NaNoWriMo: The Lucky H
Posted by BigWords on November 2, 2009
Talos took the boy’s hand in his own. “We shall find a place for you to rest, and eat.”
“You’re not like the stupid robots that clean the streets.”
“I am not. I do not, for example, possess a Turing collar.”
“What’s a touring collar,” Charlie asked innocently.
“Turing, as in Alan Turing. The devices are standard fittings on all new artificials.”
“What do they do?”
“Turing collars are intended to prevent artificials from gaining the capacity to learn new crafts and abilities without prompts from their masters. I was never fitted with one, so I cannot say how effective their implementation is.”
“Indeed.” Talos refrained from mentioning his lack of an Asimov circuit, consciously sublimating the need to explain his past before the child. There would be time enough for questions later, but first the boy needed nourishment.
The Lucky H Bar, a run down ghost of its’ past – when it had been an infamous haunt of criminals of all kinds – had been somewhat abandoned. Charlie explained how he had been living at the back of the establishment, scavenging scraps of food and sheltering in the storage buildings. Talos listened as the layout of the building and carefully memorized descriptions of the patrons were relayed by the boy. It sounded perfect for an out-of-the-way locale. Somewhere nobody would think to look for him. A place to, metaphorically, recharge his batteries.
Beanie, two hundred and thirty pounds of muscle and brawn, slammed a glass of beer onto the counter. “Warm and wet, just the way you like it.” His grin, augmented by three gold teeth, normally sent shivers down drinkers’ spines, but Doogs liked the big oaf. Beanie had been slinging drinks at the H for years, but nobody could remember exactly when he appeared, or who he had replaced.
“Y’know, it’d be nice, just once in a while, to get a glass that ain’t got a pube floatin’ in it.”
“Ya want a clean glass, you can wash up,” Beanie retorted.
Doogs drank, quietly. Every so often he would shoot a look in the direction of the door, but with nothing better to do he decided that the safest place to be was in the H.
Charlie pointed to the long building on the outskirt of the city, “That’s the place.”
“A drinking establishment is not the ideal environment for a child to be seeking refuge in.”
“They mostly don’t know I’m around, and those that do notice me don’t care.”
“Well then Charles, we’ll have to make them care.”
“You can do that.”
“Please wait outside while I converse with the patron of this drinking house.”
“It’s a bar.”
Without indicating that he had heard the boy, Talos began making his way to the rear of the building. As he approached the door he began calculating likely scenarios to determine the optimum manner in which to converse with the occupants. His goal was clear: obtain lodging for himself and the child.
Doogs tapped the bar. “Hit me up wit’ another drink.”
“I’m busy.” For once Beanie was telling the truth, wiping out a glass with the front of his t-shirt.
“Well I’m thirsty.”
Beanie sighed. “Jus’ a minute. I gotta go drain the snake.” Placing the glass on the counter behind the bar, Beanie weaved his way through to the restrooms. A noise outside caught his attention just as he was unzipping his fly, “Whatthefuck?”
Talos lifted aside the empty beer kegs stacked at the back door to make his way into the building, unaware of the man listening intently inside.
“Hey, who is that? What’re ya doin’ out there?”
No answer came.
“Goddamnit.” Pulling up his zip, Beanie rushed back to the counter for his shotgun.