"John, I'm going out for a few minutes. I'll stop by Jones Electronics and pick up the server we ordered. I might stop at the deli and if I do, would you want anything?"
"No Doc, I'm fine. I think I'm about finish here and I might be gone when you get back. I'll install the server tomorrow."
"Ok if you're gone when I get back, I'll leave the server on your desk."
Jones Electronics was just a short walk from my office. They carried most of what I needed in my work. If they didn't have the specific part they could order the components from a list of different vendors and John and I would build the part we'd need from scratch, so to speak.
As I left the building, there was a young lad standing outside of the deli next to my building. He looked hungry and by the looks of his clothes, he obviously had worn them for a long time. To say they were dirty would be an over statement, they were filthy and had several holes in them. I have never seen boy this young before. Like any small, town there was a small group of homeless asking for money to buy some food or alcohol. My guess this kid looked about 12 or 13 years old.
When I stopped to go into the deli, he looked at me. His eyes reminded me of a person who had given up on life and was waiting for death to claim him. I've never seen such despair in someone as I did in this boy. Even the homeless had more hope than he did.
"Son, would you like something to eat?"
His face flashed a sign of hope, "Yes but I have no money."
I didn't want to embarrass him by having someone in the deli either say something or make a face of disgust at him. "I have to go to the electronic store, it'll only take me 10 minutes. If you stay here, I'll see that you get something to eat." He just nodded his head and I wondered if he'd wait.
It took me 20 minutes at Jones Electronics as they had to find my order. I was concerned that the boy would be gone. I walked as if I had to get to a fire as I rushed to the deli. I could see as I got close he was still there. "I'm sorry it took me a little longer they had to find my order."
I looked onto the deli and as there weren't many people eating, I decided it'd be ok for him to enter with me. "Come on it'll be ok."
When I entered the shop, the attendant looked like he didn't appreciate the boy coming into his shop. I showed the boy were to sit and I went to the counter to order. I order a sandwich for my self and a large sandwich with chips for the boy. Taking the food to the table, I watched as he looked at the sandwich. I thought even the 6 inch sub was a lot but the 12 inch large size was way more than I could ever eat. The boy surprised me, he ate his in almost the same time I ate mine. I noticed a small tear ran down his cheek as he ate. This young man was hurting from the inside not the outside.
I grew up in a family that believed in helping your neighbor. I remember my mom making soup and taking it to a sick neighbor and any kid that I played with always had to have a glass of milk and some cookies before going home. I never knew if the kids played with me because they liked to play with me or eating my mom's cookies. I learned that lesson well.
"What's your name?"
"Robby, my friends call me Doc. Do you have a place to stay?" I knew by the looks he didn't.
"No, I sleep in the park."
"Well, if you would like you could come home wth me. I need to stop by the office and drop off the part I ordered from the electronic store and then I'll be able to go home. If you would rather not I'll give you some money." I noticed his look when I said about going home with me, it wasn't what I expected. His face went through three phases, the first hope, then indecision and the last fear.
"Robby, you have nothing to fear from me. I'm old enough to be your grandfather and I have no desire to exploit you in any way. I have a nice home and you'll be safe there. If you decide you do not want to stay, I'll bring you back to town. What do you say? Want to give it a try at least for tonight?"
I watched Robby's emotions as he thought about what I said. "I can leave anytime if I want to?"
I sat there and waited till he was finished eating. "Ready? I need to stop at the office and then we'll be on our way."
He followed me to my office, I noticed that he walked a little behind me and not by my side. I thought that was strange. I dropped off the server on John's desk, locked up and headed for my car.
"Electra please unlock driver and passenger doors."
