the phaseout, he called me, asked could I go to his kid’s play, stand in the back. If you leave before the end, he said, they won’t notice the difference. 

What will you be doing, I asked. 

Nothing, he said.


K. A. Polzin is a California-raised writer and cartoonist whose stories have appeared (or are forthcoming) in EVENT Magazine, Lunch Ticket, Oyster River Pages, and Natural Bridge, and whose short humor and cartoons have appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The American Bystander, Narrative magazine, Electric Literature, and Hobart.