Darien wiped the grease off his hands with a worn rag. His clothes were smeared in grease, ruining his only white shirt and light blue jeans. His sneakers weren’t looking too good either. He was just about done for the day when he heard the all too familiar ring from his door. Another customer at this time of night?
He climbed up on a bench to get a better look at the new customer, but could only see the top of their head. The customer was wearing an orange hat, but it wasn’t like any cap Darien had seen before. This one was almost… metallic? Despite his confusion, he quickly got down from the bench to meet his customer.
“Hello, how can I help you?”
The customer was very orange, almost the same color as his cap.Wires snaked through its inner body, only to be seen from the open joints in its knees, elbows, and neck. Sparks flew from the left side of its head and its illuminated eyes stared meanly into his own human ones. Darien was shocked, he knew his customer was a robot just not such an older model. An E25 to be exact.
“Yes you can, little man. I am looking for a “Darien Parkes.” Have you seen him? I haven’t got all night.”
“I am Darien Parkes… sir.”
Even though he had worked with robots for almost two years, he still didn’t know how to greet them properly. The robot squinted at him as if he was joking.
“No really, where is Darien Parkes?”
“I am being honest sir, I am who you are looking for.”
The robot put its hands over its face. “I can’t believe it…I can’t believe it…”
It removed its hands and got a good look at the boy. It was clearly disgusted.
“So you expect me to believe that a kid that looks almost six years old is the only open mechanic at this late hour who can help me?!”
Darien was terrified to answer. “… yes?”
The robot looked ready to punch something, its hands were wrapped in tight fists. It was so quiet, he could hear the metal grinding between its fingertips and palms. After a minute, it seemed to calm down. It looked at Darien politely, frustration deep within its eyes.
“Well then. Would you mind fixing me? I seem to have a malfunction and my owners would be very disappointed if this was not fixed.” Its voice was tight, waiting for Darien to say something that would tip it off.
Darien sighed. This was going to be a long night…
“Alright, if you could just sit here. Then I can check your mainframe and see what’s wrong.” Darien motioned toward the bench he was standing on just moments ago.
The robot mumbled under its breath as it sat down. The bot was annoyed with this predicament it was placed in, Darien could tell from its face. Darien proceeded to climb on a crate behind the bench to get a higher viewpoint.
“He has to get on a crate because he’s so small. What have I gotten myself into?” The bot continued to mumble.
Darien ignored the bot and opened its back, revealing the whirring gears and wires inside. He couldn’t help but marvel at the the old circuitry. The owners must really have liked this bot if they were able to keep it in working order after so many years. He found the mainframe and continued to investigate and dabble with the circuits.
After a while, Darien felt it was time to try and talk to the robot instead of trying to block out it’s rude comments.
“So… what’s your name?”
The robot shifted a fraction. “What?”
“What’s your name?”
“Are you really interested or were you just trying to end my trail of insults?”
Now, it was Darien’s turn to move to shift out of awkwardness. He didn’t know what to say. Just then, the robot sighed.
“You know what? Don’t answer that… the name’s Wires.”
He let the name swirl in his mind. Not very creative, but simplistic. He liked it.
“Wires, what is your job?”
“Boy, you have a lot of questions.”
“There is really nothing else to do.”
“Fine. I make sure everyone gets everything done on time.”
“So, you make sure your owners aren’t late for stuff?”
“That’s one way to say it. I think of it more as time management.”
Awkward silence. Darien studied some wires that connected his whole body together.
“OK, I am going to test your joints so don’t be scared if your body moves without instruction.”
“I know how this works..” Wires mumbled once again.
He then proceeded to send sparks into each wire, sending its arms and legs into the air for a second.
“Well, it seems your joints are in working order, now I am going to check the wiring in your brain.”
“Perfect.” Wires said sarcastically.
That’s when he again noticed the metallic cap. “What’s this?”
“This metallic cap.”
“Oh that. My owners got it for me.”
“Who are your owners?”
“They are the Mckinney’s. Ever heard of them?”
Darien nearly dropped his wrench. The Mckinney’s? Darien heard from his mother that they only worked with the best, most trustworthy robots. No wonder they didn’t upgrade to higher tech, they must have felt good with this one.
“Yes I have. I heard they are respectable people.” He said the last part because his parents called them that. Even though he didn’t fully understand what it meant, he knew it was a compliment.
Wires nodded. “Yes, I suppose they are.”
“Was it a gift?”
“The cap. Was it a gift?”
“In a way. One time, I was complaining about how the bots around me were becoming new and better. They overheard me and decided to make me feel better by getting me the newest style, which was a metallic cap. When they first gave it to me, I realized that my owners really cared for me and I have worn it ever since.”
Darien was touched by the story, knowing exactly what it was like to feel loved.
“Do you mind if I take it off to check the wires in your head?”
Wires waved an arm at him. “Knock yourself out.”
Darien carefully took off the cap and put it beside him before opening up Wires’s head. Darien couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it. Unless…
Then it hit him. “Oh!”
“I know what’s wrong with you!”
“OK, what is it?” Impatience seemed to drip from its voice.
“Your charging core is weak, without a new one you won’t get charged. No charging means you have malfunctions, sending sparks.”
“OK, so is it fixable?”
“Yes and it’s very easy. It should only take five or so minutes.”
“Then do it!”
Darien quickly snapped Wires’s head shut before shuffling through his mess of a shop. After some digging, he found a new E25 charger. Since it was an older model, it was harder to find it but he eventually did. He then came back to continue working.
“Why did you want to be a mechanic?” The questioned shocked Darien. He was so used to asking the questions, he didn’t realize Wires would be curious about him.
“Well, my dad is an engineer who creates robots like you. I went with him one day and noticed the many bots in there. My dad let me tinker with one and I knew, at that moment, that fixing bots was what I wanted to do.”
Wires seemed to fight with his words, like it didn’t want to offend Darien.
“You are so young though. How were your parents OK with that?”
Darien shrugged. “I told my parents and they were really happy that I knew what I wanted, so they let me set up shop in my bedroom and I went from there.”
“You are more talented than most six-year-olds I know.”
Darien then screwed the last nut into place, finding the satisfying click as the new charger fell into place.
“All done. After a good charge up tonight, you should be good as new tomorrow.”
Wires got up and looked at Darien with gratitude in its illuminated eyes.
“You’re welcome. Come back anytime.”
Wires looked at him with newfound approval. “You know…though you are very young, you are a great mechanic and even better listener.”
Darien smiled. “Thank you. I think the same of you.”
That’s when Darien heard a voice.
“Darien! Dinner’s ready, come on down!”
Darien looked up at Wires. “I have to go now, can’t miss mom’s dinner.”
“No problem, I have dinner with the Mckinney’s I need to get to too. Have fun!”
Suddenly, the workshop shifted. The once messy shop full of wires, chargers, and tools became a bedroom with posters of robots and a bed with robot bedsheets. Wires looked adoringly at Darien as it changed into a stuffed toy sitting on the bed that once was a bench. Darien picked up Wires and set him with more stuffed toys that were the Mckinney’s.
“I fixed Wires for you. Now if you have any problems with it, please let me know.”
I will be fine, I’m not that old! Wires said in his mind. Darien laughed and then remembered something.
“Oh! I almost forgot!” Darien raced to his bed and grabbed the small metallic cap and put it on Wires head.
Darien smiled and ran downstairs.
“Mom, mom! Guess what! I had a new robot come who needed its charger fixed and its name was Wires and…”
His voice trailed off as he ran down the stairs. In the corner of the room, Wires sat with its family and for the tiniest of seconds its eyes seemed to light up.