Managed Transition

TJ was on the graveyard shift at the Lucerne Valley Hotel. He heard steady footsteps down the front stairwell, accompanied by a cane tapping. It was an elderly person, probably Mr Ramzy. He wondered why he didn’t take the elevator. It would have saved his arthritic legs.

The footsteps and tapping continued for longer than expected. As TJ looked up from prolonged curiosity he saw Mr Ramzy at the bottom of the stairs, adjusting his tie knot and sweating slightly, which gave his amber complexion an unearthly sheen. Was he feeling sick? Why was he coming to reception at three a.m.?

“Good morning Mr Ramzy,” said TJ. “What brings you down here at this early hour? I hope everything is all right.”

“Bah! Nothing is all right!” said Mr Ramzy. “At my age you are always thinking about how things were then, and how things are now, and how much better they were in the old days.”

“Which things do you mean, Mr Ramzy? Everything, or just some things?”

“Well, this place for example. I remember the days when the Lucerne Valley Hotel had the best bar for miles, full of fine vodkas and whiskies, and rums and gins; when you’d never leave here without whipping someone’s ass, or having yours whipped, in a darned good fight; there were bowling lanes on that side” – he indicated the new toilets and baby changing facilities – “where I once hit ten strikes together! There were crazy bingo sessions where you won cabins, horses, even women; and a brothel upstairs that they called the United Nations, on account of all the exotic girls there, and let me tell you, not all of them were girls!” He winked with exaggeration. “And of course the bank that we all hated, and cheered when it got robbed, but which lent us money to get through harsh winters, and while we waited for our gold strikes and oil strikes, and when the cows died.”

TJ said, “This place? Really? It sounds so wild!”

“Yes, it was a wild place, but it was in a small town far away from everything, so The Authority left us alone. But during the PC Revolutions,” – there had been six of them in all: PC1 (Personal Computers), PC2 (Political Correctness), PC3 (Personal Corporations), PC4 (Party Components), PC5 (Purchase Costing), PC6 (Pacific Cities) – “they kept making demands to change this and that, and it’s a wonder this place survived at all.

“To be honest, it’s not much of a draw now, just pastel rooms like everywhere else and an average restaurant and themed cocktail bar, but I come for the memories. I credit the owners though, who went through two hundred years of changes in twenty years. It was a managed transition from bush saloon to modern hotel. I just wanted to talk to someone about it. I’m going back to bed now.” He tapped his way up again.

TJ was intrigued by the hotel’s past, so plugged himself into the main system. He accessed archived memory banks and found earlier versions of himself. His twenty percent android self was unchanged of course, but his human self had been a prospector, an outlaw, a banker, a soldier, a fur trader and a barman. He thought about the implications. He had surely at some point served drinks to himself.

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