Saturday, March 29, 2014

I 01001100 01101111 01110110 01100101 You (#3)

“So she really said she was jealous?”

“Yep.” Jefferson shifted in his chair as he maneuvered Luigi around a corner with a red shell hot on his tail.

“What do you think that means?”

Jefferson growled as the first of three balloons popped. “It means she wants to meet you.”

Jefferson cheered as he activated the star power just as he crashed into Albro’s Mario.

“Why would she want to do that?”

“The mind of a woman is mysterious my friend, but I would guess it’s because of the robot.”


“Right… right… robot is German for…” Jefferson tossed his hat on the ground and cursed under his breath as a stray green shell took a second balloon.

“Czech. It’s Czech for… aaagghhh!” Mario had just shrunken in size and been run over.

“She’s working today if you want to run over and talk to her.”

Jefferson dropped his controller as the third and final balloon popped because of a banana peel and thirty seconds later Albro did the same when he was knocked out by another red shell.

“Why did we let him play?” Jefferson motioned towards T1N who held the third controller and then to the Bowser character on the screen who was celebrating wildly. “Doesn’t that break one of Asimov’s Rules for Robots or something?”

“Let him have it. It’s not wise to upset a droid.”

“But nobody worries about upsetting an EPS Driver?”

“That’s because most of them are out delivering packages.”

“I’m gonna let you in on a trade secret my man. Except during Christmas, it takes me half an hour to unload my truck; it’s all in how you plan your route and what I like to call ‘Drive-by Delivery’.”

“You’re an example to delivery driver’s everywhere.”

“Thank you.”

The room fell silent as Albro set up the next Mario Cart match.

“So… she said she was jealous?”



“You know, Gronk looks like he’s got a bad motivator.” Gronk. “Probably needs a replacement.” Gronk. Gronk. Gronk.

“Gronk doesn’t use motivators… oh!”

Jefferson turned to T1N and mimed whispering a secret. “Little slow on the subtext.”

“I guess I could have T1N pick up some magnet wire.”

“Why send a bot on a man’s quest? Stand up and let us abscond to the Lectronic Shoppe!”

“You know, I’ve got a lot of work to do. I should really get to work on all that.” Albro got up and went into his office.

“What just happened?”

T1N shrugged.

*                                  *                                  *

“Dave, I need you to work with me here.”


“You’re really going to be a stick-in-the-mud about this?”


“Where you at?”

“Out at the Duty Free,” the radio crackled back.

“I’m at the berry farm on Loomis. How about the first one there gets the pick up?”


“Dave?” No response. “Dave?” Jefferson hung his head for a brief moment. “Dave I’m calling in my 

The radio sat silent.

“You’re really calling it in for this?”

“It’s important.”


Jefferson threw the truck into drive and was soon back in city limits, stopped at the Guide Meridian waiting to race down Main St. Lost in thought he almost missed seeing her. The sleek white and blue sedan waited its turn at the light heading south. Her red hair was pulled back in a bun and her tinted glasses hid her beautiful green eyes.

“181WSP,” Jefferson said in a reverent tone. Moving on its own Jefferson’s hand gave a quick wave.
As she passed she gave a wave of her fingers.

The EPS truck stood still through two cycles of the light before it finally crossed the highway and made its way into town.

“Where’s Dave?” The very large man who blocked the backdoor into the Lectronic Shoppe eyed Jefferson up and down.

“His spastic colon was acting up again.”

“Huh. Well, we’ve got some stuff for you.”

“Thanks.” The garage door rolled up and Jefferson made quick work of loading up all the packages.

“Hey, Gwen.”

“Hey… you. Seen the Tin Man recently?”

“Just saw him this morning. He said he’s been really busy lately, work and all that.”


Jefferson signed for the pick-ups. He saw a brochure for the outdoor cinema in town and an idea came to him. “Actually, he said he was excited to go to the movie on Friday.”

