Most people have left, but a few stragglers remain. The party began to dissipate maybe an hour ago – Kylie isn’t sure. She checks her watch: four thirty-five. She vaguely remembers Doug leaving. It didn’t seem to matter by then that she didn’t know anybody here. They were drinking and talking and everybody was friends. Doug had introduced her to his friend and then soon she was talking to somebody else, and then somebody else again. And the drinks were coming and the cocaine was being shared and it was just fun.
The man behind the desk had introduced himself as Albert Ryman the first time he and Haytham met, and Haytham hadn’t believed it for a second. He was tall and thin, with white hair and black glasses that framed his face. He always wore impeccable suits. But it was all a little too perfect: the hair too well-maintained, the jacket and shirt too complimentary, and the tie knot always impossibly symmetrical. His glasses weren’t crooked in the slightest. Everything about him seemed cultivated, right down to the pretence of humanity.
As the overwhelming underdog, and the American, the crowd was rallying for him. Now approaching four hours, the match had matured, building like tantric sex or ostinato music composition. Twice a woman had legit screamed out prior to the conclusion of a point, prematurely anticipating its end; once just before a phenomenal backhand stroke from Rodrigo which went crosscourt zipping right past Tristan’s eyes seeming to emit heat and hum like a missile. Tristan was right to let it fly, it had landed just out.