She's holding out the Prada backpack.
I stare at the backpack.
"Victor?" she says, glancing first at the French crew and then back at me. "They're ready for you. I think Tammy's, um, recovered."
"Victor?" she asks. "Here." She hands me the Prada bag.
"Oh... yeah?" I take the bag from her.
I immediately hand the bag to a PA on the French crew.
Trembling, the PA takes the bag and hands it to the director.
The director looks at the Prada bag and then immediately hands it back to the PA, who winces.
"Who are these people?" the girls asks, grinning, waiting for an introduction.
"What?" I hear myself asking.
"What's going on?" she asks a little more insistently, still grinning.
The director snaps his fingers and is quickly handed a cell phone. He flicks open the mouthpiece, presses buttons and, turning away, whispers something urgently in French.
"Who?" I ask lamely. "What do you mean?"
"That crew," she says, and then, leaning in, whispering, "The crew, like, behind you?"
"Them?" I turn around. "Oh, they just started following me around," I say. "I don't know who they are."
The French PA's breathing is actually audible, his eyes keep widening helplessly.
"Bolero" keeps rising.
An infinite number of possibilities appear.
I'm taking the slightest breaths.
The girl says, "Victor, come on, I think we should go." She touches my arm with a small hand.
I look over at the director. He nods curtly.
On the escalator, I turn around.
The French crew has already disappeared.
"Why did they take your bag, Victor?" the girl is asking. "Do you know them?"
"Hey baby," I say tiredly. "Hey, mellow out. Be quiet."
"But Victor, why did those people take your bag?" she asks.
The tape in the Walkman automatically clicks off.
I don't bother checking my watch.
At the pyramid Tammy stares at me quizzically, casually checking her watch, seemingly recovered.
"I got lost," I say, shrugging.
In the hazy distance, from where I'm slouching, the PA who looks like Heather Graham is already talking with the director and Felix, and both of them keep glancing over at me-suspicion, whispers, a general aura of cold worry-and confetti is scattered all around, some of it simply falling from somewhere above us, but I'm barely aware of anything. I could be in Malibu lying on a beach towel. It could be 1978 or 1983. The sky could be black with spaceships. I could be a lonely girl draping scarves over a dorm room lamp. All week I've been having dreams made up entirely of helicopter pull-away shots, revealing a giant metallic space, the word "beyond" floating above that space in white and gold letters. Someone from the crew hands me a tambourine.
Tonight everyone is packed into the first-floor Windsor Suite at the Ritz. Among the minglers: Kristen McMenamy, Sting and Trudie Styler, Kate Moss, Jennifer Saunders, Bryan Ferry, Tina Turner, Donatella Versace, Jon Bon Jovi, Susie Bick, Nadja Auermann in a bubble-lace cocktail dress, Marie-Sophie Wilson in Inca pink, a handful of newly rich Russians, a famous producer just out of prison or rehab, does it matter? A large pug waddles throughout the room, desperately trying to avoid being stepped on. I have no idea what this party is about though it could be for the new fragrance Pandemonium. I feel pinned together, on the verge of collapse, my mouth dry from too much Xanax. We spent the day on a yacht, nodding sympathetically at one another. Oribe dropped in and did everyone's hair. Someone standing in the corner faints, I notice idly while lighting a cigarette. Disco classics blare.
Jamie's wearing-under protest-the bright-yellow leopard-silk crinoline Bobby insisted upon and she's talking to Shalom Harlow and Cecilia Chancellor, the three of them giggling tiredly, and in a black polo neck and hip-hugger pants, Cecilia's a little deaf right now because her boyfriend spent the day following her around lighting firecrackers.
When Jamie glances over at me it's with a look that reminds me: You. Are. Alone.
Someone with blond dreadlocks and a chin spike is behind me, demanding a beer.
Bertrand Ripleis joins Jamie, kisses Shalom, wraps an arm around Cecilia's waist, glares at me occasionally.
But I'm distracted by the fly that keeps hovering over a giant silver bowl piled high with Beluga, by the faint but noticeable smell of shit filling the room-"Do you smell that?" I keep asking people; "Oh yes," they keep replying knowingly-and by the guy lolling about in a white lab coat, by the diagrams of rockets and the files stamped with security classifications I saw scattered on a table in an upstairs bedroom in the house in the 8th or the 16th, and by the girl slouching next to me holding a parasol, moaning "How demode" and then "So last season."