“Really?” Gwen looked at the brochure. “He’s excited to go see Flicka?”

“Well, who doesn’t like…” Now Jefferson quickly scanned the brochure. “…the story of a free-spirited young girl and her equally spirited horse. I think he’s more excited to just get out. Hey! You should come. It’d be a chance to see the Tin Man in the flesh and in person.”

“Uhhmm… maybe. Friday’s I work late, so I’d be coming by after it’s started… if I’m feeling up to it.”

“Of course… no worries… ain’t no thing… say no more… say no more.”

“Don’t you have to have those packages back by 5,” the mountain of a man from the back asked.

“Look at the time! My momma said I was born on time and I’ve been running late ever since. I will see you and you later.”

As soon as the back door closed the man turned to Gwen. “You aren’t honestly thinking of going Friday are you?”

“Maybe Uncle Sam. What girl doesn’t like a movie about horses?”

Uncle Sam snorted and rolled his eyes.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

I 01001100 01101111 01110110 01100101 You (#2)

The black and red van led the convoy, with the two delivery trucks closely behind. Past 22nd St and the old hollowed out grocery store, past 17th and the Dutch themed strip mall, rolling by 15th and 14th before turning onto BC St (not 13th); because people are a superstitious lot in a town with enough churches to attend to the souls of twice the town’s population.

The three vehicles pulled over to the curb and the three drivers stepped onto the immaculately cared for lawn.

“Time to man up Jefferson,” said the very masculine woman standing next to Jefferson. Her storied past included stints in the United States Marine Corp and head cook at Vegas buffet line – I’m not sure which makes her more scary.

“I told you, I’m in like Flynn. Just let me go around to the back, I don’t want to overwhelm him with you guys… gals… people.”

You've got five minutes,” said the other driver, his square jaw setting of his permanent scowl nicely.

“Dave… It’s me,” Jefferson said as he set off around the corner.

Jefferson came up to a tall fence, cutting off his advance. Cursing to himself he did the only obvious thing and started to climb. Three falls and torn pant leg later he was over and in the backyard.

He walked to the sliding door I remembered looked into the living/movie room and looked inside. The giant TV beamed brightly and Ito and Gronk were watching intently; Bruce Willis was just walking across a floor of shattered glass barefoot. Jefferson rapped on the window.

Ito came near the door but stopped when a white and black robot, about average height and build, stepped up to the door. It had a head like a motorcycle helmet, a black visor making up its face with no obvious eyes, nose, or mouth. The rest of the robot was amazingly human like.

“You must be T1N. I’m Jefferson. I’m sure Al told you all about me. Could you let me in?”

T1N stood still for a moment and then drew the blackout drapes.

“Well that’s rude.”

“Marcus! That’s five minutes! We’re rolling,” Dave yelled from the front yard.

“Just a minute,” Jefferson yelled back. He looked back at the door and in a much lower voice said, “I talked to Gwen yesterday.”

The curtain opened a crack, T1N still holding it. “I talked Dave into letting me do the pickups and I mentioned I’d met you.”

The curtain moved aside and T1N opened the sliding door. With the tip of his head he invited Jefferson into the house. “I have to do one thing first.”

The front door opened, surprising the two ESP drivers leaning against the delivery van. “My man’s indisposed at the moment, but could I introduce you to the boys?”

Jefferson stepped aside, Ito and Gronk came out onto the stoop. Gronk.

“What the heck is going on!”

Jefferson turned to see Albro step out into the hallway in just a towel, still wet from the shower.

“Al, introduce yourself to Dave and Celeste.”

“Get out!” Albro made a shooing motion with his free hand, the other clutching his town closed. “How did you get in?”

“Which do you want me to do first, because if I leave first I can’t answer your question.”

“I want you to leave! T1N…” Albro looked the automaton to escort the trespassing delivery driver.

“I talked to Gwen yesterday.”

Both Jefferson and Albro stared at T1N.

“You just… He just… He just used my voice to talk.”

