American Psycho Part Two: Timothy Price

(though none of the book’s explicit sections are quoted here, some of the language will be very offensive to some)

Intro
I. Patrick Bateman
II. Timothy Price
III. Blackmail: Paul Owen, the Fisher Account, Evelyn, the cab driver, etc.
IV. A few last notes: Robert Hall, tanning, etc.

Timothy Price shows up as an aggressive, obnoxious presence in the first part of the book serving almost as a model for Bateman, then disappears for most of it for reasons that are never clear, then re-appears towards the end as a much sadder, more forlorn figure.

Like Bateman, Price is aggressive in asserting that he does not like gays.

“Did you read about the host from that game show on TV? He killed two teenage boys? Depraved faggot. Droll, really droll.”

Price turns back to me and, after running a hand over his stiff, slicked-back hair, seems to relent. “I guess you’re right,” and then he raises his voice, “that is, if the faggot in the next stall thinks it’s okay.”

“Ah,” Price exclaims. “One of those young British faggots serving internship at…?”

“How do you know he’s a faggot?” I ask him.

“They’re all faggots.” Price shrugs. “The British.”

Well, perhaps there’s another reason he knows that.

In the first part of the book, Price is almost always violently angry, again serving almost as an ideal for the violent anger Bateman expresses later. Though he is such an aggressively straightforward character, his scenes are filled with ambiguous moments.

For instance, in the opening scene, he runs into men who he may know, but who he cannot acknowledge. Someone who might be Carruthers:

Outside this cab, on the sidewalks, black and bloated pigeons fight over scraps of hot dogs in front of a Gray’s Papaya while transvestites idly look on and a police car cruises silently the wrong way down a one?way street and the sky is low and gray and in a cab that’s stopped in traffic across from this one, a guy who looks a lot like Luis Carruthers waves over at Timothy and when Timothy doesn’t return the wave the guy – slicked-back hair, suspenders, horn-rimmed glasses – realizes it’s not who he thought it was and looks back at his copy of USA Today.

A figure with slicked-back hair and horn-rimmed glasses approaches in the distance, wearing a beige double-breasted wool-gabardine Cerruti 1881 suit and carrying the same Tumi leather attaché case from D. F. Sanders that Price has, and Timothy wonders aloud, “Is it Victor Powell? It can’t be.”

The man passes under the fluorescent glare of a streetlamp with a troubled look on his face that momentarily curls his lips into a slight smile and he glances at Price almost as if they were acquainted but just as quickly he realizes that he doesn’t know Price and just as quickly Price realizes it’s not Victor Powell and the man moves on.

Powell is mentioned again at Evelyn’s during the dinner scene at the beginning, one of those men like Denton, Owen, and Carruthers that Patrick Bateman is very scared of, no reason given.

I move toward the refrigerator anyway. Staring darkly, Price reenters the kitchen and says, “Who in the hell is in the living room?”

Evelyn feigns ignorance. “Oh who is that?”

Courtney warns, “Ev-el-yn. You did tell them, I hope.”

“Who is it?” I ask, suddenly scared. “Victor Powell?”

A later moment, during a lunch:

“No. Oh no,” Van Patten says ominously. “He hasn’t spotted us yet.”

“Victor Powell? Paul Owen?” I say, suddenly scared.

Powell never otherwise shows up in the book.

There is then this strange moment at Evelyn’s. Evelyn wants to talk to Timothy, Timothy is very angry at Evelyn, but we are never told why.

“I have to talk to you,” Evelyn says.

“What about?” I come up to her.

“No,” she says and then pointing at Tim, “to Price.”

Tim still glares at her fiercely. I say nothing and stare at Tim’s drink.

They return, no explanation given. What Timothy is about to reveal is not, I believe, that he is having an affair with Evelyn. There is possibly a humorous subtext to Evelyn’s line here.

Evelyn and Timothy come back perhaps twenty minutes after we’ve seated ourselves and Evelyn looks only slightly flushed. Tim glares at me as he takes the seat next to mine, a fresh drink in hand, and he leans over toward me, about to say, to admit something, when suddenly Evelyn interrupts, “Not there, Timothy,” then, barely a whisper, “Boy girl, boy girl.”

