Genre: Science Fiction
Type of Short Story: Short Story
Summary: Eli Root lives on the streets in Memphis. Once a cybermechanic, he now scrounges for food in dumpsters. But late one night, he encounters someone who will change his life and the lives of others: a broken house-'bot called Isaac.
Eli was a little late tonight, making his rounds, and he hoped that someone else had not got here before him and robbed him of most of his day's calories. Probably not. Pickings were better toward the river, in and around downtown Memphis. Few came this far east, 'cause the cops made life harder for the homeless who wandered into the affluent neighborhoods. 'Course it could be one of those lean nights when the Mug had no leftovers to throw away.
A tug on his jeans startled him.
"Excuse me, sir, but if you should find a JUR1201 replacement unit there, would you be so kind as to hand it down to me?"
Eli lifted his head out of the dumpster. There in the circle of light, tugging on his pant leg, stood a 'bot, its right arm hanging limply from the shoulder socket. Elliso Model 27 house 'bot, Eli reckoned.
Eli blinked and said, "Sure. Anything else?"
"No, sir, thank you. That will be sufficient."
"Okay." Eli blinked again. "Uh, wanna let go my pants?"
"Oh, yes, sir. Excuse me, sir." The Elliso released Eli's pant leg. It did not blink. It couldn't.
Eli groped through the garbage without success. No JUR1201 replacement unit. No bagels, either. Bad night for man and 'bot.
Eli jumped down from the dumpster. "Sorry, little fella. No luck finding what you want."
Eli knew metal was incapable of displays of emotion, but it seemed that the 'bot's shoulders slumped as it said, "Thank you for your efforts, sir." The 'bot turned and started off. If metal could look dejected, it looked like this.