Point A To Point A
by Lassiter

You read Douglas Coupland to pass the time and identify with Andy. Not in the I-want-to-waste-away-in-deserts kind of way. There are certain quotes in the book that ring true and you've forgotten all of them because you can't be bothered to write them down.

Something stirs inside when you reach the part where Dag kisses him.

You ask Marla, "What if Tyler comes back?"

She blows a smoke ring in your direction. "He'll have to pay for his own therapy."

You live in a cubby-hole of an apartment just this side of the wrong side of town, with Marla, an assortment of cockroaches, and never enough bugspray. It feels weird when she tells you to get a better job. You tell her you will. She rolls her eyes. You tell her to leave you alone and she does, stomping and swishing and yelling, "We're not even married!"

You're back at a nine-to-five, except it's a ten-to-youdontcare, a night shift at a twenty-four-seven.

"That'll be five-ninety-one. Enjoy your quesadillas. Have a nice day."

"Would you like to try our new taco platter special for just six ninety-nine?"

"Have a nice day!" ...fuckers.

The customers are horrified when your mush-mouthed immigrant coworker asks if they want to upsize their cocks.

At home, you open the door of your secondhand refrigerator and ask, "Where's the food?"

"Good question," says Marla.

The last thing you watch before the TV is disconnected is a daytime special about the Mastercard Bombings. That's what they're calling it now. These are the new, slick words of the moment.

What are the Space Monkeys up to, you wonder.

You watch the AmEx building collapse from seven different angles. Authorities suspect a tie-in with Al Qaeda.

You are Jack's inevitable return to the vicious circle.


She doesn't so much wear the sweatshirt as it is draped on her like a circus tent. When she speaks her eyes wander, weary and agitated. A PMS case or a broken heart. She's not smiling, but people at this time of night rarely are.

Double decker taco and a large Coke to go. Two dollars eighty cents.

His face is riddled with shadows and the incongruent lines of sleep deprivation. Truck driver? Night janitor? Too many hours of country western radio? He speaks to you in a voice like fatal lung disease: "Just a tostada, please."

One ten.

The next customer wears a red jacket. The fluorescent lights slide off his frame like reality off a glossy magazine. You're reminded of the afterimages that bright lights and clever cinematography leave in your head.

The rose-tinted glasses may or may not be a metaphor.

Tyler Durden orders a burrito.

You say, "I shot you."

"Technically," says Tyler, "you shot you."

Pay for your own therapy.

You might have snarled. Perhaps you whimpered. You lean forward, saying, "You're not supposed to be here. What are you doing here?"

The man in line behind Tyler demands to know what the hell is--

"One at a time, sir!" you exclaim. Tyler looks unfazed. "What the hell are you doing here?"

"I'm ordering a burrito, what does it look like? Maybe we should ask you what you're doing, because I don't see any burritos in front of me. Do you? I don't. Do you?"

"Fuck that!"

Tyler puts a hand on your chest and pushes you. You stumble backwards. "Self service, huh?" he says, and vaults over the counter.

Your words then are automatic, automated: "Customers aren't allowed behind--"

"Sure." Tyler grabs a burrito, unwraps it, and takes a bite. Bits of lettuce fall to the floor and you frown. You'll have to clean that up later.

"You can't eat that!" a coworker yells.

Tyler ignores him. "You and I need to talk."

You say, "Now?"

The customers stare. Free entertainment with this evening's meal. This is why disaster movies sell so well.

"After the burrito," says Tyler. "I'm hungry."

"You don't get hungry."

He shrugs. "Fair enough. But you do." He takes a bite. "Hunger, man. It's when there's too much of nothing inside. It's why I'm here. Again." Picks out a shred of lettuce from between his teeth and flicks it into the deep fryer. "You can't be that surprised."

"You can be arrested for this," says a coworker.

Tyler regards him for a few seconds and suddenly there goes half a burrito flying through the air. The coworker ducks. Some people scream.

"Fucking morons!" Tyler drapes an arm around your shoulders and leans in. You can smell the refried beans on his breath. "How long did you honestly think I was going to stay away?"

