It’s been a “very unstable” week for Bateman, and he finds himself at a party at a new club. Across the room he spots his lawyer, Harold Carnes. Bateman realizes he’ll have to confront him about the crazed confessional voicemail he left during the night of the car chase, and he grabs a martini to help with his confidence. Bateman awkwardly intrudes upon Carnes’ conversation and then asks him if he received his messages. Carnes, who mistakes Bateman for a man named Davis, laughs and says yes: he got the messages and thought they were hilarious and preposterous. Bateman is entirely taken aback, anger towards Carnes beginning to rise in him, until Carnes tells him he had “one fatal flaw: Bateman’s such a bloody ass-kisser…that I couldn’t fully appreciate it.”
Bateman tells the reader straight out that he has been unstable; this is a clear warning. Later, when he sees Carnes, he needs to drink quickly and heavily in order to be able to even approach him. As is often the case, Carnes mistakes Bateman for someone else, but this time, it is revealed that Carnes thought the voicemails (which apparently did actually happen) were a prank, insisting that there’s no way Bateman could ever do the things he admitted to doing. In this brief exchange, everything Bateman has built up over the course of the novel – his actions, his attitude, his place in elite Wall Street society – comes crashing down.
Bateman is shocked by this and questions Carnes. Carnes goes on to say that Bateman was understandably dumped by Evelyn and could barely even pick up a call girl, let alone mutilate one. Carnes tries to walk away, but Bateman explodes, admitting that he chopped Paul Owen’s head off. Carnes tells him that this is entirely impossible, as he had lunch with Paul Owen twice in London just ten days ago. There is a very heavy pause, before Carnes, now referring to Bateman as Donaldson, excuses himself and walks away. Bateman goes back to his table and pops a Halcion to calm himself. He then declines to take a number from a woman and brings Jean, his date, back to his apartment.
Before Bateman can even respond, Carnes really goes in to tear down the character of Bateman; it’s clear that the man Bateman had made himself out to be for the reader isn’t at all how others (at least Carnes) view him. Has he been lying to the reader, trying to make himself cooler and more respected than he really is? Carnes telling Bateman that he was with Paul Own in London seemingly brings that entire storyline to a halt. If Paul Owen is in London, Bateman couldn’t have killed him—or maybe Bateman killed him and Carnes has been mistaking someone else for Owen? Following this, could Bateman still have murdered those women in Owen’s apartment? If Owens is really in London, did Bateman get the idea to book him fake tickets there, or was this something he hallucinated based on hearing elsewhere about Owens’ travel plans? All this being said, this scene could, like all other recent scenes in the novel, also be a hallucination. In Bateman’s horrific and drug-addled web of a story, the truth is entirely impossible to pinpoint.