I looked down at my controller in disgust. Watching Jonas wipe the finger grime off his gamepad had made me acutely aware of the amount of oily buildup on my own. “You’re going to get owned like a little bitch,” he said, kicking the footstool where I had propped up my feet. I glared and wondered what had possessed me to come over in the first place. I didn’t like Street Fighter, and I wasn’t very good at it. Even more to the point, I didn’t like Jonas, but it was Sunday and I was avoiding study.

Moments after the first round started, I found myself on the business end of a barrage of dragon punches and fireballs. There was no doubt in my mind that Jonas played this game way too much; there was nothing I could do that he wouldn’t immediately counter or block. This lead to three short matches in which Jonas became increasingly belligerent. I stopped trying to find a tactic that would miraculously give me the upper hand and started trying to think of a strategy to remove myself from the game entirely.

“I’ve gotta go, man. I’ve got midterms soon and I have to study.” I wasn’t lying, but there was some dishonesty in trying to escape the savage (and monotonous) beating I was taking.

“Bullshit!” Jonas called me out.

“Look, I’ll play another round. Then I’m out.” This pacified Jonas for a moment. He selected Dhalsim, and I went for Chun-Li.

Surprisingly I won that first match. Jonas seemed preternaturally calm. He wasn’t acting as rudely as he had been.

“How about two out of three?” Jonas swigged down some Mountain Dew and swished it around in his mouth like you might with mouthwash.

“Okay, but I still have to go soon.” My surprise victory and his improved demeanor had weakened my resolve.

I breathed deeply. If I was to win this game, I would need to concentrate and play my absolute best. Jonas was also preparing – he had just stuffed a handful of Doritos into his mouth and was crunching loudly with his mouth wide open.

It was over almost before it started with almost no effort on Jonas’ part. I sat there, dumbstruck. Had he tricked me into sticking around by throwing the last match? I suspected so. But I’d already lost so many times that one more wouldn’t make much of a difference.

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My next beating was even more swift and vicious. Jonas stood facing the screen, half dancing, half humping the TV. “Suck it, ass-licker!” he shouted. (I wasn’t sure if it was directed at me or my avatar.) I set the controller down next to me and sat up to leave. Next to this stupidity, study seemed less arduous.

“Don’t be mad that you got pwnd, you little fag!”

“F**k off!”

I immediately regretted the words. Jonas threw the controller at me, which stuck me square on my brow and left me reeling.

In an instant, I felt my face flush with anger. I kicked the footstool at him as hard as I could across the floor and into his shin. It hit with a dull thud, and Jonas howled. Then he leapt on me in a move that wouldn’t feel out of place in a pro-wrestling arena.

“You’re going to die, asshole!” he screamed.

I grabbed two fistfuls of his knotted, curly hair and held his head against my chest – this seemed to make his attempts at punching me in the kidneys much less effective. Then I felt a sharp pain in my chest and realized he was biting my pec. Not wanting to lose a nipple, I let go of his head, which gave him an opening to hit me in the stomach as hard as he could.

The world seemed to turn colors – a brilliant orange and red – as I lay there stunned. I was dimly aware that he was punching me in the face with his meaty fists. It seemed like ages before I could catch my breath. When I did, I was overcome by blinding pain and an awareness that I needed to get out from under Jonas.

I grasped for a weapon of some sort and found the controller I had discarded at the beginning of the fight. I swung in a wide arc and connected with his left ear. He toppled over onto the linoleum, and I immediately took to rhythmically bashing his face: “Chill [smack] the [smack] f**k [smack] out [smack].” I punctuated my emphatic recommendation with a heavy blow to the mouth.

I dropped the controller, unsure if I had won the fight or if I had gone too far. He pushed me off of him, and we both took a moment to breathe and get our bearings. Then Jonas stood up shakily.

“Round two, fag?”

“Bring it on, dickwad.” I motioned as I imagined Bruce Lee would have.

He ran at me, knocking over an end table and pulling me down with him. After a minute of grappling, I was losing strength. I broke free and threw another punch that landed softly in his stomach. I could feel my arms shaking. Jonas grabbed me once more and escalated from grappling to choking, but he was getting weaker as well.

“You’re gonna die!” he said, grunting and panting heavily. I didn’t have the wind in my lungs for a retort; he really was choking the life out of me. Then, in one panicked burst, I broke free of his grasp and landed a brutal knee to his groin.

The fight was over. I was vaguely aware that I had broken some men’s Geneva Convention article, but survival was worth going before The Hague. Jonas fell to his knees and vomited all over the floor.

My relief quickly gave way to guilt. I had won the fight, but at what cost? Did I have to take Jonas to the hospital? Were the police on their way?

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Then I heard Jonas laughing faintly. “Flawless victory,” he chuckled. I followed his gaze back to the TV where this lunacy had begun. The words were still emblazoned across the screen from our last battle. “Good thing we weren’t playing Mortal Kombat, or it would say ‘Finish Him,'” Jonas laughed as he reclined against the couch, clutching his groin.

“Dude, I’m so sorry,” I said, wiping the blood from my nose with my shirtsleeve.

“It’s cool. I was being an asshole. I deserved it.” He split a bloody smile. “So, what do you want to play now?”

“Something else. You got GTA?”

In battle, Seth N. Able prefers the heft and balance of the “Duke” Xbox controller.

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