|at Kool Skatkat|
He went out the door and walked to the elevator.
He took it all the way down past the Universal Foods Supermarket and the Skyfarm Dock to Highway Seventeen then he got out and walked under Pillar Seventeen and on to the catwalks and alleys that were strung up around the superstructure of the pillar.
There were little hole in the wall bars and cafes and artists had studios. Vortik’s Robots was down a couple of levels and workers came up from there and Chinatown to drink in the robot bars. It was a designated robot bar precinct.
Robots were allowed to drink there (except military robots and security robots)
It was easy to meet people but Winston liked to talk to the robots. After shift ended there were huge crowds of robots and sometimes they would spill out into the street.
But no matter how much they drank or what they drank, the robots were always polite and open and friendly and interesting to talk to.
That was what Winston liked about them. They were open. He actually preferred talking to robots than talking to people because he found them to be more honest. People were so fake and they hid so much. They were competitive, always trying to get one up on each other, dismissive, rude, domineering, arrogant ..robots never behaved like that. Robots were on the whole better people than people were. That was what Winston thought anyway. He thought this but he never said it to anybody.
If he had been a robot, he might have said it but he was not a robot. He was human.
He was a human and he was frail and weak and afraid and forced to compete and mask and lie and tolerate and jockey for position with all the other humans.
He hated his life..but what can you do? He hated the government, but what can you do?
The phone rang on his hand. It was his wife. He held his wrist up. She looked at him.
“Where are you?” she said.
“Pillar Seventeen. Where are you?”
“Pillar Nineteen. I am at the roof garden next to Katrina Fashion.” It was a beer garden but she did not like to call it a beer garden. She preferred to call it a roof garden.
“Wine garden” sounded silly. So she called it a roof garden. It was after all on a roof.
Although everything is on a roof in Universal City, if you think about it.
Everybody is living on top of somebody else’s roof, just like in a coral reef.
We are all like coral polyps in a huge multi-coloured coral reef.
“Where is Grace?” said Julia.
“Didn’t she come to get you?”
“I called her. She said she had to mind the children.”
“The children are teenagers. They can look after themselves.”
“That is what I said.”
“What did Grace say?”
“NOT according to her programming.”
“That is what she said to me.”
“Do you want me to come and get you?”
“Do you mind?”
I don’t have the car.”
“Take the train over.”
“You can’t drive?”
“I have had three glasses of wine and I am going to have another one. There is somebody here who I would like you to meet.”
“Oh” Who is it?”
“I am not going to tell you. If I tell you, you might not want to come.”
This is intriguing” said Winston.
“Is it somebody who I don’t want to meet?”
“No! I don’t mean it like that. I just mean if you know who it is you will not be lured here by the prospect of meeting a new face.”
Not all men were able to understand their wives.
“Alright” he said. “I will be there in thirty minutes.” He hung and looked around. He had not had a drink yet. Now he had to drive.
Why couldn’t his wife take the train and get the car tomorrow?
He was just outside Uncle Ginzos, the place which was owned by the bird painter from Japan. Everybody said he was the best bird painter who had ever lived. Winston had never been inside the establishment. He resolved to set foot inside it one day.
Who knows, perhaps that Pleasure Model who he had met earlier at the pizza store worked there. He wondered where she worked. He thought about calling her. Then he remembered, she was not a pleasure model. She was a nanny. She had been converted. She still looked like a pleasure model though.
He decided to walk over to Pillar Nineteen. It would be just as quick as walking all the way down to the station then all the way back up again at the other end. He could cut across Highway Seventeen and go through the Station Building then come out the other side near Universal Genetic Engineering and Submarine House.
Winston started walking.