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Zodijak Gemini
Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
mob
Apple iPhone 6s
Chapter 10

   When I get to the Regent Hotel, Marla’s in the lobby wearing a bathrobe. Marla called me at work and asked, would I skip the gym and the library or the laundry or whatever I had planned after work and come see her, instead.
   This is why Marla called, because she hates me.
   She doesn’t say a thing about her collagen trust fund.
   What Marla says is, would I do her a favor? Marla was lying in bed this afternoon. Marla lives on the meals that Meals on Wheels delivers for her neighbors who are dead; Marla accepts the meals and says they’re asleep. Long story short, this afternoon Marla was just lying in bed, waiting for the Meals on Wheels delivery between noon and two. Marla hasn’t had health insurance for a couple years so she’s stopped looking, but this morning she looks and there seemed to be a lump and the nodes under her arm near the lump were hard and tender at the same time and she couldn’t tell anyone she loves because she doesn’t want to scare them and she can’t afford to see a doctor if this is nothing, but she needed to talk to someone and someone else needed to look.
   The color of Marla’s brown eyes is like an animal that’s been heated in a furnace and dropped into cold water. They call that vulcanized or galvanized or tempered.
   Marla says she’ll forgive the collagen thing if I’ll help her look.
   I figure she doesn’t call Tyler because she doesn’t want to scare him. I’m neutral in her book, I owe her.
   We go upstairs to her room, and Marla tells me how in the wild you don’t see old animals because as soon as they age, animals die. If they get sick or slow down, something stronger kills them. Animals aren’t meant to get old.
   Marla lies down on her bed and undoes the tie on her bathrobe, and says our culture has made death something wrong. Old animals should be an unnatural exception.
   Freaks.
   Marla’s cold and sweating while I tell her how in college I had a wart once. On my penis, only I say, dick. I went to the medical school to have it removed. The wart. Afterwards, I told my father. This was years after, and my dad laughed and told me I was a fool because warts like that are nature’s French tickler. Women love them and God was doing me a favor.
   Kneeling next to Marla’s bed with my hands still cold from outside, feeling Marla’s cold skin a little at a time, rubbing a little of Marla between my fingers every inch, Marla says those warts that are God’s French ticklers give women cervical cancer.
   So I was sitting on the paper belt in an examining room at the medical school while a medical student sprays a canister of liquid nitrogen on my dick and eight medical students watched. This is where you end up if you don’t have medical insurance. Only they don’t call it a dick, they called it a penis, and whatever you call it, spray it with liquid nitrogen and you might as well burn it with lye, it hurts so bad.
   Marla laughs at this until she sees my fingers have stopped. Like maybe I’ve found something.
   Marla stops breathing and her stomach goes like a drum, and her heart is like a fist pounding from inside the tight skin of a drum. But no, I stopped because I’m talking, and I stopped because, for a minute, neither of us was in Marla’s bedroom. We were in the medical school years ago, sitting on the sticky paper with my dick on fire with liquid nitrogen when one of the medical students saw my bare feet and left the room fast in two big steps. The student came back in behind three real doctors, and the doctors elbowed the man with the canister of liquid nitrogen to one side.
   A real doctor grabbed my bare right foot and hefted it into the face of the other real doctors. The three turned it and poked it and took Polaroid pictures of the foot, and it was as if the rest of the person, half dressed with God’s gift half frozen, didn’t exist. Only the foot, and the rest of the medical students pressed in to see.
   “How long,” a doctor asked, “have you had this red blotch on your foot?”
   The doctor meant my birthmark. On my right foot is a birthmark that my father jokes looks like a dark red Australia with a little New Zealand right next to it. This is what I told them and it let all the air out of everything. My dick was thawing out. Everyone except the student with the nitrogen left, and there was the sense that he would’ve left too, he was so disappointed he never met my eyes as he took the head of my dick and stretched it toward himself. The canister jetted a tiny spray on what was left of the wart. The feeling, you could close your eyes and imagine your dick is a hundred miles long, and it would still hurt.
   Marla looks down at my hand and the scar from Tyler’s kiss.
   I said to the medical student, you must not see a lot of birthmarks around here.
   It’s not that. The student said everyone thought the birthmark was cancer. There was this new kind of cancer that was getting young men. They wake up with a red spot on their feet or ankles. The spots don’t go away, they spread until they cover you and then you die.
   The student said, the doctors and everyone were so excited because they thought you had this new cancer. Very few people had it, yet, but it was spreading.
   This was years and years ago.
   Cancer will be like that, I tell Marla. There will be mistakes, and maybe the point is not to forget the rest of yourself if one little part might go bad.
   Marla says, “Might.”
   The student with the nitrogen finished up and told me the wart would drop off after a few days. On the sticky paper next to my bare ass was a Polaroid picture of my foot that no one wanted. I said, can I have the picture?
   I still have the picture in my room stuck in the corner of a mirror in the frame. I comb my hair in the mirror before work every morning and think how I once had cancer for ten minutes, worse than cancer.
   I tell Marla that this Thanksgiving was the first year when my grandfather and I did not go ice skating even though the ice was almost six inches thick. My grandmother always has these little round bandages on her forehead or her arms where moles she’s had her whole life didn’t look right. They spread out with fringed edges or the moles turned from brown to blue or black.
   When my grandmother got out of the hospital the last time, my grandfather was carrying her suitcase and it was so heavy he complained that he felt lopsided. My French-Canadian grandmother was so modest that she never wore a swimming suit in public and she al ways ran water in the sink to mask any sound she might make in the bathroom. Coming out of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital after a partial mastectomy, she says: “You feel lopsided?”
   For my grandfather, that sums up the whole story, my grandmother, cancer, their marriage, your life. He laughs every time he tells that story.
   Marla isn’t laughing. I want to make her laugh, to warm her up. To make her forgive me for the collagen, I want to tell Marla there’s nothing for me to find. If she found anything this morning, it was a mistake. A birthmark.
   Marla has the scar from Tyler’s kiss on the back of her hand.
   I want to make Marla laugh so I don’t tell her about the last time I hugged Chloe, Chloe without hair, a skeleton dipped in yellow wax with a silk scarf tied around her bald head. I hugged Chloe one last time before she disappeared forever. I told her she looked like a pirate, and she laughed. Me, when I go to the beach, I always sit with my right foot tucked under me. Australia and New Zealand, or I keep it buried in the sand. My fear is that people will see my foot and I’ll start to die in their minds. The cancer I don’t have is everywhere now. I don’t tell Marla that.
   There are a lot of things we don’t want to know about the people we love.
   To warm her up, to make her laugh, I tell Marla about the woman in Dear Abby who married a handsome successful mortician and on their wedding night, he made her soak in a tub of ice water until her skin was freezing to the touch, and then he made her lie in bed completely still while he had intercourse with her cold inert body.
   The funny thing is this woman had done this as a newlywed, and gone on to do it for the next ten years of marriage and now she was writing to Dear Abby to ask if Abby thought it meant something.
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Zodijak Gemini
Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
mob
Apple iPhone 6s
Chapter 11

   This is why I loved the support groups so much, if people thought you were dying, they gave you their full attention.
   If this might be the last time they saw you, they really saw you. Everything else about their checkbook balance and radio songs and messy hair went out the window.
   You had their full attention.
   People listened instead of just waiting for their turn to speak.
   And when they spoke, they weren’t telling you a story. When the two of you talked, you were building something, and afterward you were both different than before.
   Marla had started going to the support groups after she found the first lump.
   The morning after we found her second lump, Marla hopped into the kitchen with both legs in one leg of her pantyhose and said, “Look, I’m a mermaid.”
   Marla said, “This isn’t like when guys sit backward on the toilet and pretend it’s a motorcycle. This is a genuine accident.”
   Just before Marla and I met at Remaining Men Together, there was the first lump, and now there was a second lump.
   What you have to know is that Marla is still alive. Marla’s philosophy of life, she told me, is that she can die at any moment. The tragedy of her life is that she doesn’t.
   When Marla found the first lump, she went to a clinic where slumped scarecrow mothers sat in plastic chairs on three sides of the waiting room with limp doll children balled in their laps or lying at their feet. The children were sunken and dark around their eyes the way oranges or bananas go bad and collapse, and the mothers scratched at mats of dandruff from scalp yeast infections out of control. The way the teeth in the clinic looked huge in everyone’s thin face, you saw how teeth are just shards of bone that come through your skin to grind things up.
   This is where you end up if you don’t have health insurance.
   Before anyone knew any better, a lot of gay guys had wanted children, and now the children are sick and the mothers are dying and the fathers are dead, and sitting in the hospital vomit smell of piss and vinegar while a nurse asks each mother how long she’s been sick and how much weight she’s lost and if her child has any living parent or guardian, Marla decides, no.
   If she was going to die, Marla didn’t want to know about it.
   Marla walked around the corner from the clinic to City Laundry and stole all the jeans out of the dryers, then walked to a dealer who gave her fifteen bucks a pair. Then Marla bought herself some really good pantyhose, the kind that don’t run.
   “Even the good kind that don’t run,” Marla says, “they snag.”
   Nothing is static. Everything is falling apart.
   Marla started going to the support groups since it was easier to be around other human butt wipe. Everyone has something wrong. And for a while, her heart just sort of flatlined.
   Marla started a job doing prepaid funeral plans for a mortuary where sometimes great fat men, but usually fat women, would come out of the mortuary showroom carrying a crematory urn the size of an egg cup, and Marla would sit there at her desk in the foyer with her dark hair tied down and her snagged pantyhose and breast lump and doom, and say, “Madam, don’t flatter yourself. We couldn’t get even your burned-up head into that tiny thing. Go back and get an urn the size of a bowling ball.”
   Marla’s heart looked the way my face was. The crap and the trash of the world. Post-consumer human butt wipe that no one would ever go to the trouble to recycle.
   Between the support groups and the clinic, Marla told me, she had met a lot of people who were dead. These people were dead and on the other side, and at night they called on the telephone. Marla would go to bars and hear the bartender calling her name, and when she took the call the line was dead.
   At the time, she thought this was hitting bottom.
   “When you’re twenty-four,” Marla says, “you have no idea how far you can really fall, but I was a fast learner.”
   The first time Marla filled a crematory urn, she didn’t wear a face mask, and later she blew her nose and there in the tissue was a black mess of Mr. Whoever.
   In the house on Paper Street, if the phone rang only once and you picked it up and the line was dead, you knew it was someone trying to reach Marla. This happened more than you might think.
   In the house on Paper Street, a police detective stated calling about my condominium explosion, and Tyler stood with his chest against my shoulder, whispering into my ear while I held the phone to the other ear, and the detective asked if I knew anyone who could make homemade dynamite.
