Then he lost a leg.
By this time he’d become accustomed to this. It had ceased to embarrass him but it had caused a bit of hysteria from the crowds intent on their Christmas shopping, because he looked so human, he supposed. He’d stepped awkwardly on the edge of the kerb and it just parted company with the knee joint. He picked it up and stuffed it into his rucksack, and hailed a passing taxi home.
The first time it happened was in the summer. Lunching with Amelia Brown at the Dorchester he had passed the salt and his hand had fallen into her tomato soup. Without further ado, Amelia summoned a waiter who fished it out with a pair of silver tongs, wrapped it with a spotless napkin and parcelled it neatly in cooking foil.
Amelia indicated she had finished her soup and proceeded to demolish the Dover sole she had ordered for her main course. It was typical of the Dorchester that no one else appeared to have noticed.
He knew he should have reported immediately to the nearest Service Centre but he was unwilling to face the prospect of being recycled. He wasn’t past it yet, and he enjoyed his current employment with the Brown family, and they were prepared to overlook the loss of the odd limb from time to time.
Jeffrey Brown was a talented engineer and he normally managed to reattach the offending bits and the children were becoming rather blasé about it all. No need to make it official just yet he told him as he refitted his lower leg, you are almost one of the family after all. We can keep you going a bit longer, Charlie 3.
On Christmas Day Charlie rebooted himself in the morning and by afternoon he was feeling disoriented, confused and was aware of generating too much heat on his skin-like exterior covering.
He staggered around the kitchen but bravely managed to produce the traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings before asking to speak to Mr Brown
The family gathered round in the evening and tearfully said goodbye to their faithful factotum. “What’s wrong with Charlie?” sobbed little Amy.
Her father sighed and said gravely. He has a virus, Amy, and I can’t fix him this time. He’s just worn out: his chips are fried and his circuits are blown.
Mr Brown gently pressed Charlie’s deactivation button and only then did he unpack Charlie 4.