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| The Bet
By Allen W. Yoakum
Dullness perpetuated Sam's arcade that cloudy afternoon. Inside there
were six people playing video games and all were kids playing hooky from
school. A cashier looked over everything and thought his life was going
nowhere for the fifth time in an hour when walked in an old man in slacks and
a button up shirt. His long overcoat was draped on his arm like he was going
to a ball or some kind of dance. He walked up to the cashier who expected
him to ask if he had seen his grand son or grand daughter.
“Hello could I get a daily pass?” Taken back the cashier nodded and pulled
out a card.
“Daily pass, sure thing. That will be $32.54”. Sam's arcade was a special
type of arcade where you could pay to play by tokens or you could buy a
daily pass for eight hours. Handing over the money the old man smiled and
took his change. He looked around the arcade as if he had something in
mind then he moved over to the Golden Oldie section of the arcade. Half
expecting this given the age of the old man and his reflexes the cashier just
Walking up to a Pac-Man machine the old man put in his card and started
playing. After awhile he would move to another machine and play it for a
time. This pattern went on till about 3pm when the junior high school crowd
came in and livened up the joint. The cashier went to work giving out passes
to some of the kids and filling up the token machines. Still the old man
played his ancient video games compared to the others. Soon he moved to
a level where all the fighting games were and he got on Street Fighter. He
played the game up to the fourth fight then lost. He slide his card into the
machine again and started another game.
Behind him at the Killer Instinct game, a group of three girls and two boys
where laughing and playing their game. Then the taller of the two boys
tapped the shorter one on the shoulder. He pointed to the old man and
“Fresh meat. Go on.” The shorter boy nodded and a cute girl took over his
game. He walked over to the old man who was on the third fight with Chun-Li
and doing poorly. The shorter boy did not think he was doing too bad
considering his age.
“Uh.. excuse me sir. I could not help noticing that your playing my favorite
game. Would you like to go head to head? Oh by the way I'm Roger and
you are?” The old man looked at Roger and smiled in a strange way. Roger
did not want to admit that he was scared of the old man in some way and he
wanted to walk away right then. Still he stayed at the taller boy's instance
who just nodded.
“I'm Mr. Jones. You can call me Jonesy. Yes I've wanted to get away from
the Golden Oldie room. Wanted to do something quicker. More action. I
thought I'd try this. I've gotten to the fourth round.” Roger smiled and
thought of all the fun he could have with this old man.
“That's great. It really is. Would you like me to teach you how to make it to
the end?”. Jonesy's eyes lit up.
“That'd be great.” So for two hours Roger and Jonesy played Street
Fighter. At first Jonesy was losing badly then it started going the other way.
At seven Jonesy won a long drawn out match and threw up his hands.
“Enough. Would you like dinner? There's a vender outside.” Jonesy said
leaving the game room. Roger looked over his shoulder and stopped.
“Uh... Jonesy could my friends eat too?” Jonesy looked over at the group of
kids at another fighting game machine. Jonesy motioned them over with his
hand and the group went to the hot dog vendor out on the sidewalk. Every
one got some food paid for by Jonesy and sat on a bench eating.
“So how far did you make it in the game sir?” Asked the taller boy. The girls
giggled among themselves as they ate their food.
“With Roger's help I almost beat the game. Now I think I'm ready to move
on.”. The taller boy smiled at Roger and then sat down next to Jonesy.
“You know... Oh by the way I'm Troy. You know I'm very good at Street
Fighter too. I almost took the top score. I'll bet you one hundred and fifty
dollars that I will beat you three out of five times at that game. What do you
say?”. Jonesy smiled and looked at the money fanned out in front of Troy.
“All I have is this opal ring. I'm sure that will cover the cost would it not?”.
Jonesy took off the ring which had a large opal in the middle of it and a J in
gold under the stone. Troy took it and looked it over and smiled outside a
little and inside a lot.
“Yeah that'll do I suppose. Kelly will keep score and Roger will hold on to
the money and ring. Come on let's play.”. The group went into the arcade
and found the Street Fighter machine was ready to be played. Troy walked
up to the machine like a proud lion about ready to take down it's kill. Jonesy
just walked with a simple stride as if he had all the time in the world. Troy
slide in his card as did Troy and the two started to play.
The first game went to Jonesy. Troy just smiled and they played again.
The next match went to Troy then it was Jonesy who won. This time Troy was
frustrated by how quick the old man moved. It was one to two in Jonesy's
favor. Troy thought about how he was going to lose one hundred and fifty
dollars. He battled back and it was two to two. It was the last match and both
fighters looked each other over. A group had gathered around the two to
see the final match. Every time Troy would move in for the kill Jonesy would
stop it. The timer was starting to go down to zero and then Troy saw his
chance and he did a punch kick combo and took Jonesy down.
“Good win Troy. Well I have to get back to the my apartment. I'll be seeing
you.” Troy took the old man's hand and saw a slight smile on Jonesy's face
which worried the boy. Jonesy left the arcade and Roger and girls clapped
Troy on the back. Without thinking about it Troy put the opal ring on his
finger and his hand started to tingle like it had fallen asleep then it just
“Hey Troy can I get a twenty. I've got to take the bus home and I'm all out of
money.” Troy handed the girl a twenty and looked at the clock it read 8:
30pm. He had to get home too. He left the arcade and grabbed the cross
town bus and went into an upscale apartment building. He went up to his
place and walked in as quietly as he could. No one was home which was not
surprising to Troy. He laid down on his bed and feel asleep with his clothes
on the ring still on his finger.
“Hey old man wake up! Your rent is late and you're out of here now!”. Troy
thought it was his father playing a trick on him. But it did not sound like his
father. It sounded like a drunk. Troy opened his eyes and saw he was in an
old ratty one room apartment with old paintings on the wall and the smell of
too many cats. “I said get up old man! You've been acting rude to me for
weeks and now it's pay back time. Now get up.”. Troy got up and looked in a
mirror and passed out on the floor. Troy woke up in an ambulance going
down the street. Above him was a medical technician who was yelling into a
“Male. White about 70. Blood pressure very high 186/100. Heart
fibrillation” Troy tried to get up and figured out what was going on when he
looked in a glass door he saw the old man Jonesy staring back at him. He
started to scream as his chest exploded in pain and the ambulance went
racing to the hospital.
“Troy it's time for you to go out and enjoy the world it's noon.”. Jonesy got
up and looked in the mirror and smiled. Then looked at the $130 and
thought it be fun to play a video game again.