A small population of distressed patrons fill the restaurant, some sitting, some walking aimlessly with plates in their hands, trying to decide the best way to commit their crime of gluttony. Wads of half-chewed food slide down my throat, courtesy of the local poverty buffet.
I am Jack's struggling esophagus.
"Tastes like shit..." Murmurs Marla with a cheek full of food.
"That's why it's so fucking cheap." I instantly finish her sentence.
A variety of people attempt to enjoy the slop that was concocted hours earlier in the kitchen. An obese man sits by himself in a booth behind Marla. He has a thick novel open next to his plate. Spatters of food fall from his mouth, landing back on the plate and sprinkling the book. Light reflects off a shiny dribble of saliva from the corner of his mouth. A young couple in their mid-to-late twenties sits at a table near the buffet line. Between bites of food they talk about who-knows-what, with a small laugh peppered in the conversation.
How fucking romantic.
The restaurant smells of off-color meat products, marinated and cooked in a sauce consisting solely of cholesterol and MSG. It lingers in the stagnate air, like a cloud of radioactive gas, ready to poison whomever is luckiest to walk through the doors. At the buffet, a male employee wipes down the counter with a white cloth, of which is thoroughly covered in red and brown stains. He seems less than interested in his job as he takes a mushy tater tot and pops it into his mouth. Sneeze guards would be considered a luxury item at this establishment. The sneeze guard's lack of presence gives me a slight uneasiness about what germs, viruses, mucus, skin, and hair may be present in my food. Next to the door is a small sign in the corner of the window. On it is a large capital "C", assuming it is from the city's Department of Food and Wellness. The grade seems generous to me.
I can slowly feel my waist expanding, putting an uncomfortable pressure on my pants. It feels as though the metal button is going to burst, sail through the air and land in someone's lukewarm tomato soup.
"I'll be back." I wipe my mouth with the top of my hand and head toward the bathroom.
"Marla quietly replies with little interest, "Hmmhmm." She knows where I'm going.
Crossing the much-to-oversized restaurant I approach the bathroom door. At the top of the brown wooden door, in black cursive letters, reads, "Gentlemen." It's ironic that a C-grade eating establishment would find it acceptable to label the bathroom in such an elegant manner.
The solid wood door requires actual effort to push open. Upon entering the bathroom, the lingering aroma of dried urinal cakes and recently evacuated buffet scraps overwhelms my senses. My eyes start to burn and my gag reflex kicks in.
I am Jack's ascending bile pool.
Two stained urinals hang on the wall to the left. On the right wall are two sinks with accompanying mirrors. Beside them are two toilets, one normal size, and the other much larger to accommodate the handicapped. The handicapped stall is occupied while the smaller one is open; the door half ajar.
What is with people's love of the larger handicapped stalls? Is it cleaner compared to the other stalls? Or is it that people enjoy the spaciousness and like to sprawl out? It doesn't make sense. It's a fucking toilet, not a living room. Besides, if so many people have this mentality, then the handicapped stall would have to be twice as dirty as a regular stall. All logic is invalid in this argument.
Upon entering the only empty stall, I lock the door behind me as I stare at the dilapidated toilet. Yellow drops of urine dot the seat and bowl. Apparently the previous occupant found it too inconvenient and unsanitary to lift the seat, however, found it perfectly fine to leave their piss on the seat.
Again, I digress.
With a handful of toilet paper so thin it seems transparent, I wipe the seat, throwing the soiled paper in the water, and flush, watching it swirl around, eventually disappearing from sight.
My stall mate coughs, sniffs, and clears his throat, which reverberates against the tile walls of the restroom. I unzip my pants, letting my bloated stomach and intestines expand even further outward. The feeling is almost orgasmic.
In a single fluid motion, the pants slide down to my knees as I take a seat on the porcelain throne. Almost immediately my bowels evacuate themselves into the bowl; Quick and slightly painful, yet satisfying.
"Yeah this place will do that to yah," says my toilet partner, unexpectedly.
With an uncomfortable laugh, I breathe out, "I guess so."
A couple of minutes pass while I struggle to push out whatever remains of yesterday's cheap and most likely unhealthy meals.
"Hey buddy, mind sparing some shit paper, I'm out," asks the man next door.
"Yeah…sure," I reply.
I pull a plentiful amount into my hand, hoping it would be enough that he won't ask again. Lowering my hand below the stall's divider, he grabs the paper from my hand.
During the split second it took him to take the paper, I noticed his hand was muscular and a rich tan color, appearing as though he doesn't spend much time indoors. His nails were trimmed short, bordered with what looked like dried blood. Most notably was a massive scar on the top of his hand. It looked like two lines of blisters, connected on both ends. Even after his hand disappears, I stare at the floor, memories flooding my head.
No, it can't be…
With quick haste I finish my "business", flush the toilet with my foot, shove the stall door open and head for the sink. Placing both my hands on the counter, I stare down at the stained porcelain bowl, searching for some sort of answer.
Shaking my head I snap out of the trance and vigorously wash my hands, desperate to exit the bathroom. I hear the other toilet flush… he's done.
Frantically, I grab a handful of brown paper towels from the dispenser and start rubbing my hands dry, stepping toward the door.
"Where do you think you're going, sweetheart?"
Immediately I recognize the voice. A drop of cold sweat rolls from my forehead, down my temple, and borders my jaw.
Slowly I turn, and our eyes meet. He leans against the stall, arms crossed, and a small smirk across his lips. His clothes are a complete mismatch; Haggard, yet handsome in a rough sort of way.
It's him… Tyler Durden.