"Remember this?" I shout, towering over her. "And look at this!" I scream triumphantly, holding up a cigar. "I still smoke cigars. Ha. See? A cigar." I light it with steady, bloodstained fingers, and her face, pale to the point of blueness, keeps contracting, twitching with pain, her eyes, dull with horror, close, then open halfway, her life reduced to nightmare.
"And another thing," I yell, pacing. "It's not Carrick Anderson either. The suit is by Armani! Giorgio Armani." I pause spitefully and, leaning into her, sneer, "And you thought it was Henry Stuart. Jesus." I slap her hard across the face and hiss the words "Dumb bitch," spraying her face with spit, but it's covered with so much Mace that she probably can't even feel it, so I Mace her again and then I try to f**k her in the mouth once more but I can't come so I stop.
Later, the next night in fact, three of us, Craig McDermott, Courtney and myself, are in a cab heading toward Nell's and talking about Evian water. Courtney, in an Armani mink, has just admitted, giggling, that she uses Evian for ice cubes, which sparks a conversation about the differences in bottled water, and at Courtney's request we each try to list as many brands as we can.
Courtney starts, counting each name off on one of her fingers. "Well, there's Sparcal, Perrier, San Pellegrino, Poland Spring, Calistoga..." She stops, stuck, and looks over at McDermott for help.
He sighs, then lists, "Canadian Spring, Canadian Calm, Montclair, which is also from Canada, Vittel from France, Crodo, which is Italian..." He stops and rubs his chin thoughtfully, thinking of one more, then announces it as if surprised. "Elan." And though it seems he's on the verge of naming another one, Craig lapses into an unilluminating silence.
"Elan?" Courtney asks.
"It's from Switzerland," he says.
"Oh," she says, then turns to me. "It's your turn, Patrick."
Staring out the window of the cab, lost in thought, the silence I'm causing filling me with a nameless dread, numbly, by rote, I list the following. "You forgot Alpenwasser, Down Under, Schat, which is from Lebanon, Qubol and Cold Springs - "
"I said that one already," Courtney cuts in, accusingly.
"No," I say. "You said Poland Spring."
"Is that right?" Courtney murmurs, then tugging at McDermott's overcoat, "Is he right, Craig?"
"Probably." McDermott shrugs. "I guess."
"You must also remember that one should always buy mineral water in glass bottles. You shouldn't buy it in plastic ones," I say ominously, then wait for one of them to ask me why.
"Why?" Courtney's voice is tinged with actual interest.
"Because it oxidizes," I explain. "You want it to be crisp, with no aftertaste.."
After a long, confused, Courtney-like pause, McDermott admits, staring out the window, "He's right."
"I really don't understand the differences in water," Courtney murmurs. She's sitting between McDermott and myself in the back of the cab and under the mink has on a wool twill suit by Givenchy, tights by Calvin Klein and shoes by Warren Susan Allen Edmonds. Earlier, in this same cab, when I touched the mink suggestively, with no intent other than to check its quality and she could sense this, Courtney quietly asked me if I had a breath mint. I said nothing.
"What do you mean?" McDermott inquires solemnly:
"Well," she says, "I mean what's really the difference between something like spring water and natural water, for instance, or, I mean, is there one?"
"Courtney. Natural water is any water from an underground source," Craig sighs, still staring out the window. "Mineral content hasn't been changed, although the water may have been disinfected or filtered." McDermott is wearing a wool tuxedo with notched lapels by Cianni Versace, and he reeks of Xeryus.
I momentarily break out of my conscious inertia to explain further: "And in spring water, minerals may have been added or removed and it's usually filtered, not processed." I pause. "Seventy-five percent of all bottled water in America is actually spring water." I pause again, then ask the cab, "Did anyone know that?"
A long, soulless pause follows and then Courtney asks another question, this one only half finished. "The differences between distilled and purified water is...?"
I'm not really listening to any of this conversation, not even to myself, because I'm thinking of ways to get rid of Bethany's body, or at least debating whether or not I should keep it in my apartment another day or so. If I decide to get rid of it tonight, I can easily stuff what's left of her into a Hefty garbage bag and leave it in the stairwell; or I can exert the extra effort and drag it into the street, leaving it with the rest of the trash on the curb. I could even take it to the apartment in Hell's Kitchen and pour lime over it, smoke a cigar and watch it dissolve while listening to my Walkman, but I want to keep the men's bodies separate from the women's, and besides, I also want to watch Bloodhungry, the videotape I rented this afternoon - its ad line reads, "Some clowns make you laugh, but Bobo will make you die and then he'll eat your body" - and a midnight trip to Hell's Kitchen, even without a stop at Bellvue's for a small bite to eat, wouldn't give me enough time. Bethany's bones and most of her intestines and flesh will probably get dumped into the incinerator down the hall from my apartment.