In 2004, David Broadway wrote November 9th on his school blazer. The date marked the release of Halo 2, sequel to one of the great science-fiction shooters of our time. David was a failed punk rocker. He dyed his curly hair red but it turned pink. People called him Ronald McDonald and asked him how much he was being ‘paid to advertise.’ He was a bully and got bullied. I was tainted by affiliation. On weekends David and I would re-enact our favourite stealth game on the school oval. Crawling through the grass, pretending to be Sam Fisher of Splinter Cell, throwing rocks through classroom windows, and getting up into the roofs.
The jocks mocked us for going to the Halo 2 midnight launch and missing school sports the next day. We didn’t give a shit. We were skipping class, traversing the galaxy, eliminating alien threats with the kinds of sci-fi weaponry only a boy of fifteen could dream up. We spent the entire summer in David’s bedroom, blinds drawn, the colour of our faces taking on the pale hue of our alien opponents.
Flash forward and I’m driving more cautiously because Halo: The Master Chief Collection is coming out. David has moved on from video games. He’s wearing fitted shirts and studying his Masters. I haven’t moved on. I’ve moved my TV into my brother’s house and we’re sitting on his couch with two tubs of empty ice cream, a slab of cider, and some cake I stole from work. My cousin comes in and asks if we want to go out for dinner.
She makes a comment about the smell and leaves. We’re not listening. We’re intoxicated. Our ship, The Pillar of Autumn, is exploding and we’re trying to escape. Sergeant Johnson is wrestling with an alien and turns to see The Pillar go up in flames.
‘This is it baby, hold me.’
Alien and man embrace. I turn to my brother Jules and echo Johnson’s sentiments. We embrace. I spill pizza on his couch.