Thursday, January 29, 2009


The Following is an excerpt from Clubbed by Ben Shakey. It will be published by Cornflower Blue Books in February 2009

The email was sent from TylerDurden22022, which meant 22021 other TylerDurens were out there.

“Oi Vey” thought Brian while opening it.

Brian thought things like 'Oi Vey' and 'Mazletov'. He was of Scottish and Norwegian descent with four generations in Canada. He stood tall enough to duck three times a day and his blonde hair took on a near invisible quality.

He could easily be cast in a high concept comedy about a lost Viking transported to modern times.

Brian was actually very short until the summer his legs grew so fast his pants transformed to Bermuda shorts overnight.

He returned to High school that fall and could have exacted revenge on his tormentors if he had not watched “Take the Money and Run” on a late night A&E Woody Allen marathon. Before that summer he was nebbish, flustered, girl crazy teen with a bend for surrealist humour and a love of books. Woody Allen immediately became his God.

While others prepared for their driver’s tests he studied wringing his hands, stammering to accentuate punch lines, dropping Yiddish words and Kierkegaard references into conversations.

“I saw you post on the forum. We must work in the same office!” read the e-mail.

Brian deleted the e-mail. He had no urge to talk to someone this desperate to contact a name seen on the internet.

The e-mail referred to a forum that Brian would look at each morning while he drank coffee and planned the day’s work.

Today’s question was “Who is your favourite panhandler in the city?” Many voted for one armed push up guy and the screaming busker with no strings on his guitar. Brian voted for the guy seated outside the front door saying things like ‘Spare change for an enema? My bowels are killing me’ or ‘I’m the greatest silent movie actor alive. How ‘bout something till the talkies blow over?”

The description placed him firmly in this office.

At the lunch break a pompadoured young man marched up to him. He wore a white dress shirt and a thin black tie but this hair was full of brylcreem, tattoos sneaked out from under his sleeves, and his index finger was stained tobacco yellow. He looked like a rockabilly juvie forced to do community service in an office.

He swaggered up and pointed at Brian.

“Philip Roth” he declared.

Brian looked at the cover of the book he was reading.

“I looked over one of your posts from last week. The question was ‘what are you reading right now?’ You said Philip Roth.” He explained

There was no mention of the fact that Brian did not respond to the e-mail nor invite him to start any sort of conversation.

“You know who else you should read?” He said like he was winding up for a long conversation. “ Read Ken Kesey. Crazy Motherfucker man! Cuckoo’s nest is some wild, punch you in the gut, kinda shit”

He talked for the remainder of the lunch break, telling him that his name was Paul; he also read Max Tucker and played in a bicycle polo league.

Brian finished his lunch at his desk as he never got a chance to eat.

The next 2 days Paul charged up to him in the lunchroom and spent 30 minutes assaulting Brian with his act outs of UFC matches and his opinions on George Jones records.

“You know what we should do? Start a fight club man!” he said

“A night club?” asked Brian.

“No man. A fight club?”

“ A what club?” asked Brian

“ A fight club, like the movie. Where men, real men, remember what real men are like, where they fight and remind themselves that they are alive!”

Brian tapped his index finger to his temple and then wrung his hands. “I prefer to remind myself that I am alive by not dying. Also I have not seen this particular movie.”

“Okay then, we meet in the parkade at 6 pm tonight, after work. This is your wakeup call! You don’t even know if you are alive or dead.”

“Are you challenging me to a fight?” asked Brian. He wondered if he should contact the HR department.

“No, I am challenging you to watch a movie.”

“But how will we watch it in a parkade?” asked Brian

“First rule of fight club: you don’t talk about fight club.” He said cryptically and walked back to his desk.

At the underground parking Paul brought a portable laptop and placed it on the trunk of his car. Two office chairs were facing it.

“We got Fight Club and to really man it up I brought Rounders and Cool Hand Luke. I have a case of beer, two $12 cigars, and some Red Bull.” Shouted Paul.

Paul pressed play. The office chairs rolled back and forth on the cement. The echoes in the parking lot made the movie louder than it should be. So far, a guy cried in a support group so Brian wasn’t sure what all the manliness was about.

“Hey! What’s going on?” Ricocheted the voice in the underground.

“This is Fight Club, motherfucker! You can ask what’s going on but I won’t answer shit” Yelled Paul.

“Sir, is that open alcohol?” The guard asked.

“And I’m on mushrooms” added Paul. Brian looked at his eyes. How did he not notice the size of them before?

“Sir, I will ask you to comply with my request to leave this parking area three times. If you do not comply I will use physical force to obtain compliance. Will you comply?”

“FUCK YOU!” Paul waved his middle fingers in the guard’s face.

“Sir, the rules state you may not consume alcohol or drugs in this building. Will you leave?”

“You know who else followed the rules without asking questions? The Nazis!”

“Will you leave now sir?”

“Don’t you ever get sick of using the man’s rules to replace your neutered balls?”

“I will now use force.” The guard said it as relaxed as ordering a coffee. He pulled a baton from his belt.

Brian stepped forward. He raised his hand somewhere between a shrug and a wave and said “Before this turns into a typical Thursday night at my aunt’s Mah-jong tournament, maybe we should all calm down.”

As soon as he stepped forward the guard lifted his pepper stray from his belt.

“Stand down sir!”

He unleashed the aerosol defence into Brian’s eyes.

Brian fell coughing and gagging. He slowly struggled to his knees.

“Lie down Sir!” commanded the guard. Brian couldn’t hear him over the gasping and moaning.

“As you will not comply I will take further action.” He began striking Brian with the baton.

“YEAH!!!” yelped Paul.

“Hands behind your back” ordered the guard. Brian curled into a fetal ball as the baton beat down on him.

“Compliance achieved?”

“Yes, uncle, I surrender, white flag, peace, anything” Brian lay face down on the cement floor.

He didn’t even know if he was alive or dead.

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