Doubles with Guns

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We were sitting together at a high table surrounded by wide shoulders and mustaches. Dad was talking to me a lot but rarely making eye contact. His focus was on the tables around him, on the hands of the many off-duty police officers. "Waste of a good beer." He muttered.

"What?"

"Nothing."

I knew what he was thinking; I'd heard the lecture many times. Robots, doubles with guns. The bounty was the highest because they represented the greatest risk both to society and to togglemen. The three laws? Just urban legend and wishful thinking. Robots would kill you to save themselves. I'd seen it, and well, that's how Dad explained it.

Heavy mugs clunked against the tables. Off duty cops were yelling, slapping each other's backs. I was getting bored. My dad was focused on a short, fat man who was clean shaven—one of the few in the room. How old was he? I couldn't tell.

My father stepped over to him, "Got a light?" The man in uniform hesitated and then moved for his pocket and pulled out a square Zippo lighter. He flipped the lid, struck it and brought it to my dad's dangling cigarette in a fluid swinging motion. Dad nodded his thanks and stepped back.

"Let's go Jacob." We left and walked across the litter-filled street.

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