Their parents are out for their Friday night date. Ruthanne is on the couch knitting, and Stephen and the young man are settling in for the long-awaited confrontation. They have been playing a full season of Super Tecmo Bowl. They each have a team from the NFC and the AFC. Stephen has the Los Angeles Raiders in the AFC, while the young man has the Buffalo Bills. In the NFC, the young man has the Dallas Cowboys, while Stephen has the San Francisco 49ers.
The Raiders have Bo Jackson, easily the best player in the game, and with Bo, Stephen has destroyed the AFC to this point. He has never beaten the young man in a Tecmo Bowl game–not in the original Tecmo Bowl and not in the new Super Tecmo Bowl. But now he believes he has the player and the team.
The young man has watched Stephen play all his games through the season-long campaign. Stephen doesn’t realize it, but the young man has watched every tendency and has experimented with his Bills team on which defensive players can stop Bo from different formations. He has also figured out how to go against his own tendencies on offense to keep Stephen off balance.
They settle in to play, and soon, Stephen is bellowing at the game that it’s cheating. The young man says little but keeps thwarting everything.
“You’re looking at my controller when I pick my plays!” Stephen yells.
“Am not. I pick my defenses mostly before you even pick your plays.”
“That’s so much bull!” Stephen says.
The young man drops one touchdown on him, then two, then three. Meanwhile, Stephen can’t score, Bo is ineffective, and Stephen has no plan for the passing game. The game finishes at 28-0 with Stephen eliminated from the playoffs.
Soon, he’s shouting at the young man, and the young man is shouting back. They don’t notice, but Ruthanne retreats to her bedroom. Stephen throws a punch, and now it’s on. They have an unwritten rule: no punches in the face. So they trade body blows and wrestle. Pictures get knocked off walls, a lamp is knocked off a lamp table, the newspapers under the coffee table get kicked all over the room, and video tapes get knocked off the TV. At one point, Stephen punches the young man’s shoulder so hard that it goes numb, so he must battle one-handed. With a few “I hate yous,” they finally exhaust themselves and head to their separate rooms.
After his heart rate comes down and feeling returns to his right shoulder, the young man heads back out to the front room where he starts to put everything back into place. Stephen comes out a few minutes later.
The young man says, “I didn’t try to rub it in or everything.”
“I’m sorry, bro” says Stephen. “I thought I was finally going to beat you, and you smoked my butt. I was just so mad.”
“I just studied you a lot and I got pretty lucky, too.”
“Yeah, at least one of your touchdowns was the game totally cheating for you.”
“Yeah, that’s true.”
“I’m sorry, too.” They hug.
“We gotta get this room back in shape or Mom and Dad will kill us,” says Stephen, as he starts to help.
Then the young man looks at him. “Wait, what about Ruthanne?”
“Oh freak, she’s gonna rat us out,” says Stephen.
“Let’s go talk to her,” says the young man.
They head down the hall to Ruthanne’s room. Her door is closed. They don’t knock, but just walk in. Ruthanne is stretched out on her bed reading Anne of Green Gables.
“Ruthanne,” the young man says, “what’s your understanding of what happened tonight?”
“You and Stephen were playing your stupid football game, and you got in a huge fight and nearly knocked the house down.”
“Is that what you’re gonna tell Mom and Dad?”
“I don’t know,” she says.
“So here’s the deal,” the young man says. “You can do that, and we can get in trouble. And then next Friday night, Mom and Dad are going to go out on a date. And who are you going to be home with?”
“You two idiots.”
“And then the Friday night after that, they’re going to go out again, and who are you going to be home with?”
She rolls her eyes. “You two idiots.”
“And the week after that?”
“I get it,” she says. “Your secret is safe with me. Now get out of my room, you jerks.”