He grins. Pats your cheek.

Climbs over the counter, walks to the door, and is gone.

Your coworkers make shifty eyes like you're nitroglycerin and they're butterfingered scientists. The customers have the pretence of being too busy with their food to pay attention. They chew studiously, grinding the taco shell into crumbs, amylase breaking down crumbs to simple sugars. A couple of teenagers sit in a corner booth, red- rimmed eyes, too stoned to think, staring as if expecting the credits to roll.

"You enjoying the food?" you ask them.

They nod.


You scrabble over the counter, and someone says something about hygiene and pink slips but it's too late for that now. You throw open the doors with a heartfelt exhale and walk into the warm night air.

Standing under the streetlight, like a metaphor, is Tyler Durden.

You are Jack's...

Fuck that.

You've always been Tyler's.


Sometimes you think it started when Marla asked you that question.

You were still holding hands (neither of you had the nerve to let go) as you stared at your blurry reflections on the elevator doors. Your ears were still ringing with the destruction of a few city blocks.

She asked, "What now?"

Sometimes you think it began when you answered her: "I don't know."

"So which is it?" asks Tyler. You're walking down the sidewalk. It's late. You've probably lost your job. Tyler says, "Where does it begin?"

"I'm beginning to think it began earlier than that."

"Did it begin when you met me?"

That catches you off-guard and you trip over your next sentence.

At this time of night, the stores are locked and caged up, empty and dark. No eyes nearby, nor ears. What lights there are seem to be buzz audibly, seem to be a dream. Maybe your mind's just getting to you. Maybe it's just that kind of night. You're with that kind of man.

"Okay, fuck the beginning," said Tyler. "Where's the end?"

"It hasn't ended yet."

There were Space Monkeys waiting for you in the lobby. More than you could handle, more than you wanted Marla to see, and much more than the number of Space Monkeys that should exist. Which is zero, by the way.

"I know what you mean," says Tyler.

You and Marla stepped off at the second floor and continued to the basement via the fire exit. You walked out of the building with your heads held high, giddy from weirdness and blood loss, respectively. She hailed an ambulance on its way to the explosions, and convinced (coerced) them to take you. She didn't go with you. The last thing you saw before the ambulance doors closed was Marla trying to light a cigarette and shout words of comfort at the same time.

A few nights in ICU. One big blur of alcohol smells and different shades of white.

When you got out, Marla rolled her eyes and made a quip when you said the both of you had to get out of this place now. She jibed and jabbed until you reminded her that you were correct the last time. She reminded you that you put her on a bus full of Space Monkeys last time, too.

Marla slept with her head on your shoulder as the Greyhound pulled out of the city. You stared out the window, never looking forward or back, just staring at the blur of the rushing inbetween until you fell asleep.

You passed small towns and suburbs, and scratchy catch phrases from a previous life echoed in your head.

You wondered if these suburbanites owned IKEA furniture.

You wondered how many khaki trousers they owned.

Then things began happening in reverse: a tiny city loomed on the horizon, getting closer, larger, closer, larger, until it ate you. You don't remember exactly when, but it ate you, it ate Marla, and here you are in the belly of the beast.

This began with Tyler's question: "How the hell'd you end up where you are?"

It was a question you've always been on the verge of pondering.

Tyler removes his sunglasses. His eyes are blue like television static, pale compared with the rest of him--the crimson and blond and flesh-tinged tan--but just as potent.

He tosses you his sunglasses, and the lenses catch a reflection of your silhouette. It's spoon-shaped. You're reminded of a certain blockbuster starring a series of special effects and a Jesus metaphor, and you stop there before you start reading too much into things.

You stuff the glasses in the pocket of your khakis and realise you're still wearing your Taco Bell uniform.

"So tell me," says Tyler. "How's Project Mayhem?"

You shrug. "There's someone else claiming to be Tyler Durden. I don't know. I don't know how he's pulling it off, but he's running the show now, as you. I don't know if the old Space Monkeys dropped out and Tyler Two is recruiting new ones or what."

"Have you seen him?"

"No. Not really."

