Oskar struggled manfully with his meal, having been brought up never to waste food. Somewhere after the second mouthful it had lost any flavour to him, and by the fifth it was like eating wallpaper paste. Andi, contrastingly, clearly enjoyed her meal. She offered the dessert menu to Oskar, who rejected it for fear of finding the only potato soufflé in there, and waved away any suggestion that she might eat dessert herself.
"We'll take my car back to the office," she said. "You can have one of the juniors come back and collect yours. That is, if they all don't consider it too much effort and not worth their time?"
"I walked," said Dr. Crepidarian, "so I doubt it will be a problem. Look Andi, I don't like this any more than you do, but it seems that the world is changing, and we must change with it. You can't force a man to work."
"Of course you can," said Andi. "It's just that slavery's illegal now."
Mondegreen's had a narrow elevator, panelled with thin vertical strips of alternating woods, that descended to a private underground carpark. The black and white carpet had a stark geometric design of concentric circles that pulled the eye inwards, and the overall effect was to make travellers feel like they were being stretched, becoming very long and thin. Andi barely noticed it, but Oskar, not helped by his potato-rich meal, was feeling slightly nauseous when they stepped out. The car-park was small, and Andi's car was the only Phaeton in there. Its suede convertible roof was the colour of kidskin gloves and the long black bodywork with red trim was lustrous even in the gloom.
"Inside, or on the running board?" said Andi, a wicked smile dancing about her lips.
"You said you walked here, presumably for the good of your health, so if you wish to ride back on the running board, dear Oskar, I'd not be at all surprised."
"Inside will be fine, Andi, thank-you. After all, you will be driving."
Andi's smiled vanished briefly as she was surprised by Dr. Crepidarian's comeback, but then thoughts of driving took over and she allowed his words to be forgotten. Driving a car was actually less fun than driving a locomotive, in her opinion: there was too much extra thinking to do, and you didn't have the feeling of power that several tonnes of steel gave you. However, cars were more versatile, and there was a certain amount of pleasure she could obtain from honking the horn and making people jump out of her way, though she noticed peripherally that Oskar seemed to jump almost as much as the pedestrians.
Braggart offices were a few blocks away from Mondegreen's and had Andi come from the office she too would probably have chosen to walk. She found that watching the world around her, how people moved and interacted with each other, very informative. She stopped the car at the kerb, and Dr. Crepidarian was out so fast that her hair was ruffled by the breeze he created.
"The soup!" he croaked, bent double and barrelling towards the doors of the offices.
Andi let Timothy, one of the doormen, take the car to the parking garage, and walked in. She looked around the lobby, a fantasy in soft wood and hard chrome, and found the Superintendent with a watering can in his hand checking the decorative ferns that bracketed the lift doors.
"Zachary," she said, trying not to sound too stern. "Where is Michael?"
"Dead? Is there nothing people won't do to avoid work?"