   “Disaster is a natural part of my evolution,” Tyler whispered, “toward tragedy and dissolution.”
   I told the detective that it was the refrigerator that blew up my condo.
   “I’m breaking my attachment to physical power and possessions,” Tyler whispered, “because only through destroying myself can I discover the greater power of my spirit.”
   The dynamite, the detective said, there were impurities, a residue of ammonium oxalate and potassium perchloride that might mean the bomb was homemade, and the dead bolt on the front door was shattered.
   I said I was in Washington, D.C., that night.
   The detective on the phone explained how someone had sprayed a canister of Freon into the dead-bolt lock and then tapped the lock with a cold chisel to shatter the cylinder. This is the way criminals are stealing bicycles.
   “The liberator who destroys my property,” Tyler said, “is fighting to save my spirit. The teacher who clears all possessions from my path will set me free.”
   The detective said whoever set the homemade dynamite could’ve turned on the gas and blown out the pilot lights on the stove days before the explosion took place. The gas was just the trigger. It would take days for the gas to fill the condo before it reached the compressor at the base of the refrigerator and the compressor’s electric motor set off the explosion.
   “Tell him,” Tyler whispered. “Yes, you did it. You blew it all up. That’s what he wants to hear.”
   I tell the detective, no, I did not leave the gas on and then leave town. I loved my life. I loved that condo. I loved every stick of furniture
   That was my whole life. Everything, the lamps, the chairs, the rugs were me. The dishes in the cabinets were me. The plants were me. The television was me. It was me that blew up. Couldn’t he see that?
   The detective said not to leave town.
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Underpromise; overdeliver.

Zodijak Gemini
Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
mob
Apple iPhone 6s
Chapter 12

   Mister his honor, mister chapter president of the local chapter of the national united projectionist and independent theater operators union just sat.
   Under and behind and inside everything the man took for granted, something horrible had been growing.
   Nothing is static.
   Everything is falling apart.
   I know this because Tyler knows this.
   For three years Tyler had been doing film buildup and breakdown for a chain of movie houses. A movie travels in six or seven small reels packed in a metal case. Tyler’s job was to splice the small reels together into single fivefoot reels that self-threading and rewinding projectors could handle. After three years, seven theaters, at least three screens per theater, new shows every week, Tyler had handled hundreds of prints.
   Too bad, but with more self-threading and rewinding projectors, the union didn’t need Tyler anymore. Mister chapter president had to call Tyler in for a little sit-down.
   The work was boring and the pay was crap, so the president of the united union of united projection operators independent and united theaters united said it was doing Tyler Durden a chapter favor by giving Tyler the diplomatic shaft.
   Don’t think of this as rejection. Think of it as downsizing.
   Right up the butt mister chapter president himself says, “We appreciate your contribution to our success.”
   Oh, that wasn’t a problem, Tyler said, and grinned. As long as the union kept sending a paycheck, he’d keep his mouth shut.
   Tyler said, “Think of this as early retirement, with pension.”
   Tyler had handled hundreds of prints.
   Movies had gone back to the distributor. Movies had gone back out in re-release. Comedy. Drama. Musicals. Romance. Action adventure.
   Spliced with Tyler’s single-frame flashes of pornography.
   Sodomy. Fellatio. Cunnilingus. Bondage.
   Tyler had nothing to lose.
   Tyler was the pawn of the world, everybody’s trash.
   This is what Tyler rehearsed me to tell the manager of the Pressman Hotel, too.
   At Tyler’s other job, at the Pressman Hotel, Tyler said he was nobody. Nobody cared if he lived or died, and the feeling was fucking mutual. This is what Tyler told me to say in the hotel manager’s office with security guards sitting outside the door.
   Tyler and I stayed up late and traded stories after everything was over.
   Right after he’d gone to the projectionist union, Tyler had me go and confront the manager of the Pressman Hotel.
   Tyler and I were looking more and more like identical twins. Both of us had punched-out cheekbones, and our skin had lost its memory, and forgot where to slide back to after we were hit.
   My bruises were from fight club, and Tyler’s face was punched out of shape by the president of the projectionist union. After Tyler crawled out of the union offices, I went to see the manager of the Pressman Hotel.
   I sat there, in the office of the manager of the Pressman Hotel.
   I am Joe’s Smirking Revenge.
   The first thing the hotel manager said was I had three minutes. In the first thirty seconds, I told how I’d been peeing into soup, farting on creme brulees, sneezing on braised endive, and now I wanted the hotel to send me a check every week equivalent to my average week’s pay plus tips. In return, I wouldn’t come to work anymore, and I wouldn’t go to the newspapers or the public health people with a confused, tearful confession.
   The headlines:
   Troubled Waiter Admits Tainting Food.
   Sure, I said, I might go to prison. They could hang me and yank my nuts off and drag me through the streets and flay my skin and burn me with lye, but the Pressman Hotel would always be known as the hotel where the richest people in the world ate pee.
   Tyler’s words coming out of my mouth.
   And I used to be such a nice person.
   At the projectionist union office, Tyler had laughed after the union president punched him. The one punch knocked Tyler out of his chair, and Tyler sat against the wall, laughing.
   “Go ahead, you can’t kill me,” Tyler was laughing. “You stupid fuck. Beat the crap out of me, but you can’t kill me.”
   You have too much to lose.
   I have nothing.
   You have everything.
   Go ahead, right in the gut. Take another shot at my face. Cave in my teeth, but keep those paychecks coming. Crack my ribs, but if you miss one week’s pay, I go public, and you and your little union go down under lawsuits from every theater owner and film distributor and mommy whose kid maybe saw a hard-on in Bambi.
   “I am trash,” Tyler said. “I am trash and shit and crazy to you and this whole fucking world,” Tyler said to the union president. “You don’t care where I live or how I feel, or what I eat or how I feed my kids or how I pay the doctor if I get sick, and yes I am stupid and bored and weak, but I am still your responsibility.”
   Sitting in the office at the Pressman Hotel, my fight club lips were still split into about ten segments. The butthole in my cheek looking at the manager of the Pressman Hotel, it was all pretty convincing.
   Basically, I said the same stuff Tyler said.
   After the union president had slugged Tyler to the floor, after mister president saw Tyler wasn’t fighting back, his honor with his big Cadillac body bigger and stronger than he would ever really need, his honor hauled his wingtip back and kicked Tyler in the ribs and Tyler laughed. His honor shot the wingtip into Tyler’s kidneys after Tyler curled into a ball, but Tyler was still laughing.
   “Get it out,” Tyler said. “Trust me. You’ll feel a lot better. You’ll feel great.”
   In the office of the Pressman Hotel, I asked the hotel manager if I could use his phone, and I dialed the number for the city desk at the newspaper. With the hotel manager watching, I said:
   Hello, I said, I’ve committed a terrible crime against humanity as part of a political protest. My protest is over the exploitation of workers in the service industry.
   If I went to prison, I wouldn’t be just an unbalanced peon diddling in the soup. This would have heroic scale.
   Robin Hood Waiter Champions Have-Nots.
   This would be about a lot more than one hotel and one waiter.
   The manager of the Pressman Hotel very gently took the receiver out of my hand. The manager said he didn’t want me working here anymore, not the way I looked now.
   I’m standing at the head of the manager’s desk when I say, what?
   You don’t like the idea of third …
   And without flinching, still looking at the manager, I roundhouse the fist at the centrifugal force end of my arm and slam fresh blood out of the cracked scabs in my nose.
   For no reason at all, I remember the night Tyler and I had our first fight. I want you to hit me as hard as you can.
   This isn’t such a hard punch. I punch myself, again. It just looks good, all the blood, but I throw myself back against the wall to make a terrible noise and break the painting that hangs there.
   The broken glass and frame and the painting of flowers and blood go to the floor with me clowning around. I’m being such a doofus. Blood gets on the carpet and I reach up and grip monster handprints of blood on the edge of the hotel manager’s desk and say, please, help me, but I start to giggle.
   Help me, please.
   Please don’t hit me, again.
   I slip back to the floor and crawl my blood across the carpet. The first word I’m going to say is please. So I keep my lips shut. The monster drags itself across the lovely bouquets and garlands of the Oriental carpet. The blood falls out of my nose and slides down the back of my throat and into my mouth, hot. The monster crawls across the carpet, hot and picking up the lint and dust sticking to the blood on its claws. And it crawls close enough to grab the manager of the Pressman Hotel around his pinstriped ankle and say it. Money. And I giggle, again.
   And please don’t hit me, again.
   Please.
   Say it.
   Please comes out in a bubble of blood.
   Say it.
   Please.
   And the bubble pops blood all over.
   And this is how Tyler was free to start a fight club every night of the week. After this there were seven fight clubs, and after that there were fifteen fight clubs, and after that, there were twenty-three fight clubs, and Tyler wanted more. There was always money coming in.
   Please, I ask the manager of the Pressman Hotel, give me the …
   Please.
   You have so much, and I have nothing. And I start to climb my blood up the pinstriped legs of the manager of the Pressman Hotel who is leaning back, hard, with his hands on the windowsill behind him and even his thin lips retreating from his teeth.
   The monster hooks its bloody claw in the waistband of the manager’s pants, and pulls itself up to clutch the white starched shirt, and l wrap my bloody hands around the manager’s smooth wrists.
   Please. I smile big enough to split my lips.
   There’s a struggle as the manager screams and tries to get his hands away from me and my blood and my crushed nose, the filth sticking in the blood on both of us, and right then at our most excellent moment, the security guards decide to walk in.
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Zodijak Gemini
Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
mob
Apple iPhone 6s
Chapter 13

   It’s in the newspaper today how somebody broke into offices between the tenth and fifteenth floors of the Hein Tower, and climbed out the office windows, and painted the south side of the building with a grinning five story mask, and set fires so the window at the center of each huge eye blazed huge and alive and inescapable over the city at dawn.
   In the picture on the front page of the newspaper, the face is an angry pumpkin, Japanese demon, dragon of avarice hanging in the sky, and the smoke is a witch’s eyebrows or devil’s horns. And people cried with their heads thrown back.
   What did it mean?
   And who would do this? And even after the fires were out, the face was still there, and it was worse. The empty eyes seemed to watch everyone in the street but at the same time were dead.
   This stuff is in the newspaper more and more.
   Of course you read this, and you want to know right away if it was part of Project Mayhem.
   The newspaper says the police have no real leads. Youth gangs or space aliens, whoever it was could’ve died while crawling down ledges and dangling from windowsills with cans of black spray paint.
   Was it the Mischief Committee or the Arson Committee? The giant face was probably their homework assignment from last week.
