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´╗┐Title: Your Servant, Sir
Author: Boren, Sol
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Your Servant, Sir" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



                           YOUR SERVANT, SIR

                             BY SOL BOREN

                  _We all know that every android has
                its little idiosyncrasies. But what can
               a civilized human being do about it when
                his perfect servant drives him crazy?_

           [Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from
              Worlds of If Science Fiction, October 1956.
         Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
         the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]


The chubby woman glared at the android and dropped her suitcase on the
floor. She turned to her husband and said in an angry, unsteady voice,
"I'm leaving." Her double chin trembled. "I can't stand the sight of
that thing another second."

Raymond Golden gripped his empty glass with both hands, leaned forward
tensely in the chair, and tried to find the right words.

"Paula," he began helplessly. "Please wait. I'll get it fixed, or sell
it, or trade it in. I'll do something."

Mrs. Golden pointed a shaky, pudgy finger. "I'll never come back as
long as _that_ is here."

She bent to pick up her suitcase. The android approached silently and
stared at her posterior.

"Madam," the android said, "you are getting quite fat."

Paula's back snapped upward. Her face was red and there were dark
shadows under her eyes. "I can't stand it!" she shrieked. "I can't! I
can't!"

       *       *       *       *       *

The words pierced Raymond's skull, exploded and splattered within. He
winced under the barrage. Paula ignored the automatic door button, and
flung the plastic slab open with her hand.

The android followed her with its cold stare and spoke in its perfect
voice. "Madam, that dress is atrocious. I would suggest that you change
at once to your gray, princess silk, which will, at least, create the
impression of slenderness."

Paula screamed hysterically and ran out of the apartment. The android
moved swiftly to the door and called after her, "Farewell, Madam. Watch
your weight. Take care."

It pushed the button on the wall and the door swung shut.

The dreaded ultimatum had at last been carried out, and Raymond felt
helpless, numbed. Indecision settled upon him like a leaden cloak and
pulled him back against the foam-air-rest, where his head wobbled
uncomfortably. He closed his burning, blood-shot eyes, and found no
peace. He rubbed them with his free hand, and opened his vision to the
staring android.

Without any conscious thought, his arm extended in a slow, habitual
motion. The android responded automatically, plucked the empty glass
out of his hand, and said, "You drink too much, sir."

Raymond nodded irritably. "I know. You've reiterated that profound
spiritual message with monotonous irregularity."

"But you do, you know."

Raymond shouted angrily, "Shut up!"

"Very good, sir."

The android was a tall, handsome model. Its voice was deep, resonant
and faintly British. It glided over to the built-in bar and performed
rapid, indiscernible manipulations involving ice cubes, whiskey and
soda.

The android returned swiftly with the drink and served it with a
sweeping flourish. Raymond took the glass and gestured impatiently.
"Cigar."

"Very good, sir."

The android withdrew a long, brown cigar from the humidor on the small,
floating ebony end-table, placed the clipped end in Raymond's mouth,
and lit it with the tip of its forefinger, which suddenly glowed red.

It watched as Raymond puffed up several billowing, little gray clouds.
The smoke drifted towards the android, and it said: "Disgusting habit."

Raymond raised his glass, sipped the cold liquid, and remarked
bitterly, "What a pity you can't enjoy your own poisonous concoctions."

The android stepped back and stared fixedly at the man. "You are a sot,
sir."

Raymond exploded. "What!"

"S-o-t, sot. An alcoholic. A drunkard. One who imbibes intoxicating
liquors."

Raymond jumped out of the chair and threw his glass and cigar on the
carpet violently. The cigar sizzled in the midst of the foaming liquid.
He glared at the android. "You go to hell!"

"As I have repeatedly attempted to impress upon your happy, pickled
brain, sir," the android said, "It is impossible for me to go there."

"That isn't exactly what I meant."

"In that case, sir, I would suggest that hereafter you say what you
mean."

Raymond swore. He swayed uncertainly, and then dropped back into the
chair. He reached out to the floating table for a fresh cigar, jammed
it in his mouth, and chewed it nervously. He was a short, chubby man,
with brown, thinning hair, a double chin, and lines around his mouth,
where a friendly smile had recently met an untimely death.

Raymond pulled his cigar out of his mouth and stared at the wet soggy
end. He moved his head from side to side, turned his gaze on the
android, and muttered through his teeth, "You and your impeccable
androidal exterior have got to go."

