The Robot Translator (Flash Fiction Part 5)

Image by kiquebg from Pixaba

This is the 5th part of the story. The previous 4 parts are here: 1, 2, 3, 4.

Ayun arrives at the office early today. Upon arrival, she immediately goes to Fifi, unplugs her cord, and dislodges her battery. As she is pondering what more damage she could do, she hears the footsteps–her boss Ku comes to the office early too.

After a brief exchange of pleasantries, Ku tells Ayun to get prepared for a new case–he is representing Lew, who owns a bodega underneath the Brooklyn Bridge. Lew was driving the other day to pick up some goods from a supplier and couldn’t find a parking place. When he eventually saw a car leaving and vacating a spot, he ran into an argument with another driver who was also waiting for the same spot. Lew argued with his broken English. Both sides got so excited that the other driver took out his gun and shot Lew.

“Poor Lew. He is lucky that he’s alive. Lew is determined to sue the shooter, but I know that the City doesn’t usually prosecute such cases and the court will most likely refuse to accept the case. Or probably just a traffic ticket or 10 hours of community service. The shooter can basically go free.” Ku says.

“Oh, please don’t tell me that you are representing Lew for free. Another free case?” Ayun says.

“Oh well, it helps me with my reputation. I already contacted our community newspaper, which is going to publish an investigative report about Lew and me, denouncing racial discrimination and lack of gun control. It is free advertisement. And of course you are going to write this investigative report for me and submit it to the community newspaper. I don’t really trust their reporters. They don’t write as good as you.” Ku says.

As they wait for Lew’s arrival, Ku suddenly says, “Lew speaks Vietnamese and Cantonese…”

“I know Cantonese and Vietnamese.” Ayun says quickly.

“Of course you do, Ayun. I am just saying that we can utilize Fifi today as your assistant to lighten your workload.” Ku says and walks towards Fifi.

“Hmm, what’s going on. Fifi is not responsive.” Ku says, “Oh, I see. She’s not plugged in. Wait a minute, she has rechargeable batteries inside and should respond even if unplugged. Let me see. The batteries are somehow loosened. Let me fix this. By the way, Ayun, Fifi needs to be plugged into the socket all the time and its wifi has to be “on” all the time. Even if it doesn’t look like she is working, she is. She does all the research and learn all the material online 24/7. She is a learning robot. Isn’t she wonderful?”

Ayun watches with dismay as Fifi comes back to life. Apparently her sabotage is not working.

The second day, Ayun comes up with a new idea. She uses a pair of scissors and cuts two wires inside Fifi’s robotic body. And on this particular day, a client comes in to talk with Ku about his lawsuit–he is the owner of a photography shop doubled as a computer repair store. He hired several of his relatives to work for him. One of his relatives ran away with his female assistant (who’s also a good saleswoman), together with many expensive tools and equipment. In addition, they also did damage to his workshop and spread rumors about him in the community.

The client speaks Malay and Hokkien. Although Ayun doesn’t speak Hokkien, she can handle Malay. Ku wants to use Fifi, but unfortunately Fifi becomes non-responsive again. After the client meeting, Ku asks the client, “You used to be an engineer, right? Can you take a look at Fifi for me? She was working yesterday, but for some reason she’s dead today. I’ll give you a discount on your case.”

The client is very happy to help and soon Fifi is up and running again.

Ayun is furious. “Well, small sabotages probably won’t work. I need to do something irreparable.”

(To Be Continued)

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