By Douglas T. Vale
Copyright 2011 Douglas T. Vale
Cover image courtesy of Thomasowen / StockFreeImages.com
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Jem had dumped many a pot of stew on the heads of poor master Chatham's guests in his time. Jem had also helped departing guests into their jackets without informing them the jackets were backwards or inside out. Sometimes he had even left immature scribblings on these jackets, such as “2 kewl 4 u, sucka!”. He'd learned that eloquent manner of address from the constantly enlightening blogs of the world's young folk. Jem could peruse the data nets at the same time as he poured champagne for his master or one of his master's guests. His precise metallic arms never wavered.
Most of the time he glanced through the data nets while he had little better to do. His master only received guests on the weekends. Chatham spent the rest of the time half-asleep in bed, tossing and turning and grumbling and moaning. Jem would leave his master to such whims and prowl the manor, thudding down the heavily carpeted halls hung with old portraits of friends, family, and heroes. The manor had rooms guarded by carved wooden lions, and huge hunks of jade fashioned after ancient Chinese soldiers. There were also rooms with great fireplaces a man could easily hide in, and since the fireplaces were seldom used perhaps vagabonds did hide there. Jem had never troubled to check. It wasn't part of his programming.