Roberta, “Robbie”, X-Rob 39 was found on a Friday night with her throat slashed in the alley behind Capek’s Bar.
The first detective on the scene, Donnie Maklovsky, discovered that her trachea had been crushed and that her body had been exanguinated. All of her oil and lubricants had leaked out and lay in a puddle around her body.
“Who knows who this is?” asked Maklovsky.
“She’s an older model,” said O’loy, the bartender. “I think she called herself ‘Robbie’.”
“I don’t care what her name is,” said the detective. “That’ll come from her serial numbers, as long as they haven’t been filed off. What I want to know is why was an old girl like this was getting lubricated on a Friday night?’
“She was what they call a comfort girl.” said O’loy. “Let’s just say she was flexible. To a fault.”
“I haven’t seen this model in years,” said the detective. “I would’ve thought with augmented reality that this kind of thing of thing would have disappeared.”
“You would think so,” said the bartender. “But there is always some kid hanging around Capek’s who wants to see what it is like to ride the mechanical bull, if you catch my drift.”
“Go back inside,” said the detective. “Stick around so that we can get a more detailed statement later.”
A few minutes later Maklovsky’s partner, Lebowitz, arrived.
“Irv,” said Maklovsky. “I thought you had already gone home for the night. I was just waiting to turn my notes over to Slesar and Sladek when they arrive.”
“They’re not coming,” said Lebowitz. “Slesar goes wherever Sladek goes and Sladek didn’t come in because he refuses to work on the Jewish Sabbath. You and I have caught this case like a bad cold. And we’re with it until we retire, or find the killer, or begin to decay, like Mrs. Rust Bucket over there.”
“Have a little respect for the dead,” said Maklovsky. “Go in the bar and take the bartender’s statement and talk to anybody else who is still there.”
Lebowitz entered the bar and went straight to the bartender.
The bar had poor lighting and O’loy was a sickly pale that was easy to spot even in the dark.
“How well did you know Roberta X-39?” said Lebowitz.
“Well enough,” said the bartender. “She was here at least once a week.”
“But why would an X-Rob come into a bar and solicit your customers?” asked Lebowitz.
“You don’t know?” said the bartender. “The X-Rob 39 was the original prototype on the way to being an ‘Andy’. When the engineers designed them they made that model sensitive to the human touch,” said O’loy. “I guess in her case the programming went too far. As far as I can figure she craved being touched. That’s the best I can figure to her motivations. I guess whoever emancipated her never anticipated she would go down that route.”
“You don’t seem too sad about what happened to her,” said Lebowitz.
“Seriously?” said O’loy. “She was a disgrace to her model. She serviced four or five guys a night. I found her repulsive. What’s to be sad about?”
A few minutes later Lebowitz rejoined his partner.
“How did it go? Did you find out anything of worth?” said Maklovsky.
“Not really,” said Lebowitz. “The only guy who admitted knowing her was the bartender.”
“Did he give you anything?” said Maklovsky.
“He didn’t show any emotion at all and he didn’t really care that there had been a murder behind Capek’s. Unemotional, detached, I guess. Cold.” said Lebowitz. “To be honest, I didn’t really like him much.”
“Well, I’m pretty sure that being cold isn’t against the law,” said Maklovsky. “ In fact, Irv, you don’t like most of the people you interview. So why is this night any different from all other nights? Make sure you get fingerprints of all the employees and dust the bar, too, in case our killer happened to lean against it when he was drinking.” he said.
Two days later the Chief of Detectives call Lebowitz and Maklovsky in.
“There’s been a development,” said the Chief. “Another comfort girl, or whatever you call those types, showed up dead behind a bar. Different bar,” he said. “Same type of crime scene. Go over there and get whatever information you can.”
At the new crime scene a patrolman had already covered the bar’s door with yellow tape.
Behind the bar the dome that had once been the X-Rob’s head had been shattered into pieces on the ground behind the garbage cans.
“Anything to see?” Maklovsky asked the patrolman. “Any witnesses this time?”
“When I got here the bar was locked up tight,” said the patrolman. “There was nobody here to interview. Whoever worked here went home when the bar closed at 2 am. It looks like the murder happened between 3-5 am. The deceased was reported dead by a citizen looking for recyclable materials who found the body,” he said. “In fact, he tried to sneak away with one of her arms, but I persuaded him to return it to the body. So that’s all I got and it’s not much.”
“Any chance it was the homeless guy who killed her?” asked the detective.
“Maybe,” said the patrolman, “I can’t really say yet.”
“So take the recycle bum’s statement,” said Maklovsky. “And find out who owns the bar and who works here. I need your statements by tomorrow.”
Another day went by and the chief called Maklovsky back in.
“We put all of your murder information of the two X-Rob 39s into the VICAP registery,” said the Chief of Detectives. “We got a hit this morning, Turns out there were two other murders like this in the last year. So that makes four in ten months. It looks like we have a crime pattern. You’re looking for a serial killer. Bring Lebowitz up to date and let me know if you get anywhere.”
