They made their way inside and they could hear Choco whining. Ralph was embarrassed thinking for sure Choco’s damage was obvious with his whining, but the old man had a grin from ear to ear. They went inside the room with Choco’s crate, and the old man said “ Ralph take him out for me. Let me see him.” Ralph opened the door and Choco shot out, still sore and limping from his match., yet rubbing himself against Ralph’s leg. He must have a skin problem now thought Ralph, embarrassed to have such a damaged dog in front of the legendary James Fontibeaux. He looked over at James who’s eyes were teary and he was smiling. He walked over to Choco and flipped him on his stomach. His smile quickly disappeared. He could see the serial numbers of the programmer he came from. This was a sure sign that Choco was in fact a mechani-canine. “ Everything okay sir?” Ralph asked him, as he let Choco go and got back up on his feet. Choco limped over to Ralph and rubbed against his leg, smiling up at him. “Yea Ralph, I’m just disappointed is all.” “ Why is that?” “ Well son it isn’t everyday I come to someone’s yard to see their dogs. After you’ve seen the real thing, all these mechanical dogs are the same. They may have different styles and colors with a random amount of gameness but I can tell from how you act around them they still haven’t installed any personality traits in them. They are empty fighting machines. The American Pitbull Terrier was much more than that. Yet when I saw you handling Choco the other night I thought I was dreaming.” “ What do you mean?” “ Choco was acting, and still is acting, like the real thing. He’s affectionate. He’s acting in a random set of actions, no preprogrammed loops. The mechanical version’s are nothing like this as you know very well. When you two were in the fight box I could see him looking at you for encouragement, and unlike the rest of the dogs, he reacted to your support. Handler bond is not something they’ve been able to program into these machines yet. I felt a jolt of life inside I hadn’t felt for years. I had my son get your addres get on the horn to find you and I had to come see for myself if you had the real thing.” Ralph was extremely confused and angry at who gave out his address, but later for that. Affectionate? The dogs were not programmed to be affectionate. He thought something was damaged in Choco’s programming actually. He stood quiet. “Let me see the programming papers on this dog Ralph. “Ralph went to get the papers as James stood with Choco, petting him like someone would a real dog.
Choco actually seemed to enjoy it. “ Nothing surprising here. He’s programmed from the Mechani-Redboy stock with some of the Mechani-Bolio stuff.. Looks like 5 generations of programming and they still don’t put in any emotion in the dogs. Where did you get Choco?“ the old man asked. “Cousin of mine sold him to me. He got him from an older gentleman in his area who was moving in with his daughter in his elderly age.” Well…something is definitely up with Choco, but I couldn’t tell you what though.” he said as he held the papers in one hand and petted the dog with the other. He gave the papers back to Ralph and walked through the house to the door. Ralph followed closely, not knowing exactly what to say. “Ralph why don’t you come with me? I got something to show you.” “ Sure let me grab a jacket.” As they rode in the SUV they listened to the radio. “ A violent showdown between Police and Animal Rights Extremists earlier today, claiming seven lives. The shootout occurred outside a mall store that was selling naturaldeath leather couches. The extremists claimed it to be non regulated leather, holding the store owner and his employees hostage. SWAT was called in and automatic gun fire erupted. All of the extremists were killed and one innocent bystander was hit in the crossfire. More details to come in-” at which point James turned off the radio. “ You know Ralph, there was a time when we had leather for most things and we all had different pets. Snakes, rabbits, lizards of all sorts, cats, and of course dogs. Real breathing creatures. These animal rights folk took all that away. They started without dogs first you know.
They claimed they were evil, built for destruction. The dog’s fanciers cried out and we objected their every claim, but as usual people don’t care if it doesn’t hurt them. They didn’t have a bulldog so why would they fight for us? Our dogs were the first to go, then everyone else’s. By the time they figured out the agenda of these people every pet was gone. Bet if they took the side of their own American breed when it first started, then none of this bullshit would’ve happened.” James explained to Ralph as they turned onto an immense farm. “ Welcome to my home Ralph. I almost never bring anyone here. But under the circumstances I felt like I needed to show you something here.” “ thanks for bringing me. It’s a beautiful piece of land you got here.” “ thanks son, but it would look better with some farm animals. I can’t deal with all the regulations they got now so I just enjoy the scenery. Follow me.” James lead Ralph past the barn, and through the open fields until they reached a wooded area. They walked down the edge of a small stream, when sudden barking and whining could be heard in the distance. “What’s that?” Ralph asked. “ She’s what I came to show you.” James said with a smile. About 50 feet ahead of them was a white and brindle dog barking and jumping along a chain setup just long enough that she can drink fresh water from the stream. They walked over to her and she licked both of them and rubbed up against their legs. James grabbed a leash that was nailed to a tree nearby, unhooked her from her chain and connected it to her collar. “ Her name is Stacy. See if you find any serial numbers on this one Ralph.” James said handing him the leash. Ralph bent down and Stacy licked him all over his face in obvious affection. Ralph laughed as he looked for the numbers, and gasped when he couldn’t find any. “Is she….?” Ralph said with huge eyes. “ She is the last one from my old stock before they were all murdered, hidden here in the woods. She is a genuine pitdog. She’s about 8 years old. Beautiful isn’t she?” James said with a smile so wide his face looked stretched. They walked back to the barn as Stacy ran in the fields with Ralph. He felt an inner warmth he never felt before but couldn’t explain what it was. For the time being he enjoyed the glimmering spirit in Stacy‘s stare. After spending several hours talking with Mr.Fontibeaux and petting Stacy the old man started to look tired. Ralph, not wanting to over stay his welcome suggested he go home so he could rest. “ Ralph thanks for coming. I hope you enjoyed what you saw today. Call me sometime. Take care of that Choco, he’s a special one. My son will drive you back.” James said to Ralph as they stepped outside. James’s son, Allen drove up in another SUV signaling him to get inside. On the long ride back, Ralph looked at the number Mr.Fontibeaux had given him, wondering when he could come back and see Stacy. He was shocked to see an authentic one and saw how different they acted , smelled, felt and interacted from the mechanical ones. He was depressed that he couldn’t have one like her. Little did he know, Choco was closer to his dreams than he realized. As Allen dropped Ralph off, they said their farewells and he entered the house. Depressed he turned on the tv, and out came running was Choco. Ralph thought he had locked the crate correctly but maybe Mr.Fontibeaux had left it opened. Choco pushed his muzzle under Ralph’s arm, trying to be as close to him as he could be. Ralph began to become teary eye, wishing he could change his mechanical dogs for the real thing he had seen. He was oblivious to the fact that Choco’s Serial numbers were gone, fabricated heavy duty marker ink erased by the splash of poorly cut bleach solution at the crooked vet’s office.