DEFEAT. 013 – Get Off of the Roads!

[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]

The car stopped just long enough for Daryl to explode out of its passenger door. As eager as he was to get into school with enough time to return 8-Bit’s copy of The Dark Knight Falls, Daryl’s mother was twice as eager to see Jane Pauley and Bryant Gumbel interview whoever. And so the Volvo screeched, peeling out just as Mrs. Millar’s foot told it to.

This provided the man in the gray trench coat the voyeuristic advantage that had eluded him the previous morning. The man got an unencumbered look at the accelerating teen. And since Daryl had no clue that he was being watched, the man in the trench coat afforded himself the luxury of peeking over the top of the sunglasses that barely rested on the tip of his nose. “Yes,” he muttered to himself in near-disbelief, “this is exactly right. It’s so surreal. No, no, that’s not it. Just real.”

From the trench coat a ratty spiral bound journal was removed by a slightly trembling hand. The spy, now seemingly aware that others may question his lurking, scribbled his notes quickly. Returning the journal to the safety of his oversized coat, he snuck behind the bushes and out of the scene.

At the same time, 8-Bit was admiring the graffiti and clever bits of vandalism adorning the inside of his locker.

Where’s the beef?
Charlotte gives good head
Led Zep rokks!

And while these adages made the video gamer chuckle, it was the promotional one-sheet he had taped into the locker that evoked genuine, heartfelt emotion.

Sometime during the summer of 1985, 8-Bit had ventured into town to see a movie that he had been looking forward to with great anticipation. Having no one he could actually call a friend, the youth had decided to go by himself — although embarassing, there was no way he was going to miss this flick. So when his mom asked him where he was headed for the evening, 8-Bit asserted that he was going to “meet up with a couple guys from school.”

At the time, he believed it to be a lie.

After buying his ticket, 8-Bit moved towards the concession stand. He decided to treat himself: a large Mountain Dew and jumbo popcorn with extra butter. However, this king-sized snack proved unwieldy and the elated moviegoer tripped over his untied shoelaces, causing the bucket of popcorn to go flying through the air.

Although elevating the soda in his hand with the dedication of an Olympic Torch bearer, 8-Bit firmly face-planted. As such, when he looked up he fully expected to see popcorn scattered about the floor and a lobby full of snickering, laughing faces. But, much to his pleasure, this was not at all what he saw.

“Hey buddy, I think this bucket belongs to you,” a friendly voice offered. It was Daryl Millar. Daryl had seen the popcorn heading for a crash landing and intercepted it right before the point-of-no-return. Extending his hand, Daryl assisted his fallen peer from off of the cinema’s carpet. “There you go. Hey, don’t I know you? Yeah, aren’t you the guy who dominated last year’s arcade invitational at GameWorld?”

Unaccustomed to recognition of any sort, eyes were shyly diverted and a response was attempted. “Well, yeah I guess —”

Riff interjected “Don’t guess! Come on man, you’re the 8-Bit Hero! Damn, if I could play games half as good as you I wouldn’t fucking hide it! I’d flaunt that shit! Use it to get some pussy or something!”

Between having his popcorn saved and actually being commended for his gaming prowess, 8-Bit was at a loss for words. He began to talk but found himself choking on his own inhalations. If he hadn’t been smiling like a proud baby with a diaper full of shit, the two heroes of the day would’ve assumed that 8-Bit was in the middle of some life-threatening spasm.

Fortunately, Daryl was adept at nerd-translation and kept the conversation afloat. “Hey, what theater number are you heading to?”

“Ugh, hrm, it’s uh, oh, theater nine.”

“Oh, awesome — that’s where Riff and I are going. You want to sit with us?”

And with a simple head nod the power trio of this tale was forged. The next two hours were spent in solidarity, all three members reveling in the fantastic ideas and aspirations of the film at hand. In different ways, each was inspired to believe that life didn’t have to be lived according to the safe precedents provided. Instead, they could venture to those places where roads weren’t needed.

This notion would be fulfilled for some members of the triumvirate sooner than others — but it would be fulfilled for all.

As the theater emptied out, praises were sung. But the loudest of these came from 8-Bit. “Seriously, that was so awesome when George was like Get your damn hands off her! Don’t you guys think so? Oh man, and how Doc fooled the Libyans by giving them a fake bomb made of used pinball parts!? Genius!”

Seeing a glimmer in 8-Bit’s eyes, Riff decided to do something nice for his new friend. Riff walked up to the wall and tore the poster right off of it. Laughing, he rolled it up and handed it to the introvert of the pack.

“Oh, I don’t know if I should,” a half-hearted protest began.

“Just take it,” Daryl encouraged, “you’ll appreciate it a lot more than any of the employees who’re going to swipe it.”

With the approval of the level-headed leader, 8-Bit felt that it was only right to accept the stolen gift.

And so fifteen months later, on the second to last Tuesday of October 1986, 8-Bit fawned upon the one-sheet hanging in his locker. It not only represented the rousing sentiments of the movie itself but the formation of friendships that would change all involved parties for the better.

To Riff, Daryl, and especially 8-Bit, Back to the Future was much more than a movie.

It was a manifesto.