Two Tylers

 

There were two Tylers. Tyler A sat on the bench on the bank overlooking the lake and Tyler B stood by the bench on the bank overlooking the lake. Tyler A looked up at Tyler B and Tyler B looked down at Tyler A.

“You’re late,” said Tyler A.

“I wasn’t sure if I was going to come or not. But I got curious.”

“You’re still late.”

Tyler B sat down next to Tyler A and crossed his legs and folded his hands over his lap.

“This is exactly what I’m talking about,” said Tyler A.

“What is?”

“The mimicry.”

“I’m not mimicking you.”

“You’re sitting exactly how I’m sitting.”

“This is a very common position.”

“But I sat like this first.”

“Fine.” Tyler B unfolded his hands and uncrossed his legs and then he crossed his arms instead. “You sit like that and I’ll sit like this.”

“Crossing your arms is a defensive gesture.”

“I’d rather be defensive than passive-aggressive.”

“I’m not passive-aggressive.”

“You’re right. You’re edging into actively aggressive territory.”

Tyler A sighed.

“And this is why we had to meet,” he said.

“To settle the score?”

“To settle something.”

Tyler B looked out at the lake.

“I’m listening.”

Tyler A uncrossed his legs. He pulled a folded flash card out of his pocket, unfolded it, then crossed his legs again.

“I’m Tyler. I was Tyler for eighteen years. Just Tyler. Then you moved here. And all of the sudden I’m Tyler A. I didn’t like that. And I still don’t. Honestly, I never thought it would stick. I never thought you would stick. But you did. And it did. But I don’t want to be Tyler A anymore. I want to be Tyler again. Just Tyler.”

Tyler A folded the flash card and put it back in his pocket.

“But I’m Tyler, too,” said Tyler B.

“But I was Tyler first.”

“Not where I’m from.”

“Hey, you can be Tyler all you want back there. That’s your natural born right. But you’re not back there. You’re here. And I don’t think there’s enough room for the both of us. This is a one Tyler town.”

“I know at least three other Tylers.”

“But not in the group. Our group. In our group, there are only two Tylers. You and me. Me and you. I only care about us two Tylers.”

“You only care about one Tyler.”

“I’ll admit the initial impulse was selfish,” said Tyler A. “But I think it would best for the both of us for one of us to go by some other name. I mean, you don’t like being called Tyler B, do you?”

“Of course not.”

“You don’t have to be Tyler B anymore. And I don’t have to be Tyler A. We can change things.”

“How?”

“You could go by your middle name.”

“My middle name is Elijah.”

“Is that a hard pass?”

“Do I look like a Mennonite to you?” asked Tyler B. “Why don’t you go by your middle name?”

“There are already two Daniels. And one Dan. And I’m no Danny.”

“You could shorten it to Ty.”

“You’re kidding.”

“You’re not?” asked Tyler B.

“Either way, I shouldn’t have to change my name. I was here first.”

“You think you got dibs?”

“I think I got dibs.”

“Think again.”

“Let me finish,” said Tyler A. “Elijah is out. Put that aside for now. You don’t have to go by middle name. You could go by your last name.”

“Bolton? Just Bolton?”

“It’s a nice name. A strong, masculine name. A hell of name. Bolton. What does a Bolton do? He bolts, man. He gets shit done.”

“But I don’t really.”

“If I was Tyler Bolton instead of Tyler Adams and you came to me with this proposal, I think I would have to seriously consider switching.”

Tyler B shrugged.

“There are an awful lot of Tylers,” he said.

“At least five that we know of.”

“I’d stand out from the crowd, at least.”

“The crowd would gather around you and embrace your new and improved name.”

Tyler B looked out over the lake and thought about it for a while and looked back at Tyler A and almost said something and then he looked back out over the lake and thought about it some more and then he looked at Tyler A again and then he said, “No.”

“No?”

“Hell no.”

“Maybe?”

“Never.”

“What about T.B.?” asked Tyler A.

“Tuberculosis?”

“Or T.E.?”

“I’m not changing my name, man. Obviously. Not for you. Not for anyone. And I won’t ever change my name because I like my name. And I don’t mind the abbreviation much. Not enough to change the rest, anyway.”

“The group isn’t big enough for the both of us.”

“Then you should get a new group.”

Tyler A sighed again.

“I tried to reason with you,” he said.

“Did you? Really?”

“You might regret this decision.”

“Was that a threat?”

“No, of course not,” said Tyler A. “Don’t tell people I threatened you.”

“It totally came across as a threat.”

“Well, it wasn’t one.”

“Well, what was it, then?” asked Tyler B.

“A statement. A very neutral type statement.”

“It felt like there was an implication there.”

“Maybe. But not a physical one. Just a social one.”

“A social implication?”

And then Tyler A said, “I could make them choose.”

“Choose what?”

“Which one of us will be Tyler and which one of us will be something else.”

“Like an ultimatum?”

“Yes.”

“Those usually work out.”

“This one might.”

“And you’d be Tyler again. Just Tyler.”

“That’s right.”

“And I’d be Bolton?”

“Not anymore. You’re Elijah now.”

Tyler B leaned back.

“I’d heard you could get a little intense sometimes,” he said. “But no one told me you were completely delusional.”

“Who said that?”

“Multiple people. Multiple people in our little circle of friends and mutual acquaintances. Our so-called group. The same people you intend to convince to change my name for me. Because you were Tyler first and you don’t like the competition.”

“You’re not competition, man. You’re a late comer. A fairweather friend. A tourist. I’ve been here and I’ve made my mark and I’ll be here long after you’re gone. Because I matter to them.”

Tyler B grinned bitterly.

“Where were you last night?” he asked.

“Where were you?”

“You weren’t invited, then?”

“I already had plans.”

“Of course you did.”

“It was an oversight.”

Tyler B pointed a thumb at himself.

“They remembered me.”

Tyler A looked down at his shoes. The left pair had come untied.

“Don’t tell them,” he said.

“Don’t tell them what?”

“What happened here. What I’ve said.”

“Are you afraid it might make you look bad?”

“Please don’t.”

“I should though. You deserve me to.”

“I didn’t think it through.”

Tyler B crossed his legs again.

“What’s your name?” he asked.

“Tyler.”

“No. What do they call you?”

“Tyler A,” he said, soft.

“And don’t you forget it.”

Tyler B back looked out at the lake. Tyler A watched an ant crawl between his sneakers. Neither Tyler moved.

“Hell, dude, at least you’re Tyler A. Tyler B is basically Tyler 2, anyway.”

The ant disappeared beneath the bench.

Then Tyler B stood up and walked away down the bank and headed back towards his car and opened the door and got inside and closed the door and started the engine and turned down the radio and drove down the hill.

Tyler A rubbed his eyes and raised his head and cleared his throat and then he said, “Sequels suck.”

 

 

* Originally published in WOLVES Magazine.