“He just used a recording. You talked to Gwen?!”

“One second.” Jefferson turned back towards the street. “Guys… people. This is going to be a little bit. We’ll settle up back at the barn, m’kay.” He then closed the door.

“I talked to Gwen yesterday, just to feel her out. Some, reconnaissance, you know.”

“Why would you do that?”

“It’s what friend do.”

“We’re not friends! You’re a trespasser and a crazy person!”

“I planned to tell you more gently so we’d avoid these hysterics. Gronk, get Al a gin and tonic.  Gronk?”

“They’re outside aren’t they?” Albro looked at T1N, “I’ll activate the remote shut down while you go and get them. They’re probably heading for the ice cream shop.”

T1N went out the front door and Swift went into his office.

“They eat ice cream?”

“They just think they do. Ito get these wild hairs, I’ve never been able to isolate that part of his programming.  Gronk just follows.” Albro typed as he talked, but then stopped to look back at Jefferson. 

“This is all your fault.”

“My momma said blame is a two way street.”

“How is this my fault?”

“If you’d just go and talk to that girl I wouldn’t have to do it for you.”

“I don’t… What did you tell her?”

“That you’re three hundred pounds and covered in Cheeto dust.”


“Nah, man, I’m just joking with you. I just told her I’d met you and she said she was jealous.”


“Scout’s honor… although you should probably be a scout to have that mean anything.”

“Why would you do that?”

“Be a scout… well...”

“No, go talk to Gwen.”

“Oh, that’s what friends do and you looked like you needed a friend.”
Jefferson then started to back towards the door.

“Where are you going?”

“I’m going to go help with your robots… that and your towel just fell off.”

Saturday, March 15, 2014

I 01001100 01101111 01110110 01100101 You

     I've had this story in my head for a while now, so to jump start it and get it going I'm challenging myself to post a new "day" every Saturday until it's done - Serial Style. This is an attempt to write something "real" for my wife and I'm just playing with the dialog heavy style. Of course feedback is most welcome and enjoy.

By Andy Brim

This story starts, as all good stories do, on a Monday; the lazy kind where the sun is bright first thing in the morning, the air is fresh and crisp, and the robot walking down the street shines brightly from his Sunday bath.

What? Right, you don’t know about T1N yet. Well, traveling at about the pace of the old gray hairs that drove cautiously down the main drag on their way to their weekly church meeting/hair appointment/luncheon was a 5’ 6” white and chrome robot… wait, automaton, because robot is Czech for… never mind you’ll hear about it later. In fact I shouldn’t be introducing T1N first when the first person you should meet is just pulling up now to 213 BC Ave.

The black delivery van with a red strip on the sides stopped at the curb and Marcus Jefferson strode out of the side door of the idling EPS truck. He carried a small box up the walkway to the white door of a Mr. A. Swift. He knocked on the door and then whistled loudly to himself as he waited.

A gray sphere came forward out of the door frame from about where the key hole should have been. A visor on the sphere rolled up to revel a lens and the strange device pitched from side to side and then moved up and down, seemingly taking the delivery man’s measure.

Out of the sphere came some jibberish and it extended outward until it was inches from Jefferson’s face.

“Leave the package on the door step,” came a human voice through the sphere.

“I’m afraid I need you to sign for it.”

“Its fine, you can just leave it there.”

“Nuh uh. This package has been certified by the Express Post Service, EPS for short, and as part of our guarantee to you…” Jefferson looked at the package, “a Mr. A. Swift, that your package is delivered to the correct address it is our policy that the package be signed for.”

The sphere stood silent for a moment. “The other drivers just leave my packages on the door step.”

“Well those drives obviously don’t take as much pride in their work as I do. They might also not be under review by their supervisor and as such not feel the overwhelming weight to meet EPS’ exacting policies. Of course if you want me to be fired, I’ll just leave the package on the doorstep and be on my way back to the unemployment line. It was a good job while it lasted.”

