The Arcade – Part 2

When Saturday morning came, Darren had his mom drop him off at the library at 8:30, with the promise that he’d be ready to leave by four. Hopefully that would give him and Jake enough time to really explore, and maybe if the plan went well, they could do it again.

“Bye sweetheart! I love you!” his mother said, waving at him as he got out of the car.

“Bye, mom. I love you, too.”

Darren made his way into the library, greeting the librarian with a nod before moving to one of the back tables, far from her sight. Now he just had to wait for Jake to see what his friend had brought to serve as a disguise. Hopefully it would be an effective one.

Jake arrived at 9:02 and handed Darren a Walmart bag filled with clothes.

“Alright, go put this stuff on and tell me what you think.”

Darren took the bag and made his way to the bathroom to change, being careful to stay out of sight, just in case someone was in the mood to gossip. Jake’s disguise bag had several different options, and Darren took his time looking through it once he was alone.

He decided to go with the things that looked the most different from his usual attire of button-down shirts and slacks, in the hopes that the contrast would make him more unrecognizable. After changing he looked in the mirror, and grinned to see a completely different boy in front of him.

Darren had picked a pair of torn up black jeans, complete with chains clipped to the belt, a tee-shirt that he thought was for some kind of band (since the image printed on it had nothing to do with gorillas), and a dark red hoodie. He also messed up his hair a bit, since the perfectly styled blond look didn’t really fit with his new outfit. He also switched out his dress shoes for a pair of ratty red Chucks, which were surprisingly comfortable.

Darren dug through the bag again, then pulled out a pair of fake glasses that he was pretty sure Jake had gotten from a movie theater. He felt a little silly wearing glasses without lenses, but they helped make his face seem different, and made his green eyes less familiar. His look probably wouldn’t fool anyone who knew him super well, at least not up close, but so long as he kept his distance from people he knew, he felt confident that he and Jake could pull this off.

Darren returned to Jake with a grin, handing off the Walmart bag and striking a pose for his friend. Jake grinned right back at him.

“So you approve?”

“Yeah, let’s do it,” Darren said, following his friend out of the library.

The librarian glared at them as they passed her, and Darren tried to keep his excitement from leaking out. She didn’t recognize me!

Jake and Darren made their way to the bus stop, and Darren tried to seem just as disinterested as the rest of the people who were waiting with them. It was tricky, but he knew it was an important part of keeping his cover. The bus ride stretched on for what felt like hours, but was really only about 15 minutes. When they finally got to the arcade, Darren could barely wait to get inside.

The outside of the building wasn’t all the special, the only thing separating it from the other stores was the sign that was written in bright red letters and all caps, but once they got inside, the whole atmosphere changed.

The arcade was huge, filled with people and games of all sorts, from ski ball to Pac-Man to DDR. The room was lit with blacklights and the neon glow of the games, and the black carpet had colorful patterns that seemed to light up all on their own. There was noise coming from every direction, the victorious trill of a game having been won, the crunch of tickets being dispersed, people laughing and cheering and groaning. The smell of pizza and popcorn filled the air, and Darren could see a sort of restaurant tucked into one corner. The whole place was chaotic and loud and a little bit overwhelming.

“So, what do you think?” Jake asked, watching his friend carefully.

“It’s amazing!” Darren said, his grin overtaking his face once more. “Where do we start?”