"Well?" I ask.
"Hamlin doesn't have a backup and he wants to invite Luis Carruthers and what I want to know is, does this mean Courtney's coming?" McDermott asks.
"Luis cannot come," I say.
"He just can't." I ask, "Why does he want Luis to come?"
There's a pause. "Hold on," McDermott says. "He's on the other line. I'll ask him."
"Who?" A flash of panic. "Luis?"
While holding I move into the kitchen, over to the refrigerator, and take out a bottle of Perrier. I'm looking for a glass when I hear a click.
"Listen," I say when McDermott gets back on the line. "I don't want to see Luis or Courtney so, you know, dissuade them or something. Use your charm. Be charming."
"Hamlin has to have dinner with a client from Texas and - "
I cut him off. "Wait, this has nothing to do with Luis. Let Hamlin take the fag out himself."
"Hamlin wants Carruthers to come because Hamlin is supposed to be dealing with the Panasonic case, but Carruthers knows a lot more about it and that's why he wants Carruthers to come," McDermott explains.
I pause while taking this in. "If Luis comes I'll kill him. I swear to god I'll kill him. I'll f**king kill him."
"Jeez, Bateman," McDermott murmurs, concerned. "You're a real humanitarian. A sage."
"No. just..." I start, confused, irritated. "Just... sensible."
"I just want to know if Luis comes does this mean that Courtney will come too?" he wonders again.
"Tell Hamlin to invite - oh shit, I don't know." I stop. "Tell Hamlin to have dinner with the Texas guy alone." I stop again, realizing something. "Wait a minute. Does this mean Hamlin will... take us out? I mean pay for it, since it's a business dinner?"
"You know, sometimes I think you're very smart, Bateman," McDermott says. "Other times..."
"Oh shit, what the hell am I saying?" I ask myself out loud, annoyed. "You and I can have a goddamn business dinner together. Jesus. I'm not going. That's it. I'm not going."
"Not even if Luis doesn't come?" he asks.
"Why not?" he whines. "We have reservations at 1500."
"I... have to... watch The Cosby Show."
"Oh tape it for Christ sakes, you ass. "
"Wait." I've realized something else. "Do you think Hamlin will" - I pause awkwardly - "have some drugs, perhaps... for the Texan?"
"What does Bateman think?" McDermott asks, the jaded ass**le.
"Hmmm. I'm thinking about it. I'm thinking about this."
After a pause McDermott says "Tick-tock, tick-tock" in singsong. "We're getting nowhere. Of course Hamlin is going to be carrying."
"Get Hamlin, have him... get him on three-way," I sputter, checking my Rolex. "Hurry. Maybe we can talk him into 1500."
"Okay," McDermott says. "Hold on."
There are four clicking noises and then I hear Hamlin saying, "Bateman, is it okay to wear argyle socks with a business suit?" He's attempting a joke but it fails to amuse me.
Sighing inwardly, my eyes closed, I answer, impatient, "Not really, Hamlin. They're too sporty. They interfere with a business image. You can wear them with casual suits. Tweeds, whatever. Now Hamlin?"
"Bateman?" And then he says, '"Thank you."
"Luis cannot come," I tell him. "And you're welcome."
"No prob," he says. "The Texan's not coming anyway."
"Why not?" I ask.
"Hay letsyall go to See Bee Jee Bees I har that's pretty new wave. Lifestyle difference," Hamlin explains. "The Texan is not accepted until Monday. I quickly, and quite nimbly I might add, rearranged my hectic schedule. A sick father. A forest fire. An excuse."
"How does that take care of Luis?" I ask suspiciously.
"Luis is having dinner with the Texan tonight, which saves me a whole lotta trouble, pardner. I'm seeing him at Smith and Wollensky on Monday," Hamlin says, pleased with himself. "So everything is A-okay."
"Wait," McDermott asks tentatively, "does this mean that Courtney isn't coming?"
"We have missed or are going to miss our reservations at 1500," I point out. "Besides, Hamlin, you went there last night, huh?"