The decision immediately had a relaxing effect. Raymond's moist brow
unwrinkled itself momentarily, and he almost smiled at the thought.

"Allow me to point out, sir," the android said. "That you have, to
date, invested approximately three thousand dollars in my interior and
exterior, as well."

Raymond nodded sadly. "Not to mention fifteen more easy, cardiovascular
producing payments." He placed his hand over the spot, where, deep
down, his heart was located. Satisfied that it was still there, he
said, "I've got a lot of expensive money tied up in you, but if I have
to choose between mechanical misery and matrimonial bliss, I'll settle
for Paula's brand of inhuman torture."

"That, sir, is extremely faulty, illogical, and irrational reasoning.
Typical, however, of most humans."

Raymond smiled grimly and stood up. "If you will watch closely, oh,
loyal servant, you will note that I am about to do something not so
typical of my assorted human friends."

Walking unsteadily over to the bar, he reached into a small drawer, and
withdrew a small plastic container labeled: SOBERUPPER.

"In fact," Raymond said, as he removed two pills and tossed them into
his mouth, "I must be out of my mind."

He swallowed hard, blinked, and gasped. For a moment he leaned heavily
on the bar. Then suddenly, clarity. The room was brighter. The drab
grays resolved into blue and yellow pastel panelling along the walls.
The carpeting was a rich deep blue. The polished floating ebony slab
glittered in the room.

"Come on, Android. We're heading for the big city."

       *       *       *       *       *

The city, as they flew over it, was a blazing ocean of roof-top
advertisements, designed to attract the attention of the overhead
traffic.

Raymond threw a switch and a private radar beacon blipped brightly
on his jetcopter's screen. He touched a button and the controls
automatically guided the craft towards a gigantic flashing sign, which
proclaimed: GENERAL ANDROIDS.

The jetcopter dropped onto the roof-top parking lot with a thud. The
android and Raymond climbed out and took the nearest escalator down to
the mezzanine. They entered the Sales Manager's office, where Raymond
cornered Mr. Krutchamer, the Assistant Sales Manager, and quickly
explained the difficulties with the android.

Mr. Krutchamer was a small wiry man with a surprisingly deep,
impressive voice. He shrugged his slight shoulders, after listening
patiently, and said, "Doesn't sound like a mechanical manifestation to
me, sir."

"Mechanical or electronical," Raymond demanded perplexed, "what's the
difference?"

"Well, sir," Mr. Krutchamer began with a flashing white-toothed smile,
"you've had your android for three months, and while our guarantee is
for one year, it specifically spells out an unconditional warranty
against mechanical defects."

"No guarantee against any electronic defects?"

The little man shook his head emphatically. "No, sir. All electrical
parts are guaranteed, of course, for thirty days, but you've had the
android for ninety days."

Mr. Krutchamer's face was sad, his eyebrows crept down over his eyes,
and his voice dropped to a confidential decibel level. "I'm sorry,
sir, but your problem sounds more like a chronic psycho-electronic
condition. I would recommend that you see a PRD."

"What's that?" Raymond was annoyed. His face was flushed and he
squinted at the little man.

"Doctor of Psychiatric Robotory."

"This android doesn't need Psycho-therapy, damn it," Raymond said
hotly. "Maybe some minor adjustment with a heavy monkey wrench. But
that's all."

"Perhaps." The little man turned on the smile. "The important thing
in an android is that it function properly and efficiently. We are
prepared in every way to keep your android in perfect operating
condition, but we do not feel that it is at all necessary to concern
ourselves with an android's alleged thoughts or vocal expressions.
After all, it is only an android. A machine. A clever machine, but a
machine."

"This clever machine has driven my wife out of our home, and is edging
me into a cybernetic psychoneurosis."

Raymond walked stiffly out of the Sales Manager's office on to the
balcony that overlooked the various androids that were on display in
the showroom below and stared at the section designated MANSERVANT.
There was an astonishing variety of tall, short, slim, fat, young,
middle-aged, and old looking androids.

Mr. Krutchamer approached him slowly. Raymond fought back his annoyance
and asked in desperation, "What kind of deal can you give me on a trade
in?"

The Assistant Sales Manager smiled and said thoughtfully, "Let me
see." He turned and examined the android. He looked it up and down,
walked around in back of it, and looked it up and down some more. Then
he circled it slowly three times, and concluded the ritual by making
clucking noises with his teeth.

