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Officer Barbrady was an 80’s guy. Not the crazy party hard 80’s guys that started to discover the technology of today. No, he’s the polar opposite of that. Some even consider him a 70’s kinda guy; even calling him a 50’s kinda guy wouldn’t be far-fetched. While he does inhabit the body of a 40 year old man, his mind speaks the reason for such a speculation.
With a flip of his wrist, Barbrady shutted out the sound emitted from the car radio. The police car he was driving quietly eased its way out of the deserted two-lane highway. In the pitch black, the front bumper barely missed a jagged rock as the car rolled into the grass. Then silence. Snuggled in between two trees, officer Barbrady’s car melted into the landscape, a silent predator waiting for its next victim.
Inside, the midnight highway watch ritual had already begun. Barbrady powered up the speed radar and aimed it at the highway. In the passenger seat rested his personal crappy flip cell phone and his large flashlight. He unholsetered his 9mm pistol and checked if it was loaded. The click of the cartridge answered “yes”. Finally, he placed his most important weapon, the one object that he cannot complete this mission without in his hands. It was pleasant, having the warmth from the coffee cup radiate out onto his cold hands. Now it was time for work. So he sat there, expecting an uneventful night like all 278 other watches he had conducted.
Eyes still on the speed-radar, Barbrady automatically lifted his arm up to pour the warm coffee slowly into his mouth. Three hours in and no car came. Reaching inside the passenger compartment, he withdrew a classic 1953 edition of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale (still in mint condition). He opened the first page, but could not make himself read. Something was troubling Barbrady. And what it was wasn’t his typical marriage issues, family issues, or work issues. It was a society issue.
Earlier that day on Barbrady’s daily bus ride to work, he saw the most peculiar thing. Right across from him was a young man and (as he presumed) a toddler who was the man’s son. The man was playing on some kind of device he was touching with his fingers while his son was… The little lad had his back to Barbrady and was pressing his fingers on the window as he pulled his hands away from each other. Barbrady was flabbergasted. As far as he knew, there was nothing special about the bus; it was the same old bus he had been riding on for the past 10 years. The windows were plain windows, the chairs were plain chairs, the driver was a plain driver and the people were…plain people. So what in the world was that boy doing? He tried to ignore the boy’s strange action, but overtime the question kept burning up until it finally bursted out of him.
“Are you alright little boy? What’s going on outside?”
The boy didn’t stop as he replied to Barbrady.
“I wanna see the small birds. They need to be bigger.”
Now he was using his index fingers as he pulled them apart across the window. The response only made Barbrady even more flabbergasted. There he sat in contemplation, trying to figure out what in the world the child was doing until he saw it. On that device, the father was reapeating the exact same action as his son did on the window. Barbrady had never seen such a device before and he took no hesitation to find out.
“Sir, what is that you are holding?”
The man didn’t look up from the device, a rude gesture in Barbrady’s standards.
“Well officer, this is an I-Pad.”
“It’s like a mini computer, just it has a touch-screen. Here, watch this”
He flipped around the device to face the screen towards Barbrady. On the screen was a small picture of a bird. By repeating that same action, the man increased the size of the bird on the screen.
“It’s a neat thing. You should buy one.”
And just like that, the man turned the device back towards himself, never having made eye contact at all.
The surprise startled Barbrady, flinging him up high in his chair. Training overtook Barbrady as he withdrew his handgun, scanning the front windshield of his police car. Nothing showed to be an alarm.
Realizing that it was his cellphone that startled him awake, Barbrady chuckled at his own foolishness. Sliding his pistol back into it’s holster, Barbrady flipped his phone open and placed it next to his ear.
“Hello this is an automated message from Lenovo computer company-“
Barbrady closed the device and tossed it onto the passenger seat. D*mn people kept advertising to him about computers. He hated computers. Where he was born, computers came as often as a shooting star, that is to say never. The 80’s was a time of computers for America, well most of America except to people like Barbrady. Everything was done by hand, men had to use paper and pencil to organize things, build things with their own blood sweat and tears, entertain themselves by adventuring, and best of all. Barbrady grinned, best of all, they had to go out of their way to get the ladies. No online dating shams or cr*p like that. He loathed technology and what it has done to suck people in. The thought of the boy on the bus, the boy who believed the window of the bus was a device, came back to haunt him. Christ, soon humans will completely live in virtuosity.
Even now, in a digital age, Barbrady tries to avoid technology like the plague, dubbing him the nickname, “the 50’s man”. Either way, when the chips were down, no matter how many computers they’ve got or how much tech they own, it always comes down to the living, breathing cop and his trusty gun to deliver justice.
“Units on Highway two-three, we have a 7-8. Are there any units on two three?”
Seven-eight? That meant a robbery, Barbrady picked up the radio receiver.
“This is officer Barbrady, night-watch on highway two-three. Where is the call from?”
“We got a 9-11 from a little girl in Glennsdale Drive saying there was a robbery in her house. Her parents are away and she was alone”
Some parents, leaving their child alone in this hour of the day.
“Roger that, I’ll go there immediately.”
“Okay officer, just head north on Two-three and I’ll guide you through.”
Flicking on the police sirens and lights, Barbrady pulled out onto Two-three and raced ahead to the crime scene.
