“You, uh, really take trying out your product seriously, don’t you?”
The man was nervous. Sheen’s workshop did that, got people thinking about all the pieces coming to life, or about all the meat parts they still had.
That was, however, no excuse for rudeness.
“Mmm?” Sheen made like he didn’t know what the guy was talking about.
“Your, uh, your arm?”
He’d actually said it. Sheen marked a point in his favor.
“This?” Sheen sent a thought through the wiring and detached his metal arm — mostly composites and ceramic, but “metal arm, meat arm” sounded cooler. “Does this—” he waved the stump “— look like something I did to myself?”
“Well, ah, ahem. I was in ‘Steam, and I knew a guy cut off his own leg to get out. Looked like that only, ah. Fresher.”
Sheen chalked up a bunch more points — not just the answer, but the service, too. “Fair, fair,” he agreed, “but I didn’t.”
“If you don’t mind me asking…?”
“Farm accident.” Sheen gave the last answer someone had given him. “You’re here for some limbs, right? Not for yourself?”
“Ah, no.” He shifted foot to foot. “My nephew. He hit a bad one down in the southlands.”
Soldier family. Sheen made another note. “Well? Where’s he? These aren’t exactly off the shelf parts, you know. You came here, that means you want custom.”
“I want good. Like yours, they say you can feel everything? That crap the government gave him, he can barely pick shit up, barely walk. That ain’t right. So I want good.”
“Good means custom. And custom means in-person fittings.”
“It’s just… he doesn’t want to admit he needs help. He gets feeling like he’s got nothing to offer…”
“Look.” Sheen sat down. “If I go in with my technician suit on — ‘hello Sgt. Brady, I’m from the Helping Hands for Veterans program, and these limb, well, they’re just for you…’” he continued in his best patient nurse voice. “— he’s not going to know who paid. He’s just going to know that there’s a tech there with an arm and a leg that’ll do what he wants, and since they’re custom, the tech’s gonna throw ‘em out otherwise. He never has to know it’s you and he gets to be able to move like a person again.”
The man shifted again. “All right. How much?”
He was braced. Sheen didn’t blame him. The fancy storefronts, they’d take you to the cleaners for this stuff and it still wouldn’t be as good as his.
But the plug-in behind his left eye had scanned the guy’s bank accounts the minute he walked in. Sheen named a price in credits that would make him feel like he was paying a lot without bankrupting him. “-oh. And the arm and the leg?”
“What?” The man touched his own left arm. “I – okay.”
Serious points, major points. “Nah, not yours, man. I want the shit arm and leg the government gave him.”
The man, to his credit, tried to hide his relief. “I brought cash.”
“You and me are friends then, man. Friend discount, ‘nother ten percent. And I’ll be visiting Sgt. Brady tomorrow.”
Just for good measure, he waved the stump of his arm at the man one last time.
Written to today’s (wow me) Thimbleful Thursday prompt: an arm and a leg
Sheen is one of three protagonists in something I’m calling “OTStrange”: an urban fantasy story that MIGHT be set in Modern Bear Empire. This is outside of that storyline, however.Want more?