After the Canteen Edit
Centaurians with Purple in the television lounge groaned or tried to look dutifully interested.
“The Great Leader Morowl is a majestic and fine ruler as indeed his Parent Morowl and his Grandparent Morowl both were majestic and fine rulers before him.” a television commentator intoned, more groans followed as the commentator just carried on and on about what an excellent ruler the Great Morowl was and how much the Great Morowl was doing for his subjects. When the picture broke down into static Centaurians grumbled a bit about drugged maintenance workers who weren’t looking after the television properly but they didn’t really mind too much.
Later inevitably there came more about the escape Purple and Blue Tentacles had made from their master’s mansion and the image on the screen made Purple feel bad again. There was a picture of Blue Tentacles in Patrician robes. Life had really changed since then.
“Patricians never care about any others, Patricians just care about themselves!” one of Purple’s group grumbled quietly so supervisors wouldn’t hear.
Purple started thinking, Purple thought about his mistress who tried to be kind to servants when her husband let her, Purple thought about Lady Violet, her servants loved her and thought she was a good mistress. But even lady Violet treated her slaves less well than the Galaxy Shipping Company treated paid workers here in a rundown backwater. And as far as Purple knew even lady Violet had never considered freeing her slaves, Purple didn’t challenge the stereotype.
“That’s right, Patricians care mainly about themselves and their own class.” Purple added while others in the group raised and lowered eye stalks in approval.
Afterwards the television showed Purple in servile robes as he had been not so long before and Purple felt as if he were still a common slave. Purple was relieved when static returned, hopefully they hadn’t seen enough to recognise him. The others started muttering stuff like,
“There’s ****ing static just now when it’s starting to get interesting.”
“Excuse me, is there a beauty parlour here? I feel like changing the way I look.” Purple got perplexed after saying that because no Centaurian heard him, Purple thought to himself, “They’ve guessed the truth! None of them even respects me now they know how servile I used to be.”
Then Purple glanced round the room, everywhere eyestalks were extended and pointed towards the television screen struggling to see something through the static.
“Strong has the ball in his tentacles,” a television commentator intoned, “Now Strong’s deep inside enemy territory and Nimble Tentacles is rushing up to intercept him. Will Strong make it? Yes! Yes! It’s a goal!”
Centaurians who supported Strong’s team straightened tentacles and took up more upright postures as they saw their team had won and some enthusiastic young ratings even gyrated round and round with excitement. Meanwhile supporters of Nimble’s team who were mainly in another part of the room lowered eyestalks and lowered tentacles in defeat.
“Do you like sport as I do, which team do you support?” Straight Tentacles asked, Purple didn’t answer.
“I hoped Purple would be my friend, doesn’t he like my type of sport?” Straight wondered. The Centaurian with black and gold tentacles noted that a former slave may not have much chance to watch television sport, he felt it would be good to say something or other so Purple wouldn't have to answer.
“Tentacle Ball is quite different from Terran football but both games can be exciting to play and good to watch.” the black Centaurian commented intelligently.
Purple wasn’t at all interested in the Tentacle Ball game or the competition, the master had only ever allowed Purple to use televisions or computers to improve his driving and engineering skills, the mistress sometimes let him watch television just as a relaxation but Purple hadn’t seen enough television to develop much interest in team sport.
“Excuse me, is there a beauty parlour here? I feel like altering the way I look.” Purple repeated and this time Straight Tentacles heard him clearly.
“Perhaps he likes me, he feels like making himself look attractive for me!” Straight thought hopefully.
“I’ll show you the way to the beauty parlour.” Straight Tentacles offered enthusiastically. The black Centaurian’s tentacles sparkled proudly as he realised he’d saved an awkward situation.