"Must you insist on being so pathetic?" I ask back.
She hangs up on me. I get back on the other line.
"Bateman, Bateman, Bateman, Bateman, " Hamlin is droning.
"I'm here. Shut the f**k up."
"Are we still procrastinating?" McDermott asks. "Don't procrastinate."
"I've decided I'd rather play golf," I say. "I haven't been golfing in a long time."
"Fuck golf, Batsman," Hamlin says. "We have a nine o'clock reservation at Kaktus - "
"And a reservation to cancel at 1500 in, um, let's see... twenty minutes ago, Batsman," McDermott says.
"Oh shit, Craig. Cancel them now," I say tiredly.
"God, I hate golf," Hamlin says, shuddering.
"You cancel them," McDermott says, laughing.
"What name are they under?" I ask, not laughing, my voice rising.
After a pause, McDermott says "Carruthers" softly.
Hamlin and I burst out laughing.
"Really?" I ask.
"We couldn't get into Zeus Bar," Hamlin says. "So it's Kaktus."
"Hip," I say dejectedly. "I guess."
"Cheer up." Hamlin chortles.
My call waiting buzzes again and before I can even decide whether to take it or not, Hamlin makes up my mind for me. "Now if you guys don't want to go to Kaktus - "
"Wait, my call waiting," I say. "Hold on."
Jeanette is in tears. "What aren't you capable of?" she asks, sobbing. "Just tell me what you are not capable of."
"Baby. Jeanette," I say soothingly. "Listen, please. We'll be at Zeus Bar at ten. Okay?"
"Patrick, please," she begs. "I'm okay. I just want to talk - "
"I'll see you at nine or ten, whenever," I say. "I've gotta go. Hamlin and McDermott are on the other line."
"Okay." She sniffs, composing herself, clearing her throat. "I'll see you there. I'm really sor - "
I click back onto the other line. McDermott is the only one left.
"He got off," McDermott says. "He'll see us at nine."
"Great," I murmur. "I feel settled."
"Who was that?"
"Jeanette," I say.
I hear a faint click, then another one.
"Was that yours or mine?" McDermott asks.
"Yours," I say, "I think."
I wait, impatiently pacing the length of the kitchen. McDermott clicks back on.
"It's Van Patten," he says. "I'm putting him on three-way."
Four more clicks.
"Hey Bateman," Van Patten cries out. "Buddy. "
"Mr. Manhattan," I say. "I'm acknowledging you."
"Hey, what's the correct way to wear a cummerbund?" he asks.
"I already answered that twice today," I warn.
The two of them start talking about whether or not Van Patten can get to Kaktus by nine and I've stopped concentrating on the voices coming through the cordless phone and started watching instead, with growing interest, the rat I've bought - I still have the mutant one that emerged from the toilet - in its new glass cage, heave what's left of its acid-ridden body halfway across the elaborate Habitrail system that sits on the kitchen table, where it attempts to drink from the water holder that I filled with poisoned Evian this morning. The scene seems too pitiful to me or not pitiful enough. I can't decide. A call-waiting noise takes me out of my mindless delirium and I tell Van Patten and McDermott to please hold.
I click off, then pause before saying, "You have reached the home of Patrick Bateman. Please leave a message after - "
"Oh for god's sake, Patrick, grow up," Evelyn moans. "Just stop it. Why do you insist on doing that? Do you really think you're going to get away with it?"
"With what?" I ask innocently. "Protecting myself?"
"With torturing me," she pouts.
"Honey," I say.
"Yes?" she sniffs.
"You don't know what torture is. You don't know what you're talking about," I tell her. "You really don't know what you're talking about."
"I don't want to talk about it," she says. "It's over. Now, what are you doing for dinner tonight?" Her voice softens. "I was thinking maybe dinner at TDK at, oh, say ninish?"
"I'm eating at the Harvard Club by myself tonight," I say.