"I think I might have," says Tyler. "A hack. Unfocused. Ran away with what is good and true and, my friend, by the time he's done with it, we're left with the flimsy shit leftovers. What we've got is the tattered secondhand zen of a generation who doesn't know their ass from the next salvation."

And bam. He shoves you into a wall. The back of your head slams against the brick but your shout is tardy. You feel the thud before you feel the pain.

"And they take it, man! That's the part that kills me. Fucking monkeys eat it up because they think this is as good as it's gonna get!" And he laughs. "Oh, man. I've got a story for you. You want to hear a story?"


"In the beginning, there was the light. That's the beginning. Sound familiar?"

You start to answer but the question is rhetorical. Tyler barrels onwards.

"Somewhere along the way, it fucked itself and got thrown out of Eden. As of the moment, the light is in the arms of its imaginary friend, wearing a purple fucking polo shirt and khakis that don't fit." He pushes you back and looks you in the eye. "Sound familiar?"

Tyler's grip is granite and steel.

"So don't mind me," he continues, "when I say fuck. You."

Is that the streetlight glowing in a coincidentally strategic position behind Tyler's head, or has God finally come around and sent a righteous angel to take you out for spitting into the gorditas?

"This isn't going to be like… like another Project Mayhem," you say, trying to sound resolute. "I'm done with Space Monkeys, and I'm done with Fight Club."

"That's funny."

"Fucking let me go." He doesn't. "What do you want?"

Tyler grins. Pepsodent ideal. "That's really funny."

"What are you selling, Tyler? What is going on?"

"You want answers too much, y'know?" Tyler says, brushing the bangs off your head. He holds you easily with one hand. "I can see why I'm still around."

"You shouldn't be."


"One psycho is better than two."

"You don't know what you're talking about," says Tyler.

"You don't know what you're talking about."

Tyler pulls you in and slams you back. "Oh, don't I? So you tell me what I'm on about, light of my life!" White teeth, pink tongue, blue eyes flashing: if you're close enough, all colours blur to black. You're being held down by a silhouette.

"You tell me what I'm saying," says Tyler, "because of all people, you should know. What am I?"


He slams you again. "What am I?"

It's like the night has been waiting a lifetime to witness this. It holds its breath in anticipation of the verdict. The pain dulls with every passing moment, and Tyler's hands begin to feel less like metal, more like flesh. Warm. Expectant.

You lick your lips. Your voice feels small but your words are not. "You are Jack's fear of inertia."


Tyler walks ten steps ahead of you. You remember the Middle Eastern tradition in which the man walks forty paces ahead of his family so that if there were danger, he would be the first to face it.

If you were danger, you'd sneak up on the bastards from behind. Maybe it wouldn't be fair, but it would be successful.

You spin around.

Nothing there but a sidewalk lit with cheap neon. You passed a hobo sleeping under the Sunday comics a few building back. He's still there. Your heart's still pounding.


You turn your head.

"Snap out of it," says Tyler. "Let's go."

It occurs to you that the last time you saw Tyler Durden, he sported a bloody hole in the back of his head. You're looking at his head now and all you see is blond hair. No evidence of destruction at all.

It's another Jesus metaphor. Resurrection. Tyler is alive and whole.

All the buildings look alike on your street. You tell Tyler about that one time Marla went home to the wrong building. She spent twenty minutes yelling at some guy in the other 6D, thinking it was you. She thought you weren't buzzing her up. She thought Tyler was back.

"Is that so?"


"Was she drunk?"

"I don't remember. It was dark."

"It was dark so you couldn't tell whether she was drunk or not."

"It was dark so all the buildings looked the same, which was why she couldn't tell."

Tyler trots up the steps of your building as if he's the one who lives there and you're the evening's hired hooker. "I see what you mean," he says.

You remain on the sidewalk.

"What, are you going to let us in or not?"

"Come here."


"Come here. Come down here."

He obliges. You're not sure what his facial expression conveys. Suspicion? Annoyance? Apathy? He's standing in front of you looking guileless. Guilty. Guileless.


You say, "Take off your shirt."

"You want me to…"

"Take off your shirt." He just looks at you and you say, "Take it off."

