"I bet Bono has a small dick," Owen says, staring out the tinted window. "Irish, you know."
"Do you think they had an automated teller back there?" Luis asks.
"Ashley," Evelyn shouts. "Did you hear that? We've been trim -coordinated!"
"How does my hair look?" I ask.
"More Cristal?" Courtney asks Luis.
A Glimpse of a Thursday Afternoon
and it's midafternoon and I find myself standing at a phone booth on a corner somewhere downtown, I don't know where, but I'm sweaty and a pounding migraine thumps dully in my head and I'm experiencing a major-league anxiety attack, searching my pockets for Valium, Xanax, a leftover Halcion, anything, and all I find are three faded Nuprin in a Gucci pillbox, so I pop all three into my mouth and swallow them down with a Diet Pepsi and I couldn't tell you where it came from if my life depended on it. I've forgotten who I had lunch with earlier and, even more important, where. Was it Robert Ailes at Beats? Or was it Todd Hendricks at Ursula's, the new Philip Duncan Holmes bistro in Tribeca? Or was it Ricky Worrall and were we at December's? Or would it have been Kevin Weber at Contra in NoHo? Did I order the partridge sandwich on brioche with green tomatoes, or a big plate of endive with clam sauce?
"Oh god, I can't remember," I moan, my clothes - a linen and silk sport coat, a cotton shirt, pleated linen khald trousers, all by Matsuda, a silk tie with a Matsuda insignia, with a belt from Coach Leatherware - drenched with sweat, and I take off the jacket and wipe my face with it. The phone keeps ringing but I don't know who I've called and I just stand on the corner, Ray-Bans balanced on my forehead at what feels like an odd, crooked angle, and then I hear a faint familiar sound coming through the wires - Jean's soft voice competing with the endless gridlock stuck on Broadway. The Patty Winters Show this morning was Aspirin: Can It Save Your Life? "Jean?" I cry out. "Hello? Jean? " "Patrick? Is that you?" she calls back. "Hello? " "Jean, I need help," I shout. "Patrick?"
"What?" "Jesse Forrest called," Jean says. "He has a reservation at Melrose tonight at eight, and Ted Madison and Jamie Conway want to meet you for drinks at Harry's. Patrick?" Jean asks. "Where are you?" "Jean?" I sigh, wiping my nose. "I'm not - " "Oh, and Todd Lauder called," Jean says, "no, I mean Chris - oh no, it was Todd Lauder. Yeah, Todd Lauder." "Oh god," I moan, loosening my tie, the August sun beating down on me, "what do you say, you dumb bitch?" "Not Bice, Patrick. The reservation is at Melrose. Not Bice." "What am I doing?" I cry out. "Where are you?" and then, "Patrick? What's wrong?"
"I'm not going to make it, Jean," I say, then choke out, "to the office this afternoon."
"Why?" She sounds depressed or maybe it's just simple confusion. "Just... say... no...," I scream. "What is it, Patrick? Are you all right?" she asks.
