The Super

visit my blog

1280x1024 wallpaper size image

He lived in the basement of the rent controlled building. This means the building was erected before February 1st, 1947, and he had lived there continuously through July 1st, 1971. As with most rent controlled buildings in New York, there wasn't much done in the way of capital improvements. Eduardo had to keep the place held together with bubble gum and glue.

When he was a young man living with his mother in this building, he answered his country's call to fight in Viet Nam. Not really by choice, but a draft card inspired. His life wasn't headed anywhere fast, so he really didn't mind going to join the Army. That was until he saw what the war was like. He came home in 1973 with a Purple Heart, a bum leg, and the beginnings of Hodgkin's disease. Not that he knew about Hodgkin's at the time.

He tried to get a job, but he always seemed fatigued and his bum leg seemed to be getting worse. When his mother died, and he couldn't pay the rent, he made a deal with the building's owner to be the buildings "super" and fix up the apartments for the use of a dirty mattress in a basement storage room and office. Eduardo eventually got a partial disability approval from the Veteran's Administration, which gave him enough for food and an occasional bender or two each month. In 1984 he got a big check as part of the Agent Orange settlement with Dow Chemicals and Monsanto. He was on a bender for so long; he nearly buggered up his living arrangement with the building's owner. A lot a begging along with what he had left of the check, kept a roof over his head and his hot plate to cook on. Life was a pretty predictable chain of events until around the year 2012.

Early in the twentieth century Japan started developing robots. Some of the early successful models were Qrio and Asimo. They even made a robot dog called Aibo. With Japan's steadily declining population and their reluctance to flood the islands with cheap labor from other countries, robot development moved along quite fast. The Japanese wanted robots that looked and talked like real human beings, but that proved to be a major misstep in the marketing to America of these artificially intelligent beings.

Lifelike in every way robots that were full sized caused all sorts of problems in the United States. Was sex with a robot adultery? Was the use of a child sized robot catering to pedophiles? Just the inability to easily tell the difference between people and robots caused all sorts of problems. It was long before "life-like robots" were outlawed in America. The Japanese always adept at changing to market needs created "Tiny Companions", which were only eighteen inches tall. They made full size robots for all sorts of various work and industrial uses, but they had obvious metal skin and Plexiglas heads that made confusion with real people impossible.

The Tiny Companions were just that. They looked real and the way they walked and talked was real. It turned out that once the Japanese got past the miniaturization problems, the reduced need for materials actually made them cheaper to build. Their artificial intelligence allowed them to adjust to whatever environment they were in, and the task they had at hand. They were excellent for entertaining children for hours on end, while teaching them at the same time. The other market that warmed to them was the elderly and those alone. They kept good company and would talk about anything their owners wanted. They didn't seem to mind be told the same stories over and over. They were ruled by Isaac Asimov's Laws of Robotics, which I'll leave for you to Google on the Internet.

With some tweaking of the Tiny Companion's A.I. programming with some fundamental psychology provided a distanced and lonely society with someone to listen to their problems. The V.A. found that visits by veteran's to medical facilities went down so much when a Tiny Companion was present; they helped cover the cost of buying them. Even with the V.A.'s help, Eduardo had to live on beans and noodle soup for three months to be able to afford one. Waiting for it to arrive by mail, he felt like an expectant father. When she finally arrived, and he opened the box; she stood up wearing a beautiful violet dress. He said, "I'll name you Violet!"

He used to save up and order her clothes, because it seemed to make her happy. She kept the little area he had set aside for her spotless, but never seemed to mind the dirt and rust that commanded the space Eduardo lived in. Since she didn't eat, she didn't make the kind of messes we make with used food, and she didn't need the facilities to get rid of it. She encouraged Eduardo to improve his eating habits and choice of foods, but managed to do it in a way that never seemed like nagging.

Mr. England was Eduardo's calico cat. The cat should have been named Mrs. England or Miss, because a male calico cat is almost a genetic impossibility. But when Eduardo and the cat first met, any nether region inspections to determine gender, were out of the question. He thought Violet was a fun toy to chase, until Eduardo supplied here with a sewing needle large enough for her to wield as a rapier. The three of them lived as a family in this dark basement.

Eduardo died a very old man, but happy.


All images and text are Copyrighted © 2006 through 2016 - by Douglas N. Barnhart - All Rights Reserved

You are welcome to download images and use them on your own device as wallpaper, but they are not to be reprinted, or used for any purpose commercial or otherwise for any reason without written consent of the author.  This includes not using any image on another Web site.