Finally Mr. Krutchamer said, "Can't give you too much, you realize. It
isn't equipped with radar, or any navagational instruments, or even the
built-in computer. About as high as I can go would be one thousand."

"One thousand!" exclaimed Raymond. "That would leave a balance of
almost four thousand, plus the balance I've already got on this one."

The android stared at Raymond and said, "I could have told you that
before you came down here, sir."

Raymond jumped, and snapped at the android, "Shut up!"

Raymond was furious. He turned suddenly on Mr. Krutchamer.

The Assistant Sales Manager ran into his office and closed the door
behind him.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Really, sir," the android said, "your method of operating this flying
machine is truly offensive."

Raymond jabbed the throttle and the jetcopter leaped forward. He sat
tensely at the controls, beads of perspiration across his forehead.

The android said, "I would suggest, sir, that you allow me to
demonstrate the proper method of operating these controls."

The jetcopter lurched suddenly in a sharp turning motion, and angled
in rapidly for a reckless ground landing at WHEELER'S WONDERFUL USED
ANDROID LOT.

Mr. Wheeler personally met Raymond and the android as they disembarked.
"Greetings," he said. "Looking for a good used android?"

Raymond shook his head. "Got one I want to sell." He pointed and asked,
"How much?"

Wheeler examined the android rapidly and said, "Looks like a good
clean model. Guess I could give you about five hundred cash."

Raymond exclaimed, "What! That the best you can do?"

Wheeler nodded and smiled. "That's Blue Book on this model. Take it or
leave it. That's my top offer--cash."

Raymond turned away. "Come, my faithful manservant," he said
despondently. "Let us return to our dismal retreat, where I can get
properly and thoroughly liquored up."

       *       *       *       *       *

Raymond was tired and dejected. His face was lined and despair was
in his eyes. He collapsed into his favorite chair and dispatched the
android to the bar.

Two highballs later an idea dashed itself to pieces in Raymond's
brain. He jumped up, ran over to the Televisor, and placed a call to
Allied-News-Facs. When the News-Facs android's plastic face appeared
on the screen, Raymond said, "I want to place an ad in the For Sale or
Swap section of the Four O'clock Edition."

"Yes, sir. What do you desire to say?"

Raymond frowned. "Just say this: Anyone desiring to take over the
payments of one darling, efficient, well-mannered, handsome, unbearably
conscientious android can purchase the equity extremely cheap at great
sacrifice."

"Is that all?"

"Yes, for now. If that doesn't work, I'll call you back." He gave his
address and televisor number and switched off.

Raymond turned to his android and said, "I've reconsidered. Maybe
psycho-electronic-therapy can really help--one of us." He glanced at
his watch. It was eleven a. m. "Let's go."

The android followed obediently and said, "This is extremely
monotonous."

       *       *       *       *       *

The door read: DR. FREDRICK MILLHOP, PRD

Inside, the waiting room was jammed with human beings and assorted
electronic, two-legged contrivances. Surprise halted Raymond half-way
through the doorway, and he studied the crowd in disbelief.

A beautiful female voice pierced the noisy confusion of human and
unhuman voices: "Do you have an appointment, or are you human?"

Raymond stared at the Receptionist-Android, with its fixed smile on its
sculptured feminine face, and replied unhappily, "I had no idea I would
need one."

The Receptionist-Android smiled steadily. "Is this an emergency, or a
disaster, or are you sober?"

"Could be," Raymond replied, bewildered. "Yes."

"If you desire to wait, perhaps the Doctor might see you, see you, see
you. But I don't see why, see why, see why."

Mumbling a hasty assent, Raymond retreated into an unoccupied corner,
where he and his android waited. The other men and women in the room
were a grim, haggard looking group. As for the other androids, Raymond
refused to look at them; and he closed his ears to all sound.

Noon came and passed, and the afternoon dragged. Raymond lost his
feeling of impatience, and stood in the corner trance-like. Finally at
two-thirty a tiny green light flashed in the Receptionist-Android's
metallic bosom.

"The doctor will see you now or never."

The large, spacious office, with its glowing walls, dimmed ceiling, and
deep, soft carpeting was a silent, soothing relief. Raymond's android
watched as the two men engaged in a mutually weary handshake.

Dr. Millhop was a tall thin, sharp featured man. There were black moons
under his eyes that lay heavily on long, guttered wrinkles. He leaned
back in his chair, as Raymond explained the android's manifestations.

