Erica sat on the stairs outside the Gym and made an effort to pull herself together. Earlier, she'd met with Curtis Armstrong in the downstairs section of McDonalds, George St. He'd come in dressed in a long coat and had a hat pulled down to cover his eyes, which is pretty much the best way to draw attention to yourself.
Curtis had given her a Fillet-O-Fish Wrapper with the words BeachBodiez written on it. He had also suggested that a lot of Finnish people hung out there.
"Now tell me about your druggy friend," he smiled slowly, revealing the shred of gherkin on his teeth.
Maybe it was because Fillet-O-Fishes don't have gherkins, but Erica didn't quite trust him and hadn't told him any more than what had been on the news.
She began to trust Armstrong even less when a black car with tinted windows pulled up outside the gym. Maybe she was just being paranoid, but she was willing to bet whoever was in the car was after her and they probably weren't going to give her a foot massage and buy her lunch.
Just then three seriously buffed gym women came out of the gym and stood on the stairs in front of her.
"That was a great thigh workout so next week we should concentrate on our abs," said the buffiest one of the group. The other women nodded, although truth be known around 98% of their brain functions were already devoted to thinking about their abs. If they devoted any more brainpower to them, chances were they'd stop breathing.
Still, this assembled mass of well-toned upper bodies provided the perfect wall between Erica and the ominous-looking car. She slipped out from behind them and into the side street, moving cautiously towards the milkbar on the other side.
Inside, she pretended to peruse the tins of catfood near the window, which looked liked they hadn't been touched since 1983. The rear passenger window unwound slowly and she saw something move, but couldn't make out what it was.
There was a wooshing sound as a ball of fire left the car and engulfed the front entrance of the gym, sending glass and metal showering everywhere.
"Only the paranoid survive" she muttered grimly. Then she stopped, she knew that saying from somewhere . . .
"Of course!" she exclaimed loudly, disturbing the shop owner who was reading the Daily Telegraph. It was the name of Intel CEO Andy Grove's book. She knew that because she had seen it on the bookshelf next to Patrick's autographed copy of Bill Gates' The Road Ahead. Patrick had been excited about the Gates book but Grove was his real hero.
There was a picture of him on his wall. One day she had been around at his house and as a joke had decided to hang the picture upside down to see if he noticed. As she took it off, she'd discovered a wall safe, which had seemed terribly cliched. Still, if there were back up discs for Australian Psycho, that's were they'd be.
"Thank God for clichés," she said to herself.
She glanced at her watch, 3:09pm. "Fuck," she said. She was late for work. Whipping out the mobile she called her manager, Rebecca Durr.
"Hi, it's Erica. Listen I can't come in today because I have an unsightly blemish on my chin," she said. "And my hair is flat and lifeless."
"Oh God, don't come in!" her boss answered in a voice which suggested she was afraid acne could be transmitted via the phone.
With work taken care of, Erica flagged down a cab and headed to Patrick's place.