"Robby you can get in on the other side, just put your pack on the floor before you get in." I watched Robby walk to the other side and as he approached the door started to open. He looked startled but did as I asked and placed his pack on the floor and then got in. As soon as he was seated, the seat belt activated and the door closed. He had a trapped look on his face until I got in and the seat belt on the driver side was activated. "Electronics"
"Electra we'll be going home." The car started and we began to move. Robby looked at me with a questionable look. "This is an electric car and is controlled by a master controller which I named Electra. There are sensors all around the car which monitors traffic. The computer uses the satellite for positions, Electra knows we're here and by using an internal GPS can drive us home."
I noticed the surprise look on Robby's face and a small smile. I thought if this amazes him he'll be really amazed when we get home. My home is also monitor and controlled by artificial intelligence.
On the ride home, Robby's eye began to close. He must be tired although the soft whirring sound of the motor could lull you to sleep. As we left the city Electra began operating at different speeds as we approach several small roads, she would slow up for a turn and then speed up till the next turn. This caused Robby to become alert. On the last stretch of reaching home, we had to pass through a gate and then what would look like a small forest.
When I built my home, I selected a site that was mostly trees. I fenced it in and built my home in the center. I wanted seclusion as I worked in my laboratory and I also wanted to have the peace and quiet of the forest. It was relaxing and on my many walks I would enjoy the wild life. It was directly the opposite of my offices in the city. Here was peace and quiet versus my office which was noisy and hectic.
My home wasn't extraordinary, it was a simple two story home that blended in with the natural elements of the area. As we pulled up to the garage, the garage door opened and Electra pulled in and stopped. The seat belt retracted and the doors opened. As soon as the car stopped, the garage doors began to close. I opened a side door on the car and plugged Electra into the electrical socket to recharge her batteries.
"Robby this way." He followed me to a wall with a sliding door. I placed my thumb in a small orifice by the door, the door slid open.
"Welcome home Doctor"
"Thank you Pesi."
"I see you have a guest Doctor. Will he be staying long?"
"I'm not sure he has made up his mind. We'll have to wait to see. Robby this is Pesi which stands for prototype extra sensory intelligence. He's very smart and controls all functions in my home. He's also top secret and no one except John at work knows about him. In fact John doesn't know everything about what he can do. He not only protects my home but also my guests, so he'll protect you as long as you stay here."
Robby followed me into the house, "Robby I'll give you the grand tour and then while I fix supper you can get a bath." I noticed that Robby hugged his knapsack to his chest when I said bath.
Entering the house through the laundry room, "Robby if you want to wash any of your clothes you can do it here after we eat." I then proceeded to show him the rest of the rooms on the first level. Taking the stairs to the second level, "This is my bedroom and this room will be yours. Pesi, please open the door to the guest room." The door slid open and we entered the room. I showed Robby the bathroom, "Robby each room has its own bathroom. There are towels here and you can take a shower. If you put your clothes outside your door, then I'll take them to the laundry room and start to wash them. Just tell Pesi to open any door and close any door in this room. Now I'll show you the rest of the upstairs and then you can return here and shower."
I showed Robby the extra bathroom at the top of the stairs, my office and then the large family room with soft comfortable chairs, a sofa and a large TV. Returning to his room, "Ask Pesi to open your door."
"Pesi please open my door."
"Certainly Robby, I have started the water for your bath."
"When you're done, Pesi will direct you to the kitchen."
I went to the kitchen to prep for dinner. "Pesi, keep a watch on Robby. He's probably scared and is alone. I need to order clothes for him but right now he needs to feel comfortable. I hope he'll stay with us for a long time. Make sure he knows where's there a robe he can use after his bath is finished."
"Yes, Doctor, he's taking his bath now. I'm afraid he's crying."
"Pesi can you size him for clothes?"
"Yes, Doctor that's easy as he's standing right now."
"Good can you phone in a clothing order, enough for 5 days, to our local clothing store and ask them to delivery as soon as possible."
"Yes, Doctor, they'll deliver in 1 hour."
With the food all sorted for dinner, I decided I'll take a shower and change into more comfortable clothes.
When I returned to the kitchen, Robby was sitting at the table in a robe that was way too large for him "Robby, do you want to wash your clothes?"
