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“Victor, oh my god, please,” Bongo says as I walk away.

“Victor, wait up.” Kenny Kenny follows, holding out a bag of croutons.

“It’s just that this is all so… so… ’89?” I blurt out.

“A fine year, Victor,” Peyton says, trying to keep up with me. “A triumphant year!”

I stop, pause, then turn slowly to face him. Peyton stands there looking hopefully up at me, quivering.

“Uh, Peyton, you’re really whacked out, aren’t you?” I ask quietly.

Shamefully, Peyton nods as if coaxed. He looks away.

“You’ve had a pretty tough life, right?” I ask gently.

“Victor, please.” JD steps in. “Peyton was joking about the specks. We’re not saving the specks. I’m with you. They’re just not worth it. They die.”

While lighting a gargantuan joint, camcorder guy shoots out the huge expanse of French windows, the lens staring at a view of a leafless Union Square Park, at a truck with a massive Snapple logo driving by, limousines parked at a curb. We are moving down another set of stairs, heading toward the bottom.

“Will someone please just give me one spontaneous act of goodness? Remove the specks. Bongo, go back to the kitchen. Kenny Kenny, you get a consolation prize. Peyton, make sure Kenny Kenny gets a couple of colanders and a nice flat spatula.” I wave them off, glaring. We leave Kenny Kenny behind, on the verge of tears, rubbing a shaky hand over the tattoo of Casper the Friendly Ghost on his bicep. “Ciao.”

“Come on, Victor. The average life span of a club is what-four weeks? By the time we close, no one’s gonna notice them.”

“If that’s your attitude, JD, there’s the door.”

“Oh Victor, let’s be realistic-or at least fake it. This isn’t 1987 anymore.”

“I’m not in a realistic mood, JD, so spare me.”

Passing a pool table, I grab the 8 ball and slam-roll it into the corner pocket. The group is moving farther down into the club. We’re now at the first floor and it’s getting darker and Peyton introduces me to a huge black guy with wraparound sunglasses standing by the front entrance eating takeout sushi.

“Victor, this is Abdullah, but we shall call him Rocko, and he’s handling all the security and he was in that TLC video directed by Matthew Ralston. That toro looks good.”

“My middle name is Grand Master B.”

“His middle name is Grand Master B,” JD says.

“We shook hands last week in South Beach,” Abdullah tells me.

“That’s nice, Abdullah, but I wasn’t in South Beach last week even though I’m semi-famous there.” I glance over at the Details girl. “You can write that down.”

“Yeah man, you were in the lobby of the Flying Dolphin, getting your photo taken,” Rocko tells me. “You were surrounded by clams.”

But I’m not looking at Rocko. Instead my eyes have focused on the three metal detectors that line the foyer, a giant white chandelier hanging above them, dimly twinkling.

“You did, um, know about these, right?” JD asks. A meek pause. “Damien… wants them.”

“Damien wants what?”

“Um.” Peyton gestures with his arms as if the metal detectors were prizes. “These.”

“Well, why don’t we just throw in a baggage check-in, a couple of stewardesses and a DC-10? I mean, what in the hell are these?”

“This is security, man,” Abdullah says.

“Security? Why don’t you just spend the night frisking the celebrities as well?” I ask. “What? You think this is a party for felons?”

“Mickey Rourke and Johnny Depp both RSVP’d yes for dinner,” Peyton whispers in my ear.

“If you’d like us to frisk the guests-” Rocko starts.

“What? I’m gonna have Donna Karan frisked? I’m gonna have Marky Mark frisked? I’m gonna have f**king Diane Von Furstenberg frisked?” I shout. “I don’t think so.”

“No, baby,” Peyton says. “You’re going to have the metal detectors so Diane Von Furstenberg and Marky Mark aren’t frisked.”

“Chuck Pfeiffer has a metal plate in his goddamned head! Princess Cuddles has a steel rod in her leg?” I shout.

JD tells the girl reporter, “Skiing accident in Gstaad, and don’t ask me how to spell that.”

“What’s gonna happen when Princess Cuddles walks in through one of these things and alarms go off and buzzers and lights and  –  Jesus, she’ll have a f**king heart attack. Does anybody really want to see Princess Cuddles have a coronary?”

“On the guest list we’ll mark down that Chuck Pfeiffer has a metal plate in his head and that Princess Cuddles has a steel cod in her leg,” Peyton says, mindlessly writing it down on a notepad.

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