"Stop sounding so f**king... sad. Jesus," I shout. "Patrick I'm sorry. I mean I meant to say just say no, but - " I hang up on her and lunge away from the phone booth and the Walkman around my neck suddenly feels like a boulder strapped around my throat (and the sounds blaring from it - early Dizzy Gillespie - deeply irritate) and I have to throw the Walkman, a cheap one, into the nearest trash can I stumble into and then I hang on to the rim of the can, breathing heavily, the cheap Matsuda jacket tied around my waist, staring at the still-functioning Walkman, the sun melting the mousse on my head and it mingles with the sweat pouring down my face and I can taste it when I lick my lips and it starts tasting good and I'm suddenly ravenous and I run my hand through my hair and lick greedily at the palm while moving up Broadway, ignoring the old ladies passing out fliers, past jeans stores, music blasting from inside, pouring out onto the streets, people's movements matching the beat of the song, a Madonna single, Madonna crying out, "life is a mystery, everyone must stand alone...," bike messengers whiz by and I'm standing on a corner scowling at them, but people pass, oblivious, no one pays attention, they don't even pretend to not pay attention, and this fact sobers me up long enough that I walk toward a nearby Conran's to buy a teapot, but just when I assume my normalcy has returned and I'm all straightened out, my stomach tightens and the cramps are so intense that I hobble into the nearest doorway and clutch my waist, doubling over with pain, and as suddenly as it appears it fades long enough for me to stand up straight and rush into the next hardware store I come across, and once inside I buy a set of butcher knives, an ax, a bottle of hydrochloric acid, and then, at the pet store down the block, a Habitrail and two white rats that I plan to torture with the knives and acid, but somewhere, later in the afternoon, I leave the package with the rats in it at the Pottery Barn while shopping for candles or did I finally buy the teapot? Now I'm lunging up Lafayette, sweating and moaning and pushing people out of my way, foam pouring out of my mouth, stomach contracting with horrendous abdominal cramps - they might be caused by the steroids but that's doubtful - and I calm myself down enough to walk into a Gristede's, rush up and down the aisles and shoplift a canned ham that I calmly walk out of the store with, hidden under the Matsuda jacket, and down the block, where I try to hide in the lobby of the American Felt Building, breaking the tin open with my keys, ignoring the doorman, who at first seems to recognize me, then, after I start stuffing handfuls of the ham into my mouth, scooping the lukewarm pink meat out of the can, getting it stuck beneath my nails, threatens to call the police. I'm outta there, outside, throwing up all the ham, leaning against a poster for Les Miserables at a bus stop and I kiss the drawing of Eponine's lovely face, her lips, leaving brown streaks of bile smeared across her soft, unassuming face and the word DYKE scrawled beneath it. Loosening my suspenders, ignoring beggars, beggars ignoring me, sweat-drenched, delirious, I find myself back downtown in Tower Records and I compose myself, muttering over and over to no one, "I've gotta return my videotapes, I've gotta return my videotapes," and I buy two copies of my favorite compact disc, Bruce Willis, The Return of Bruno, and then I'm stuck in the revolving door for five full spins and I trip out onto the street, bumping into Charles Murphy from Kidder Peabody or it could be Bruce Barker from Morgan Stanley, whoever, and he says "Hey, Kinsley" and I belch into his face, my eyes rolling back into my head, greenish bile dripping in strings from my bared fangs, and he suggests, unfazed, "See you at Fluties, okay? Severt too?" I screech and while backing away I bump into a fruit stand at a Korean deli, collapsing stacks of apples and oranges and lemons, that go rolling onto the sidewalk, over the curb and into the street where they're splattered by cabs and cars and buses and trucks and I'm apologizing, delirious, offering a screaming Korean my platinum AmEx accidentally, then a twenty, which he immediately takes, but still he grabs me by the lapels of the stained, wrinkled jacket I've forced myself back into and when I look up into his slanty-eyed round face he suddenly bursts into the chorus of Lou Christie's "Lightnin' Strikes." I pull away, horrified, stumbling uptown, toward home, but people, places, stores keep interrupting me, a drug, dealer on Thirteenth Street who offers me crack and blindly I wave a fifty at him and he says "Oh, man" gratefully and shakes my hand, pressing five vials into my palm which I proceed to eat whole and the crack dealer stares at me, trying to mask his deep disturbance with an amused glare, and I grab him by the neck and croak out, my breath reeking, "The best engine is in the BMW 750iL," and then I move on to a phone booth, where I babble gibberish at the operator until I finally spit out my credit card number and then I'm speaking to the front office of Xclusive, where I cancel a massage appointment that I never made. I'm able to compose myself by simply staring at my feet, actually at the A. Testoni loafers, kicking pigeons aside, and without even noticing, I enter a shabby delicatessen on Second Avenue and I'm still confused, mixed up, sweaty, and I walk over to a short, fat Jewish woman, old and hideously dressed. "Listen," I say. "I have a reservation. Bateman. Where's the maitre d? I know Jackie Mason," and she sighs, "I can seat you. Don't need a reservation," as she reaches for a menu. She leads me to a horrible table in back near the rest rooms and I grab the menu away from her and rush to a booth up front and I'm appalled by the cheapness of the food - "Is this a goddamn joke?" - and sensing a waitress is near I order without looking up. "A cheeseburger. I'd like a cheeseburger and I'd like it medium rare."