Old Peter Macready was a really old man
With skillful hands and a very sharp eye
He was an inventor. A creative one indeed
For he made everything he could ever desire.
From the chandeliers to furniture to cutlery
To the finishing. His creativity knew no end.
There was nothing in his house that wasn’t made by him.
Except the fact that, in all this time … he’d made no friends.
In his eighty years on earth he’d met many people
Men and women, boys and girls, since he was born.
But none were the kind he’d want for a friend.
And none ever asked if he wanted one.
“I don’t need ‘em”, he said. “I don’t need ‘em at all.
“If I ever needed something, I never had to search
I just made it instead.
Piece of cake! I’ll just make!
Making a friend of my own shouldn’t cost me much.
He tried to make his own little wooden marionette
Like the one that sang the classic, “I’ve got no strings.”
But it could do nothing else. It had no brain.
And to this day, that’s the only song it ever sings.
So he made an android robot that could do much more.
It was sentient, intelligent, and good with chores.
But it kept trying to terminate him and take over the world
So he had to turn it off, after losing a few doors.
He tried to use a Professor’s famous solvent: Chemical X
To make daughters of his own, like the cartoon’s story went.
But with nothing nice to add to the Sugar and Spice
The resulting volatile mixture simply destroyed his basement.
After months of explosions and whole room implosions
He found that a new friend was nowhere near.
With a sigh of disappointment, he gave up on his desire
To have friends. After all, he’d been fine for many a year.
(A creak as the door slides open)
A boy in a uniform stands at the door, a brown package in his hand. Actually, he is too old to be called a boy, but too young to be called anything else. He probably isn’t even 18 yet.
I should say something … but I don’t know what to say. I frown instead.
He raises a hand to wave, even though I’m right in front of him. “Hi … sir. I’m Justin. Is this Mr. Macready’s house?”
I nod slowly, wary of troublemakers like him. “I’m Macready.”
He nods. “I’m a mailman. Well, obviously, ‘cause I’m clearly not female …” He pauses. He must expect me to say something, but I know not what. He keeps oscillating about his feet like a pendulum bob. “OK, most people get that joke the first time, so this is a little embarrassing—“
“I’m not expecting any mail,” I interrupt. “There’s nothing here for you, boy.”
“It’s Justin. And, yes … I mean, no! No, you’ve got no mail. Actually, you never get any mail, I think. But I couldn’t help but notice that there’s always smoke coming out of at least one of your windows. No one on your street seems to know what’s going on with you, sir, so I was …” he rolls up a sleeve and scratches his forearm. “I just wanted to make sure you were OK. You know.” He nods, pursing his lips, his gaze not shifting from mine. “That’s it.”
He doesn’t seem to be up to any trouble. I nod once more. “I’m fine.”
“OK…” he turns to stare back at his bike parked by the curb, and turns to look at me. His gaze strays behind me. “I guess that’s – WHOA!!! What IS that thing?!”
I turn abruptly to see what’s got him all startled. It’s my old android, resting in the kitchen doorway in the last pose it’d taken before I shut it down. It’s been too heavy to lift, so I just left it there. Now this boy has seen it. “It’s nothing—“
“Nothing? That’s a robot!” He’s a little overexcited. “WHOA!” He’s still staring around at everything he can see through the doorway. My portraits, my carpentry and –
BAM! I shut the door and stand in front of him, my arms folded. He’s seen enough. “Is that all?”
“You’ve got some crazy stuff going on here, dude.” He says. “I mean ‘sir’.”
“I mean, it’s crazy, but only ‘cause it’s good. As in, it’s so good that it’s crazy. Like, crazy good. I mean,” he tries to find another word. He gives up. “I’ve said too much already, right? Like, I should probably just shut up and get going.”
“That would be preferable, yes.”
“OK, I know when my eVite’s expired.” He walks away. “You’re alright, sir. Been good meeting you.”
But now he’s leaving. This … ‘dude’ had cared enough to ask how I was. And I felt … good about it. It was bizarre, but good. I hoped he would return someday.
“Thank you.” I manage. He stops and turns. “Thanks for coming over … boy.”
He smiles. “Actually, it’s Justin. But I guess we could go with that.”
And that wasn’t that last they saw of each other.
Justin became Mr. Macready’s new friend.
As soon as he entered the inventor’s house the next time
His exuberant excitement seemed to know no end.
Mr. Macready learnt a lot about friendship from Justin.
For he observed that the boy had taken the first step.
Perhaps that’s the way to make new friends.
Not to wait for them to come. But to reach out a hand.
He learnt that you can’t make them out of what you see.
Friends aren’t made from things. They just happen to … be.
At the end of the day, Mr. Macready could say,
“The best ingredient for friendship is me!”
“Hey,” Justin says after taking a bite from the cookies he brought over this time. “Where’s that creepy song about strings coming from?”