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ELLIS, Bret Easton



American Psycho

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I walk away, hailing a taxi, and heading toward Hubert’s in it I hallucinate the buildings into mountains, into volcanoes, the streets become jungles, the sky freezes into a backdrop and before stepping out of the cab I have to cross my eyes in order to clear my vision. Lunch at Hubert’s becomes a permanent hallucination in which I find myself dreaming while still awake.

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Afterwards, two blocks west, I feel heady, ravenous, pumped up, as if I'd just worked out and endorphins are flooding my nervous system, or just embraced that first line of cocaine, inhaled the first puff of a fine cigar, sipped that first glass of Cristal. I'm starving and need something to eat, but I don't want to stop by Nell's, though I'm within walling distance and Indochine seems an unlikely place for a celebratory drink. So I decide to go somewhere Al would go, the McDonald's in Union Square.

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at Union Square Café, skiing down Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen last Christmas, the new Huey Lewis and the News compact disc, dress shirts by Ike Behar, by Joseph Abboud, by Ralph Lauren, beautiful oiled hardbodies eating each other’s pussies and assholes under harsh video lights, truckloads of arugula and cilantro, my tan line, the way the muscles in my back look when the lights in my bathroom fall on them at the right angle, Helga’s hands caressing the smooth skin on my face, lathering and spreading cream and lotions and tonics into it admiringly, whispering, “Oh Mr. Bateman, your face is so clean and smooth, so clean,” the fact that I don’t live in a trailer park or work in a bowling alley or attend hockey games or eat barbecued ribs, the look of the AT&T building at midnight, only at midnight. Jeannie comes in and starts the manicure, first clipping and filing the nails, then brushing them with a sandpaper disk to smooth out the remaining edges.

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I’m sweaty and a pounding migraine thumps dully in my head and I’m experiencing a major-league anxiety attack, searching my pockets for Valium, Xanax, a leftover Halcion, anything, and all I find are three faded Nuprin in a Gucci pillbox, so I pop all three into my mouth and swallow them down with a Diet Pepsi and I couldn’t tell you where it came from if my life depended on it.

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In this office right now I am thinking about how long it would take a corpse to disintegrate right in this office. In this office these are the things I fantasize about while dreaming: Eating ribs at Red, Hot and Blue in Washington, D.C. If I should switch shampoos. What really is the best dry beer? Is Bill Robinson an overrated designer? What’s wrong with IBM? Ultimate luxury. Is the term “playing hardball” an adverb? The fragile peace of Assisi. Electric light. The epitome of luxury. Of ultimate luxury. The bastard’s wearing the same damn Armani linen suit I’ve got on. How easy it would be to scare the living wits out of this fucking guy. Kimball is utterly unaware of how truly vacant I am. There is no evidence of animate life in this office, yet still he takes notes. By the time you finish reading this sentence, a Boeing jetliner will take off or land somewhere in the world. I would like a Pilsner Urquell.
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Infinity, how fast a luxury car should go, bailouts, junk bonds, whether to cancel my subscription to The Economist, the Christmas Eve when I was fourteen and had raped one of our maids, Inclusivity, envying someone's life, whether someone could survive a fractured skull, waiting in airports, stifling a scream, credit cards and someone's passport and a book of matches from La Cote Basque splattered with blood, surface surface surface, a Rolls is a Rolls is a Rolls. To Evelyn our relationship is yellow and blue, but to me it's a gray place, most of it blacked out, bombed, footage from the film in my head is endless shots of stone and any language heard is utterly foreign, the sound flickering away over new images: blood pouring from automated tellers, women giving birth through their ass**les, embryos frozen or scrambled (which is it?), nuclear warheads, billions of dollars, the total destruction of the world, someone gets beaten up, someone else dies, sometimes bloodlessly, more often mostly by rifle shot, assassinations, comas, life played out as a sitcom, a blank canvas that reconfigures itself into a soap opera. It's an isolation ward that serves only to expose my own severely impaired capacity to feel. I am at its center, out of season, and no one

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while running toward Wall Street, still in Tribeca, he stays away from where the streetlamps shine the brightest, notices that the entire block he's lurching down is gentrified, then he dashes past a row of Porsches, tries to open each one and sets a string of car alarm sirens off, the car he would like to steal is a black Range Rover with permanent four-wheel drive, an aircraft-grade aluminum body on a boxed steel chassis and a fuel-injected V-8 engine, but he can't find one, and though this disappoints him he's also intoxicated by the whirlwind of confusion, by the city itself, the rain falling from an ice-cold sky but still warm enough in the city, on the ground, for fog to drift through the passageways the skyscrapers create in Battery Park, in Wall Street, wherever, most of them a kaleidoscopic blur, and now he's jumping over an embankment, somersaulting over it, then he's running like crazy, running full tilt, his brain locked into the physical exertion of utter, sheer panic, helter-skelter, now he thinks a car is following him down a deserted highway, now he feels the night accepts him, from somewhere else a shot is heard but doesn't really register because Patrick's mind is out of sync, forgetting his destination, until like a mirage his once building, where Pierce & Pierce is located, comes into view, the lights in it going off, floor by floor, as if a darkness is rising through it, running another hundred yards, two hundred yards, ducking into the stairs, below, where? his senses blocked for the first time with fear and bewilderment, and dumbstruck with confusion he rushes into the lobby of what he thinks is his building, but no, something seems wrong, what is it

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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

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