"I'm not sure, guy, but I don't think dyslexia is a virus."
"Oh, who knows? They don't know that. Prove it."
Outside this cab, on the sidewalks, black and bloated pigeons fight over scraps of hot dogs in front of a Gray's Papaya while transvestites idly look on and a police car cruises silently the wrong way down a one-way street and the sky is low and gray and in a cab that's stopped in traffic across from this one, a guy who looks a lot like Luis Carruthers waves over at Timothy and when Timothy doesn't return the wave the guy - slicked-back hair, suspenders, horn-rimmed glasses - realizes it's not who he thought it was and looks back at his copy of USA Today. Panning down to the sidewalk there's an ugly old homeless bag lady holding a whip and she cracks it at the pigeons who ignore it as they continue to peck and fight hungrily over the remains of the hot dogs and the police car disappears into an underground parking lot.
"But then, when you've just come to the point when your reaction to the times is one of total and sheer acceptance, when your body has become somehow tuned into the insanity and you reach that point where it all makes sense, when it clicks, we get some crazy f**king homeless nigger who actually wants - listen to me, Bateman - wants to be out on the streets, this, those streets, see, those " - he points - "and we have a mayor who won't listen to her, a mayor who won't let the bitch have her way - Holy Christ - let the f**king bitch freeze to death, put her out of her own goddamn self-made misery, and look, you're back where you started, confused, f**ked... Number twenty-four, nope, twenty-five... Who's going to be at Evelyn's? Wait, let me guess." He holds up a hand attached to an impeccable manicure. "Ashley, Courtney, Muldwyn, Marina, Charles - am I right so far? Maybe one of Evelyn's 'artiste' friends from ohmygod the 'East' Village. You know the type - the ones who ask Evelyn if she has a nice dry white chardonnay - " He slaps a hand over his forehead and shuts his eyes and now he mutters, jaw clenched, "I'm leaving. I'm dumping Meredith. She's essentially daring me to like her. I'm gone. Why did it take me so long to realize that she has all the personality of a goddamn game-show host?... Twenty-six, twenty-seven... I mean I tell her I'm sensitive. I told her I was freaked out by the Challenger accident - what more does she want? I'm ethical, tolerant, I mean I'm extremely satisfied with my life, I'm optimistic about the future - I mean, aren't you?"
"Sure, but - "
"And all I get is shit from her... Twenty-eight, twenty-nine, holy shit it's a goddamn cluster of bums. I tell you - " He stops suddenly, as if exhausted, and turning away from another advertisement for Les Miserables, remembering something important, asks, "Did you read about the host from that game show on TV? He killed two teenage boys? Depraved faggot. Droll, really droll." Price waits for a reaction. There is none. Suddenly: Upper West Side.
He tells the driver to stop on the corner of Eighty-first and Riverside since the street doesn't go the right way.
"Don't bother going arou - " Price begins.
"Maybe I go other way around," the cabdriver says.
"Do not bother." Then barely an aside, teeth gritted, unsmiling: "Fucking nitwit."
The driver brings the cab to a stop. Two cabs behind this cab both blare their horns then move on.
"Should we bring flowers?"
"Nah. Hell, you're banging her, Bateman. Why should we get Evelyn flowers? You better have change for a fifty," he warns the driver, squinting at the red numbers on the meter. "Damnit. Steroids. Sorry I'm tense."
"Thought you were off them."
"I was getting acne on my legs and arms and the UVA bath wasn't fixing it, so I started going to a tanning salon instead and got rid of it. Jesus, Bateman, you should see how ripped my stomach is. The definition. Completely buffed out...," he says in a distant, odd way, while waiting for the driver to hand him the change. "Ripped." He stiffs the driver on the tip but the driver is genuinely thankful anyway. "So long, Shlomo," Price winks.
"Damn, damn, damned," Price says as he opens the door. Coming out of the cab he eyes a beggar on the street - "Bingo: thirty " - wearing some sort of weird, tacky, filthy green jump suit, unshaven, dirty hair greased back, and jokingly Price holds the cab's door open for him. The bum, confused and mumbling, eyes locked shamefully on the pavement, holds an empty Styrofoam coffee cup out to us, clutched in a tentative hand.
"I suppose he doesn't want the cab," Price snickers, slamming the cab door. "Ask him if he takes American Express."