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“So it’s like… a good shit?” she asks.

“Uh-huh. Hey Beau!” I call up. “Make sure all the monitors are either on that virtual-reality videotape or for god’s sake MTV or something. I passed a screen that had VH1 on it, and some fat hick in a ten-gallon hat was weeping-“

“Will you meet Chloe at Flowers-sorry, Metro CC?” Beau yells down. “Because I’m not gonna lie anymore.”

“Oh, you’ll lie,” I scream up. “That’s all you ever do.” Then, after glancing casually at the Details girl: “Ask Chloe if she’s bringing Beatrice and Julie.”

Silence from upstairs makes me cringe, then Beau asks, thoroughly annoyed, “Do you mean Beatrice Arthur and Julie Hagerty?”

“No,” I shout, gritting my teeth. “Julie Delpy and Beatrice Dalle. Spare me. Just do it, Beau.”

“Beatrice Dalle’s shooting that Ridley Scott-“

“The speck thing has really gotten to me. You know why?” I ask the Details girl.

“Because there were… a lot?”

“Nope. Because I’m a perfectionist, baby. And you can write that down. In fact I’ll wait a minute while you do so.” Suddenly I rush back to the panel beneath the bar, everyone rushing back with me up the stairs, and I’m wailing, “Specks! Holy Christ! Help me, somebody, please? I mean everyone’s acting like there’s a question as to whether these specks are an illusion or a reality. I think they’re pretty goddamn real.”

“Reality is an illusion, baby,” JD says soothingly. “Reality is an illusion, Victor.”

No one says anything until I’m handed an ashtray, in which I stub out the cigarette I just lit.

“That’s, uh, pretty heavy,” I say, looking at the girl reporter. “That’s pretty heavy, huh?”

She shrugs, rotates her shoulders, doodles again.

“My reaction exactly,” I mutter.

“Oh, before I forget,” JD says. “Jann Wenner can’t make it, but he wants to send a”-JD glances at his notepad-“check anyway.”

“A check? A check for what?”

“Just a”-JD glances at his pad again-“a, um, check?”

“Oh god. Beau! Beau!” I call up.

“I think people are wondering why we don’t have a whatchamacallit,”

Peyton says. Then, after much finger snapping, “Oh yeah, a cause!”

“A cause?” I moan. “Oh god, I can only imagine what kind of cause you’d want. Scholarship fund for Keanu. Find Marky Mark a g*y brain. Send Linda Evangelista to the rain forest so we can pounce on Kyle MacLachlan. No thank you.”

“Victor, shouldn’t we have a cause?” JD says. “What about global warming or the Amazon? Something. Anything.”

“Passe. Passe. Passe.” I stop. “Wait-Beau! Is Suzanne DePasse coming?”

“What about AIDS?”

“Passe. Passe.”

“Breast cancer?”

“Oh groovy, far out,” I gasp before slapping him lightly on the face. “Get serious. For who? David Barton? He’s the only one with tits anymore.”

“You know what I’m trying to say, Victor,” JD says. “Something like Don’t Bungle the Jungle or-“

“Hey, don’t bungle my jungle, you little mo.” I consider this. “A cause, hmm? Because we can”-I mindlessly light another cigarette-“make more money?”

“And let people have some fun,” JD reminds me, scratching at a tattoo of a little muscle man on his bicep.

“Yeah, and let people have some fun.” I take a drag. “I’m considering this, you know, even though the opening is in, oh, less than twenty-four hours.”

“You know what, Victor?” Peyton asks slyly. I’m getting the, ah, perverse temptation, baby, to, ah-now don’t get scared, promise?”

“Only if you don’t tell me who you’ve slept with in the last week.”

Wide-eyed, Peyton claps his hands together and gushes, “Keep the specks.” Then, after seeing my face contort, more timidly offers, “Save… the specks?”

“Save the specks?” JD gasps.

“Yes, save the specks,” Peyton says. “Damien wants techno, and those little fellas can definitely be construed as techno.”

“We all want techno, but we want techno without specks,” JD moans.

The camcorder guy zooms in on the specks, and it’s very quiet until he says, yawning, “Far out.”

“People people people.” I lift my hands up. “Is it possible to open this club without humiliating ourselves in the process?” I start to walk away. “Because I’m beginning to think it’s not possible. Comprende?”

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