فصل 16

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فصل 16

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Chapter 16

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 bullsh@t,” 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.

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