Both are very unhappy during dinner.

Price isn’t eating and neither is Evelyn; I suspect cocaine but it’s doubtful.

During the dinner, this small moment has a secondary meaning, I think.

Vanden tosses the copy of Deception next to Timothy and smirks in a wan, bitchy way

And again, Evelyn’s line here is humorous.

Everyone stays silent. Tim quickly looks over at me. I glance at Courtney, then back at Tim, then at Evelyn. Evelyn meets my glance, then worriedly looks over at Tim. I also look over at Tim, then at Courtney and then at Tim again, who looks at me once more before answering slowly, unsurely, “Cactus pear.”

Cactus fruit,” Evelyn corrects.

After dinner, Timothy, Patrick, and Evelyn are in a room together, where Evelyn and Timothy seem to flirt with each other – but not in a way of two people having an affair, but openly, as if nothing can come of the flirting.

Now Price is on his knees and he smells and sniffs at Evelyn’s bare legs and she’s laughing. I tense up.
“Oh god,” she moans loudly. “Get out of here.”
“You are orange.” He laughs, on his knees, his head in her lap. “You look orange.”
“I am not,” she says, her voice a low prolonged growl of pain, ecstasy. “Jerk.”
I lie on the bed watching the two of them. Timothy is in her lap trying to push his head under the Ralph Lauren robe. Evelyn’s head is thrown back with pleasure and she is trying to push him away, but playfully, and hitting him only lightly on his back with her Jan Hové brush. I am fairly sure that Timothy and Evelyn are having an affair. Timothy is the only interesting person I know.

The final scene with Timothy before he disappears is at the Tunnel club, a section full of unusual moments. This paragraph contains many of them:

I follow him as he rushes through the narrow corridor that runs parallel to the dance floor, then into the bar and finally into the Chandelier Room, which is jammed with guys from Drexel, from Lehman’s, from Kidder Peabody, from First Boston, from Morgan Stanley, from Rothschild, from Goldman, even from Citibank for Christ sakes, all of them wearing tuxedos, holding champagne flutes, and effortlessly, almost as if it were the same song, “New Sensation” segues into “The Devil Inside” and Price spots Ted Madison leaning against the railing in the back of the room, wearing a double-breasted wool tuxedo, a wing-collar cotton shirt from Paul Smith, a bow tie and cummerbund from Rainbow Neckwear, diamond studs from Trianon, patent-leather and grosgrain pumps by Ferragamo and an antique Hamilton watch from Saks; and past Madison, disappearing into darkness, are the twin train tracks which tonight are lit garishly in preppy greens and pinks and Price suddenly stops walking, stares past Ted, who smiles knowingly when he spots Timothy, and Price gazes longingly at the tracks as if they suggest some kind of freedom, embody an escape that Price has been searching for, but I shout out to him, “Hey, there’s Teddy,” and this breaks his gaze and he shakes his head as if to clear it, refocuses his gaze on Madison and shouts decisively, “No, that’s not Madison for Christ sakes, that’s Turnball,” and the guy who I thought was Madison is greeted by two other guys in tuxedos and he turns his back to us and suddenly, behind Price, Ebersol wraps an arm around Timothy’s neck and laughingly pretends to strangle him, then Price pushes the arm away, shakes Ebersol’s hand and says, “Hey Madison.”

There are no women in this club, only men wearing tuxedoes. The dress code is tuxedoes, but Price and Bateman are not wearing the proper recognisable uniform. Turnball has a knowing smile for Price, but we are not told why. Timothy is desperately looking for an escape, for some freedom that isn’t here. Ebersol pretends to choke Timothy, just as Bateman almost chokes Carruthers in the Yale Club. Price doesn’t want this intimacy, and gives a formal shake.

Madison, who I thought was Ebersol, is wearing a splendid double-breasted white linen jacket by Hackett of London from Bergdorf Goodman. He has a cigar that hasn’t been lit in one hand and a champagne glass, half full, in the other.