"Ok" He took his knapsack and the clothes he was wearing and went into the laundry room.
"Doctor, he's sitting on the floor crying."
Walking into the laundry room, "Robby what's wrong?" He was crying to hard to answer. He just held up his clothes, they were really rags. My heart went into my mouth, "Don't worry about them Robby. I'll get you some new clothes."
He continued to cry as I pulled him into my arms. I held him until the crying stopped but there were a few sobs as his body shook. "Come on. Just leave them here and I think you need something to drink."
I led him to the kitchen where I prepared a cup of hot chocolate for him. He looked so desolate and broken, how could a kid that young feel like that. Looking at him I saw tears in his eyes even if he wasn't sobbing. I turned to the task of preparing supper. Just as I was putting the chicken in the oven to bake, "Doctor, the clothes are here."
I went to the front door and signed for the clothes. "Robby, please come here and help me."
He followed me as I took the packages to the laundry room. "Now, threw them clothes in the trash container, and start to wash these new clothes. Just put the washer on the rinse cycle to get the sizing out of them, then into the dryer. These are your new clothes."
Tears again along with a hug. I watched as he open each package, handled each piece of clothing as if it was the most precious thing on earth. I left him to it as I went to finish supper.
"Doctor he's crying again."
"I hope Pesi it's tears of happiness instead of sadness."
As dinner was finishing, I watch Robby come out of the laundry room in a pair of jeans and no shirt. "The rest of the clothes are still in the dryer. How did you know my size?"
"Pesi is a marvelous, marvelous fellow. He took your sizes and then ordered your clothes. I hope you like what he picked out for you."
"Thanks Pesi, they are perfect." That was the first smile I saw that lit up his face.
Supper wasn't anything special but Robby seemed to eat like it was the best food he had ever eaten and maybe it was if he had to rely on street offerings. He had a pleasant face that lit up when he smiled. It's hard to understand why he was on the street. What could have caused him to be on the street? Maybe in time, if he stays, I'll find out.
Dinner over, clean up finished, "Want to watch some TV or see a movie?"
"Do you have Star Wars?"
"Yes, I think I have the directors copy of the first two. Have you seen them before?"
"No, I haven't ."
"Ok then we'll see them. Come on."
We went to the family room, "Pesi, Star Wars first disc please."
Sitting back on the sofa, I was pleasantly surprised when Robby sat beside me. When the movie started, the sofa actually shook as the space ship seemed to come over us heading for the large TV. Robby jumped at the noise and then his eyes grew large as he looked at the underside of the star ship. He looked at me, smiled and I thought no way was this kid going back on the street.
I watched his actions as the movie proceeded, he was into it. "He seems to like the movie, Doctor."
"Yes, Pesi I think he's on that ship."
When the movie was over I looked at Robby and he looked like he was ready for bed. His head was resting on my shoulder. "Robby why don't we leave the second movie till tomorrow after dinner. Come on down to the kitchen and I'll fix us some hot chocolate."
He slowly got up from the sofa and headed to the kitchen as I followed. Sitting at the table he waited for his hot chocolate. I set two cups down, sat beside him and watch as he savored the sweet chocolate drink. "Ready for bed?"
I saw a strange, frighten look across his face. "Let's take the rest of your clothes to your room."
I took a handful, gave him a hand full and headed to his bedroom. "Ask Pesi to open you door."
He did and Pesi opened the door. I took the clothes and put them in the dresser, hung the pants in the closet along with some long sleeve shirts. "Robby, if you need anything just ask Pesi. I'll see you in the morning, have a nice sleep."
I left the room and went to my office. I had a few ideas I needed to sketch out and I wanted to catch up on my email. I was totally engrossed into what I was doing I didn't hear the door to the office open. Looking I saw Robby with tears in his eyes. "What's the matter Robby? Are you having trouble sleeping?"
He nodded his head yes, "Come here and sit beside me. Are you afraid I'll make you leave or is there something else."
