فصل 15

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فصل 15

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Chapter 15

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 po rnography.

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 ucking 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 fu k. 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 sh@t and crazy to you and this whole fu king 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.

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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