"But what's on it?" She holds it up close to her face, peering at it. "What's this... red stuff?"
"That's..." I peer also, pretending to be intrigued by the stains, then I grimace. "That's sweet 'n' sour sauce."
She cracks it open excitedly, then studies the fortune, confused.
"What does it say?" I sigh, fooling around with the radio then scanning the limo for Owen's briefcase, wondering where the champagne could possibly be, the open box from Tiffany's, empty, empty on the floor, suddenly, overwhelmingly, depressing me.
"It says..." She pauses then squints at it closely, rereading it. "It says, The fresh grilled joie gras at Le Cirque is excellent but the lobster salad is only so-so."
"That's nice," I murmur, looking for champagne glasses, tapes, anything.
"It really says this, Patrick." She hands me the fortune, a slight smile creeping up on her face that I can make out even in the darkness of the limo. "What could it possibly mean?" she asks slyly.
I take it from her, read it, then look at Evelyn, then back at the fortune, then out the tinted window, at snow flurries swirling around lampposts, around people waiting for buses, beggars staggering directionless down city streets, and I say out loud to myself, "My luck could be worse. It really could."
"Oh honey," she says, throwing her arms around me, hugging my head. "Lunch at Le Cirque? You're the best. You're not the Grinch. I take it back. Thursday? Is Thursday good for you? Oh no. I can't do it Thursday. Herbal wrap. But how's Friday? And do we really want to go to La Cirque? How about - "
I push her off me and knock on the divider, rapping my knuckles against it loudly until the driver lowers it. "Sid, I mean Earle, whoever, this isn't the way to Chernoble."
"Yes it is, Mr. Bateman - "
"I mean Mr. Halberstam. Avenue C, right?" He coughs politely.
"I suppose," I say, staring out the window. "I don't recognize anything.
"Avenue C?" Evelyn looks up from marveling at the necklace Paul Owen bought Meredith. "What's Avenue C? C as in... Cartier, I take it?"
"It's hip," I assure her. "It's totally hip."
"Have you been there?" she asks.
"Millions of times," I mutter.
"Chernoble? No, not Chernoble, " she whines. "Honey, it's Christmas."
"What in the hell does that mean?" I ask.
"Limo driver, oh limo driver..." Evelyn leans forward, balancing herself on my knees. "Limo driver, we're going to the Rainbow Room. Driver, to the Rainbow Room, please."
I push her back and lean forward. "Ignore her. Chernoble. ASAP." I press the button and the divider goes back up.
"Oh Patrick. It's Christmas," she whines.
"You keep saying that as if it means something," I say, staring right at her.
"But it's Christmas," she whines again.
"I can't stand the Rainbow Room," I say, adamant.
"Oh why not, Patrick?" she whines. "They have the best Waldorf salad in town at the Rainbow Room. Did you like mine? Did you like my Waldorf salad, honey?"
"Oh my god," I whisper, covering my face with both heads.
"Honestly. Did you?" she asks. "The only thing I really worried about was that and the chestnut stuffing..." She pauses. "Well, because the chestnut stuffing was... well, gross, you know - "
"I don't want to go to the Rainbow Room," I interrupt, my hands still covering my face, "because I can't score drugs there."
"Oh..." She looks me over, disapprovingly. "Tsk, tsk, tsk. Drugs, Patrick? What kind of, ahem, drugs are we talking about?"
"Drugs, Evelyn. Cocaine. Drugs. I want to do some cocaine tonight. Do you understand?" I sit up and glare at her.
"Patrick," she says, shaking her head, as if she's lost faith in me.
"I can see you're confused," I point out.
"I just don't want any part of it," she says.
"You don't have to do any of it," I tell her. "Maybe you're not even invited to do any of it."
"I just don't understand why you have to ruin this time of year for me," she says.
"Think of it as... frost. As Christmas frost. As expensive Christmas frost," I say,
"Well...," she says, lighting up. "It's kind of exciting to slum, isn't it?"