"Didn't Damien discuss the design with you, Victor?" JD asks. "Didn't you know the existence of these specks?"
"I don't know anything, JD. Nothing, nada. Remember that. I... know... nothing. Never assume I know anything. Nada. Nothing. I know nothing, not a thing. Never-"
"I get it, I get it," JD says wearily, standing up.
"I really can't see anything, baby," Peyton says, still on the floor.
JD sighs. "Even Peyton can't see them, Victor."
"Ask the vampire to take off his f**king sunglasses," I snarl. "Spare me, man."
"I will not tolerate being called a vampire, Victor." Peyton pouts.
"What? You tolerate being sodomized but not being called Dracula in jest? Am I on the same planet? Let's move on." I wave my arm, gesturing at something invisible.
As the entire group follows me downstairs toward the third floor, the chef-Bongo from Venezuela via Vunderbahr, Moonclub, Paddy-O and MasaMasa-lights a cigarette and lowers his sunglasses while trying to keep up with me. "Victor, we must talk." He coughs, waves smoke away. "Please, my feet are killing me."
The group stops. "Uno momento, Bongo," I say, noticing the worried glances he's throwing Kenny Kenny, who's connected in some weird way to Glorious Foods and has yet to be informed he has nothing to do with catering tomorrow night's dinner. Peyton, JD, Bongo, Kenny Kenny, camcorder guy and Details girl wait for me to do something, and since I'm at a loss I peer over the third-floor railing. "Come on, guys. Shit, I mean I've got three more floors and five more bars to check. Please, give me some space. This is all very hard. Those specks almost made me literally sick."
"Victor, no one would deny the existence of the specks," Peyton says carefully. "But you have to place the specks within a, um, certain, well, context."
On one of the monitors lining the walls on the third floor, MTV, a commercial, Helena Christensen, "Rock the Vote."
"Beau!" I yell up. "Beau?
Beau leans over the top railing. "Chloe says she'll be at Metro CC at eleven-thirty."
"Wait, Beau-Ingrid Chavez? Has Ingrid Chavez RSVP'd?" I yell up.
"I'm checking-wait, for the dinner?"
"Yes, and I'm gritting my teeth, Beau. Check the Cs for dinner."
"Oh my god I have got to speak to you, Victor," Bongo says in an accent so thick I'm unsure of its origin, grabbing my arm. "You must let me have my time with you."
"Bongo, why don't you just get get the the hell out of here," Kenny Kenny says, his face twisted. "Here, Victor, try a crouton."
I snatch one out of his hands. "Mmm, rosemary. Delish, dude."
"It is sage, Victor. Sage."
"You you sh-sh-should go to hell," Bongo sputters. "And take that sickening crouton with you."
"Will both of you mos take a Xanax and shut the f**k up? Go bake some pastries or something. Beau-goddamnit! Speak to me!"
"Naomi Campbell, Helena Christensen, Cindy Crawford, Sheryl Crow, David Charvet, Courteney Cox, Harry Connick, Jr., Francisco Clemente, Nick Constantine, Zoe Cassavetes, Nicolas Cage, Thomas Calabro, Cristi Conway, Bob Collacello, Whitfield Crane, John Cusack, Dean Cain, Jim Courier, Roger Clemens, Russell Crowe, Tia Carrere and Helena Bonham Carter-but I'm not sure if she should be under B or C."
"Ingrid Chavez! Ingrid Chavez!" I shout up. "Has Ingrid Chavez f**king RSVP'd or not?"
"Victor, celebs and their overly attentive PR reps are complaining that your answering machine isn't working," Beau calls down. "They say it's playing thirty seconds of `Love Shack' and then only five seconds to leave a message."
"It's a simple question. Yes or No is the answer. What else could these people possibly have to say to me? It's not a difficult question: Are you coming to the dinner and the club opening or are you not? Is that hard to grasp? And you look just like Uma Thurman, baby."
"Victor, Cindy is not `these people,' Veronica Webb is not `these people,' Elaine Irwin is not `these people'-"
"Beau! How are the As shaping up? Kenny Kenny, don't pinch Bongo like that."
"All nine of them?" Beau calls down. "Carol Alt, Pedro Almodovar, Dana Ashbrook, Kevyn Aucoin, Patricia, Rosanna, David and Alexis Arquette and Andre Agassi, but no Giorgio Armani or Pamela Anderson."
"Shit." I light another cigarette, then look over at the Details girl. "Um, I mean that in a good way."