He shrugs off his jacket and tosses it to you. You drop it with purposeful intent. He undoes the first two buttons of his shirt and pulls it over his head, and all the while you're trying to figure out what Tyler's thinking. How Tyler's thinking. How Tyler functions. You find yourself wondering if Tyler needs oxygen to breathe.

"Take off your pants."

Tyler says, "This would go by a lot faster if you just tell me to get naked."

"I," you begin, and stop.

Tyler takes off his pants. He takes off his boxers, which may or may not surprise you. If he goes commando, it wouldn't surprise you.

He stands with his arms at his side, streetlight like a spotlight above his head. The shadows on his body are etched just so. They blot out his eyes, like opaque sunglasses, and you remember what he said to you in that hotel room several months ago: "You were looking for a way to change your life. You could not do this on your own."

You remember one night on the bus when you pointed at an underwear ad and you, Jack's self-righteous smirk, said to Tyler, "Is that what a real man looks like?" You look at Tyler Durden now and the irony makes you nauseous. The shadows deepen the lines on his body, all contours, all curves of muscle and tendon, as if conscious of aesthetics.

Tyler once said, "I look like you want to look, I fuck like you want to fuck, I am smart, capable, and most importantly, I am free in all the ways that you are not."

Anyone can do the quick calculations. Tyler is what you are not. You are imperfect. Therefore, Tyler is not imperfect. Is Tyler perfect? Is he what you should try to be?

You are running out of dreams.

"You gonna do anything about that?" Tyler asks.

"About what?"

Tyler gestures at the bulge in your pants. "That."

You push past him and head inside.

Going up the stairs this time, you're the one in front, the valiant leader, the guinea pig, the lab rat. It's useless. The danger isn't coming from in front of you.

"How's Marla these days?" Tyler asks, tugging on his jacket.

You enter the apartment with a glimmer (of impending release? of ascending madness?) in your eye and Tyler follows like an ingenuous tourist. Marla emerges out of a cloud of cigarette smoke in the kitchen and asks why you're home so early. You walk straight into her and keep walking, grasping her waist, pushing her back into a wall. You didn't slam her so hard, but the wall still shivers. Bits of plaster fall from the ceiling.

A speck falls into Marla's eye and she blinks, and before she can raise hell, you kiss her. She makes a sound in the back of her throat and digs her fingernails, wicked curved things, into your shoulders.

You're not sure what the physics of vertical sex is, but you're pretty sure you can figure it out. You and your girlfriend figured out a lot of things in high school and you sure as hell can do it again. There's a sloppy transition from kissing to biting her neck as you pull up the skirt of her nightgown. Your hand goes between her legs and she audibly sucks in air, dragging her fingers down your back as if she's irrigating your skin.

You know Tyler is watching. How could he not. The tourist has found the Venus de Milo, the Winged Victory, the different body parts that don't fit together to make a whole. It could be art. In this day and age, it's hard to tell. Tyler watches, because how could any red- blooded male turn away.

Marla unbuckles your belt, or tries to. It's easy to be distracted in this position. You slip your hand in her underwear and push two fingers inside. She mewls. Your manner that is less than gentle but you don't care. You've never picked up any indication that Marla liked it any other way.

She pulls of your pants and her bony candlewax fingers close around your cock, and you know that behind you, Tyler is jerking himself off. You wipe your fingers on her stomach and pull down her underwear. She makes a strange, anticipatory noise and wraps a leg around you. Your hoist her up and she braces herself against the wall. You thrust inside her at the same time she juts out her hips and she cries out. Maybe you do too, you don't know. It's all the usual from there. In, out, in, out. Wax on, wax off. Fuck, fuck, fuck, like an irregular heartbeat.

You can see it in your mind though you can't see it with your eyes. You can see it in your mind because you can't see it with your eyes. You're not sure how it works, but you know what's happening behind you.

His zipper comes down. His cock comes out in his hand and Tyler makes a noise like a suffocated groan at the bottom of his throat. He's sitting on the couch, that ramshackle configuration of wood and flattened cushions, and he's steadily jerking himself off. Tense, but calm. In control. Tyler's breathing is shallow and fast, coming out in warm gusts between parted lips. His eyes glitter.

