Friday, September 4, 2009

the sixteenth letter, part 19

for previous episode, click here

to begin at the beginning click here

after pinky returned from the little store with their drinks and got back in the rear of the van, country girl drove for a while in silence as sally sipped from her can.

"you know, you are really mysterious," country girl finally said.
"not to me", sally answered.
country girl laughed. "so? nobody is mysterious to themselves, are they?"
"some people might be."
"oh? are you one of them?"
"there you go. i think you are very mysterious."

sally looked out the window. "why?" she finally asked as country girl kept glancing at her expecting an answer.
"ok, here's the thing. first you get arrested, i mean, you were arrested, right?"
"how many troopers arrested you? a battalion?"
"no, just two. a human and a robot, like you and him."
"i'm a little surprised by that. but what were you arrested for?"
"it was a misunderstanding." sally looked out the window again. the streets seemed to be getting narrower.

"forget i asked that. but then they bring you where? to that place we just came from?"
"but it isn't even an official place. we needed special directions just to find it. it must be a special place where they bring important people."

sally shrugged. "i'm not important. it was a misunderstanding. that was the misunderstanding, that i was important. "
country girl considered her next answer. "i don't think so. you know why? because if you were nobody, nobody would care. they'd just send you on to jupiter with all other slobs that got picked up in the sweeps."
"i don't know anything about that."

"ok, but here's the really weird thing, the thing that gets me. not only do they let you go - which never never happens - " she laughed. " but when they bring you back, there is nobody to meet you. you get the big arrest, you get let go, but then you aren't important enough for somebody to come pick you up? it gets left to me and pinky - "

suddenly pinky started banging on the partition separating him from the cab. "this is very improper!" he opened the small grill and shouted through it. '"this conversation you are having with the prisoner is very improper!"
"she's not a prisoner, ok? not a prisoner! she's a guest, a citizen, we are escorting her home." country girl paused to check the streets outside. "i was just having a nice conversation with her."

"the conversation was not nice at all! it was filled with the most unwarranted and unauthorized speculation, with potential breaches of security too numerous to mention."
"are you comfortable back there?" country girl asked.
"yes i am quite comfortable physically. not so comfortable - "
"good. then just relax and leave the driving to me."
the robot became silent. he left the grill open.
"where were we?" country girl asked sally.

"is this the quickest way to level 15?" sally asked. "none of this looks familiar."
"are you in a hurry?" country girl answered. "i thought you might like to drive around a bit."
"drive around? i want to go home and go to bed."
"but it's early. you know, even with all the crackdowns, there are still places you can go at night."
"i want to go to my apartment. i haven't been there now for about twenty four hours."

"you poor thing. did they arrest you last night?"
"no but i stayed at the station all night, waiting for some detectives who never showed up. then i went to work in the morning."
"huh. and they arrested you at work?"
pinky started banging on the partition again. "you should not be discussing police matters!"

"it's just stuff that happened to her!" country girl shouted back. " i'm not telling her anything she doesn't know. so shut up!"
sally looked out the window again. they were well off the main roads in some run down streets. "if it's upsetting him so much, why don't you just drop it? where are we anyway?"

"yes!" pinky shouted even louder than before. "where are we going? why are we off the main roads? this behavior is totally irresponsible!"
"leaping lizards," country girl muttered. she slowed the van down and pulled over.

a few ragamuffins and a couple of larger surly looking individuals slouching in front of a small graffiti adorned store watched silently as she got out of the cab.
"stay here," she told sally. "don't get out."
pinky leaped out of the back of the van and met her as she came around the side.
"why are we stopped?" pinky demanded. "what is going on here? "

" all i'm doing is talking to a person who is not even a prisoner. and you are making a big deal out of nothing with your stupid banging. who's the corporal here, me or you?"
"you are a bad trooper, un mauvais sujet!"
a couple of the ragamuffins came over to the van and stared up at sally in the passenger seat. she shifted over to the driver seat.

"i don't want to have to report you," country girl told pinky.
a little bit of a crowd had begun to gather.
"ha! you report me? it is i who am going to report you."
"come on, sib, relax. report me for what?"
" for inciting a citizen to improper behavior - for sneering reference to legitimate law enforcement - for discussing police matters - that is only for starters. and i object to the familiar term "sib".
"it's still legal."
"still legal! as law enforcement officers we should be beyond that - we should be setting good examples."
country girl took a step toward pinky. "i tell you what - you set a good example to robots and i'll worry about setting a good example to humans, how's that?"

a few of the humans on the sidewalk laughed at this.
pinky took a step back. "so - your reveal yourself at last, traitress! this is flagrant anti-robotism! i arrest you! i make an extraordinary arrest. do you understand?"
country girl shrugged. "fine. do what you got to do. we'll take her home, go back to the dispatch office and get this straightened out." she looked over at a group gathering on the opposite side of the street. there were now people on both sides of the van. "let's just get out of here."

pinky seemed a little confused by her change of tone. "none of your tricks upon travelers, now." he took a step towards her and the cab. "i think i should drive."
"um - it's customary for the human to drive."
"only so that the robot's superior strength can be deployed more swiftly. i think this situation overrides that."
"whatever." country girl stepped aside to let him pass.
"the ignition code is 4y78j, right?"
"you've seen me punch it in enough times."
sally opened the drivers side door and got out to let pinky get in.

as soon as pinky was past country girl she leaped on his back. she wrapped one arm around his mouth and with the other hand fumbled in the lower part of his back for a small compartment containing a switch.
pinky stumbled against the open door as sally scrambled aside.

"help me!' country girl shouted to sally. "kick him in the leg!"
sally moved back behind the door.
pinky tried to wheel around, hit the door again, lost his balance and fell face down on the ground with country girl on his back. she found the switch and flipped it.

pinky lay still. country girl, wheezing slightly, stood up.

a ragamuffin crossed the street and looked down at pinky.
"he's dead. you murdalized him. you murdalized your own partner."

the sixteenth letter, part 20

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