   Tyler would know, but the first rule about Project Mayhem is you don’t ask questions about Project Mayhem.
   In the Assault Committee of Project Mayhem, this week Tyler says he ran everyone through what it would take to shoot a gun. All a gun does is focus an explosion in one direction.
   At the last meeting of the Assault Committee, Tyler brought a gun and the yellow pages of the phone book. They meet in the basement where fight club meets on Saturday night. Each committee meets on a different night:
   Arson meets on Monday.
   Assault on Tuesday.
   Mischief meets on Wednesday.
   And Misinformation meets on Thursday.
   Organized Chaos. The Bureaucracy of Anarchy. You figure it out.
   Support groups. Sort of.
   So Tuesday night, the Assault Committee proposed events for the upcoming week, and Tyler read the proposals and gave the committee its homework.
   By this time next week, each guy on the Assault Committee has to pick a fight where he won’t come out a hero. And not in fight club. This is harder than it sounds. A man on the street will do anything not to fight.
   The idea is to take some Joe on the street who’s never been in a fight and recruit him. Let him experience winning for the first time in his life. Get him to explode. Give him permission to beat the crap out of you.
   You can take it. If you win, you screwed up.
   “What we have to do, people,” Tyler told the committee, “is remind these guys what kind of power they still have.”
   This is Tyler’s little pep talk. Then he opened each of the folded squares of paper in the cardboard box in front of him. This is how each committee proposes events for the upcoming week. Write the event on the committee tablet. Tear off the sheet, fold it, and put it in the box. Tyler checks out the proposals and throws out any bad ideas.
   For each idea he throws out, Tyler puts a folded blank into the box.
   Then everyone in the committee takes a paper out of the box. The way Tyler explained the process to me, if somebody draws a blank, he only has his homework to do that week.
   If you draw a proposal, then you have to go to the import beer festival this weekend and push over a guy in a chemical toilet. You’ll get extra favor if you get beat up for doing this. Or you have to attend the fashion show at the shopping center atrium and throw strawberry gelatin from the mezzanine.
   If you get arrested, you’re off the Assault Committee. If you laugh, you’re off the committee.
   Nobody knows who draws a proposal, and nobody except Tyler knows what all the proposals are and which are accepted and which proposals he throws in the trash. Later that week, you might read in the newspaper about an unidentified man, downtown, jumping the driver of a Jaguar convertible and steering the car into a fountain.
   You have to wonder. Was this a committee proposal you could’ve drawn?
   The next Tuesday night, you’ll be looking around the Assault Committee meeting under the one light in the black fight club basement, and you’re still wondering who forced the jag into the fountain.
   Who went to the roof of the art museum and snipered paint balls into the sculpture court reception?
   Who painted the blazing demon mask on the Hein Tower?
   The night of the Hein Tower assignment, you can picture a team of law clerks and bookkeepers or messengers sneaking into offices where they sat, every day. Maybe they were a little drunk even if it’s against the rules in Project Mayhem, and they used passkeys where they could and used spray canisters of Freon to shatter lock cylinders, they could dangle, rappelling against the tower’s brick facade, dropping, trusting each other to hold ropes, swinging, risking quick death in offices where every day they felt their lives end one hour at a time.
   The next morning, these same, clerks and assistant account reps would be in the crowd with their neatly combed heads thrown back, rummy without sleep but sober and wearing ties and listening to the crowd around them wonder, who would do this, and the police shout for everyone to please get back, now, as water ran down from the broken smoky center of each huge eye.
   Tyler told me in secret that there’s never more than four good proposals at a meeting so your chances of drawing a real proposal and not just a blank are about four in ten. There are twenty-five guys on the Assault Committee including Tyler. Everybody gets their homework: lose a fight in public; and each member draws for a proposal.
   This week, Tyler told them, “Go out and buy a gun.”
   Tyler gave one guy the telephone-book yellow pages and told him to tear out an advertisement. Then pass the book to the next guy. No two guys should go to the same place to buy or shoot.
   “This,” Tyler said, and he took a gun out of his coat pocket, “this is a gun, and in two weeks, you should each of you have a gun about this size to bring to meeting.
   “Better you should pay for it with cash,” Tyler said. “Next meeting, you’ll all trade guns and report the gun you bought as stolen.”
   Nobody asked anything. You don’t ask questions is the first rule in Project Mayhem.
   Tyler handed the gun around. It was so heavy for something so small, as if a giant thing like a mountain or a sun were collapsed and melted down to make this. The committee guys held it by two fingers. Everyone wanted to ask if it was loaded, but the second rule of Project Mayhem is you don’t ask questions.
   Maybe it was loaded, maybe not. Maybe we should always assume the worst.
   “A gun,” Tyler said, “is simple and perfect. You just draw the trigger back.”
   The third rule in Project Mayhem is no excuses.
   “The trigger,” Tyler said, “frees the hammer, and the hammer strikes the powder.”
   The fourth rule is no lies.
   “The explosion blasts a metal slug off the open end of the shell, and the barrel of the gun focuses the exploding powder and the rocketing slug,” Tyler said, “like a man out of a cannon, like a missile out of a silo, like your jism, in one direction.”
   When Tyler invented Project Mayhem, Tyler said the goal of Project Mayhem had nothing to do with other people. Tyler didn’t care if other people got hurt or not. The goal was to teach each man in the project that he had the power to control history. We, each of us, can take control of the world.
   It was at fight club that Tyler invented Project Mayhem.
   I tagged a first-timer one night at fight club. That Saturday night, a young guy with an angel’s face came to his first fight club, and I tagged him for a fight. That’s the rule. If it’s your first night in fight club, you have to fight. I knew that so I tagged him because the insomnia was on again, and I was in a mood to destroy something beautiful.
   Since most of my face never gets a chance to heal, I’ve got nothing to lose in the looks department. My boss, at work, he asked me what I was doing about the hole through my cheek that never heals. When I drink coffee, I told him, I put two fingers over the hole so it won’t leak.
   There’s a sleeper hold that gives somebody just enough air to stay awake, and that night at fight club I hit our first-timer and hammered that beautiful mister angel face, first with the bony knuckles of my fist like a pounding molar, and then the knotted tight butt of my fist after my knuckles were raw from his teeth stuck through his lips. Then the kid fell through my arms in a heap.
   Tyler told me later that he’d never seen me destroy something so completely. That night, Tyler knew he had to take fight club up a notch or shut it down.
   Tyler said, sitting at breakfast the next morning, “You looked like a maniac, Psycho-Boy. Where did you go?”
   I said I felt like crap and not relaxed at all. I didn’t get any kind of buzz. Maybe I’d developed a Jones. You can build up a tolerance to fighting, and maybe I needed to move on to something bigger.
   It was that morning, Tyler invented Project Mayhem.
   Tyler asked what I was really fighting.
   What Tyler says about being the crap and the slaves of history, that’s how I felt. I wanted to destroy everything beautiful I’d never have. Burn the Amazon rain forests. Pump chlorofluorocarbons straight up to gobble the ozone. Open the dump valves on supertankers and uncap offshore oil wells. I wanted to kill all the fish I couldn’t afford to eat, and smother the French beaches I’d never see.
   I wanted the whole world to hit bottom.
   Pounding that kid, I really wanted to put a bullet between the eyes every endangered panda that wouldn’t screw to save its species and every whale or dolphin that gave up and ran itself aground.
   Don’t think of this as extinction. Think of this as downsizing.
   For thousands of years, human beings had screwed up and trashed and crapped on this planet, and now history expected me to clean up after everyone. I have to wash out and flatten my soup cans. And account for every drop of used motor oil.
   And I have to foot the bill for nuclear waste and buried gasoline tanks and landfilled toxic sludge dumped a generation before I was born.
   I held the face of mister angel like a baby or a football in the crook of my arm and bashed him with my knuckles, bashed him until his teeth broke through his lips. Bashed him with my elbow after that until he fell through my arms into a heap at my feet. Until the skin was pounded thin across his cheekbones and turned black.
   I wanted to breathe smoke.
   Birds and deer are a silly luxury, and all the fish should be floating.
   I wanted to burn the Louvre. I’d do the Elgin Marbles with a sledgehammer and wipe my ass with the Mona Lisa. This is my world, now.
   This is my world, my world, and those ancient people are dead.
   It was at breakfast that morning that Tyler invented Project Mayhem.
   We wanted to blast the world free of history.
   We were eating breakfast in the house on Paper Street, and Tyler said, picture yourself planting radishes and seed potatoes on the fifteenth green of a forgotten golf course.
   You’ll hunt elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins of Rockefeller Center, and dig clams next to the skeleton of the Space Needle leaning at a forty-five-degree angle. We’ll paint the skyscrapers with huge totem faces and goblin tikis, and every evening what’s left of mankind will retreat to empty zoos and lock itself in cages as protection against bears and big cats and wolves that pace and watch us from outside the cage bars at night.
   “Recycling and speed limits are bullshit,” Tyler said. “They’re like someone who quits smoking on his deathbed.”
   It’s Project Mayhem that’s going to save the world. A cultural ice age. A prematurely induced dark age. Project Mayhem will force humanity to go dormant or into remission long enough for the Earth to recover.
   “You justify anarchy,” Tyler says. “You figure it out.”
   Like fight club does with clerks and box boys, Project Mayhem will break up civilization so we can, make something better out of the world.
   “Imagine,” Tyler said, “stalking elk past department store windows and stinking racks of beautiful rotting dresses and tuxedos on hangers; you’ll wear leather clothes that will last you the rest of your life, and you’ll climb the wrist-thick kudzu vines that wrap the Sears Tower. Jack and the beanstalk, you’ll climb up through the dripping forest canopy and the air will be so clean you’ll see tiny figures pounding corn and laying strips of venison to dry in the empty car pool lane of an abandoned superhighway stretching eight-lanes-wide and August-hot for a thousand miles.”
   This was the goal of Project Mayhem, Tyler said, the complete and rightaway destruction of civilization.
   What comes next in Project Mayhem, nobody except Tyler knows. The second rule is you don’t ask questions.
   “Don’t get any bullets,” Tyler told the Assault Committee. “And just so you don’t worry about it, yes, you’re going to have to kill someone.
   Arson. Assault. Mischief and Misinformation.
   No questions. No questions. No excuses and no lies.
   The fifth rule about Project Mayhem is you have to trust Tyler.
   Tyler wanted me to type up and copy. A week ago, Tyler was pacing out the dimensions of the basement of the rented house on Paper Street. It’s sixty-five shoe lengths front to back and forty shoe lengths side to side. Tyler was thinking out loud. Tyler asked me, “What is six times seven?”