Marla's moans and mewlings become slurred words. Something along the lines of "Oh fuck," and "Oh shit," and "Fuck, I'm coming, shit…" but you can't be bothered to listen anymore. You fuck, fuck, fuck like a heart attack.

Her body shudders and goes limp and god damn it. You hate it when she comes before you do, because Marla is selfish. Once she gets what she wants, you're on your own. She makes a half-assed attempt to match your thrusts. You go faster, and harder, and it's like fucking a wet blanket.

Behind you, Tyler throws his head back and the cheap Osram lights illuminate a face that is all perfect lines and angles, all clear blue eyes and deliberate radiance. Tyler's skin is golden with the hint of sweat, his hair askew, his hands around his cock. His tongue slips out, moistening pink lips, and he moans deeply in his throat. The sound makes you shiver.

He comes. So do you.

"Finally," Marla mutters.

She slides down to the floor, pulling you with her, and for a minute you lie quietly on the dirty tiles, legs sticky with each other. Marla turns her head to face you and licks your chin. "What's the occasion?"

"I quit my job."

There's a pause. Then: "You what?"


"It's always like this when you two fight?" asks Tyler.

"No. Not always. Tonight just happened."


You're in the bedroom. Marla is sleeping next to you, naked, like yourself. You're sitting on top of the covers, leaning back against the wall and not caring if you get a splinter in your spine.

"Maybe you two just can't stand the thought of breaking apart," says Tyler, "so it becomes a cycle. You fuck then fight then fuck again."

"Thank you, Dr. Phil."

"Do you love her?"

"Fuck you."

"Does she love you?"

"Fuck you."

The lights are off. You can barely see Tyler sitting in the armchair in the corner of the room. You're not sure how much of the night is left. The night is slipping away too fast. When the morning gets here, you won't know what to do with it.

"All the ways you wish you could be," Tyler once said. "That's me."

You move forward so there's enough space for you to lie down and close your eyes. It's too warm to bother with blankets.

Tyler says, "You don't need me the same way you used to. You don't need me to be what I was."

Marla shifts position beside you and her voice, cracked with the static interference of sleep, says, "Who are you talking to?"

You close your eyes and say, "No one."

She kisses you below your ear. "You're crazy." She kisses your pulse point. She shifts on the bed and kisses your Adam's apple, making you swallow. Marla kisses your closed eyelids, and you wonder if kissing someone's eyelids is part of a dying ritual in some exotic part of the world. Or a birthing ritual. It feels like it.

The world is blurring at the edges. You're falling asleep. Marla kisses you, running her tongue along your lips, and you're drifting closer to that place where reality and dreams coincide.

You want to say, "Marla…" but you get as far as "M…" before you decide it's too much effort. You turn your head to the side and when you open your eyes, Tyler is no longer in his chair.

Another kiss is planted on your chest and a tongue flicks against your left nipple. Hands run up and down your arm. The tongue licks a trail down your abdomen to your groin, and a noise escapes from between your lips when it touches the tip of your already hardening cock. You crack your eyes open but in this light it's hard to tell if the head between your legs has black or blond hair.

You stare at the ceiling as you're worked, hands at your side, reluctant to touch your partner lest you find out whether their hair is short, or long and tangled. You're not so eager for sleep anymore, but some remnants of grogginess linger. You don't come.

"Fuck it," Marla mutters, curling back under the blanket beside you.

You wait until she's asleep. Tyler waits until she's asleep. You hear Marla's deep breathing at the same time you hear Tyler's voice in your ear.

"I don't know what you want," he says softly. "I don't know how to get you out of this."

You are Jack's held breath.

The few minutes before you fall asleep last forever. You know this is true. When sleep happens, it catches you by surprise. It sneaks up on you from behind. Oblivion, like danger, is a crafty bastard. Everything is forty paces in front of you except for the things that really matter.

"When the prodigal son returned, they threw a party for him," says Tyler.

You wait for the world to fade to black.


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