"Price," I say, shaking his hand. "Where have you been?"
"Oh, just making the rounds." He smiles. "But hey, I'm back."
"Far out." I shrug, confused. "How was... it?"
"It was...surprising." He shrugs too. "It was... depressing."
"I thought I saw you in Aspen," I murmur.
"Hey, how are you, Bateman?" he asks.
"I'm okay," I tell him, swallowing. "Just... existing."
"And Evelyn?" he asks. "How is she?"
"Well, we broke up." I smile.
'"That's too bad." He takes this in, remembers something. "Courtney?"
"She married Luis."
He takes this in too. "Do you have her number?"
While writing it down for him, I mention, "You've been gone, like, forever, Tim. What's the story?" I ask, again noticing the smudge on his forehead, though I get the feeling that if I asked someone else if it was truly there, he (or she) would just say no.
He stands up, takes the card. "I've been back. You just probably missed me. Lost track. Because of the move." He pauses, teasingly. "I'm working for Robinson. Right-hand man, you know?"
"Almond?" I ask, offering one, a futile effort on my part to mask my dismay at his smugness.
He pats my back, says, "You're a madman, Batsman. An animal. A total animal."
"I can't disagree." I laugh weakly, walking him to the door. As he leaves I'm wondering and not wondering what happens in the world of Tim Price, which is really the world of most of us: big ideas, guy stuff, boy meets the world, boy gets it.
Bum on Fifth
I'm coming back from Central Park where, near the children's zoo, close to the spot I murdered the McCaffrey boy, I fed portions of Ursula's brain to passing dogs. Walking down Fifth Avenue around four o'clock in the afternoon, everyone on the street looks sad, the air is full of decay, bodies lie on the cold pavement, miles of it, some are moving, most are not. History is sinking and only a very few seem dimly aware that things are getting bad. Airplanes fly low across the city, crossing in front of the sun. Winds shoot up Fifth, then funnel down Fifty-seventh Street. Flocks of pigeons rise in slow motion and burst up against the sky. The smell of burning chestnuts mixes with carbon monoxide fumes. I notice the skyline has changed only recently. I look up, admiringly, at Trump Tower, tall, proudly gleaming in the late afternoon sunlight. In front of it two smartass nigger teenagers are ripping off tourists at three-card monte and I have to fight the impulse to blow them away.
A bum I blinded one spring sits cross-legged on a ratty blanket near the corner of Fifty-fifth Street. Moving closer I see the beggar's scarred face and then the sign he's holding beneath it, which reads VIETNAM VET BLINDED IN VIETNAM. PLEASE HELP ME. WE ARE HUNGRY AND HOMELESS. We? Then I notice the dog, who is already eyeing me suspiciously and, as I approach its master, gets up, growling, and when I'm standing over the bum, it finally barks, wagging its tail frantically. I kneel down, threateningly raise a hand at it. The dog backs off, its paws askew.
I've pulled out my wallet, pretending to drop a dollar into his empty coffee can, but then realize: Why bother pretending? No one's watching anyway, definitely not him. I retract the dollar, leaning in. He senses my presence and stops shaking the can. The sunglasses he wears don't even begin to cover the wounds I inflicted. His nose is so junked up I can't imagine a person breathing through it.
"You never were in Vietnam," I whisper in his ear.
After a silence, during which he pisses in his pants, the dog whimpering, he croaks, "Please... don't hurt me."
"Why would I waste my time?" I mutter, disgusted.
I move away from the bum, noticing, instead, a little girl smoking a cigarette, begging for change outside Trump Tower. "Shoo," I say. She says "Shoo" back. On The Patty Winters Show this morning a Cheerio sat in a very small chair and was interviewed for close to an hour. Later this afternoon, a woman wearing a silver fox and mink coat has her face slashed in front of the Stanhope by an enraged fur activist. But now, still staring at the sightless bum from across the street, I buy a Dove Bar, a coconut one, in which I find part of a bone.
Thursday night I run into Harold Carnes at a party for a new club called World's End that opens in a space where Petty's used to be on the Upper East Side. I'm with Nina Goodrich and Jean in a booth and Harold's standing at the bar drinking champagne. I'm drunk enough to finally confront him about the message I left on his machine. Excused from the booth, I make my way to the other side of the bar, realizing that I need a martini to fortify myself before discussing this with Cannes (it has been a very unstable week for me - I found myself sobbing during an episode of Alf on Monday). Nervously, I approach. Harold is wearing a wool suit by Gieves & Hawkes, a silk twill tie, cotton shirt, shoes by Paul Stuart; he looks heavier than I remember. "Face it," he's telling Truman Drake, "the Japanese will own most of this country by the end of the '90s."