   Forty-two.
   “And forty-two times three?”
   One hundred and twenty-six.
   Tyler gave me a handwritten list of notes and said to type it and make seventy-two copies.
   Why that many?
   “Because,” Tyler said, “that’s how many guys can sleep in the basement, if we put them in triple-decker army surplus bunk beds.”
   I asked, what about their stuff?
   Tyler said, “They won’t bring anything more than what’s on the list, and it should all fit under a mattress.”
   The list my boss finds in the copy machine, the copy machine counter still set for seventy-two copies, the list says:
   “Bringing the required items does not guarantee admission to training, but no applicant will be considered unless he arrives equipped with the following items and exactly five hundred dollars cash for personal burial money.”
   “It costs at least three hundred dollars to cremate an indigent corpse, Tyler told me, and the price was going up. Anyone who dies without at least this much money, their body goes to an autopsy class.
   This money must always be carried in the student’s shoe so if the student is ever killed, his death will not be a burden on Project Mayhem.
   In addition, the applicant has to arrive with the following:
   Two black shirts.
   Two black pair of trousers.
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Zodijak Gemini
Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
mob
Apple iPhone 6s
Chapter 14

   My boss brings another sheet of paper to my desk and sets it at my elbow. I don’t even wear a tie anymore. My boss is wearing his blue tie, so it must be a Thursday. The door to my boss’s office is always closed now, and we haven’t traded more than two words any day since he found the fight club rules in the copy machine and I maybe implied I might gut him with a shotgun blast. Just me clowning around, again.
   Or, I might call the Compliance people at the Department of Transportation. There’s a front seat mounting bracket that never passed collision testing before it went into production.
   If you know where to look, there are bodies buried everywhere.
   Morning, I say.
   He says, “Morning.”
   Set at my elbow is another for-my-eyes-only important secret document
   One pair of heavy black shoes.
   Two pair of black socks and two pair of plain underwear.
   One heavy black coat.
   This includes the clothes the applicant has on his back.
   One white towel.
   One army surplus cot mattress.
   One white plastic mixing bowl.
   At my desk, with my boss still standing there, I pick up the original list and tell him, thanks. My boss goes into his office, and I set to work playing solitaire on my computer.
   After work, I give Tyler the copies, and days go by. I go to work.
   I come home.
   I go to work.
   I come home, and there’s a guy standing on our front porch. The guy’s at the front door with his second black shirt and pants in a brown paper sack and he’s got the last three items, a white towel, an army surplus mattress, and a plastic bowl, set on the porch railing. From an upstairs window, Tyler and I peek out at the guy, and Tyler tells me to send the guy away.
   “He’s too young,” Tyler says.
   The guy on the porch is mister angel face whom I tried to destroy the night Tyler invented Project Mayhem. Even with his two black eyes and blond crew cut, you see his tough pretty scowl without wrinkles or scars. Put him in a dress and make him smile, and he’d be a woman. Mister angel just stands his toes against the front door, just looks straight ahead into the splintering wood with his hands at his sides, wearing black shoes, black shirt, black pair of trousers.
   “Get rid of him,” Tyler tells me. “He’s too young.”
   I ask how young is too young?
   “It doesn’t matter,” Tyler says. “If the applicant is young, we tell him he’s too young. If he’s fat, he’s too fat. If he’s old, he’s too old. Thin, he’s too thin. White, he’s too white. Black, he’s too black.”
   This is how Buddhist temples have tested applicants going back for bahzillion years, Tyler says. You tell the applicant to go away, and if his resolve is so strong that he waits at the entrance without food or shelter or encouragement for three days, then and only then can he enter and begin the training.
   So I tell mister angel he’s too young, but at lunchtime he’s still there. After lunch, I go out and beat mister angel with a broom and kick the guy’s sack out into the street. From upstairs, Tyler watches me stickball the broom upside the kid’s ear, the kid just standing there, then I kick his stuff into the gutter and scream.
   Go away, I’m screaming. Haven’t you heard? You’re too young. You’ll never make it, I scream. Come back in a couple years and apply again. Just go. Just get off my porch.
   The next day, the guy is still there, and Tyler goes out to go, “I’m sorry.” Tyler says he’s sorry he told the guy about training, but the guy is really too young, and would he please just go.
   Good cop. Bad cop.
   I scream at the poor guy, again. Then, six hours later, Tyler goes out and says he’s sorry, but no. The guy has to leave. Tyler says he’s going to call the police if the guy won’t leave.
   And the guy stays.
   And his clothes are still in the gutter. The wind takes the torn paper sack away.
   And the guy stays.
   On the third day, another applicant is at the front door. Mister angel is still there, and Tyler goes down and just tells mister angel, “Come in. Get your stuff out of the street and come in.”
   To the new guy, Tyler says, he’s sorry but there’s been a mistake. The new guy is too old to train here, and would he please leave.
   I go to work every day. I come home, and every day there’s one or two guys waiting on the front porch. These new guys don’t make eye contact. I shut the door and leave them on the porch. This happens every day for a while, and sometimes the applicants will leave, but most times, the applicants stick it out until the third day, until most of the seventy-two bunk beds Tyler and I bought and set up in the basement are full.
   One day, Tyler gives me five hundred dollars in cash and tells me to keep it in my shoe all the time. My personal burial money. This is another old Buddhist monastery thing.
   I come home from work now, and the house is filled with strangers that Tyler has accepted. All of them working. The whole first floor turns into a kitchen and a soap factory. The bathroom is never empty. Teams of men disappear for a few days and come home with red rubber bags of thin, watery fat.
   One night, Tyler comes upstairs to find me hiding in my room and says, “Don’t bother them. They all know what to do. It’s part of Project Mayhem. No one guy understands the whole plan, but each guy is trained to do one simple task perfectly.”
   The rule in Project Mayhem is you have to trust Tyler.
   Then Tyler’s gone.
   Teams of Project Mayhem guys render fat all day. I’m not sleeping. All night I hear other teams mix the lye and cut the bars and bake the bars of soap on cookie sheets, then wrap each bar in tissue and seal it with the Paper Street Soap Company label. Everyone except me seems to know what to do, and Tyler is never home.
   I hug the walls, being a mouse trapped in this clockwork of silent men with the energy of trained monkeys, cooking and working and sleeping in teams. Pull a lever. Push a button. A team of space monkeys cooks meals all day, and all day, teams of space monkeys are eating out of the plastic bowls they brought with them.
   One morning I’m leaving for work and Big Bob’s on the front porch wearing black shoes and a black shirt and pants. I ask, has he seen Tyler lately? Did Tyler send him here?
   “The first rule about Project Mayhem,” Big Bob says with his heels together and his back ramrod straight, “is you don’t ask questions about Project Mayhem.”
   So what brainless little honor has Tyler assigned him, I ask. There are guys whose job is to just boil rice all day or washout eating bowls or clean the crapper. All day. Has Tyler promised Big Bob enlightenment if he spends sixteen hours a day wrapping bars of soap?
   Big Bob doesn’t say anything.
   I go to work. I come home, and Big Bob’s still on the porch. I don’t sleep all night, and the next morning, Big Bob’s out tending the garden.
   Before I leave for work, I ask Big Bob, who let him in? Who assigned him this task? Did he see Tyler? Was Tyler here last night?
   Big Bob says, “The first rule in Project Mayhem is you don’t talk … “
   I cut him off. I say, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
   And while I’m at work, teams of space monkeys dig up the muddy lawn around the house and cut the dirt with Epsom salts to lower the acidity, and spade in loads of free steer manure from the stockyards and bags of hair clippings from barber shops to ward off moles and mice and boost the protein in the soil.
   At any time of the night, space monkeys from some slaughterhouse come home with bags of blood meal to boost the iron in the soil and bone meal to boost the phosphorus.
   Teams of space monkeys plant basil and thyme and lettuce and starts of witch hazel and eucalyptus and mock orange and mint in a kaleidoscope knot pattern. A rose window in every shade of green. And other teams go out at night and kill the slugs and snails by candlelight. Another team of space monkeys picks only the most perfect leaves and juniper berries to boil for a natural dye. Comfrey because it’s a natural disinfectant. Violet leaves because they cure headaches and sweet woodruff because it gives soap a cut-grass smell.
   In the kitchen are bottles of 80-proof vodka to make the translucent rose geranium and brown sugar soap and the patchouli soap, and I steal a bottle of vodka and spend my personal burial money on cigarettes. Marla shows up. We talk about the plants. Marla and I walk on raked gravel paths through the kaleidoscope green patterns of the garden, drinking and smoking. We talk about her breasts. We talk about everything except Tyler Durden.
   And one day it’s in the newspaper how a team of men wearing black had stormed through a better neighborhood and a luxury car dealership slamming baseball bats against the front bumpers of cars so the air bags inside would explode in a powdery mess with their car alarms screaming.
   At the Paper Street Soap Company, other teams pick the petals from roses or anemones and lavender and pack the flowers into boxes with a cake of pure tallow that will absorb their scent for making soap with a flower smell.
   Marla tells me about the plants.
   The rose, Marla tells me, is a natural astringent.
   Some of the plants have obituary names: Iris, Basil, Rue, Rosemary, and Verbena. Some, like meadowsweet and cowslips, sweet flag and spikenard, are like the names of Shakespeare fairies. Deer tongue with its sweet vanilla smell. Witch hazel, another natural astringent. Orrisroot, the wild Spanish iris.
   Every night, Marla and I walk in the garden until I’m sure that Tyler’s not coming home that night. Right behind us is always a space monkey trailing us to pick up the twist of balm or rue or mint Marla crushes under my nose. A dropped cigarette butt. The space monkey rakes the path behind him to erase our ever being there.
   And one night in an uptown square park, another group of men floured gasoline around every tree and from tree to tree and set a perfect little forest fire. It was in the newspaper, how townhouse windows across the street from the fire melted, and parked cars farted and settled on melted flat tires.
   Tyler’s rented house on Paper Street is a living thing wet on the inside from so many people sweating and breathing. So many people are moving inside, the house moves.
   Another night that Tyler didn’t come home, someone was drilling bank machines and pay telephones and then screwing lube fittings into the drilled holes and using a grease gun to pump the bank machines and pay telephones full of axle grease or vanilla pudding.
   And Tyler was never at home, but after a month a few of the space monkeys had Tyler’s kiss burned into the back of their hand. Then those space monkeys were gone, too, and new ones were on the front porch to replace them.
   And every day, the teams of men came and went in different cars. You never saw the same car twice. One evening, I hear Marla on the front porch, telling a space monkey, “I’m here to see Tyler. Tyler Durden He lives here. I’m his friend.”
