Authors: Len Deighton
'You shall take me to lunch,' said Jay, as though he were conferring a favour.
'I can't,' I said. 'I have three months back pay outstanding and my expense account was only confirmed this morning.' Jay was thunderstruck at striking this rich vein of honesty. 'How much,' said Jay. 'How much is your expense account?'
'1,200,' I said.
'A year?' said Jay.
'Yes,' I said.
'Not enough,' said Jay, and he jabbed my chest to emphasize it. 'Ask them for 2,000 at least.'
'Yes,' I said obediently. I didn't think Dalby would stand for it, but there seemed no point in contradicting Jay at this stage of the proceedings.
'I know somewhere very cheap,' said Jay. As I saw it, a finer way out of the situation was for Jay to buy my lunch, but I know that this never even occurred to him. We all paid our bills, and I picked up my groceries, and then the three of us trailed out along Wardour Street. Jay in the lead. The lunch hour in Central London - the traffic was thick and most of the pedestrians the same. We walked past grim-faced soldiers in photo shop windows. Stainless steel orange squeezers and moron manipulated pin-tables metronoming away the sunny afternoon in long thin slices of boredom. Through wonderlands of wireless entrails from little edible condensers to gutted radar receivers for thirty-nine and six. On, shuffling past plastic chop suey, big bellied naked girls and 'Luncheon Vouchers Accepted notices, until we paused before a wide illustrated doorway - 'Vicki from Montmartre' and 'Striptease in the Snow' said the freshly-painted signs. 'Danse de Desir - Non Stop Striptease Revue' and the little yellow bulbs winked lecherously in the dusty sunlight.