“You’re not going to get fired for leaving it on the doorstep.”

“Mr. Harpta, my supervisor, has made it quite clear that my employment is contingent on every certified package being signed for by an adult. He was very specific about the adult part too.”

The sphere grew silent again.  Jefferson made to put the package down, his brow knitted with worry. “Wait.  I’ll sign for it, just a minute.”

The sphere retreated with a snap and the sound of several locks being worked came through the door. A man in gray sweat pants, a UW tee shirt, and Chewbacca slippers opened the door.

“You’re Mr. A. Swift,” Jefferson asked.

“Yes, I am.”

“Sign here,” the man pointed to the dotted line on his clip board but offered no pen.

“You have a pen?”

“Silly me, I must have left it in my truck. I’ll just go and get it.” He started to turn back.

“No, no, I’ll just get one.” Swift went back into the dark house to find a pen and then came back to find no one waiting for him.  “Uh… hello?”

“This was so worth twenty bucks!” Jefferson’s voice came from inside the house.

“Excuse me!”

Swift rushed through his own home looking for the wayward delivery man, finding him in what was technically the living room, but more resembled a movie theater. Jefferson, mouth agape, took in the 90’ LED TV, 7.2 surround sound, blue velvet curtains blocking the sunlight, plush carpeting, and twin blue microfiber easy chairs situated perfectly for optimal viewing pleasure. A tear rolled down the man’s cheek.

“Please get out of my house.”

“The guys back at the shop will never believe this… is that an NES… and a Super Nintendo?!”

“Yes. Now please leave.”

“Tell me you have Contra?”

“Of course.”


Just then a pole with eight long arms on a treaded base and a trash can on three wheels rolled into the room – the trash can carried a tray of popcorn and soda.

“Ito. Gronk. Not now!” The trash can said gronk and then turned around, while the spider bot continued until it reached the remote resting on the coffee table, a pincer at the end of the arm picked up the remote. 

“Ito, no!”

“You have robots?”

“They’re not robots.”

“They look like it to me.”

“They’re automatons. The term robot is derived from the Czech word… where are you going?”

Jefferson had turned to follow Gronk back into what looked like the kitchen. “I’m getting a soda from your robo-butler. Want one?”

“Aren’t you supposed to be delivering packages?”

“I’ve got all day. Besides, there are more robots.” Indeed Jefferson had walked through the kitchen into the den at the front of the house where steel shelves housed organized bins of every imaginable electronic part and a handful of compact robots about as large as small dogs.

“I will call the police if you don’t leave.”

“What do these ones do,” Jefferson asked, picking up the robot closest to him, it was flat and round, made of a matte black plastic, with four legs coming out of the bottom.

“Please don’t touch that. It’s a goalie drone.”

“Goalie drone? Cool. And those ones?” Jefferson pointed to a pair of robots shaped like a traffic cone but wrapped in a wire mesh.

“Barricade drones. Listen, if you’re here to rob me just take what you want, I’ll even get you a box if that’s what you want.”

“Rob you?” Jefferson looked pained. “Do I look the type to rob you?”

“I don’t know you… so, yes.”

“Marcus Demarcus Jefferson, at your service.” Jefferson offered his hand and then seemed to remember the package he’d brought in with him. “Here’s your package by the way.”

“Thanks.” Swift took it and put it on Gronk’s now empty tray. Gronk.

“So, this is embarrassing, but the other drivers bet me twenty bucks that I couldn’t get in here and see what it is that you do… in here. What is it that you do in here?”

“I’m a computer programmer.”

“Who makes robots?”

“Automatons. Why would the others drivers want to know what’s in my house?”

“Well, Dave thinks you’re a terrorist, Kato’s convinced you work for the government, like super, secret NSA, CIA type government, and Celeste is pretty sure you lure children into your oven with cookies.”
A tray popped out of Gronk’s middle, where a half dozen cookies rested. Gronk.