   The space monkey says, “I’m sorry, but you’re too … “ and he pauses, “you’re too young to train here.”
   Marla says, “Get screwed.”
   “Besides,” the space monkey says, “you haven’t brought the required items: two black shirts, two pair of black pants …”
   Marla screams, “Tyler!”
   “One pair of heavy black shoes.”
   “Tyler!”
   “Two pair of black socks and two pair of plain underwear.”
   “Tyler!”
   And I hear the front door slam shut. Marla doesn’t wait the three days.
   Most days, after work, I come home and make a peanut butter sandwich.
   When I come home, one space monkey is reading to the assembled space monkeys who sit covering the whole first floor. “You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone else, and we are all part of the same compost pile.”
   The space monkey continues, “Our culture has made us all the same. No one is truly white or black or rich, anymore. We all want the same. Individually, we are nothing.”
   The reader stops when I walk in to make my sandwich, and all the space monkeys sit silent as if I were alone. I say, don’t bother. I’ve already read it. I typed it.
   Even my boss has probably read it.
   We’re all just a big bunch of crap, I say. Go ahead. Play your little game. Don’t mind me.
   The space monkeys wait in quiet while I make my sandwich and take another bottle of vodka and go up the stairs. Behind me I hear, “You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.”
   I am Joe’s Broken Heart because Tyler’s dumped me. Because my father dumped me. Oh, I could go on and on.
   Some nights, after work, I go to a different fight club in the basement of a bar or garage, and I ask if anybody’s seen Tyler Durden.
   In every new fight club, someone I’ve never met is standing under the one light in the center of the darkness, surrounded by men, and reading Tyler’s words.
   The first rule about fight club is you don’t talk about fight club.
   When the fights get started, I take the club leader aside and ask if he’s seen Tyler. I live with Tyler, I say, and he hasn’t been home for a while.
   The guy’s eyes get big and he asks, do I really know Tyler Durden?
   This happens in most of the new fight clubs. Yes, I say, I’m best buddies with Tyler. Then, everybody all of a sudden wants to shake my hand.
   These new guys stare at the butthole in my cheek and the black skin on my face, yellow and green around the edges, and they call me sir. No, sir. Not hardly, sir. Nobody they know’s ever met Tyler Durden. Friends of friends met Tyler Durden, and they founded this chapter of fight club, sir.
   Then they wink at me.
   Nobody they know has ever seen Tyler Durden.
   Sir.
   Is it true, everybody asks. Is Tyler Durden building an army? That’s the word. Does Tyler Durden only sleep one hour a night? Rumor has it that Tyler’s on the road starting fight clubs all over the country. What’s next, everybody wants to know.
   The meetings for Project Mayhem have moved to bigger basements because each committee - Arson, Assault, Mischief, and Misinformation - gets bigger as more guys graduate out of fight club. Each committee has a leader, and even the leaders don’t know where Tyler’s at. Tyler calls them every week on the phone.
   Everybody on Project Mayhem wants to know what’s next.
   Where are we going?
   What is there to look forward to?
   On Paper Street, Marla and I walk through the garden at night with our bare feet, every step brushing up the smell of sage and lemon verbena and rose geranium. Black shirts and black pants hunch around us with candles, lifting plant leaves to kill a snail or slug. Marla asks, what’s going on here?
   Tufts of hair surface beside the dirt clods. Hair and shit. Bone meal and blood meal. The plants are growing faster than the space monkeys can cut them back.
   Marla asks, “What are you going to do?”
   What’s the word?
   In the dirt is a shining spot of gold, and I kneel down to see. What’s going to happen next, I don’t know, I tell Marla.
   It looks like we’ve both been dumped.
   In the corner of my eye, the space monkeys pace around in black, each one hunched over his candle. The little spot of gold in the dirt is a molar with a gold filling. Next to it surface two more molars with silver amalgam fillings. It’s a jawbone.
   I say, no, I can’t say what’s going to happen. And I push the one, two, three molars into the dirt and hair and shit and bone and blood where Marla won’t see.
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Underpromise; overdeliver.

Zodijak Gemini
Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
mob
Apple iPhone 6s
Chapter 15

   This Friday night, I fall asleep at my desk at work.
   When I wake up with my face and my crossed arms on my desktop, the telephone is ringing, and everyone else is gone. A telephony was ringing in my dream, and it’s not clear if reality slipped into my dream or if my dream is slopping over into reality.
   I answer the phone, Compliance and Liability. That’s my department. Compliance and Liability.
   The sun is going down, and piled-up storm clouds the size of Wyoming and Japan are headed our way. It’s not like I have a window at work. All the outside walls are floor-to-ceiling glass. Everything where I work is floor-to-ceiling glass. Everything is vertical blinds. Everything is industrial low-pile gray carpet spotted with little tombstone monuments where the PCs plug into the network. Everything is a maze of cubicles boxed in with fences of upholstered plywood.
   A vacuum cleaner hums somewhere.
   My boss is gone on vacation. He sent me an E-mail and then disappeared. I’m to prepare for a formal review in two weeks. Reserve a conference room. Get all my ducks in a row. Update my resume. That sort of thing. They’re building a case against me.
   I am Joe’s Complete Lack of Surprise.
   I’ve been behaving miserably.
   I pick up the phone, and it’s Tyler, and he says, “Go outside, there’s some guys waiting for you in the parking lot.”
   I ask, who are they?
   “They’re all waiting,” Tyler says.
   I smell gasoline on my hands.
   Tyler goes, “Hit the road. They have a car, outside. They have a Cadillac.”
   I’m still asleep.
   Here, I’m not sure if Tyler is my dream.
   Or if I am Tyler’s dream.
   I sniff the gasoline on my hands. There’s nobody else around, and I get up and walk out to the parking lot.
   A guy in fight club works on cars so he’s parked at the curb in somebody’s black Corniche, and all I can do is look at it, all black and gold, this huge cigarette case ready to drive me somewhere. This mechanic guy who gets out of the car tells me not to worry, he switched the plates with another car in the long-term parking lot at the airport.
   Our fight club mechanic says he can start anything. Two wires twist out of the steering column. Touch the wires to each other, you complete the circuit to the starter solenoid, you got a car to joyride.
   Either that, or you could hack the key code through a dealership.
   Three space monkeys are sitting in the back seat wearing their black shirts and black pants. See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil.
   I ask, so where’s Tyler?
   The fight club mechanic guy is holding the Cadillac open chauffeur style for me. The mechanic is tall and all bones with shoulders that remind you of a telephone pole crossbar.
   I ask, are we going to see Tyler?
   Waiting for me in the middle of the front seat is a birthday cake with candles ready to be lit. I get in. We start driving.
   Even a week after fight club, you’ve got no problem driving inside the speed limit. Maybe you’ve been passing black shit, internal injuries, for two days, but you are so cool. Other cars drive around you. Cars tailgate. You get the finger from other drivers. Total strangers hate you. It’s absolutely nothing personal. After fight club, you’re so relaxed, you just cannot care. You don’t even turn the radio on. Maybe your ribs stab along a hairline fracture every time you take a breath. Cars behind you blink their lights. The sun is going down, orange and gold.
   The mechanic is there, driving. The birthday cake is on the seat between us.
   It’s one scary fuck to see guys like our mechanic at fight club. Skinny guys, they never go limp. They fight until they’re burger. White guys like skeletons dipped in yellow wax with tattoos, black men like dried meat, these guys usually hang together, the way you can picture them at Narcotics Anonymous. They never say, stop. It’s like they’re all energy, shaking so fast they blur around the edges, these guys in recovery from something. As if the only choice they have left is how they’re going to die and they want to die in a fight.
   They have to fight each other, these guys.
   Nobody else will tag them for a fight, and they can’t tag anybody except another twitching skinny, all bones and rush, since nobody else will register to fight them.
   Guys watching don’t even yell when guys like our mechanic go at each other.
   All you hear is the fighters breathing through their teeth, hands slapping for a hold, the whistle and impact when fists hammer and hammer on thin hollow ribs, point-blank in a clinch. You see tendons and muscle and veins under the skin of these guys jump. Their skin shines, sweating, corded, and wet under the one light.
   Ten, fifteen minutes disappear. Their smell, they sweat and these guys’ smell, it reminds you of fried chicken.
   Twenty minutes of fight club will go by. Finally, one guy will go down.
   After a fight, two drug recovery guys will hang together for the rest of the night, wasted and smiling from fighting so hard.
   Since fight club, this mechanic guy is always hanging around the house on Paper Street. Wants me to hear the song he wrote. Wants me to see the birdhouse he built. The guy showed me a picture of some girl and asked me if she was pretty enough to marry.
   Sitting in the front seat of the Corniche, the guy says, “Did you see this cake I made for you? I made this.”
   It’s not my birthday. “Some oil was getting by the rings,” the mechanic guy says, “but I changed the oil and the air filter. I checked the valve lash and the timing. It’s supposed to rain, tonight, so I changed the blades.”
   I ask, what’s Tyler been planning?
   The mechanic opens the ashtray and pushes the cigarette lighter in. He says, “Is this a test? Are you testing us?”
   Where’s Tyler?
   “The first rule about fight club is you don’t talk about fight club,” the mechanic says. “And the last rule about Project Mayhem is you don’t ask questions.”
   So what can he tell me?
   He says, “What you have to understand, is your father was your model for God.”
   Behind us, my job and my office are smaller, smaller, smaller, gone.
   I sniff the gasoline on my hands.
   The mechanic says, “If you’re male and you’re Christian and living in America, your father is your model for God. And if you never know your father, if your father bails out or dies or is never at home, what do you believe about God?”
   This is all Tyler Durden dogma. Scrawled on bits of paper while I was asleep and given to me to type and photocopy at work. I’ve read it all. Even my boss has probably read it all.
   “What you end up doing,” the mechanic says, “is you spend your life searching for a father and God.”
   “What you have to consider,” he says, “is the possibility that God doesn’t like you. Could be, God hates us. This is not the worst thing that can happen.”
   How Tyler saw it was that getting God’s attention for being bad was better than getting no attention at all. Maybe because God’s hate better than His indifference.
   If you could be either God’s worst enemy or nothing, which would you choose?
   We are God’s middle children, according to Tyler Durden, with no special place in history and no special attention.
   Unless we get God’s attention, we have no hope of damnation or Redemption.
   Which is worse, hell or nothing?
   Only if we’re caught and punished can we be saved.
   “Burn the Louvre,” the mechanic says, “and wipe your ass with the Mona Lisa. This way at least, God would know our names.”
   The lower you fall, the higher you’ll fly. The farther you run, the more God wants you back.