It was a small condo fitted in neatly among all of the other cookie cutter houses along Glennsdale drive. There was a small artificial front lawn that he could easily clear in two or three strides. To the left of the front door was a window that he could crawl into easily. Being only two stories high, the condo would be perfect for a getaway if things got sticky in the second floor, if not for the positioning of the windows being higher than most condos that would result in serious damage if anyone tried to make a leap from it. Bottom line, if someone was stuck upstairs, they would be penned in there with no way out. Lining the backyard was a rather large fence that would be difficult to traverse if one was carrying goods stolen from a house. Thus, the only way out was back through the front door. That meant the robber had to have cleared everything and left by now. Then Barbrady was just here to make an after-actions report.
Still…Barbrady made sure a round was in the chamber of his pistol. Better safe than sorry.
He briskly got out of his car, cleared the front lawn in 3 strides to the front door. He left his car’s police lights on, flooding the whole scene with the flashes of red and blue. By now, anyone in the home would’ve seen him. Before he could knock, the door swung open to reveal a little girl, about 3 or 4, wearing pink pajamas.
“Hi Mr. Policeman. The robber is still upstairs I don’t know what to do.”
“He didn’t leave yet. He’s still in my room upstairs. I don’t know what to do.”
Fear gripped Barbrady. He wasn’t dealing with an ordinary hit and run robber. Before she could say anymore, Barbrady quickly stepped in front of her and drew his gun. If things got ugly, he would shield the girl.
“Alright missy, where’s your room.”
This robber knew that a cop was here, but instead of booking it, he stayed in the house, in the second floor of the house too! That only meant one thing. Barbrady flipped the safety up. This guy was going to fight his way out.
Heart-pounding, Barbrady cautiously mounted the stairs. The first step let out a loud groan. He stopped, pistol still raised up and alert. The second story was just a small hall that branched off parallel to the stairs, with two rooms running along the hall and the daughter’s room straight in front of the stairs. Barbrady moved up a couple of more steps and stopped when he could see the whole door in view. He aimed his sights at the door. If someone were to open up from inside the room, the bullets would rip open Babrady’s head and fling the contents all over the stairs. He pushed the girl further down. Sweat began to trickle down his eyes, but he ignored it, his eyes glued onto the iron sights of his gun. There was absolute silence as Barbrady strained to hear something from inside the room. Nothing. Probably on the other side of the door, the robber was doing the same.
“This is officer Barbrady with the Glennstown police department. We know you’re in there!”
In fact he was alone, but the word ‘we’ might make the robber think otherwise about his odds.
“We have weapons raised on you! You have nowhere to go, just come out of the little girl’s room and you won’t be harmed!”
Without hesitation or second thoughts, Barbrady opened up! One, two, three, four, five bullets ripped through the door, the deafening sounds booming through the narrow stairway! Screaming on the top of his lungs, Barbrady sprinted to the top and rammed the door open. Adrenaline soared through his veins. His gun scanned the front of the room until he heard a click to his right. Of course. The robber was hiding to the side. How could he have fallen for that? Oldest trick in the book. Now Barbrady was dead, this was it, all of his life, everything he did, his whole life was now going to be snuffed out. But no bang answered the click. No bullet ripped through his skull. Barbrady slowly turned around. It wasn’t a gun. It was a computer that clicked. There was no one there, but the computer. He turned to the left. No one there either. He scanned the whole room. There was no one there. There was no robber!
The little girl ran into the room.
“There he is! There he is!”
She pointed at the computer screen. Barbrady leaned in. She was pointing at a video game, a virtual computer game. Barbrady looked dumbfounded.
“See! See! The robber stole my things! He stole my stuff!”
It was just a game. It was just a game. That sentence kept running through Barbrady’s head. On the computer screen was a cartoon picture of a robber carrying a gun and a wicked grin. Below that, the words “You Lose” kept blinking. Without looking at the little girl, but eyes still studying the screen Barbrady straightened up.
The girl looked up.
“Aren’t you going to stop him?”
Barbrady holstered his pistol, and walked quietly back to his car. He shut out the sounds of the little girl trying to call him back.
Once inside, he immediately radioed in HQ.
“HQ, HQ, false alarm. There was no robber. It was just a false alarm.”
“Roger that Barbrady.”
He leaned back in his chair. False alarm. It was more than a false alarm. He just shot up a little girl’s door only to find out that she thought a virtual game robber was real. It was a computer. Just a computer, nothing more. He’ll have to pay for the damaged door then. Pulling out his wallet, Barbrady took out his credit card. What a d*mn day.
But maybe it was more. Barbrady flipped around the credit card between his fingers. What if robbers start to steal things on the computer, just like that game? What the h*ll was this credit card then? It was just virtual money on this plastic toy being transferred around. Yeah. It’ll be easier. No need for guns or physical activity, just buy a computer, play around with credit cards and such and you can steal more money than just a regular heist at a bank. But if people did that, then law enforcement would have to follow. Then there won’t be a need for officers going out on the streets with weapons. There won’t be a need for men like Barbrady.
He stopped flipping the card around. Each year there are less physical robberies but more computerized hackings. And with a generation just like that little girl, it would only grow. Then he would be slowly phased out and replaced with more skinny guys working in the tech department. He’ll be phased out.
Credit card still in hand, Barbrady grabbed his cell phone and quickly, almost manically punched in numbers. His trembling thumb pressed the call button.
“Hello, this is Lenovo computer services, how may I help you?”
“Hi, I’m new to computers and I would like to purchase one”