“If Curruthers is there next time I’ll gut him, I swear to God I’ll gut him.”
This isn’t a metaphor for anything, but McDermott remains unphased, his skin a dull grayish as the cab passes beneath a streetlamp, then an overpass. Though we’re the only ones in the car, I’ve taken the middle seat anyway, and Craig’s weight bumps against me as we cruise the near empty streets off Central Park West, and my face, dimly mirrored in the too-tinted windows, is cut off just below the eyes. McDermott’s reflection yawns. Mine is motionless.
Dinner: Kaktus. Nothing I’d like to remember. A dull carpet, soggy arugula salad, dangerously white walls. I could feel Luis staring through me across the booth, and I’d spent most of the evening miserable, eyes locked with a blurry shallot tarte tatin, squashed into a gutteral mess. I demanded it be sent back, replaced, whatever, at the end of the night, after splitting a crack down the plate’s center with a metal fork. Hamlin drones on about dry beer or the Japanese.
A black hole, amusingly infinite and nauseatingly bleak, is my home for most of the summer. In Kaktus a chasm opened, and I step into my own personal desert: Sony TVs, Krizia Uomo, automated tellers, red paint, a darkened apartment, cold pavement, a crucifixion. Rats. I left the second tarte untouched and hungry.
McDermott is silent for most of the ride, even after asking him twice about the article on Evian in The Times, and once about my new Onica.
“Did Coutrney tell youー”
“Fifty thousand, yeah. She mentioned it.” He’s slumped into a perfectly manicured hand. I swallow, and turn to look outside, where an old bum, doubled over, kicks an empty bag across the sidewalk. “Can’t you move over?” McDermott askes, exasperated, as we keen over another pothole. I lean away, but don’t switch seats. I swear something incoherent at the diverーlate fifties, non-Americanーbut the partition is up, and he doesn’t hear.