   “If the prodigal son had never left home,” the mechanic says, “the fatted calf would still be alive.”
   “It’s not enough to be numbered with the grains of sand on the beach and the stars in the sky.”
   The mechanic merges the black Corniche onto the old bypass highway with no passing lane, and already a line of trucks strings together behind us, going the legal speed limit. The Corniche fills up with the headlights behind us, and there we are, talking, reflected in the inside of the windshield. Driving inside the speed limit. As fast as the law allows.
   A law is a law, Tyler would say. Driving too fast was the same as setting a fire was the same as planting a bomb was the same as shooting a man.
   A criminal is a criminal is a criminal.
   “Last week, we could’ve filled another four fight clubs,” the mechanic says. “Maybe Big Bob can take over running the next chapter if we find a bar.”
   So next week, he’ll go through the rules with Big Bob and give him a fight club of his own.
   From now on, when a leader starts fight club, when everyone is standing around the light in the center of the basement, waiting, the leader should walk around and around the outside edge of the crowd, in the dark.
   I ask, who made up the new rules? Is it Tyler?
   The mechanic smiles and says, “You know who makes up the rules.”
   The new rule is that nobody should be the center of fight club, he says. Nobody’s the center of fight club except the two men fighting. The leader’s voice will yell, walking slowly around the crowd, out in the darkness. The men in the crowd will stare at other men across the empty center of the room:
   This is how it will be in all the fight clubs.
   Finding a bar or a garage to host a new fight club isn’t tough; the first bar, the one where the original fight club still meets, they make their month’s rent in just one fight club Saturday night.
   According to the mechanic, another new fight club rule is that fight club will always be free. It will never cost to get in. The mechanic yells out the driver’s window into the oncoming traffic and the night wind pouring down the side of the car: “We want you, not your money.”
   The mechanic yells out the window, “As long as you’re at fight club, you’re not how much money you’ve got in the bank. You’re not your job. You’re not your family, and you’re not who you tell yourself.”
   The mechanic yells into the wind, “You’re not your name.”
   A space monkey in the back seat picks it up: “You’re not your problems.”
   The mechanic yells, “You’re not your problems.”
   A space monkey shouts, “You’re not your age.”
   The mechanic yells, “You’re not your age.”
   Here, the mechanic swerves us into the oncoming lane, filling the car with headlights through the windshield, cool as ducking jabs. One car and then another comes at us head-on screaming its horn and the mechanic swerves just enough to miss each one.
   Headlights come at us, bigger and bigger, horns screaming, and the mechanic cranes forward into the glare and noise and screams, “You’re not your hopes.”
   No one takes up the yell.
   This time, the car coming head-on swerves in time to save us.
   Another car comes on, headlights blinking high, low, high, low, horn blaring, and the mechanic screams, “You will not be saved.”
   The mechanic doesn’t swerve, but the head-on car swerves.
   Another car, and the mechanic screams, “We are all going to die, someday.”
   This time, the oncoming car swerves, but the mechanic swerves hack into its path. The car swerves, and the mechanic matches it, head-on, again.
   You melt and swell at that moment. For that moment, nothing matters. Look up at the stars and you’re gone. Not your luggage. Nothing matters. Not your bad breath. The windows are dark outside and the horns are blaring around you. The headlights are flashing high and low and high in your face, and you will never have to go to work again.
   You will never have to get another haircut.
   “Quick,” the mechanic says.
   The car swerves again, and the mechanic swerves back into its path.
   “What,” he says, “what will you wish you’d done before you died?”
   With the oncoming car screaming its horn and the mechanic so cool he even looks away to look at me beside him in the front seat, and he says, “Ten seconds to impact.
   “Nine.
   “In eight.
   “Seven.
   “In six.”
   My job, I say. I wish I’d quit my job.
   The scream goes by as the car swerves and the mechanic doesn’t swerve to hit it.
   More lights are coming at us just ahead, and the mechanic turns to the three monkeys in the back seat. “Hey, space monkeys,” he says, “you see how the game’s played. Fess up now or we’re all dead.”
   A car passes us on the right with a bumper sticker saying, “I Drive Better When I’m Drunk.” The newspaper says thousands of these bumper stickers just appeared on cars one morning. Other bumper stickers said things like “Make Mine Veal.”
   “Drunk Drivers Against Mothers.”
   “Recycle All the Animals.”
   Reading the newspaper, I knew the Misinformation Committee had pulled this. Or the Mischief Committee.
   Sitting beside me, our clean and sober fight club mechanic tells me, yeah, the Drunk bumper stickers are part of Project Mayhem.
   The three space monkeys are quiet in the back seat.
   The Mischief Committee is printing airline pocket cards that show passengers fighting each other for oxygen masks while their jetliner flames down toward the rocks at a thousand miles an hour.
   Mischief and Misinformation Committees are racing each other to develop a computer virus that will make automated bank tellers sick enough to vomit storms of ten- and twenty-dollar bills.
   The cigarette lighter in the dash pops out hot, and the mechanic tells me to light the candles on the birthday cake.
   I light the candles, and the cake shimmers under a little halo of fire.
   “What will you wish you’d done before you died?” the mechanic says and swerves us into the path of a truck coming head-on. The truck hits the air horn, bellowing one long blast after another as the truck’s headlights, like a sunrise, come brighter and brighter to sparkle off the mechanic’s smile.
   “Make your wish, quick,” he says to the rearview mirror where the three space monkeys are sitting in the back seat. “We’ve got five seconds to oblivion.
   “One,” he says.
   “Two.”
   The truck is everything in front of us, blinding bright and roaring.
   “Three.”
   “Ride a horse,” comes from the back seat.
   “Build a house,” comes another voice.
   “Get a tattoo.”
   The mechanic says, “Believe in me and you shall die, forever.”
   Too late, the truck swerves and the mechanic swerves but the rear of our Corniche fishtails against one end of the truck’s front bumper.
   Not that I know this at the time, what I know is the lights, the truck headlights blink out into darkness and I’m thrown first against the passenger door and then against the birthday cake and the mechanic behind the steering wheel.
   The mechanic’s lying crabbed on the wheel to keep it straight and the birthday candles snuff out. In one perfect second there’s no light inside the warm black leather car and our shouts all hit the same deep note, the same low moan of the truck’s air horn, and we have no control, no choice, no direction, and no escape and we’re dead.
   My wish right now is for me to die. I am nothing in the world compared to Tyler.
   I am helpless.
   I am stupid, and all I do is want and need things.
   My tiny life. My little shit job. My Swedish furniture. I never, no, never told anyone this, but before I met Tyler, I was planning to buy a dog and name it “Entourage.”
   This is how bad your life can get.
   Kill me.
   I grab the steering wheel and crank us back into traffic.
   Now.
   Prepare to evacuate soul.
   Now.
   The mechanic wrestles the wheel toward the ditch, and I wrestle to fucking die.
   Now. The amazing miracle of death, when one second you’re walking and talking, and the next second, you’re an object.
   I am nothing, and not even that.
   Cold.
   Invisible.
   I smell leather. My seat belt feels twisted like a straitjacket around me, and when I try to sit up, I hit my head against the steering wheel. This hurts more than it should. My head is resting in the mechanic’s lap, and as I look up, my eyes adjust to see the mechanic’s face high over me, smiling, driving, and I can see stars outside the driver’s window.
   My hands and face are sticky with something.
   Blood?
   Buttercream frosting.
   The mechanic looks down. “Happy Birthday.”
   I smell smoke and remember the birthday cake.
   “I almost broke the steering wheel with your head,” he says.
   Just nothing else, just the night air and the smell of smoke, and the stars and the mechanic smiling and driving, my head in his lap, all of a sudden I don’t feel like I have to sit up.
   Where’s the cake?
   The mechanic says, “On the floor.”
   Just the night air and the smell of smoke is heavier.
   Did I get my wish?
   Up above me, outlined against the stars in the window, the face smiles. “Those birthday candles,” he says, “they’re the kind that never go out.”
   In the starlight, my eyes adjust enough to see smoke braiding up from little fires all around us in the carpet.
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Zodijak Gemini
Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
mob
Apple iPhone 6s
Chapter 16

   The fight club mechanic is standing on the gas, raging behind the wheel in his quiet way, and we still have something important to do, tonight.
   One thing I’ll have to learn before the end of civilization is how to look at the stars and tell where I’m going. Things are quiet as driving a Cadillac through outer space. We must be off the freeway. The three guys in the back seat are passed out or asleep.
   “You had a near-life experience,” the mechanic says.
   He takes one hand off the steering wheel and touches the long welt where my forehead bounced off the steering wheel. My forehead is swelling enough to shut both my eyes, and he runs a cold fingertip down the length of the swelling. The Corniche hits a bump and the pain seems to bump out over my eyes like the shadow from the brim of a cap. Our twisted rear springs and bumper bark and creak in the quiet around our rush down the night road.
   The mechanic says how the back bumper of the Corniche is hanging by its ligaments, how it was torn almost free when it caught an end of the truck’s front bumper.
   I ask, is tonight part of his homework for Project Mayhem?
   “Part of it,” he says. “I had to make four human sacrifices, and I have to pick up a load of fat.”
   Fat?
   “For the soap.”
   What is Tyler planning?
   The mechanic starts talking, and it’s pure Tyler Durden.
   “I see the strongest and the smartest men who have ever lived,” he says, his face outlined against the stars in the driver’s window, “and these men are pumping gas and waiting tables.”
   The drop of his forehead, his brow, the slope of his nose, his eyelashes and the curve of his eyes, the plastic profile of his mouth, talking, these are all outlined in black against the stars.
   “If we could put these men in training camps and finish raising them.
   “All a gun does is focus an explosion in one direction.
   “You have a class of young strong men and women, and they want to give their lives to something. Advertising has these people chasing cars and clothes they don’t need. Generations have been working in jobs they hate, just so they can buy what they don’t really need.
   “We don’t have a great war in our generation, or a great depression, but we do, we have a great war of the spirit. We have a great revolution against the culture. The great depression is our lives. We have a spiritual depression.
   “We have to show these men and women freedom by enslaving them, and show them courage by frightening them.
   “Napoleon bragged that he could train men to sacrifice their lives for a scrap of ribbon.
   “Imagine, when we call a strike and everyone refuses to work until we redistribute the wealth of the world.
   “Imagine hunting elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins of Rockefeller Center.
   “What you said about your job,” the mechanic says, “did you really mean it?”
   Yeah, I meant it.
   “That’s why we’re on the road, tonight,” he says.
   We’re a hunting party, and we’re hunting for fat.
   We’re going to the medical waste dump.
