The last repairman sat in his cramped booth at the nano-mall. He hadn’t had a customer in months. Around him shoppers scurried with their latest purchases micro-manufactured in neighboring stores. The last repairman looked at his hands which should’ve been rougher and dirtier. He shook his head to clear his mind which should’ve been much more focused and engaged. He was here to help and no one needed him.
To pass the time he juggled a few too-shiny tools. Then he noticed a pair of eyes fixed upon his and he dropped the tools in clackering surprise. Rising just above the level of his low countertop was a hungry look, a young face intent upon his own.
“Hullo,” said the last repairman.
“Watcha doing?” asked a child with eager green eyes.
“Passing time,” he answered.
“Until I’m needed.”
“When’ll that be?”
The last repairman shrugged at the child. “Can’t say. I think this world’s too broke to know it needs fixing.”
The child with green eyes nodded. Then nodded again. “You can help me.”
“That so,” the repairman leaned forward. His brow crinkled like a warm blanket.
The child nodded again. “I’d like to fix things.”
“What kind of things?”
“Everything?” The last repairman whistled and almost smiled. “That’s a tall order. Specially in this world. There’s so many things we’ve left undone. Such a backlog. We don’t fix our old problems; we just create newer and newer ones.”
He looked over the child to the teaming mass of shoppers, store bags full, dreams vacant. “I’m the last of my kind, I think. Probably no help to your generation.”
The child followed the repairman’s gaze. “You can help. That’s easy to see.”
“How you figure?”
“You’ve got the tool.”
The repairman glanced around his little shop. “The tool? Well, I got these here tools. What are you wanting to fix?”
“Okay. But where do you want to start?”
The child raised finely formed hands to his eager green eyes and with a swift ratcheting motion unscrewed them and set them on the countertop. “I’d like to see with more empathy.”
The last repairman on earth stared into the eager green glow of the precision-crafted orbs at his fingertips. Worlds of possibility. He smiled, then gritted his teeth and rubbed his hands. He finally had work to do.
“We’ll have this done in a jiffy,” he softly told the waiting child as he reached far back into his mind for the Tool.
Ingenious: We are never told what the last repairman fixes or what kinds of tools he has. This reminded me of Philip K. Dick’s Galactic Pot-Healer (1969).