The Doctor nodded his head in the manner of a man who had been
listening to the same story all day, day after day.

"Mr. Golden," Dr. Millhop said, "you must realize that every android
has its own peculiar idiosyncrasies. Unfortunately, in some instances,
there is absolutely nothing that can be done about it."

Raymond gestured at his android, and asked hopefully, "What about this
instance?"

"I don't know," the Doctor replied frankly. "Before I can express an
opinion, it will be necessary to run your android through exhaustive
tests and have my technical staff examine its electronic circuits
minutely. If it is a simple matter of rewiring, or, say, a faulty
component, why, of course, we can straighten it out very easily.
However, if it is a condition that is caused by Unknown Factors, then I
can prescribe only one thing." He paused, spread his palms, and added
sadly, "As so many of us seem to be attempting these days--_don't lose
your temper_."

"How long will it take to run your tests?"

"We can send it into the lab immediately, run it through the analyzers,
and have a report in one hour."

Raymond reached into his coat pocket for a cigar, stuck it in his mouth
and lighted it with an old-fashioned lighter. He puffed thoughtfully,
took one glance at the android, and said, "Let's do it."

The android's head swiveled sharply, staring first at Raymond and then
at the Doctor. "Isn't anyone going to consult me?"

Dr. Millhop's chair groaned, as he leaned forward suddenly. His voice
was cold death in an angry whisper. "Shut up!"

The Doctor viciously pressed a button. A large panel in the wall
snapped open and two huge, square-shouldered, power-androids clanked
into the room. The Doctor pointed. They lifted Raymond's protesting
android, and carried it from the room.

Back in the waiting room, Raymond drummed his fingers nervously on the
receptionist's desk. He finished his cigar, started another one and
finished that one. Precisely one hour later the little light flashed on
the Receptionist-Android's dashboard chest.

"The Doctor will see you again and again and again."

As Raymond re-entered the office, the Doctor was examining a folder.

"Mr. Golden," Dr. Millhop said in a tired voice without looking up,
"there is absolutely nothing that can be done, short of electronic
lobotomy."

Raymond asked, "What is electronic lobotomy?"

"That is tantamount to an entirely new memory bank. Even then we cannot
guarantee that some other idiosyncrasy will not develop. Frankly, I do
not recommend it to you. It is an expensive process, and lobotomys are
mainly performed in the larger industrial robotic devices, where an
extremely expensive piece of equipment is involved."

The chubby man rubbed his jaw. "I've got to salvage my investment
somehow. How much will it cost?"

"Three thousand dollars."

Raymond shrugged sadly, turned and walked out of the room.

The Receptionist-Android looked up at him and said impersonally, "You
will receive the Doctor's enormous bill by Telefacs."

       *       *       *       *       *

As Raymond entered his apartment, disillusioned and exhausted, the Four
O'clock News-Facs, containing his want-ad, was sputtering out of the
receiver.

When the News-Facs had ceased its chattering, he scanned the paper,
grunted a resentful satisfaction, and slumped into his favorite chair.

He sat and fidgeted, and waited and waited, until darkness fell. But
there was no response to his ad.

Finally he said to the android, "Looks as if you and I were meant for
each other forever and ever."

"Certainly, sir," replied the android. "You need a stable, intelligent
advisor and mentor to save you from your frequent, horrifying errors
of human judgment. For instance, I could have told you in advance that
electronic butcher could not so much as cure headaches in a buzzsaw.
In short, sir, you will never find a finer, more loyal, more capable
android than myself. Put yourself entirely in my hands. I will even do
your thinking for you."

Raymond shook his head wearily, and remarked, "I am both excruciatingly
sad and divinely happy at that information."

"I am mystified at your sadness, sir, though gratified at any little
happiness I might bring into your drab, miserable existence."

Raymond said mildly, almost too mildly, "Shut up."

"Very good, sir."

With an effort the chubby man got to his feet, walked to the bar and
poured himself a long drink.

The following morning Raymond, finding his body host to a horrible
hangover, staggered into the living room, and fumbled behind the bar
for a small plastic container, which was labeled: HANGOVER-OVER.

He removed two blue pills and tossed them into his mouth.

When Raymond was half-way through his second cup of coffee, he suddenly
jumped to his feet and snapped his fingers. "I've got it. What a
tremendous, frightening idea. But it might work."

