The sun was really beating down when Dakota Hawk pulled his pickup to a stop next to the metal cargo container that GoodWorks was using as the drop location from which to collect donations of clothing, furniture, and electronics. When he climbed out of the cab, his foot slid in the half molten asphalt. The poor bastard, who was earning a dollar less than minimum wage to sit in the heat and collect the donations, stepped out from the container’s interior, dripping sweat, his hair plastered to his forehead.
“Back again? What are you trying to do, get rid of everything?”
“As much as possible,” said Dakota. “Do you have water in there? Maybe a fan?”
“Oh yeah. I’ve got a nifty little setup. Come in and look.”
The air outside was well over 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and it was just as hot inside. It was even more oven-like. The back third of the container was filled with cardboard boxes and plastic trash bags full of who-knows-what. Along the left side were a few pieces of larger furniture. Along the right hand wall were a dozen non-animated robots—a couple with clothes, but most naked. Just inside the entrance sat a chaise lounge next to a mini-refrigerator with an electric fan sitting atop it. A long orange cord ran out the door, across the parking lot, and was plugged into the back of McDonalds.
“Sweet,” said Dakota, and then he turned back to his truck and began unloading the black bags filled with clothing and household goods. He handed them to the guy, who then stacked them in back. By the time they were done, his own long, blond hair was plastered to his face.
“Mostly clothes, feels like.”
“Yes, mostly clothes.”
Dakota had spent all morning trying to empty out the apartment. The first hour had been taken up getting his own things. He had packed up his vueTee and his other electronics, and then his clothes. That had filled up the back of the truck, leaving just enough room for the two crappy chairs his dad had given him. He’d taken it all to the Jiffy Locker and rented a storeroom, their smallest size. After unloading, he had made one final sweep through the apartment, taking whatever was left that he wanted—nothing more than a few photographs and mementos. Then he had spent the next five hours hauling as many of Rachel’s belongings away as possible and donating them to GoodWorks. He realized he could be charged with theft, but he didn’t care. Her closet was empty, her wriTee and all her files were gone, she had no pots and pans and no fine silverware, her underwear drawer was empty, and her grandmother’s Depression era glassware collection was history. He looked at his watch. There wasn’t time to make another trip before she got off work.
He looked back into the cargo container.
“Say, what are you going to do with these old robots?” Dakota asked.
“They have a group that recycles them for parts. Most of them are Gizmos, and you can’t really fix them anymore.”
Dakota looked them over. They were mostly Gizmos, but not all. He recognized a Braun… and something else. A naked female robot, waist bent at an anatomically impossible angle stared at the wall. A curtain of long brown hair was brushed aside just enough for Dakota to make out three small holes in the back of the neck, and beneath them, a button.
“How much do you suppose they’ll get for them?”
“Oh, a few hundred each, I suppose. Most of them don’t work at all.”
“Could I buy one?”
“We don’t sell them to the public.”
“Seems a shame,” Dakota said. “I’d give you $500 for that one there, right now.”
“Well, we don’t even know if it works.”
“You wouldn’t have to worry about it. Cash deal. No exchanges or refunds.” He pulled his phone out of his pocket and typed in $500, waving it back and forth in front of the guy’s eyes.
The guy reached into his own pocket for his phone.
“You can’t tell anyone about this,” he said. “You know, because they don’t want us selling them.”
He pressed his phone to Dakota’s; transferring the $500 into what they both knew was the guy’s personal account.
“Nobody’s going to hear anything about it from me. Help me load it?”