“Mr. Price,” shouts Madison. “Very good to see you, sir.”

“Madison,” Price cries back. “We need your services.”

“Looking for trouble?” Madison smiles.

“Something more immediate,” Price shouts back.

“Of course,” Madison shouts and then, coolly for some reason, nods at me, shouting, I think, “Bateman,” and then, “Nice tan.”

I believe what’s shown here is a hint that Madison occasionally provides Price with sex, and that Madison is cautious about Bateman, he doesn’t know if he can trust him with certain secrets.

Price is leaving; what exactly is he leaving?

“I’m leaving,” Price shouts. “I’m getting out.”

“Leaving what?” I shout back, confused.

This,” he shouts, referring to, I’m not sure but I think, his double Stoli.

“Don’t,” I tell him. “I’ll drink it.”

“Listen to me, Patrick,” he screams. “I’m leaving.”

“Where to?” I really am confused. “You want me to find Ricardo?”

“I’m leaving,” he screams. “I… am… leaving!”

I start laughing, not knowing what he means. “Well, where are you going to go?”

Away!” he shouts.

“Don’t tell me,” I shout back at him. “Merchant banking?”

“No, Bateman. I’m serious you dumb son-of-a-bitch. Leaving. Disappearing.”

“Where to?” I’m still laughing, stilt confused, still shouting. “Morgan Stanley? Rehab?What?”

He looks away from me, doesn’t answer, just keeps staring past the railings, trying to find the point where the tracks come to an end, find what lies behind the blackness.

Not banking, not rehab – there is something that Price wants very much to escape.

After he leaves, Evelyn wonders what happened to him.

She’s asking me about Tim. “Where do you think that rascal has been? Rumor is he’s at Sachs,” she says ominously.

“Rumor is,” I say, “he’s in rehab. This champagne isn’t cold enough.” I’m distracted. “Doesn’t he send you postcards?”

“Has he been sick?” she asks, with the slightest trepidation.

“Yes, I think so,” I say. “I think that’s what it is. You know, if you order a bottle of Cristal it should at least be, you know, cold.”

“Oh my god,” Evelyn says. “You think he might be sick?”

“Yes. He’s in a hospital. In Arizona,” I add. The word Arizona has a mysterious tinge to it and I say it again. “Arizona. I think.”

“Oh my god,” Evelyn exclaims, now truly alarmed, and she gulps down what little Cristal is left in her glass.

“Who knows?” I manage the slightest of shrugs.

“You don’t think…” She breathes in and puts her glass down. “You don’t think it’s” – and now she looks around the restaurant before leaning in, whispering – “AIDS?”

There are two points of interest here – that Evelyn’s first assumption of what Price might be suffering from is AIDS, since, as David Van Patten enthusiastically points out again and again,

“I have read this article I’ve Xeroxed,” Van Patten says, “and it says our chances of catching that are like zero zero zero zero point half a decimal percentage or something, and this no matter what kind of scumbag, slutbucket, horndog chick we end up boffing.”

and by “we”, he means straight men.

The other point is “Arizona”, which shows up again and again, a predictable code for something else.

In the bathroom of the Yale Club, after Carruthers confesses his feelings for Bateman, he says:

“You don’t know how long I’ve wanted it…” He’s sighing, rubbing my shoulders, trembling. “Ever since that Christmas party at Arizona 206. You know the one, you were wearing that red striped paisley Armani tie.”

In the last encounter with Carruthers, he says that he’ll be leaving this all behind.

“Anyway,” he says, once we’ve reached the other side of the store, where I pretend to look through a row of silk ties but everything’s blurry, “you’ll be glad to know that I’m transferring… out of state.”

Something rises off me and I’m able to ask, but still without looking at him, “Where?”

“Oh, a different branch,” he says, sounding remarkably relaxed, probably due to the fact that I actually inquired about the move. “In Arizona.”

And this is where Carruthers believes they can live together as a couple.

He’s not listening. Still on my haunches, I just stare at him in disbelief.