He raced over to the Televisor and put in another call to
Allied-News-Facs.

A half hour later the ad was coming out of the News-Facs machine in an
excited staccato that matched Raymond's quickening pulse.

As soon as the ad was printed, he ripped it out of the receiver:

            WILL TRADE MY CRAZY MIXED-UP ANDROID FOR YOURS.

Raymond grinned happily for the first time in days. "Ingenious."

The android said, "A complete, hopeless waste of human endeavor, sir.
However, it is quite typical of your impulsive and somewhat obnoxious
personality."

Raymond laughed. "Say anything you like, my vanishing servant. You are
not long for _my_ little world."

Thirty minutes later the automatic door-announcer sang out: "Visitor!"

Raymond set the door control on automatic. A tall, thin, haggard
looking man entered and offered his moist hand in a feeble grip. "My
name is Groober." He pointed weakly at the glistening android behind
him. "This is George."

Raymond stared hopefully at George and said, "Our android was once
fondly known as Francois, but we've since been unable to think of it as
anything but _It_."

Mr. Groober sat down with a sigh, and said in a hoarse voice, "This
idiotic robotic device has a chemurgical complex."

George, the android, stared at Raymond. "Sir, you have an extremely
high fat content."

Raymond briefly described his android to Mr. Groober, and the latter
shook his head sadly. "Looks as if they've got a lot in common."

Raymond nodded sympathetically.

The door-announcer sang out again: "Visitor!"

A little old lady entered. "I am Mrs. Quimby," she announced in a
squeaky voice. "And _this_ is Daisy."

Daisy followed her in, walking on its hands. Raymond stared curiously
at Daisy and remarked, "That's a new twist."

Mrs. Quimby said with bitterness, "That ain't all Daisy does."

Daisy suddenly collapsed to the floor, leaped to its feet, and began
jumping up and down. Its feet hit the floor with a crash; it's head hit
the ceiling with a thud; up and down, up and down.

Raymond asked, "How do you stop it? My ceiling can't take much more of
that."

Mrs. Quimby said, "Don't know. Depends on the ceiling."

"Visitor!" The door-announcer cried again in its one-word recorded glee.

A large android walked in ahead of a short, perspiring man. The android
announced, "I am Ulysses, the greatest android ever produced. This poor
creature is my old, worn out owner. I am here to find a new, strong,
vigorous owner. Which one of you is interested?"

The door-announcer sang out again and again. In two hours the little
apartment was jammed with human beings and inhuman androids. The
interviewing process no longer involved Raymond alone. It became an
interwoven, complex affair.

The confused, excited melee continued on through the night. It lasted
all through the following day and night, and on into the day after,
when the last guest left with his militaristic android counting cadence
in a loud grating voice.

Raymond mixed a strong drink and collapsed into his chair, muttering to
himself, "How utterly, utterly hopeless. There wasn't a single android
that didn't have some glaring incurable idiosyncrasy that could drive
Paula and me completely out of our minds as easily as our present
mechanized helpmate." He appealed to the cracked ceiling. "What am I
going to do?"

His android said, "You look like a tired, fat old man."

"Shut up."

The android stared at Raymond and asked, "What fiendish, diabolical,
sure-fire scheme have you devised in that tiny, inadequate human brain
of yours now, sir?"

Raymond leered at the android. Perspiration was breaking out all over
his body. His lower lip began to tremble and his cheek twitched.

Raymond tapped his forehead. "When science fails," he said in a hoarse
whisper, "there it but one method left for a poor, ignorant savage with
a primitive brain."

Moving forward swiftly, Raymond bent over, and seized the floating
ebony end-table in both hands.

"Come here, oh, modest, unassuming, subservient one. I want to bend
your ear."

Raymond lunged forward and swung. The android dodged awkwardly, and the
table top glanced off the side of its head.

For a long moment the android remained quiet and motionless. Finally it
said, "Did you ring, sir?"

The ebony slab slipped from Raymond's hands. He squinted at the android
from under drooping, red-rimmed eyelids.

The android's head remained perfectly still. Its eyes did not follow
him.

Raymond stepped over to the bar, made tinkling noises with the bottles,
and waited tensely.

Silence. Pure silence.

The stillness of the room was suddenly warm and friendly. Astonishment
swept over Raymond in a dizzy wave. He asked in an excited whisper,
"Who are you?"

The android turned towards him and bowed humbly. "Your servant, sir."





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