“Put those away.” Gronk retracted the cookie tray.

A beep from the room across the hall sparked Jefferson’s interests and away he went with Swift in tow.
“I make an extra ten from each if I learn what the A stands for.” The next room was a small bedroom that had been converted into an office. Across one wall was an array of monitors, each displaying different things: video feeds, streams of code, or blank desktops. Keyboards, mice, and other computer peripheries cluttered the desk space and posters for TRON, Transformers the Movie, the Rocketeer, and a velvet Elvis decorated the other walls.

“Whoa.” Jefferson took a moment to take it all in and then eyed Swift suspiciously. “You’re not like one of those Black Cloud hackers are you?”

“What? No. I’m a contract programmer who specializes in debugging and optimization. I do it all remotely, never have to leave the house.” There came the beep again. “I really need you to leave now.” Swift’s eyes were on the screen on the bottom right, the one displaying a color video feed.

“Is that from inside the Lectronics Shoppe?”


“How are you today Tin Man,” asked a young woman’s voice over a pair of computer speakers. On the screen was a woman in her late twenties, brown hair and green eyes that hinted at a mischievous spark.
Swift went over to the desk and typed in a short command, then gave Jefferson the sign to stay quiet.

“Hi, Gwen. You were right about the tolerances on those resistors; they popped as soon as I powered the circuits up.”

“Hope you didn't fry anything.”

“Nothing I can’t pick up at your store. T1N’s got the list with him if you've got a minute.”

“For my best customer, I’d be happy to help. Plus I get to throw in an ‘I was right’.”

Swift laughed and smiled dopily at the screen, watching Gwen take the note and then go to the parts wall to find all the bits and pieces.

“So when are you going to be coming in for this stuff yourself,” Gwen asked while she sought out another item on the list.

“It’s easier if T1N goes in for me, I’ve been swamped with work.”

“Excuses, excuses. Looks like we’re out of the capacitors you’re looking for, but I should have more next week. Need them sooner?”

“No, next week’s fine. Thanks, Gwen.”

“No problem, I’ll call when they come in.” She smiled at the camera as she handed a bag to whatever was in the store with her. “You have a nice day Tin Man.”

“Thanks, you too Gwen.”

“Well I’ve never.” Jefferson shook his head and surveyed the room again with eyes full of wonder. “You get packages delivered, what, every day?”

“I guess so.”

“I’m sure you’re able to order all sorts of things too.”


“And yet you take the time to send one of your robots…”


“…down to your local, neighborhood electronics shop. Now, one might wonder why that is.”

“They have an excellent inventory on hand.”

“Oh I know all about the ‘inventory’.” Jefferson made quotation marks with his hands when he said inventory. “Some of the finest ‘inventory’ in the county I’ve heard said. But why you sending the robot down there instead of putting your own hands on the ‘inventory’?”

“This conversations is making me feel very awkward.”

“Well it should! I know about unrequited love, man. It gnaws at you, tenderizes your brain, gets your palms all sweaty, and the like until you do something about it. You see her as you go down the road, sitting in her unmarked car, scanning every car that passes… hoping she sees you… hoping you pulls you over again for speeding… not too much of course, you don’t want to seem needy.”

“Are we talking about me or you?”

“I’m talking about us! Letting life pass us by, while the women we love never know how we really feel about them.”

“Gwen is just a friend.”

“Just a friend? Ito, slap that fool.” Ito raised two of its hands.

“Ito, no.” Very slowly the robot lowered its hands.

“We’ll talk more about this tomorrow, o.k. my man?” Jefferson threw out a fist; it hung awkwardly waiting for Swift to bump it. “O.k.” said Jefferson as he lowered his hand.

Jefferson went to the door that had remained ajar the whole time.

“Albro.” Jefferson turned back with a puzzled look. “The A stands for Albro, Albro Swift.”

“Please to meet you Albro Swift, EPS thanks you for your patronage.”