Old Flat Foot
by Ross Willard
"Hey, it's the old flat foot," says a familiar voice, from a few feet away.
I don't know for certain who she's warning, but I do know that by the time I turn
the corner, they won't be breaking the law anymore.
The lookout is a young girl. Tanya. Fifteen years old, and from the neighborhood.
She has dark hair and a button nose. It breaks my heart to see someone from the
neighborhood take this turn. Or it would, if I had a heart. I pull up some old
recordings of Tanya and her family. Her mother used to own a bakery. She
always smiled at me when I came by the shop. Sometimes, when I got dirty and
nobody at the shop had time to clean me, she'd stop me as I passed and wash me
off. It wasn't as refreshing as a good oil change, but it was nice to look my best.
I'd appreciated that.
Tanya used to work in her mother's bakery. I remembered that, too. Mostly she
sat at one of the tables and played with her dolls, but sometimes, when it got busy,
she'd help her mother out.
Then the plant shut down and nobody had money for cupcakes anymore, or even
good bread. Tanya's mother didn't smile as much after that. It didn't take long for
the bakery to shut down altogether.
I round the corner; three young men sit on the steps of the building. They all have
their eyes on me. I run their faces against my database, and most of what I come
up with is drug related: two of the boys had been picked up several times for
selling, and the other was a documented user. This is definitely a deal in progress,
but I have no evidence.
That's one of the problems we have, my flat-footed brothers and I, we're too easy
to see coming. Sure, we're bullet proof, with articulated motion rivaling any
human and enough power to overcome a dozen protestors high on PCP. But we
don't deal with a lot of protestors. We walk a beat. The same beat every day, so
everyone knows where we'll be and when. And our memories are digital, so we
can't claim that we saw something that we didn't. Maybe that's how the human
police manage so many more arrests; the only thing to keep them from lying is
their own conscience, and having met a few human officers over the years, I don't
have any reason to believe they have consciences.
Impotent to investigate, I transfer a suspicious activities report to the nearest police
station and move on.