“Please, Patrick, please. Listen to me, I’ve figured it all out. I’m quitting P & P, you can too, and, and, and we’ll relocate to Arizona, and then–”

Until his return, Price is then almost never referred to in the book, except once, and I think it answers an earlier question.

The house we stayed at was actually Tim Price’s, which Evelyn had the keys to for some reason, but in my stupefied state I refused to ask for specifics.

Evelyn somehow has the keys to this vast house. Well, there’s the possibility that Bateman considers, which is that she and Price were having an affair. But Price has disappeared, they are no longer seeing each other, so she shouldn’t still have the keys. Besides, she should be far more worried for herself if she thought he had AIDS and she could have contracted it. So, perhaps it’s blackmail. Blackmail over his secret life. It was perhaps this that they discussed in private in the first scene which caused such tension between them.

Then, Price returns.

And, for the sake of form, Tim Price resurfaces, or at least I’m pretty sure he does. While I’m at my desk simultaneously crossing out the days in my calendar that have already passed and reading a new best seller about once management called Why It Works to Be a Jerk, Jean buzzes in, announcing that Tim Price wants to talk, and fearfully I say, “Send him… in.”…He sits down, across from me, on the other side of the Palazzetti glass-top desk. There’s a smudge on his forehead or at least that’s what I think I see. Aside from that he looks remarkably fit.

He’s become another man who Bateman is afraid of. He carries a mark of penitence, also of sickness, but for some reason:

While writing it down for him, I mention, “You’ve been gone, like, forever, Tim. What’s the story?” I ask, again noticing the smudge on his forehead, though I get the feeling that if I asked someone else if it was truly there, he (or she) would just say no.

Only Bateman believes he can see this mark, perhaps because he believes that only he can infer that Price is very sick. Price has AIDS.

As he leaves I’m wondering and not wondering what happens in the world of Tim Price, which is really the world of most of us: big ideas, guy stuff, boy meets the world, boy gets it.

There may be a secondary meaning there.

During their brief conversation in this scene between Bateman and Price, we have:

[Price] takes this in, remembers something. “Courtney?”

“She married Luis.”

“Grassgreen?”

“No. Carruthers.”

He takes this in too. “Do you have her number?”

He has never had any interest in Courtney, but he suddenly wants to contact her. It’s because she’s married to Carruthers, and he believes Carruthers has contracted AIDS as well, and she needs to be told before she gets infected herself.

Price shows up in the last scene, and once again, it’s full of ambiguity. He gets very upset while watching Ronald Reagan speak, though it’s implied the true cause is something else, that’s never made explicit.

On the screen now are scenes from President Bush’s inauguration early this year, then a speech from former President Reagan, while Patty delivers a hard-to-hear commentary. Soon a tiresome debate forms over whether he’s lying or not, even though we don’t, can’t, hear the words. The first and really only one to complain is Price, who, though I think he’s bothered by something else, uses this opportunity to vent his frustration, looks inappropriately stunned, asks, “How can he lie like that? How can he pull that shit?

Price looks away from the television screen, then at Craig, and he tries to hide his displeasure by asking me, waving at the TV, “I don’t believe it. He looks so… normal. He seems so… out of it. So… undangerous.

I just don’t get how someone, anyone, can appear that way yet be involved in such total shit,” Price says, ignoring Craig, averting his eyes from Farrell. He takes out a cigar and studies it sadly. To me it still looks like there’s a smudge on Price’s forehead.

“How can you be so fucking, I don’t know, cool about it?” Price, to whom something really eerie has obviously happened, sounds genuinely perplexed. Rumor has it that he was in rehab.

“Oh brother.” Price won’t let it die. “Look,” he starts, trying for a rational appraisal of the situation. “He presents himself as a harmless old codger. But inside…” He stops. My interest picks up, flickers briefly. “But inside…” Price can’t finish the sentence, can’t add the last two words he needs: doesn’t matter. I’m both disappointed and relieved for him.

