“By now,” the shopkeeper explained, “your operating system has become fully integrated into your daily life, so it’s easy to think it’s not there. Still, I’d expect you to know that you had the computer.”
Grenshaw nodded. “I’d expect the same.” What incompetence. Could he sue these people?
“It could be that the system was purposely deceiving you.”
“Purposely deceiving me? You sold me a product that lies to me?”
“We sold you a product to get your life right.”
“Right. “˜Get your life right.’ I’ve been hearing that all over town with that stupid ad you guys run.”
“Uh, we don’t run ads, sir.”
“Of course you don’t. Look. Give me a full refund and maybe I won’t sue you.”
“I’m sorry, sir. You signed an agreement waiving those options, so you’ll be doing neither. However, I think I can help you. Though I have no idea what you’re going through right now, I’m sure it’s the right path for you.”
“Right path? You call seeing monsters in alleyways and talking with interns that don’t exist the right path? What the hell did you sell me?”
“We sold you the single most advanced piece of technology in our modern world, sir. We sold you the most effective way to the right path.”
“You’re telling me a computer knows what the “˜right path’ is? Hell, nobody knows that. How can your company claim to know what’s right?”
“Well, one definition of it is “˜that which ensures harmony and peace.’ And in fact, a computer might know better than we do since it has no self-interest.” The shopkeeper started fiddling with a small keypad. It looked more or less like a calculator. “Our software was developed by a panel of scholars, religious leaders, and key revolutionaries. Surely, you wouldn’t argue that the Revolution was the wrong path?”
Grenshaw thought back to his father. He remembered when they were selling their house; his father had pulled him aside. “Son,” he’d said, “we’re going to have to start making some sacrifices. For a while things are going to be very different. We’re going to have to give up a lot of our luxuries.”
Grenshaw glared at the shopkeeper. “Not everybody liked the Revolution.”
The shopkeeper looked up from his keypad. “I have a son, Mr. Grenshaw,” he began.
Grenshaw’s glare softened. Could this guy read his mind?
“And he doesn’t like taking baths.”
For a few long seconds, the two men stared at each other. Initially, Grenshaw was waiting for more, but he realized the man had made his point.
The shopkeeper pressed a few more keys on his calculator. “There,” he said. He moved one of his watchmaker’s loupes over his glasses. “Yep. It worked.” He pointed toward the door. “Looks like you have a visitor, Mr. Grenshaw.”
Grenshaw turned around to see Tommy standing in the doorway. “Come with me,” he said. “We’ll explain some things to you.” He exited the shop.
Grenshaw was about to follow when the shopkeeper spoke. “By the way,” he asked, “was your father’s name Phil Grenshaw?”
The shopkeeper nodded and then headed toward the back room. “He was a great man,” he said before disappearing through the doorway.
to be continued . . .