Story being called originally "Jimmy" My name is Max and I need to share this story with someone.
It was a Friday night and my parents had finally decided that I was allowed to be at home without a babysitter. After all I was 13.
Mom kissed me on the forehead and handed me some money to order a pizza while Dad lectured me for the hundredth time on the speed dials saved in the phone for emergencies. They were headed out to their "book club" like every Friday, but I knew they were going out to drink. Nobody leaves a club about books in that good of a mood!
My older brother Derrick was at summer camp for the week, and I couldn't wait until I was old enough to go as well. He always told me great stories about hiking late at night, telling scary stories, and sneaking off with the girls to the lake. But that was still 2 years away.
Anyway, after my parents left I picked up the phone and ordered a pizza. A Large deep dish with everything but mushrooms, YUCK! He told me it would be there in about a half hour so I hung up and switched on the TV. Late night TV was always so boring. Long talk shows, fat cops making jokes, and confusing shows about doctors. After 5 minutes of surfing channels I decided to switch on the NES.
Double Dragon II was in the system, and it was one of mine and Derrick's favorite games. I plugged in my NES Advantage controller and got ready for some arcade action, but after switching to channel 3 on the television, the video was all mixed up. Random squares and pixels popped around the screen, and the title no longer said "Double Dragon." It was more like "Dooble Dugoo." I let out a sigh as I switched off the Nintendo and pulled out the cartridge. I gave it a good blow, then opened the door of the Nintendo like I was peering into a mail slot. I Inhaled, and just as I was about to blow into the system, a fat spider came crawling out of it. WHAM! I smashed the spider to the top of the TV with my palm. there was yellow goo covering the TV and my hand. "Mom's gonna love cleaning this up" I thought to myself, wiping my hand on my jeans. I double checked inside the Nintendo. It was creepy crawly free, so I blew inside the system and popped the game back in.
I switched on the Nintendo but only got a black screen. I mashed the reset button a couple times and finally got it to work. "Double Dragon II: The Revenge." The title screen came up, no funny picture or garbled sound. I pumped my fist and said aloud, "YES!" I pressed start, selected 1 player, and was ready to kick some ass. I've never been able to beat this game by myself. Derrick was a lot better than me and knew all the secrets, but I watched what he would do and I think I learned enough to do it on my own. And besides, I had a good feeling about tonight. No parents, pizza, and a fun game to play.
I started playing and was off to a good start. I cleared the first 3 screens without taking one hit, and was even on my way to beating Derrick's high score! I had moved from the couch and was sitting on the floor, leaning in towards the TV, completely focused on the game when "KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK!" The knocking was so loud that I jumped off the floor and dropped the joystick. As I remembered that it was the pizza I ordered, I picked up the joystick and paused the game. I had taken 2 hits because of the pizza guy, so there was no way he was getting a tip now.
I yelled "Hold on" to the closed door as I went to the kitchen to get the money my mother had left for me. As I put my hand on the door handle, I hesitated. Dad always told me not to open the door for strangers. I had ordered the pizza, but what if this wasn't the delivery man? I couldn't remember how long it had been since I ordered, and I wasn't tall enough to look through the glass at the top of the door.
Instead of opening the door, I asked, "Who is it?"
I asked again, "Who is it?" in a louder voice this time.
No answer. He must have heard me.
As I was about to repeat myself for a third time, the stranger knocked again.
"KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK."
I was startled by this and almost leapt back from the door, the only thing keeping me in place was my firm grip on the handle, which was beginning to feel slippery as my hand was sweating. Whoever this was, pizza man, stranger, or something, else, they couldn't hear me. Or they could but weren't answering. Against dad's lecturing, I began to turn the handle. as the door moved open, a spear of soft yellow light widened across the floor from the outdoor porch light. I opened the door a few inches, then slowly peered around it to the figure on my porch. Backlit in yellow light, his face covered in shadow, he loomed over me, then slowly turned his head, bringing his gaze to mine.
My eyes adjusted to the darkness and I saw that the shadowy person before me was in fact, the pizza man. He wore headphones that were so loud I could almost make out the song from where I was standing.
"Hey little dude, where's your mommy at?" he asked me, pushing his long hair from in front of his face.
"Gone," I said, and handed him the money for the pizza.
He pulled the box from the bag he was carrying and handed it to me. Before giving him time to count the money and notice there was no tip, I said "thanks" and turned away from him, closing the door with my foot.
I brought the pizza box to the kitchen and opened it up. Immediately I could tell something was wrong with it, but couldn't figure it out. I grabbed a plate from the sink and turned back to the pizza. That's when I noticed it. I slowly approached the box and looked at the pizza. My stomach began to turn as I looked at it because I noticed it had...mushrooms. Gross! oh well, it still looked delicious!
I piled 3 slices onto my plate and carried it to the living room, where my game was still paused. I began eating the first slice and looked up at the screen. I can't believe that stupid pizza man made me take 2 hits! I've been doing so good, but I still might be able to beat my brother's score. After finishing the slice, I grabbed my joystick and unpaused the game. there was one enemy on screen, so I went to give him the old flying knee and finish off this level, when I noticed it wasn't an enemy, it was Jimmy! He's the character you play with as second player. I figured the game had glitched, but I wasn't about to reset it now. It took so long just to get it to work, and I was doing better than I ever have.
