American Psycho

Page 161


...there is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me, only an entity, something illusory, and though I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable: I simply am not there. It is hard for me to make sense on any given level. Myself is fabricated, an aberration. I am a noncontingent human being. My personality is sketchy and unformed, my heartlessness goes deep and is persistent. My conscience, my pity, my hopes disappeared a long time ago (probably at Harvard) if they ever did exist. There are no more barriers to cross. All I have in common with the uncontrollable and the insane, the vicious and the evil, all the mayhem I have caused and my utter indifference toward it, I have now surpassed. I still, though, hold on to one single bleak truth: no one is safe, nothing is redeemed. Yet I am blameless. Each model of human behavior must be assumed to have some validity. Is evil something you are? Or is it something you do? My pain is constant and sharp and I do not hope for a better world for anyone. In fact I want my pain to be inflicted on others. I want no one to escape. But even after admitting this - and I have, countless times, in just about every act I've committed - and coming face-to-face with these truths, there is no catharsis. I gain no deeper knowledge about myself, no new understanding can be extracted from my telling. There has been no reason for me to tell you any of this. This confession has meant nothing ....

I'm asking Jean, "How many people in this world are like me?"

She pauses, carefully answers, "I don't... think anyone?" She's guessing.

"Let me rephrase the ques -  Wait, how does my hair look?" I ask, interrupting myself.

"Uh, fine."

"Okay. Let me rephrase the question." I take a sip of her dry beer. "Okay. Why do you like me?" I ask.

She asks back, "Why?"

"Yes," I say, "Why."

"Well..." A drop of beer has fallen onto my Polo shirt. She hands me her napkin. A practical gesture that touches me. "You're... concerned with others," she says tentatively. "That's a very rare thing in what" - she stops again - "is a... I guess, a hedonistic world. This is... Patrick, you're embarrassing me." She shakes her head, closing her eyes.

"Go on," I urge. "Please. I want to know."

"You're sweet." She rolls her eyes up. "Sweetness is... sexy... I don't know. But so is... mystery." Silence. "And I think... mystery... you're mysterious." Silence, followed by a sigh. "And you're... considerate." She realizes something, no longer scared, stares at me straight on. "And I think shy men are romantic."

"How many people in this world are like me?" I ask again. "Do I really appear like that?"

"Patrick," she says. "I wouldn't lie."

"No, of course you wouldn't... but I think that..." My turn to sigh, contemplatively. "I think... you know how they say no two snowflakes are ever alike?"

She nods.

"Well, I don't think that's true. I think a lot of snowflakes are alike... and I think a lot of people are alike too."

She nods again, though I can tell she's very confused.

"Appearances can be deceiving," I admit carefully.

"No," she says, shaking her head, sure of herself for the first time. "I don't think they are deceiving. They're not."

"Sometimes, Jean," I explain, "the lines separating appearance - what you see - and reality - what you don't - become, well, blurred."

"That's not true," she insists. "'That's simply not true."

"Really?" I ask, smiling.

"I didn't use to think so," she says. "Maybe ten years ago I didn't. But I do now."

"What do you mean?" I ask, interested. "You used to?"

...a flood of reality. I get an odd feeling that this is a crucial moment in my life and I'm startled by the suddenness of what I guess passes for an epiphany. There is nothing of value I can offer her. For the first time I see Jean as uninhibited; she seems stronger, less controllable, wanting to take me into a new and unfamiliar land - the dreaded uncertainty of a totally different world. I sense she wants to rearrange my life in a significant way - her eyes tell me this and though I see truth in them, I also know that one day, sometime very soon, she too will be locked in the rhythm of my insanity. All I have to do is keep silent about this and not bring it up - yet she weakens me, it's almost as if she's making the decision about who I am, and in my own stubborn, willful way I can admit to feeling a pang, something tightening inside, and before I can stop it I find myself almost dazzled and moved that I might have the capacity to accept, though not return, her love. I wonder if even now, right here in Nowheres, she can see the darkening clouds behind my eyes lifting. And though the coldness I have always felt leaves me, the numbness doesn't and probably never will. This relationship will probably lead to nothing... this didn't change anything. I imagine her smelling clean, like tea...

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