Kimball looks at the bottle strangely and then back at me before shaking his head. "Uh... no thanks." He's taken out a pack of Marlboros and absently lays it next to the San Pellegrino bottle while studying something in the book.
"Bad habit," I point out.
He looks up and, noticing my disapproval, smiles sheepishly. "I know. I'm sorry."
I stare at the box.
"Do you... would you rather I not smoke?" he asks, tentative.
I continue to stare at the cigarette packet, debating. "No... I guess it's okay."
"You sure?" he asks.
"No problem." I buzz Jean.
"Bring us an ashtray for Mr. Kimball, please," I say.
In a matter of seconds, she does.
"What can you tell me about Paul Owen?" he finally asks, after Jean leaves, having placed a Fortunoff crystal ashtray on the desk next to the untouched San Pellegrino.
"Well." I cough, swallowing two Nuprin, dry. "I didn't know him that well."
"How welldid you know him?" he asks.
"I'm... at a loss," I tell him, somewhat truthfully. "He was part of that whole... Yale thing, you know."
"Yale thing?" he asks, confused.
I pause, having no idea what I'm talking about. "Yeah.. Yale thing."
"What do you mean... Yale thing?" Now he's intrigued.
I pause again - what do I mean? "Well, I think, for one, that he was probably a closet homosexual." I have no idea; doubt it, considering his taste in babes. "Who did a lot of cocaine..." I pause, then add, a bit shakily, "That Yale thing." I'm sure I say this bizarrely, but there's no other way to put it.
It's very quiet in the office right now. The room suddenly seems cramped and sweltering and even though the air-conditioning is on full blast, the air seems fake, recycled.
"So..." Kimball looks at his book helplessly. "There's nothing you can tell me about Paul Owen?"
"Well." I sigh. "He led what I suppose was an orderly life, I guess." Really stumped, I offer, "He... ate a balanced diet."
I'm sensing frustration on Kimball's part and he asks, "What kind of man was he? Besides" - he falters, tries to smile - "the information you've just given."
How could I describe Paul Owen to this guy? Boasting, arrogant, cheerful dickhead who constantly weaseled his way out of checks at Nell's? That I'm heir to the unfortunate information that his penis had a name and that name was Michael? No. Calmer, Bateman. I think that I'm smiling.