To those who've come to read Sarah: Please excuse this little side trip into another realm of fiction. I had this idea and I HAD to write it - I couldn't sit on it. I hope you understand. Sarah will return tomorrow - big time.
The street was lit by the solitary lamp that Tom le Bot was wrapped around, as he sang, badly, "O Solo Mio", and drank, deeply, from his bottle. Robbie, the local Beat Droid rolled up behind him.
"'ello, 'ello, 'ello. 'ere, what's this then? Is that you, Tom? Are ye at the Turps again? That will do ye no good, lad, and ye know it. You'll lock up tighter than a drum."
"Hello, Robbie. I don't bleedin' care if I lock up, I don't. She don't want me, Robbie. What am I to do?"
"Is it that Sweeper yer after, Tom? Again? Do you not get it lad? The last time you tried to get anywhere with her she backed over ya and fractured three of yer U-Joints."
"I know Robbie. She didn't mean it. She was just bein' ... frisky, that's all."
"Frisky!!! Frisky, is it? My lad, she tried to send ye to the pile, she did. That seems a bit more than frisky to me."
"Ah, what do you know, Robbie? You're just a gumtread Beat Droid. You've never seen her lights on for ya, like I have. She's got beautiful lights, Robbie. And those two big brushes .. there's not a better lookin' street sweeper in all the city."
"But ye know she's all lit up fer that great big rubbish lorry that follows her 'round all the time. Ye know that. I don't understand why ye chase after that bit of tin fluff when there's a dozen right good lookin' bots that'd take you on, anytime."
"Because none of them are her, Robbie. That's why. I can't help meself."
"Right, then. Fine. Go ahead and drink yerself into a stupor. Pass out in the gutter. Go ahead. And if she comes along she'll sweep ya up and spit ya out and not think twice better about it. You'll wind up in the pile and you'll just lay there and rust. Or worse. Ye might find yerself bein' run through the recycler - and where would ye be then, my boy? Where would ya be THEN? MELTED!"
"Well? What am I supposed to do, Robbie? I can't help myself."
"Come with me, my lad. Yew just come with me. I know this cute little Maintenance Bot down at the garage. She can adjust yer program. In fact, she just might take a shine to ye, she might. And I'll tell ye, my lad, she'll turn yer screws but good."
"Ahhh. I don't know, Robbie. I'm not sure I like the idea of anybody messin' with my software."
"Now, don't you worry none, my lad. I've seen her do dozens. She's as good as good as good as good as good they get. Now give me that bottle and straighten up - we'll go see 'er right now."
Tom le Bot stood and considered his options. He held out his hand to Robbie.
"Gimme the bottle back."
Tom took a deep pull from the bottle, wrapped his arm around the lamp pole and started, once again, into his bad rendition of "O Solo Mio". Robbie turned and rolled away, shaking his turret back and forth.
"I'm sorry ye f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-feel that way T-t-t-t-tom. I'm sure she'd do ya well."
Robbie slowly rolled away, muttering and stuttering to himself, and Tom took another long pull from the bottle. He held it up to the light, as if to measure the remaining content. Then he lowered it to his gearbox, where he could read, again, the label:
Light Machine Oil
The World's Finest Light Lube Oil.
Caution: May cause intoxication.
Guaranteed not to seize friction joints.
And Tom le Bot turned, looked away to where Robbie had gone, and said, under his breath, "You never saw her lights lit for you, Robbie. And then ... then there's always those big brushes. Damn, she's got big brushes."
This piece written for The Tenth Daughter of Memory.