“Why do you like this movie, cuz?” Leon asked.
Through a haze of pot smoke, I looked between the laptop screen, which was showing Fight Club, and Leon. “Uh, I thought it was kind of obvious,” I joked.
“Iunno, man,” Leon said, waving his joint vaguely. “You know me. I’m always looking for the deeper meaning in anything.”
“Especially movies,” I pointed out.
“Especially movies,” Leon agreed. “Movies are just modern-day myths, cuz: they tell us things about ourselves and how we see ourselves as a society.”
“Pretty sure Chuck Palahniuk would agree with you, man,” I said, chuckling loosely. “‘Cause this movie can’t stop lecturing us about society. Not subtle.”
“Iunno about that,” Leon said, leaning back into the couch cushions. “I mean, it’s like, who we supposed to trust, you know? Something like Knight Rider, it doesn’t fuck you around like that. But this guy, Jack or Tyler or whatever, he’s like you, right?” He gestured vaguely to his temple.
“Uhh … sort of, yeah,” I said. Drugged to the gills and soaking in the easy warmth of Leon’s company, I am almost comfortable talking about my condition.
“But he goes and pulls this whole fascist cult, terrorist shit ‘cause of it?” Leon said, shaking his head. “Iunno, cuz. Seems kind of depressing to me. Like … you ain’t like that. None of you.”
“Mr. Robot is,” I muttered.
“Nah,” Leon says. “He’s all right. I mean, he an asshole, but he’s alright once you get to know him. You had a plan and, okay, maybe you didn’t consider all of the consequences and repercussions, but you’re not like this Tyler guy.”
“Thanks,” I said. “I think.” And then, after a moment, I said, “I think this is where I got the idea. Or - where he got the idea, Mr. Robot. Or the real Elliot, or - whoever came up with it. Maybe it was all of us, and we just forgot. But I - I went to see it when it first came out, you know?” The memories were unfurling in my head, unlocked by the pot or the movie itself. They must have been his memories, the real Elliot’s, but they felt like mine. “Darlene and I snuck out to watch it because she’d heard it was really violent … And, I don’t know, I liked it. But he liked it more. Mr. Robot, I mean. And it felt like the first time what we really agreed on anything, him and me.” I chuckled. “It was a bonding experience, I guess. And maybe it’s not … you know, positive representation … but what is, you know? Life isn’t always positive.”
“I feel that,” Leon said. “I’m all about that 90s shit, you know? Friends had like … one black character. Sometimes you gotta take what you can get.” He paused to take a hit off his joint, and then shrugged. “But other times, that shit gets under your skin, you know? And you start to think that’s all you are.”
I chuckled, uncomfortably. “I know I’m not Tyler Durden.”
“You know,” Leon agreed. “But do you really know? Deep down? ‘Cause you just said you aren’t the real Elliot.”
I swallowed. “I’m not. I’m - the Mastermind.” I’ve already told him this, why is he bringing it up? I feel way too sober for this shit. I take another hit off my joint.
“Nah, cuz,” Leon said. “I know you. You’re real. The real what, I dunno, but you’re real. And you’re the only Elliot I’ve ever known. So don’t you forget that, okay, cuz?”
The smoke curls in my lungs, and I smile, relaxing slightly. “Okay,” I say. “I promise.”