Partners

“Who, look what the cat dragged in. Officers Test-tube and Trashcan,” jeered the wannabe Mafioso. He went by the name Uncle Jerry and tried to fully act the part of Italian tough guy. A quick web search revealed that his real name was Jerald Rodgers and that the closest he ever came to Italy was watching Godfather II.
“You are incorrect in your statement of our rank. By our frequent visits you should be knowledgeable that our ranks are Detective,” chimed L-85. His vocal processors did an effective job of altering pitch and rhythm to give him an approximately human voice if they failed to master replicating emotion. Even his partner wasn’t sure if he was going for annoyance or even bemusement. She, however, was easier to read.
“Stop being such a prick. You know why we’re here.” It was instantly obvious that Kay Starr was not a fan of Uncle Jerry.
“I’m afraid you have me at a loss. I don’t have a clue why I would come to the attention of our boys in blue. I’m sorry, I said boys. I meant aberrations.”
“It seems highly unlikely that you would substitute those two words with their high disparate meanings. Fortunately, that holds no bearing on our current assignment which is to place you in bonds.”
“In other words, you’re under arrest for the murder of Smally Jones,” Detective Starr stepped forward taking the handcuffs from her belt pouch. She didn’t expect the burst of speed and strength from someone with Uncle Jerry’s doughy frame. He lunged forward shoving her into the metallic frame of her partner. L-85 registered the gun that was being drawn while it was still a blur, gripped Starr by the arms and spun around shielding her from the bullets.
Three shots rang out. The third was followed by a soft thud. The detectives turned around. Uncle Jerry lay on the floor. A red hole gapped in his left temple.
“It seems this would be the result of a ricochet.”
“Thank you for clearing that up, Detective,” Starr snapped.
“Shall I call in our situation?”
“No, I got it,” she said as she pulled out a phone and filled dispatch in with the details. All that was left was to wait. Being experienced police, waiting was one thing the pair had become accustomed to. Time clicked by.
“If you do not mind my saying, partner, you seem agitated,” L-85 broke the silence.
“I’m not.”
“But you have been pacing the same 7 steps for the past eight minutes making six hundred and seventy-two steps.”
“It’s really annoying that you keep track of things like that.” Kay stopped her pacing.
“I do not have an option. Such attention to detail in embedded in my programming. Is it the death of another human being that upsets you?”
“I don’t think that piece of shit qualifies.”
“And yet you are troubled.”
She looked closely at her problems. He was tall with wide shoulders. He dressed in clothes that suggested he prepared for being a detective by watching noir films and was attempting to be a matte steel version of Humphrey Bogart right down to an overcoat and fedora. Both were ridiculous considering they were in a climate controlled area and she doubted he was programmed to feel discomfort based on temperature. His face was a smooth piece of metal. Three rhombuses gave the impression of eyes and a mouth. There was nothing to indicate a nose. A one centimeter strip of blue paint went down the center of his face marking him as a law enforcement droid, likely sending some designer into giggle-fits at the double meaning.
“You didn’t need to protect me,” she said at last.
“But you are my partner,” this time the voice modulator clearly sounded puzzled.
“You whisked me around shielding me from the shots. The big strong man protects the weak little woman. I hoped you didn’t buy into that chauvinistic bullshit.”
“Forgive me for saying so, but I believe you are making assertions based on wrongful assumptions. Firstly, I am made of highly dense metals and plastics. You are flesh and blood. Simply stated, I am bulletproof. You are not. Secondly, I do not believe those are correct gender labels.” Starr give him a look. “Allow me to restate. I do not believe that I have a determinable gender as I lack genitals. My form is dominantly masculine merely as a reflection of my designers’ belief that a male form is seen as more authoritative. Thirdly…”
“Let me guess, it wasn’t you, it was your programming,” Starr smirked.
“Yes,” the constant blank expression on L-85’s fabricated face was designed so that it could be suitable and interpretable with a variety of emotions. What Kay saw there was so much childlike simplicity that she burst out laughing. “I am afraid I do not understand the humor of this situation.”
“Partner,” she replied, “I think you might be more of a man than you know.”


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