The secret cause of Price’s anger is never exactly revealed. It is someone who is lying, doing something very dangerous, yet looks very normal on the surface. It’s perhaps someone who is in the closet, appears not to have AIDS, lies that he doesn’t, yet spreads the infection around. This could be many people. But it is Reagan on the television that makes Price so angry. Though Price doesn’t know yet it’s definitely this person, Reagan on the TV might cause the careful reader to connect this to a very strange moment in one of the first scnes of the book.

“No,” I start, hesitantly. “Well, we have to end apartheid for one. And slow down the nuclear arms race, stop terrorism and world hunger. Ensure a strong national defense, prevent the spread of communism in Central America, work for a Middle East peace settlement, prevent U.S. military involvement overseas. We have to ensure that America is a respected world power. Now that’s not to belittle our domestic problems, which are equally important, if not more. Better and more affordable long-term care for the elderly, control and find a cure for the AIDS epidemic, clean up environmental damage from toxic waste and pollution, improve the quality of primary and secondary education, strengthen laws to crack down on crime and illegal drugs. We also have to ensure that college education is affordable for the middle class and protect Social Security for senior citizens plus conserve natural resources and wilderness areas and reduce the influence of political action committees.”

This is Bateman, talking like a presidential candidate. There is another scene, mentioned in the next post that also points to Bateman spreading the virus among many victims.

A quick detour back. There’s a very quick hint that someone else may be sick, direcly infected by Bateman, and that’s Carruthers.

From their last encounter:

You are sick,” I tell him.

“If I’m sick it’s because of you,” he says too casually, checking his nails. “Because of you I am sick and I will not get better.”

Carruthers is speaking of sentiment, but Bateman knows of another possibility here.

A quick turn back to one of the earliest scenes, with Evelyn that I think has a hidden significance:

“You know,” she says clearly, “Stash tested positive for the AIDS virus. And…” She pauses, something on the screen catching her interest; the volume goes slightly up and then is lowered. “And… I think he will probably sleep with Vanden tonight.”
“Good,” I say, biting lightly at her neck, one of my hands on a firm, cold breast.
“You’re evil,” she says, slightly excited, running her hands along my broad, hard shoulder.

Bateman’s pose is that of a vampire, biting into her neck, after Evelyn speaks of this other couple where the man has AIDS. The very thing that Stash is doing, Bateman is doing as well. This behaviour may be fatal for Stash’s girlfriend; it’s implied here that it will eventually kill off Evelyn as well, that her life will be sucked out of her by Bateman.

Finally, the last paragraph in the book.

Someone has already taken out a Minolta cellular phone and called for a car, and then, when I’m not really listening, watching instead someone <who looks remarkably like Marcus Halberstam paying a check, someone asks, simply, not in relation to anything, “Why?” and though I’m very proud that I have cold blood and that I can keep my nerve and do what I’m supposed to do, I catch something, then realize it: Why? and automatically answering, out of the blue, for no reason, just opening my mouth, words coming out, summarizing for the idiots: “Well, though I know I should have done that instead of not doing it, I’m twenty-seven for Christ sakes and this is, uh, how life presents itself in a bar or in a club in New York, maybe anywhere, at the end of the century and how people, you know, me, behave, and this is what being Patrick means to me, I guess, so, well, yup, uh…” and this is followed by a sigh, then a slight shrug and another sigh, and above one of the doors covered by red velvet drapes in Harry’s is a sign and on the sign in letters that match the drapes’ color are the words THIS IS NOT AN EXIT.

Patrick Bateman sees Marcus Halberstam, who he is constantly mistaken for, paying a check, or – paying a bill, Bateman will soon be paying a very heavy bill for what he’s done. The “why” asked, and the answer, have nothing to do with the fantasised serial killing, but with his own secret life. The “one thing” he could have done makes no sense in the context of the serial killing, but I believe it makes sense if the one thing was coming out of the closet or revealing that he has AIDS. It’s now too late. He is in hell, and he will never leave.

Continued…

Intro
I. Patrick Bateman
II. Timothy Price
III. Blackmail: Paul Owen, the Fisher Account, Evelyn, the cab driver, etc.
IV. A few last notes: Robert Hall, tanning, etc.

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