"Okay. For three? Five? How many?"
"Five or six, I guess."
Just as he clicks off, McDermott gets back on.
"Where's Van Patten?" he asks.
"He... had to take a piss," I say.
"Why don't you want to go to Kaktus?"
"Because I'm gripped by an existential panic," I lie.
"You think that's a good enough reason," McDermott says. "I do not."
"Hello?" Van Patten says, clicking back on. "Bateman?"
"Well?" I ask. "McDermott's here too."
"Nope. No way, Jose."
"What's going on?" McDermott asks.
"Well, guys, do we want margaritas?" Van Patten asks. "Or no margaritas?"
"I could go for a margarita," McDermott says.
"Bateman?" Van Patten asks.
"I would like several bottles of beer, preferably un -Mexican," I say.
"Oh shit," McDermott says. "Call waiting. Hold on." He clicks off.
If I am not mistaken it is now eight-thirty.
An hour later. We're still debating. We have canceled the reservation at Kaktus and maybe someone has remade it. Confused, I actually cancel a nonexistent table at Zeus Bar. Jeanette has left her apartment and cannot be reached at home and I have no idea which restaurant she's going to, nor do I remember which one I told Evelyn to meet us at. Van Patten, who has already had two large shots of Absolut, asks about Detective Kimball and what we talked about and all I really remember is something like how people fail between cracks.
"Did you talk to him?" I ask.
"What did he say happened to Owen?"
"Vanished. Just vanished. Poof," he says. I can hear him opening a refrigerator. "No incident. Nothing. The authorities have nada."
"Yeah," I say. "I'm in heavy turmoil over it."
"Well, Owen was... I don't know," he says. I can hear a beer being opened.
"What else did you tell him, Van Patten?" I ask.
"Oh the usual," he sighs. "That he wore yellow and maroon ties. That he had lunch at '21.' That in reality he was not an arbitrageur - which was what Thimble thought he was - but a merger-maker. Only the usual." I can almost hear him shrug.
"What else?" I ask.
"Let's see. That he didn't wear suspenders. A belt man. That he stopped doing cocaine, simpatico beer. You know, Bateman."
"He was a moron," I say. "And now he's in London."
"Christ," he mutters, "general competence is on the f**king decline."
McDermott clicks back on. "Okay. Now where to?"
"What time is it?" Van Patter asks.
"Nine-thirty," both of us answer.
"Wait, what happened to 1969?" I ask van Patter.
"What's this about 1969?" McDermott doesn't have a clue.
"I don't remember," I say.
"Closed. No reservations," Van Patter reminds me.
"Can we get back to 1500?" I ask.
"1500 is now closed," McDermott shouts. "The kitchen is closed. The restaurant is closed. It's over. We have to go to Kaktus."
"Hello? Hello? Are you guys there?" he hollers, losing it.
"Bouncy as a beach ball," Van Patter says.
"If you guys think this is funny," McDermott warns.
"Oh yeah, what? What are you going to do?" I ask.
"Guys, it's just that I am apprehensive about failure in terms of securing a table before, like, well, midnight."
"Are you sure about 1500?" I ask. "That seems really bizarre."
"That suggestion is moot!" McDermott screams. "Why, you may ask? Because-they-are-closed! Because-they-are-closed-they-have-stopped-taking-reservations! Are-you-following-this?"
"Hey, no sweat, babe," Van Patter says coolly. "We'll go to Kaktus.
"We have a reservation there in ten, no, fifteen minutes ago," McDermott says.
"But I canceled them, I thought," I say, taking another Xanax.
"I remade them,'. McDermott says.
"You are indispensable," I tell him in monotone.
"I can be there by ten," McDermott says.
"By the time I stop at my automated teller, I can be there by ten-fifteen," Van Patter says slowly, counting the minutes.