"Right, I'm off for my lunch now," said Super Bastard to his Number Two. "Make sure you double Paulspeaking's bill."
"Yes, sir. And what if he is calling and complaining since you are telling him he is let off his bill?"
"Say 'Ringing for you' and leave him on hold for twenty-five minutes and then cut him off."
"Yes, sir. And what if he is calling back again to complain because we are cutting him off?"
"Use your imagination, Number Two! As soon as I'm back for lunch if he rings and asks for me personally tell him I've gone out to lunch."
"Yes, sir. And what if he is calling again a third time..."
Super Bastard sighed. Clearly Number Two would never get anywhere at British Gas.
"Must I think of everything myself? Say 'I can hhhardly hhhear you, caller, I can hhhardly hhhear you."
"'I can hardly hear you...'"
"No, it's 'I can hhhardly hhhear you,'"
"I can hardly hear you."
"No, Number Two, listen to me; 'hhhardly'; you've got to put a rasp into it; really pronounce that 'h'. It'll irritate the hell out of him."
"'I can hhhardly hhhear you...'"
Super Bastard clapped Number Two on the back.
"That's the spirit, Number Two. I can see a great future ahead for you."
He left his assistant beaming and went towards the door. On his way out he turned to his secretary.
"I'm just off for lunch with Aubrey Aubergine," he announced.
"Very good, sir," she said, peering over her glasses.
"Oh, and Miss Whack?"
"Prepare a "Termination of Employment" form and make sure it arrives on Number Two's doormat on Christmas Eve, would you? There's a good girl."
"Very good, sir."
Twenty minutes later Super Bastard was shaking hands warmly with his old friend.
"Aubrey, it's been too long!"
Aubrey Aubergine looked snootily at him and adjusted his bowtie.
"I have made a temporal allowance for the happenstance of our consuming a midday repast together," he said, very pleased with himself at all the long words he'd just used. "But why must the likes of the Banana Bunch join us? They're frightfully Lower Middle Class, you know. And as for that scoundrel Scruff Gooseberry - why, he's not even a Lower Mid - he's a WC."
"A toilet?" enquired Super Bastard.
"No, no, not a lavatory!"
His voice now went into a whisper.
"He's one of THEM - working class!"
"Well, without the Munch Bunch, there wouldn't be a lunch!" said Super Bastard, knowing that the meaning of that would be lost on his guest.
One by one the Munch Bunch started rolling up: there was Billy Blackberry, Suzie Celery, Rubber Pean, Pedro Orange, Rory Rhubarb, Kinky Drawings, Chunky Stinkwheel and many more.
"Rory Rhubarb and Kinky Drawings got married his morning," stated Lizzie Leek.
"Did they? To be honest, I find that rather brilliant," smarmed Super Bastard.
"Yes," continued Lizzie Leek, "at the Sir Winston Churchill Church in Dunlop Street, Finchley. But that's all I'm going to be saying about them. I'm very disappointed in them."
With that her eyes went down to the menu once again.
While Pedro Orange was playing his guitar and Button and Tiny were singing along, Super Bastard ordered.
"Yes, I'll have aubergine, I think, please, and then leeks and celery. Oh, yes, and don't forget the button and tiny mushrooms. And then I'd like to follow it up with an orange, blackberry and rhubarb crumble and a bunch of electric-chair-fried bananas with their walnuts. I'd like to sit near enough that chair to smell their nuts fry in an ideal world but, oh, well - we can't always get what we want, so I'll have to settle for that. Oh, and some gooseberries would be nice, too. Thanks."
He smiled charmingly, closed the menu and handed it to the waiter (who hadn't noticed that while he was taking the order Super Bastard had been taking all the money he'd made in tips that day out of his pocket).
The waiter came in and started sharpening his knives near the Munch Bunch.
"BOTHER!" shouted Pete Pepper, storming into the restaurant. "Freddie Mac have asked us to join them: they thought we were the Credit Crunch. I tried saying we were the Munch Bunch but they wouldn't have it so we've all got to hop over to America now."
He clapped his hands.
"Come on, chop chop!"
"Precisely what I was going to do, sir," said the waiter.
"Sorry, mate - haven't got all day to stand here gossiping. We've got to be in America in five minutes. There's no way we can do it. The Number 13 'bus takes at least half an hour from this far into India. We're very late. Oh, and thank you for including me in your lunch invites, ladies and gents - very considerate of you I don't think. BOTHER! There's the number 13 now - come on, ladies and gents - we'd better run!"
WIthout knowing it Pete Pepper had just saved all their lives. Super Bastard became so angry that he began to sweat profusely. He sweated and sweated and sweated until he'd crashed onto the floor surrounded by a smoking, smouldering pile of twisted metal and burnt wood which was all that was left of what had once been a chair. He'd rotted right through it.
Back at the office Pat Whack, the secretary, was trying to avoid giving Kevin the Frog a loan that could help crash the stock market further. Kevin had tried every pathetic tactic: please lend me some money because I can leave you this fake golden waving cat as a security; please lend me some money because my father's Mick Jagger et c. et c..
Miss Whack was following procedure in not lending out money to somebody who could ill afford to pay it back and who would go bankrupt and cause a subprime housing issue across America for the second time.
"What's that?" she asked, peering over her glasses at the fake golden cat.
Super Bastard rested reassuring arms around the shoulders both of Miss Whack and of Kevin.
"It's a nicknack, Patty Whack - give the frog a loan. His old man's a Rolling Stone," said Super Bastard.
Suddenly his day was looking up.