He nodded yes.
"I won't make you leave me, you can stay here as long as you want, I hope it'll be a long time. It's nice to have a young man in this old house."
"I have a friend that I have left behind."
"Where is your friend?"
"In the park where we sleep. During the day, we split up to find food or money too buy food. He is going to be worried that I won't be there tonight. He may think I got hurt."
"Ok get dressed we'll go and find him." His face changed as he ran from the room to get changed.
"Pesi we're going out to find his friend. When we come back I think someone is going to be hungry and dirty. I'll put some food in the oven and let you know when we're on our way back. Turn the oven on so the food will be ready to eat when we come home."
As I was leaving the office, Robby was waiting for me. He was in a hurry as he grabbed my hand leading me to the garage. I disconnected the electrical cord from Electra. "Electra open passenger and driver door please." As the doors open, the garage door also began to open. Robby jumped into the seat and was excited.
"Doctor, where are we going?"
"Robby do you know the address of the park?"
"No but the name of the park is called Grant Street Park."
"Electra, check that then drive there." We sat back as Electra headed for the city and the park. When we arrived at the park, "Electra park in that spot in front of that TV store. Robby go and find your friend and bring him to the car. We'll wait for you."
Robby got out and ran into the park. I waited what seemed like a long time. I was wondering if he was going to come back. Maybe his friend didn't want to leave the park and would convince Robby to stay. "Doctor there are two boys approaching the car from behind."
"Electra, open the back doors when they arrived."
"Sir, this is my friend Marcus. He doesn't believe me when I said that you fed me, bought me new clothes and I have my own room."
"Then if he's willing, we'll have to show him."
"Electra, as soon as they are seated, let's go home."
I looked at Marcus through the mirror and noticed another boy who needed a bath. He appeared about the same size as Robby. I smiled to myself as I thought how he was going to react to Pesi.
I listen as Robby told Marcus all about the house and Pesi. Of course I could see the doubt in Marcus's face. When I turned around to ask Marcus if he had anything to eat, he panicked. "Who is driving, we're going to crash."
Robby told him about Electra, his eyes bugged open. "I never heard of a smart car."
It wasn't long we approached the entrance, this was the first time Robby saw the woods as well, he was half asleep when we arrived yesterday. Pulling into the garage, Electra released the seat belts as she opened the doors. Robby helped Marcus with his bag as I hooked Electra up to the charger.
Approaching the door, "Doctor is this Robby's friend."
"Yes, Pesi, this is Marcus. I think he may stay here as well, if Robby decides to stay here."
Placing my thumb in the reader, the door opened. "Robby show Marcus where to put his bag, then take him to your room so he can get a bath. When he's done, come to the kitchen, I'll have some food for him."
I watched as Robby took Marcus's bag, dropped it in the laundry room and taking his hand led him to his room. "Pesi, will Robby's clothes fit him?"
"I think they may be a little large on him Doctor. They'll do until we get his size."
I waited till I heard them coming down the stairs, pulled the food from the oven and began to make two cups of hot chocolate. Marcus had Robby's pants, cuffs rolled up and one of his t-shirts on. I set the hot chocolate in front of them, "Be careful with the food it's hot."
Robby sat there and watched Marcus eat. I don't think it made any difference if it was hot or cold, Marcus dug right in. I thought Robby ate a lot but Marcus did himself proud. I guess he didn't have that sandwich that Robby had before he came home with me.
"Robby, when you're done, show Marcus around. Tomorrow breakfast is served at 8 am, Pesi will wake you. When you are done, could you rinse your cups and plates, put them in the dishwasher and Pesi will start the dish washer."
After the boys left, "Pesi keep an eye on the boys and make sure they are comfortable. They seem nice, we'll need to do a search on them if they decide to stay."
I returned to my office and finished up what I started. Going to my room, "Pesi wake me at 6:30 please."
I slept the sleep of a man who had done something good. "Mom if you can see me, I know you would be proud."
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