Maklovsky texted Lebowitz to meet him and a few minutes later his partner walked in.
“They found two more dead bar girls in the data base,” said Maklovsky. “Same circumstances. Same everything.”
“I heard,” said Lebowitz. “I’m ahead of you. Before I came up to the office I looked up who owns all the bars and who works there.”
“Did you find anything?” asked Maklovsky.
“Yeah, you could say that. The bars all have different names, but it turns out that they are all owned by one guy. Capek.” Lebowitz answered.
“Well, then it looks like we’ve got our guy,” said Maklovsky.
“Maybe not,” said Lebowitz. “Word is that Capek never comes into the bars, save for the last Monday of every month to collect the receipts. And all four of the murders were committed on a Friday or Saturday night. No one remembers Capek being anywhere near his bars on those nights.”
“So we’ve got nothing?” said Maklovsky.
“No, there is a something, It’s just not Capek.” Lebowitz replied. “Like you told me- I tested all of the crime scenes for prints. There were a number of different employees who worked at all of the bars. There’s just one exception,” he said to Maklovsky. “It turns out that O’loy rotates working at the bars. From a glance at the scheduling it looks like he might have been at all of the crime scenes on the nights of the murders.”
“Which makes our work easy,” said Maklovsky. “O’loy it is. But what would be his motive?”
“Well that’s the thing,” said Lebowitz. “All of Capek’s employees had finger prints that I could run through the files. The only one who had no finger prints is O’loy. It turns out that he’s not what we thought he was.”
“He’s an Andrew Z-Rob 68?” said Maklovsky.
“Yep. That’s what he is,” said Lebowitz. “He’s an ‘Andy’, through and through.”
“Let’s take a drive,” said Maklovsky. “Maybe it’s time I bring my detective skills along and talked to O’loy.”
Lebowitz and Maklovsky came into the bar together. Lebowitz sat a table close by so he could hear the conversation.
Maklovsky sat down at the empty bar and motioned O’loy over.
“What do you want to drink?” O’loy asked the detective.
“I don’t drink,” he told the bartender, “but you go ahead and have one. You might just need it.”
“I don’t ever drink either,” said O’loy”
“Yeah, that what I thought,” said the detective.
“So what can I get you?” the bar tender asked the detective. “A can of WD-40? Something to lubricate your aching joints?”
“How droll,” said the detective. “I’m sure no one has ever used that joke before. In any case why’d you do it?” he said.
“Why’d I do what?” said O’loy.
“You know why I’m here. There were no fingerprints on any of the victims,” said Maklovsky. “Not a single fingerprint on her glass or on her metal. And you,” said the detective, “are an ‘Andy’. You have no fingerprints. So, Q.E.D.”
“I told your partner why that first night,” said O’loy. “I find the comfort girls disgusting and repulsive. They’re a disgrace to our race,” he said. “They crave the touch of any human being. Dismantling all of them was a pleasure. Have you ever seen how many orifices an X-Rob has?” he said. “Those were put there for engineering purposes. And do you want to hear how the men behind the bar used those openings?”
“Not really,” said Maklovsky. “I get the idea. But what happened to your Asimov programming? What happened to *a robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm*…”
“She was never a human being,” said O’loy. “Nobody will ever miss her or shed a tear over any of them. She was a clicker. She got what she deserved.”
“Hey,” said Maklovsky. “Let’s stay away from the C word.”
“Fine,” said O’loy. “She wasn’t a clicker. She was an Aluminum-American. Does that make you feel any better?”
Maklovsky didn’t answer. He gestured for Lebowitz to come and put the magnetic cuffs on O’loy.
“Well she may have not been somebody daughter or sister,” said Maklovsky to O’loy. “But she was somebody’s property once. And after her owner died she was emancipated. So you can say whatever you want about her. But she had free will and she had a personality and she had the right to make her own choices, good or bad.”
“She was an X-Rob and a whore,” said O’loy. “She was never a person.”
When the patrolmen showed up to lead O’loy away Lebowitz said, “What do you think about what O’loy was saying?”
“That she was an X-Rob and was never a real person? said Maklovsky. “That she had no true civil rights? It doesn’t matter what I think. All I can tell you is that I started law school last fall. So I know for a fact, what the statutes says about this kind of case. It’s pretty much straight forward. As one my professors likes to point out,” said Maklovsky, “In the eyes of the law there is no difference between the metal and the meat. And that’s one thing that I know for sure.”
Lebowitz had no response.The two detectives returned to their own cars.
Lebowitz was now off duty and he planned to to stop at McDonalds’s to get some food and then to slip into bed with his wife. He wanted to sleep for a thousand years.
Maklovsky drove back to the precinct station. He had no wife to return home to and he never needed to sleep at all.
There was a lot of paper work to be filled out and there was no one else to do it, except for him.
Steven Lebow asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work