Creative Nonfiction

Button Mashing and Drawing Blood

16 March 2016

My brother and I beat each other up last Boxing Day. I had scars for weeks. Weeping scabs on both my elbows. Bloody bed sheets. Neither of us remembers what happened. Apparently we were going at it for over an hour. A friend of ours said he had stayed a few paces ahead of us, moving valuables aside. Still, there was collateral damage: wires jutting out of a power point, a hole in the wall, a torn portrait. I was knocked out that night. Or maybe I passed out. The liquor cabinet was empty the next day. The Guinness. The whiskey. The strange Italian wine.

My brothers and I always fight. I threw my younger brother down a staircase last year because he wanted to move out. For us, childhood was like a scene from Grand Theft Auto. I remember one winter being on my knees, on the gravel, with my arms pinned behind my back. There was a red, tear-soaked face in front of me. I remember the rain hitting my eyes. Then I remember getting punched in the guts twice so I could fall to the ground.

In public, it’s a little different. I’m too thin and unhealthy to stand up for myself. I basically have to take whatever any arsehole wants to dish out because I’m physically inept. Last week on Chapel Street someone yelled, out “Nice satchel, faggot!” and all I could muster was, “It’s European.”

Both of my brothers have started working out. They’re on protein shakes and bulk buying at Costco. They eat what they call “man portions” now. I had dinner with them the other night and now I’m getting stomach cramps. They tell me that if I get my body right then everything else will fall into place. I tell them that they embody the kind of gratuitous consumption defining Western society with all this shit and that they’re going to get fat. They tell me that they’re just “livin’ large”. Their housemate, this French-Balinese guy with long hair and great skin walks in to dispense nutritional advice about almonds. Then quinoa. Then kale.

Sometimes I smoke a cigarette and watch them all working out from my car. They’re starting to resemble my character on GTA: San Andreas. Carl “CJ” Johnson. I’ve got a 7-Eleven sandwich in the backseat and packets of Nurofen on the dashboard for all the headaches I get in summer. I sit there resenting them and wondering how long all this is going to last.

I avoid the entire notion of physicality in real life by unleashing it in video games. I don’t think I’ve ever done a mission in Grand Theft Auto. I basically just rip people out of cars and stomp them. Or I’ll cruise around in a golf cart mowing down pedestrians. In Red Dead Redemption I tie people up and drag them through the streets on my horse. When I’m certain that the townsfolk respect me, I take my captives to the river and either shoot them in the head or burn them alive. Or both. Once, when playing Fable, I logged into my friend’s account and shot his wife and son with a crossbow.

But it was always fighting games that brought out the worst in me.

The only game I ever actually broke was Tekken 3. My cousin was sitting in my room button-mashing X and O with Eddy Gordo, a character specialising in Brazilian martial arts. It was this hybrid of dance and acrobatics. He flipped and folded along the ground like a break-dancer. He was unstoppable. When those golden letters PERFECT flashed up on the screen I took the disc out of the PlayStation, walked to the kitchen and calmly cut, scratched and shattered that $80.00 disc all over the floor.

My temper has always been an issue. Yesterday my housemate asked me what “all that screaming and swearing was about” and I said that I didn’t know and that I thought it was some kid next door (I lost a game of Hearthstone).

But what am I going to do? Go to the gym so I can go all Eddy Gordo on hacks down King Street? Start ingesting protein so I can use my satchel to choke bogans on the train? Let’s face it – I’d just end up KO’d… slowly sinking to the bottom of the Yarra River.


It’s much easier to load up Grand Theft Auto and tear off into a manufactured sunset. Shotgun hanging out the car window. A bunch of cops on my tail.  

And when they do catch me?

Well, the reset button is right there.

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