DEFEAT. 004 – Swing Hammers. Eat Pizza.

[DEFEAT. is Rendar Frankenstein’s truest attempt at fiction.   Presented in weekly episodes, the novella tells the tale of Daryl Millar – a hero who dies at the intersection of pop culture, science-fiction, war epic, and fantasy]

“I’ll teach you to mess with my girlfriend, you dookie-tossin’ ape motherfucker! That’s right, I’m going to catch up to you at some point and when I do I’m going to blast a hole in your goddamn chest! No more of this swinging a hammer, hopping over barrels, climbing up ladders bullshit – I’m going to shoot you in the chest with a fucking gun!”

Normally as mild-mannered as Clark Kent, when 8-Bit wielded a joystick he became a man on the edge. At this instant, the social introvert was tearing through Donkey Kong with such dexterity as to warrant the number of onlookers. To be fair, many of these lesser-gamers had seen 8-Bit dominate this particular machine in the past and were much more interested in the string of obscenities. The swear words could be heard throughout the entire arcade and had 8-Bit not been GameWorld’s most frequent attendee he would most certainly have been given the `ole boot by the manager.

“Oh, you stupid bitch! Why do I bother climbing up these fucking ladders if you’re not even going to try to run away from that overgrown chimp?! Are you screwing him!? Are you banging him on the side?! Cause at this point lady, it would be kind of a relief! Jesus Christ! Oh shit, barrels!”

The familiar, unfortunate sound blaring from Donkey Kong told Daryl that his friend had been bested by the game. He waved 8-Bit over to the table he had sat down at to await the pizza delivery. Disappointed by his inability to prolong his free-play for another half hour, 8-Bit moped towards his friend.

“I sense a disturbance in the Force,” joked Daryl, “as if a million video gamers cried out, and then were silenced!”

In spite of his best efforts otherwise, 8-Bit couldn’t help but find himself laughing at the well-played reference. “Yeah, I’m just a little cheesed off — I was just about to pass my high score when I made a stupid, stupid mistake. I’m telling ya, Daryl, I was so dang close to that score I could just about taste it!”

“Well you can continue your epic journey later, but now it’s time to taste some pizza!”

The waitress, no older than the boys themselves, came to the table and delivered the goods. Sliding the Italy-pie between the patrons, she looked right in Daryl’s eyes. “Here’s your pizza, boys. Is there anything else I can do for you?”

Both boys thought of a million different responses – the vast majority of which were raunchy, if not downright pornographic. But Daryl was far too polite and well-mannered to actually suggest something so vulgar. And 8-Bit was still too timid around the opposite sex to say anything at all.

Daryl represented the duo, “No thanks Vanessa.” He surreptitiously eyed her nametag. “I think we should be all set. Thanks, though.”

As Vanessa walked away she was trailed by four eyes (or six, if you want to count the windowpanes atop 8-Bit’s nose). Her body was in that peak form that older women spend countless dollars trying to recapture, new adolescents look forward to with bold enthusiasm, and those in possession never truly realize that they have. And while the boys stared at her for seconds that felt like hours, it became painfully obvious as to who was the more smitten of the two.

Perhaps it was because she gazed into his eyes and spoke to him. Or perhaps it was Fate. Or maybe they had reached an intersection of magic and science. The fact of the matter remained: Daryl Millar was attracted beyond all reason to Vanessa, damsel-deliverer of pizza.

Noticing the attraction at hand, 8-Bit spoke. “Daryl, you want that girl, don’t you? Like, want her want her.”

Daryl unabashedly agreed, “Yes. Yes I do.”

“Well, then go get her number or something man.”

“You think?”

“If you’re not going to, I’m going to,” an obvious lie.

“Okay, after we eat.”

“Bullshit, go now.”


Daryl tried to play it cool, slowly rising from his seat but then sprinting towards the departing waitress at full speed. From his seat, 8-Bit couldn’t hear the conversation at all. But from his vantage point, he would’ve been able to see the motions of an amiable conversation taking place.

The rhythmic bobbing associated with hearty laughter. The flirtatious curling of hair around a finger. The exchange of a small piece of paper. 8-Bit would’ve seen all of this, had he not been mesmerized by the food before him.

Returning to his seat, Daryl was sure that he would be welcomed back with the praise and playful teasing that friends give to each other when any sort of success with the opposite sex is stumbled upon. He started to say, “How about that? I got Vanessa’s phone number” but stopped one syllable short when he saw the frozen remnants of 8-Bit. The teen was gawking at the pizza, glasses nearly fogging up and drool starting to spill out of his gaping mouth and onto his chin.

“Daryl — Is this…is this a fucking Meatlover’s Supremo?!”

Not entirely in disbelief, Daryl Millar shook his head in amusement at the notion that the addition of pepperoni, sausage, meatball, ham, salami, and bacon could nearly induce a coma in his favorite nerd. “Yes, it is, in fact, a Meatlover’s Supremo.”

“But — that’s like, four dollars extra.”

“You’re worth it, man.”

8-Bit wiped away the beginning of a tear that was forming in the corner of his right eye. He and Daryl had been friends for a couple of years, and all of that time was certainly enjoyable. But for some reason this simple action, the small gesture of shelling out a few extra bucks to get a friend his favorite pizza struck a chord.

8-Bit now felt more appreciative of Daryl Millar’s friendship than ever before. This appreciation would be infinitesimal, wholly inadequate, possibly even laughable, in comparison to the way he would feel by the end of the week. But at this moment and for the better part of the next five days, it was the best feeling of his entire life.

“Hey, thanks man. You really are a friend. You’re the Jason Todd to my Bruce Wayne!”

Daryl enjoyed the compliment but felt compelled towards further ribbing. “Please explain to me how I’m the sidekick and you’re the hero.”

“See, we’re both good guys. We both have a strong distaste for jerkoffs and dickwads and the like. But, Bruce Wayne is super suave. And the truth is, I’m way more suave than you.”

Running against the grain of 8-Bit’s argument, a rogue piece of bacon found its way into the wrong spot of his gumline. With a high-pitched shriek, the self-proclaimed superhero cried out, “Ow! My canker sore!

The teens couldn’t contain themselves and both spit out crust and sauce and cheese and toppings as they guffawed in unison. 8-Bit reconsidered his previous declaration and amended it as he saw fit. “Fine, fine. How about this: I’m still Bruce Wayne, but you’re Alfred the butler and Riff can be Jason Todd?”

“Fair enough — I don’t think Riff will mind.”

“Awesome. Speaking of which, is he going to stop shredding for long enough to come to the circus tomorrow night?”

“When I talked to him in Ms. Lang’s class today he still seemed game.”

Using a forearm in place of a napkin, 8-Bit wiped the sauce off of his face and brandished his lovable, goofy grin. It was the inverse of this smile, its reciprocal doppelganger that would later help convince Daryl Millar to make the most important decision of his life.

Teasing out the early ruminations of this decision, 8-Bit offered a question. “We have delicious pizza in our guts, the rest of the afternoon to spend with these wonderful machines, the circus tomorrow night, and you got that girl’s number. We could pretty much die happy now, huh?”

“Yeah. I could die now and I’d be happy.”

Daryl Millar did not fully grasp the magnitude of these words, but he would in time.

And sooner rather than later.