Courtney, McDermott and I have just left a Morgan Stanley party that took place near the Seaport at the tip of Manhattan in a new club called Goldcard, which seemed like a vast city of its own and where I ran into Walter Rhodes, a total Canadian, whom I haven't seen since Exeter and who also, like McDermott, reeked of Xeryus, and I actually told him, "Listen, I'm trying to stay away from people. I'm avoiding even speaking to them," and then I asked to be excused. Only slightly stunned, Walter said, "Uh, sure, I, um, understand." I'm wearing a six-button double-breasted wool-crepe tuxedo with pleated trousers and a silk grosgrain bow tie, all by Valentino. Luis Carruthers is in Atlanta for the week. I did a line of coke with Herbert Gittes at Goldcard and before McDermott hailed this cab to head for Nell's I took a Halcion to get rid of the edge from the cocaine, but it hasn't sunk in yet. Courtney seems attracted to McDermott and since her Chembank card wasn't functioning tonight, at least not at the automated teller we stopped at (the reason being she uses it too often to cut lines of coke with, though she would never admit this; cocaine residue has, at various times, f**ked up my card also) and McDermott's was working, she bypassed mine in favor of his, which means, knowing Courtney, that she wants to f**k McDermott. But it doesn't really matter. Even though I'm more handsome than Craig, we both look pretty much the same. Talking animals were the topic of this morning's Patty Winters Show. An octopus was floating in a makeshift aquarium with a microphone attached to one of its tentacles and it kept asking - or so its "trainer," who is positive that mollusks have vocal cords, assured us - for "cheese." I watched, vaguely transfixed, until I started to sob. A beggar dressed as a Hawaiian frets over a garbage can on the darkened corner of Eighth and Tenth.
"With distilled or purified water," McDermott is saying, "most of the minerals have been removed. The water has been boiled and the steam condensed into purified water."
"Wheras distilled water has a flat taste and it's usually not for drinking." I find myself yawning.
"And mineral water?" Courtney asks.
"It's not defined by the - " McDermott and I start simultaneously.
"Go ahead," I say, yawning again, causing Courtney to yawn also.
"No, you go ahead," he says apathetically.
"It's not defined by the FDA," I tell her. "It has no chemicals or salts or sugars or caffeine."
"And sparkling water gets its fizz from carbon dioxide, right?" she asks.
"Yes." Both McDermott and I nod, staring straight ahead.
"I knew that," she says hesitantly, and by the tone of her voice I can sense, without looking over, that she probably smiles when she says this.
"But only buy naturally sparkling water," I caution. "Because that means the carbon dioxide content is in the water at its source."
"Club soda and seltzer, for example, are artificially carbonated," McDermott explains.
"White Rock seltzer is an exception," I mention, nonplussed by McDermott's ridiculous, incessant one-upmanship. "Ramlosa sparkling mineral water is also very good."
The cab is about to turn onto Fourteenth street, but maybe four or five limousines are trying to make the same right so we miss the light. I curse the driver but an old Motown song from the sixties, maybe it's the Supremes, plays muted, up front, the sound blocked by the fiberglass partition. I try to open it but it's locked and won't slide across. Courtney asks, "What kind should you drink after exercising?"
"Well," I sigh. "Whatever it is, it should be really cold."
"Because?" she asks.
"Because it's absorbed faster than if it was at room temperature." Absently I check my Rolex. "It should probably be water. Evian. But not in plastic."
"My trainer says Gatorade's okay," McDermott counters.
"But don't you hunk water is the best fluid replacer since it enters the bloodstream faster than and other liquid?" I can't help but add, "Buddy?"
I check my watch again. If I have one J&B on the rocks at Nell's I can make it home in time to watch all of Bloodhungry by two. Again it's silent in the cab, which moves steadily toward the crowd outside the club, the limousines dropping off passengers then moving on, each of us concentrating on that, and also on the sky above the city, which is heavy, looming with dark clouds. The limousines keep blaring their horns at each other, solving nothing. My throat, because of the coke I did with Gittes, feels parched and I swallow, trying to wet it. Posters for a sale at Crabtree & Evelyn line the boarded windows of abandoned tenement. buildings on the other side of this street. Spell "mogul," Bateman. How do you spell mogul? M-o-g-u-l. Mo-gul. Mog-ul. Ice, ghosts, aliens -