   We’re going to the medical waste incinerator, and there among the discarded surgical drapes and wound dressings, and ten-year-old tumors and intravenous tubes and discarded needles, scary stuff, really scary stuff, among the blood samples and amputated tidbits, we’ll find more money than we can haul away in one night, even if we were driving a dump truck.
   We’ll find enough money to load this Corniche down to the axle stops.
   “Fat,” the mechanic says, “liposuctioned fat sucked out of the richest thighs in America. The richest, fattest thighs in the world.”
   Our goal is the big red bags of liposuctioned fat we’ll haul back to Paper Street and render and mix with lye and rosemary and sell back to the very people who paid to have it sucked out. At twenty bucks a bar, these are the only folks who can afford it.
   “The richest, creamiest fat in the world, the fat of the land,” he says. “That makes tonight a kind of Robin Hood thing.”
   The little wax fires sputter in the carpet.
   “While we’re there,” he says, “we’re supposed to look for some of those hepatitis bugs, too.”
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Underpromise; overdeliver.

Zodijak Gemini
Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
mob
Apple iPhone 6s
Chapter 17

   The tears were really coming now, and one fat stripe rolled along the barrel of the gun and down the loop around the trigger to burst flat against my index finger. Raymond Hessel closed both eyes so I pressed the gun hard against his temple so he would always feel it pressing right there and I was beside him and this was his life and he could be dead at any moment.
   This wasn’t a cheap gun, and I wondered if salt might fuck it up.
   Everything had gone so easy, I wondered. I’d done everything the mechanic said to do. This was why we needed to buy a gun. This was doing my homework.
   We each had to bring Tyler twelve driver’s licenses. This would prove we each made twelve human sacrifices.
   I parked tonight, and I waited around the block for Raymond Hessel to finish his shift at the all-night Korner Mart, and around midnight he was waiting for a night owl bus when I finally walked up and said, hello.
   Raymond Hessel, Raymond didn’t say anything. Probably he figured I was after his money, his minimum wage, the fourteen dollars in his wallet. Oh, Raymond Hessel, all twenty-three years of you, when you started crying, tears rolling down the barrel of my gun pressed to your temple, no, this wasn’t about money. Not everything is about money.
   You didn’t even say, hello.
   You’re not your sad little wallet.
   I said, nice night, cold but clear.
   You didn’t even say, hello.
   I said, don’t run, or I’ll have to shoot you in the back. I had the gun out, and I was wearing a latex glove so if the gun ever became a people’s exhibit A, there’d be nothing on it except the dried tears of Raymond Hessel, Caucasian, aged twenty-three with no distinguishing marks.
   Then I had your attention. Your eyes were big enough that even in the streetlight I could see they were antifreeze green.
   You were jerking backward and backward a little more every time the gun touched your face, as if the barrel was too hot or too cold. Until I said, don’t step back, and then you let the gun touch you, but even then you rolled your head up and away from the barrel.
   You gave me your wallet like I asked.
   Your name was Raymond K. Hessel on your driver’s license. You live at 1320 SE Benning, apartment A. That had to be a basement apartment. They usually give basement apartments letters instead of numbers.
   Raymond K. K. K. K. K. K. Hessel, I was talking to you.
   Your head rolled up and away from the gun, and you said, yeah. You said, yes, you lived in a basement.
   You had some pictures in the wallet, too. There was your mother.
   This was a tough one for you, you’d have to open your eyes and see the picture of Mom and Dad smiling and see the gun at the same time, but you did, and then your eyes closed and you started to cry.
   You were going to cool, the amazing miracle of death. One minute, you’re a person, the next minute, you’re an object, and Mom and Dad would have to call old doctor whoever and get your dental records because there wouldn’t be much left of your face, and Mom and Dad, they’d always expected so much more from you and, no, life wasn’t fair, and now it was come to this.
   Fourteen dollars.
   This, I said, is this your mom?
   Yeah. You were crying, sniffing, crying. You swallowed. Yeah.
   You had a library card. You had a video movie rental card. A social security card. Fourteen dollars cash. I wanted to take the bus pass, but the mechanic said to only take the driver’s license. An expired community college student card.
   You used to study something.
   You’d worked up a pretty intense cry at this point so I pressed the gun a little harder against your cheek, and you started to step back until I said, don’t move or you’re dead right here. Now, what did you study?
   Where?
   In college, I said. You have a student card.
   Oh, you didn’t know, sob, swallow, sniff, stuff, biology.
   Listen, now, you’re going to die, Raymond K. K. K. Hessel, tonight. You might die in one second or in one hour, you decide. So lie to me. Tell me the first thing off the top of your head. Make something up. I don’t give a shit. I have the gun.
   Finally, you were listening and coming out of the little tragedy in your head.
   Fill in the blank. What does Raymond Hessel want to be when he grows up?
   Go home, you said you just wanted to go home, please.
   No shit, I said. But after that, how did you want to spend your life? If you could do anything in the world.
   Make something up.
   You didn’t know.
   Then you’re dead right now, I said. I said, now turn your head.
   Death to commence in ten, in nine, in eight.
   A vet, you said. You want to be a vet, a veterinarian.
   That means animals. You have to go to school for that.
   It means too much school, you said.
   You could be in school working your ass off, Raymond Hessel, or you could be dead. You choose. I stuffed your wallet into the back pocket of your jeans. So you really wanted to be an animal doctor. I took the saltwater muzzle of the gun off one cheek and pressed it against the other. Is that what you’ve always wanted to be, Dr. Raymond K. K. K. K. Hessel, a veterinarian?
   Yeah.
   No shit?
   No. No, you meant, yeah, no shit. Yeah.
   Okay, I said, and I pressed the wet end of the muzzle to the tip of your chin, and then the tip of your nose, and everywhere I pressed the muzzle, it left a shining wet ring of your tears.
   So, I said, go back to school. If you wake up tomorrow morning, you find a way to get back into school.
   I pressed the wet end of the gun on each cheek, and then on your chin, and then against your forehead and left the muzzle pressed there. You might as well be dead right now, I said.
   I have your license.
   I know who you are. I know where you live. I’m keeping your license, and I’m going to check on you, mister Raymond K. Hessel. In three months, and then in six months, and then in a year, and if you aren’t back in school on your way to being a veterinarian, you will be dead.
   You didn’t say anything.
   Get out of here, and do your little life, but remember I’m watching you, Raymond Hessel, and I’d rather kill you than see you working a shit job for just enough money to buy cheese and watch television.
   Now, I’m going to walk away so don’t turn around.
   This is what Tyler wants me to do.
   These are Tyler’s words coming out of my mouth.
   I am Tyler’s mouth.
   I am Tyler’s hands.
   Everybody in Project Mayhem is part of Tyler Durden, and vice versa.
   Raymond K. K. Hessel, your dinner is going to taste better than any meal you’ve ever eaten, and tomorrow will be the most beautiful day of your entire life.
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Zodijak Gemini
Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
mob
Apple iPhone 6s
Chapter 18

   You wake up at Sky Harbor International.
   Set your watch back two hours.
   The shuttle takes me to downtown Phoenix and every bar I go into there are guys with stitches around the rim of an eye socket where a good slam packed their face meat against its sharp edge. There are guys with sideways noses, and these guys at the bar see me with the puckered hole in my cheek and we’re an instant family.
   Tyler hasn’t been home for a while. I do my little job. I go airport to airport to look at the cars that people died in. The magic of travel. Tiny life. Tiny soaps. The tiny airline seats.
   Everywhere I travel, I ask about Tyler.
   In case I find him, the driver’s licenses of my twelve human sacrifices are in my pocket.
   Every bar I walk into, every fucking bar, I see beat-up guys. Every bar, they throw an arm around me and want to buy me a beer. It’s like I already know which bars are the fight club bars. I ask, have they seen a guy named Tyler Durden. It’s stupid to ask if they know about fight club. The first rule is you don’t talk about fight club. But have they seen Tyler Durden? They say, never heard of him, sir. But you might find him in Chicago, sir. It must be the hole in my cheek, everyone calls me sir. And they wink. You wake up at O’Hare and take the shuttle into Chicago. Set your watch ahead an hour.
   If you can wake up in a different place. If you can wake up in a different time. Why can’t you wake up as a different person? Every bar you go into, punched-out guys want to buy you a beer. And no, sir, they’ve never met this Tyler Durden. And they wink. They’ve never heard the name before. Sir. I ask about fight club. Is there a fight club around here, tonight? No, sir. The second rule of fight club is you don’t talk about fight club. The punched-out guys at the bar shake their heads. Never heard of it. Sir. But you might find this fight club of yours in Seattle, sir. You wake up at Meigs Field and call Marla to see what’s happening on Paper Street. Marla says now all the space monkeys are shaving their heads. Their electric razor gets hot and now the whole house smells like singed hair. The space monkeys are using lye to burn off their fingerprints.
   You wake up at SeaTac.
   Set your watch back two hours.
   The shuttle takes you to downtown Seattle, and the first bar you go into, the bartender is wearing a neck brace that tilts his head back so far he has to look down his purple smashed eggplant of a nose to grin at you.
   The bar is empty, and the bartender says, “Welcome back, sir.”
   I’ve never been to this bar, ever, ever before.
   I ask if he knows the name Tyler Durden.
   The bartender grins with his chin stuck out above the top of the white neck brace and asks, “Is this a test?”
   Yeah, I say, it’s a test. Has he ever met Tyler Durden?
   “You stopped in last week, Mr. Durden,” he says. “Don’t you remember?”
   Tyler was here.
   “You were here, sir.”
   I’ve never been in here before tonight.
   “If you say so, sir,” the bartender says, “but Thursday night, you came in to ask how soon the police were planning to shut us down.”
   Last Thursday night, I was awake all night with the insomnia, wondering was I awake, was I sleeping. I woke up late Friday morning, bone tired and feeling I hadn’t ever had my eyes closed.
   “Yes, sir,” the bartender says, “Thursday night, you were standing right where you are now and you were asking me about the police crackdown, and you were asking me how many guys we had to turn away from the Wednesday night fight club.”
   The bartender twists his shoulders and braced neck to look around the empty bar and says, “There’s nobody that’s going to hear, Mr. Durden, sir. We had a twenty-seven-count turn-away, last night. The place is always empty the night after fight club.”
   Every bar I’ve walked into this week, everybody’s called me sir.
   Every bar I go into, the beat-up fight club guys all start to look alike. How can a stranger know who I am?
   “You have a birthmark, Mr. Durden,” the bartender says. “On your foot. It’s shaped like a dark red Australia with New Zealand next to it.”