I tried moving to the right, then left, but Jimmy wouldn't move. the character just sat there. I tried punching and kicking him, but nothing happened. I was determined not to reset the Nintendo, and instead I plugged in a second controller. I pressed buttons on the player 2 gamepad, but Jimmy still wouldn't move, punch, or anything. I grabbed my advantage and tried to move on to the right of the stage.
"COME ON!" I yelled, completely frustrated with the game bugging out when I was doing so well, and the Jimmy character began walking to the right of the screen. I stared at the screen, baffled, mouth agape. Did Jimmy just, listen to me?
As Jimmy reached the edge of the screen I was on, the game continued. we were at the next area, and enemies began closing in on us. I jumped into action, fighting off enemies on the right side of the screen. When I finished off the last one, I looked over and was astonished to see that Jimmy was fighting off enemies to the left! He was doing much better than me, jumping over their heads and landing flying knees and throws like it was nothing! I cheered him on, and when the last enemy of the screen was cleared, we both moved on to the right.
I wasn't sure if the game had glitched and taken over the second player or what, but I wasn't going to argue. We were doing great. The character of Jimmy was so good I was able to set my controller down to eat and he would still fight off everyone that came after me.
We fought off countless waves, and eventually came to the helicopter level. I hated this level because the door would open, and if you weren't careful, would suck you right out and lose a life. But I had the secret. Derrick would always use the secret on this level and never told me how, but if you paused the game for exactly 10 seconds, then unpaused it, the door would close, and you didn't have to worry about being sucked out. Time to show this Jimmy character who the master is!
The helicopter door opened and the characters began sliding towards it, ready to be sucked out into the clouds. As I was about to press start to perform the glitch, the game paused.
I looked down at my joystick and saw my finger still hovering over the pause button. I hadn't pressed it yet. But the game was paused. I tried pressing it but the game remained paused. As I was about to press the start button on the other controller, the game unpaused. The helicopter door closed, and we were no longer in danger of flying out. Maybe the computer controlling Jimmy knew about this trick too? Derrick had always told me that he and his friends were the ones that figured it out, and he couldn't tell me because nobody knew about it yet.
I was staring at the screen confused while Jimmy fought off the enemies still aboard the helicopter with us. I shook off my confusion and jumped back in the fight.
Me and my mystery partner were kicking butt and taking names, clearing level after level, and before long we were at the final stage. This was it. My brother and I were never able to finish the final boss, and he used to swear at the TV and say the game cheated. We always got so close but could never do it. I was feeling confident this time and rushed right in.
We were doing it! Me and Jimmy weren't getting touched, and dealing loads of damage to the final boss. With one final kick, I finished off the boss. I leapt to my feet and shouted "FUCK YEAH!" Good thing my parents weren't home. The credits began to roll and I stuffed my mouth with pizza, so excited to tell everyone that I had beaten the game. Especially Derrick. Man was he going to be mad that I was able to beat it without him. I probably won't tell him about the Jimmy glitch because then he will say it doesn't count. He's going to be so jealous.
The credits ended and I was brought back to the title screen of the game. I switched off the Nintendo, and flipped the TV back over to the cable box. It was the same dumb doctor show, and a lady was crying on screen. I brought my plate into the kitchen and set it back in the sink. Just then the front door opened. It was only 9 O'clock, way too early to be my parents. I walked back to the living room and looked towards the door. It was my parents, home early I guess, and they didn't seem to be in as good a mood as they usually are after "book club."
I ran to my mother, smiling, and hugged her. "You'll never believe what happened mom," I exclaimed. That's when I noticed she wasn't just in a bad mood, she was crying. I looked to my dad but he was staring straight ahead with a somber look on his face.
My mother knelt down beside me and placed a hand on each shoulder. "I love you, son," she said through her tears, and I stared back at her with a puzzled look. Then she stood up and walked to the kitchen.
I mean yeah, I beat Double Dragon, but it was no reason to cry.
I turned my head to watch her walk past me and into the kitchen, while my father knelt by my side like mom had done. I turned to look at him, this time he was looking me in the eye. He opened his mouth to speak, hesitated, then closed his mouth. He opened his mouth again, and spoke in a low voice, barely over a whisper.
"Max, there's been an accident," he said, and seemed to be looking around me for the words he wanted to say. "The camp Derrick is at called, and..."
He stopped, like he didn't know the rest of the story. He closed his mouth, pulling his lips tight over his teeth. I felt another hand on my back. It was mom, who was back at my side.
"Derrick passed away today," Dad said, this time looking at my mother.
Mom began to cry again, shaking. I felt her grip tighten on the back of my shirt. How could Derrick die. He was just a kid, like me. Kids can't die.
My father looked back at me and asked very simply, "Do you understand son?"
I stared at the NES.