   Only Marla knows this. Marla and my father. Not even Tyler knows this. When I go to the beach, I sit with that foot tucked under me.
   The cancer I don’t have is everywhere, now.
   “Everybody in Project Mayhem knows, Mr. Durden.” The bartender holds up his hand, the back of his hand toward me, a kiss burned into the back of his hand.
   My kiss?
   Tyler’s kiss.
   “Everybody knows about the birthmark,” the bartender says. “It’s part of the legend. You’re turning into a fucking legend, man.”
   I call Marla from my Seattle motel room to ask if we’ve ever done it. You know. Long distance, Marla says, “What?” Slept together. “What!” Have I ever, you know, had sex with her? “Christ!” Well? “Well?” she says. Have we ever had sex? “You are such a piece of shit.” Have we had sex? “I could kill you!” Is that a yes or a no? “I knew this would happen,” Marla says. “You’re such a flake. You love me. You ignore me. You save my life, then you cook my mother into soap.”
   I pinch myself.
   I ask Marla how me met.
   “In that testicle cancer thing,” Marla says. “Then you saved my life.” I saved her life?
   “You saved my life.”
   Tyler saved her life.
   “You saved my life.”
   I stick my finger through the hole in my cheek and wiggle the finger around. This should be good for enough major league pain to wake me up.
   Marla says, “You saved my life. The Regent Hotel. I’d accidentally attempted suicide. Remember?”
   Oh.
   “That night,” Marla says, “I said I wanted to have your abortion.” We’ve just lost cabin pressure.
   I ask Marla what my name is.
   We’re all going to die.
   Marla says, “Tyler Durden. Your name is Tyler Butt-Wipe-for-Brains Durden. You live at 5123 NE Paper Street which is currently teeming with your little disciples shaving their heads and burning their skin off with lye.”
   I’ve got to get some sleep.
   “You’ve got to get your ass back here,” Marla yells over the phone, “before those little trolls make soap out of me.”
   I’ve got to find Tyler.
   The scar on her hand, I ask Marla, how did she get it?
   “You,” Marla says. “You kissed my hand.”
   I’ve got to find Tyler.
   I’ve got to get some sleep.
   I’ve got to sleep.
   I’ve got to go to sleep.
   I tell Marla goodnight, and Marla’s screaming is smaller, smaller, smaller, gone as I reach over and hang up the phone.
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Zodijak Gemini
Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
mob
Apple iPhone 6s
Chapter 19

   All night long, your thoughts are on the air.
   Am I sleeping? Have I slept at all? This is the insomnia.
   Try to relax a little more with every breath out, but your heart’s still racing and your thoughts tornado in your head.
   Nothing works. Not guided meditation.
   You’re in Ireland.
   Not counting sheep.
   You count up the days, hours, minutes since you can remember falling asleep. Your doctor laughed. Nobody ever died from lack of sleep. The old bruised fruit way your face looks, you’d think you were dead.
   After three o’clock in the morning in a motel bed in Seattle, it’s too late for you to find a cancer support group. Too late to find some little blue Amytal Sodium capsules or lipstick-red Seconals, the whole Valley of the Dolls playset. After three in the morning, you can’t get into a fight club.
   You’ve got to find Tyler.
   You’ve got to get some sleep.
   Then you’re awake, and Tyler’s standing in the dark next to the bed.
   You wake up.
   The moment you were falling asleep, Tyler was standing there saying, “Wake up. Wake up, we solved the problem with the police here in Seattle. Wake up.”
   The police commissioner wanted a crackdown on what he called gang-type activity and after-hours boxing clubs.
   “But not to worry,” Tyler says. “Mister police commissioner shouldn’t be a problem,” Tyler says. “We have him by the balls, now.”
   I ask if Tyler’s been following me.
   “Funny,” Tyler says, “I wanted to ask you the same thing. You talked about me to other people, you little shit. You broke your promise.”
   Tyler was wondering when I’d figure him out.
   “Every time you fall asleep,” Tyler says, “I run off and do something wild, something crazy, something completely out of my mind.”
   Tyler kneels down next to the bed and whispers, “Last Thursday, you fell asleep, and I took a plane to Seattle for a little fight club looksee. To check the turn-away numbers, that sort of thing. Look for new talent. We have Project Mayhem in Seattle, too.”
   Tyler’s fingertip traces the swelling along my eyebrows. “We have Project Mayhem in Los Angeles and Detroit, a big Project Mayhem going on in Washington, D.C., in New York. We have Project Mayhem in Chicago like you would not believe.”
   Tyler says, “I can’t believe you broke your promise. The first rule is you don’t talk about fight club.”
   He was in Seattle last week when a bartender in a neck brace told him that the police were going to crack down on fight clubs. The police commissioner himself wanted it special.
   “What it is,” Tyler says, “is we have police who come to fight at fight club and really like it. We have newspaper reporters and law clerks and lawyers, and we know everything before it’s going to happen.”
   We were going to be shut down.
   “At least in Seattle,” Tyler says.
   I ask what did Tyler do about it.
   “What did we do about it,” Tyler says.
   We called an Assault Committee meeting.
   “There isn’t a me and a you, anymore,” Tyler says, and he pinches the end of my nose. “I think you’ve figured that out.”
   We both use the same body, but at different times.
   “We called a special homework assignment,” Tyler says. “We said, ‘Bring me the steaming testicles of his esteemed honor, Seattle Police Commissioner Whoever.”‘
   I’m not dreaming.
   “Yes,” Tyler says, “you are.”
   We put together a team of fourteen space monkeys, and five of these space monkeys were police, and we were every person in the park where his honor walks his dog, tonight.
   “Don’t worry,” Tyler says, “the dog is alright.”
   The whole attack took three minutes less than our best run-through. We’d projected twelve minutes. Our best run-through was nine minutes.
   We have five space monkeys hold him down.
   Tyler’s telling me this, but somehow, I already know it.
   Three space monkeys were on lookout.
   One space monkey did the ether.
   One space monkey tugged down his esteemed sweatpants.
   The dog is a spaniel, and it’s just barking and barking.
   Barking and barking.
   Barking and barking.
   One space monkey wrapped the rubber band three times until it was tight around the top of his esteemed sack.
   “One monkey’s between his legs with the knife,” Tyler whispers with his punched-out face by my ear. “And I’m whispering in his most esteemed police commissioner’s ear that he better stop the fight club crackdown, or we’ll tell the world that his esteemed honor does not have any balls.”
   Tyler whispers, “How far do you think you’ll get, your honor?”
   The rubber band is cutting off any feeling down there.
   “How far do you think you’ll get in politics if the voters know you have no nuts?”
   By now, his honor has lost all feeling.
   Man, his nuts are ice cold.
   If even one fight club has to close, we’ll send his nuts east and west. One goes to the New York Times and one goes to the Los Angeles Times. One to each. Sort of press release style.
   The space monkey took the ether rag off his mouth, and the commissioner said, don’t.
   And Tyler said, “We have nothing to lose except fight club.”
   The commissioner, he had everything.
   All we were left was the shit and the trash of the world.
   Tyler nodded to the space monkey with the knife between the commissioner’s legs.
   Tyler asked, “Imagine the rest of your life with your bag flapping empty.”
   The commissioner said, no.
   And don’t.
   Stop.
   Please.
   Oh.
   God.
   Help.
   Me.
   Help.
   No.
   Stop.
   Them.
   And the space monkey slips the knife in and only cuts off the rubber band.
   Six minutes, total, and we were done.
   “Remember this,” Tyler said. “The people you’re trying to step on, we’re everyone you depend on. We’re the people who do your laundry and cook your food and serve your dinner. We make your bed. We guard you while you’re asleep. We drive the ambulances. We direct your call. We are cooks and taxi drivers and we know everything about you. We process your insurance claims and credit card charges. We control every part of your life.
   “We are the middle children of history, raised by television to believe that someday we’ll be millionaires and movie stars and rock stars, but we won’t. And we’re just learning this fact,” Tyler said. “So don’t fuck with us.”
   The space monkey had to press the ether down, hard on the commissioner sobbing and put him all the way out.
   Another team dressed him and took him and his dog home. After that, the secret was up to him to keep. And, no, we didn’t expect any more fight club crackdown.
   His esteemed honor went home scared but intact.
   “Every time we do these little homework assignments,” Tyler says, “these fight club men with nothing to lose are a little more invested in Project Mayhem.”
   Tyler kneeling next to my bed says, “Close your eyes and give me your hand.”
   I close my eyes, and Tyler takes my hand. I feel Tyler’s lips against the scar of his kiss.
   “I said that if you talked about me behind my back, you’d never see me again,” Tyler said. “We’re not two separate men. Long story short, when you’re awake, you have the control, and you can call yourself anything you want, but the second you fall asleep, I take over, and you become Tyler Durden.”
   But we fought, I say. The night we invented fight club.
   “You weren’t really fighting me,” Tyler says. “You said so yourself. You were fighting everything you hate in your life.”
   But I can see you.
   “You’re asleep.”
   But you’re renting a house. You held a job. Two jobs.
   Tyler says, “Order your canceled checks from the bank. I rented the house in your name. I think you’ll find the handwriting on the rent checks matches the notes you’ve been typing for me.”
   Tyler’s been spending my money. It’s no wonder I’m always overdrawn.
   “And the jobs, well, why do you think you’re so tired. Geez, it’s not insomnia. As soon as you fall asleep, I take over and go to work or fight club or whatever. You’re lucky I didn’t get a job as a snake handler.”
   I say, but what about Marla?
   “Marla loves you.”
   Marla loves you.
   “Marla doesn’t know the difference between you and me. You gave her a fake name the night you met. You never gave your real name at a support group, you inauthentic shit. Since I saved her life, Marla thinks your name is Tyler Durden.”
   So, now that I know about Tyler, will he just disappear?
   “No,” Tyler says, still holding my hand, “I wouldn’t be here in the first place if you didn’t want me. I’ll still live my life while you’re asleep, but if you fuck with me, if you chain yourself to the bed at night or take big doses of sleeping pills, then we’ll be enemies. And I’ll get you for it.”
   Oh, this is bullshit. This is a dream. Tyler is a projection. He’s a disassociative personality disorder. A psychogenic fugue state. Tyler Durden is my hallucination.
   “Fuck that shit,” Tyler says. “Maybe you’re my schizophrenic hallucination.”
   I was here first.
   Tyler says, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, well let’s just see who’s here last.”
   This isn’t real. This is a dream, and I’ll wake up.
   “Then wake up.”
   And then the telephone’s ringing, and Tyler’s gone.
   Sun is coming through the curtains.
   It’s my 7 A.M. wake-up call, and when I pick up the receiver, the line is dead.
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