THEY TORE DOWN THE BERLIN WALL
By J. Archer Avary
Victor’s social sciences teacher wheeled a TV into the classroom.
“Let’s watch,” said Mr. Glasscock. “This is history unfolding.”
They tore down the Berlin Wall. It had the aesthetic of a Pepsi commercial. Manic overjoyed youth, sledgehammers, shattered concrete. It was almost 1990. A new generation had emerged to save the world from the baby boomers.
Victor was a naive freshman at Vanderpol Academy, intimidated by the ivy-shrouded red brick buildings of its sprawling campus. His homemade clothes made him an easy target for the juniors and seniors. They were all over him when he stepped off the bus.
“Look at those clothes.” said one senior, a jock. “Are those french fries?”
Victor’s parents were hardworking and frugal. Instead of ‘wasting money’ on new clothes, his mother sewed him custom jumpsuits made from eccentric bolts of cloth she found at the fabric store. The day the Berlin Wall came down, he was wearing the one with the french fry pattern.
“Let’s call him Fry Guy,” said another jock, this one a junior. “Are these clothes a symptom of some mental deficiency?”
“My parents are just cheap,” said Victor.
“My parents are republicans,” said the senior jock. “They pay tax so leeches like your impoverished family can live large on government cheese.”
“People like you make me sick,” said the junior jock. “If we catch you alone, we’re going to kick your ass, Fry Guy.”
“That’s a promise, not a threat.”
That promise weighed on Victor like a backpack full of chemistry textbooks. If he wanted to avoid a beatdown, he needed to watch his back.
They tore down the Berlin Wall. Everyone was caught up in the euphoria.
Victor tuned-in to breathless television pundits live via satellite. It was almost 1990. The cold war was over and the cable wars were on. The sun was shining on America. Bono from U2 uttered inspirational words into a camera’s lens. It was a beautiful distraction and Victor was blinded by the light.
“It’s that french fry eating dork,” said the senior jock, the ringleader. “Kick his ass!”
The junior jock lunged but missed. Victor sprinted away, towards the social sciences building, down a cobblestone path. He flung the door open and was immediately blasted with a torrent of chemical
foam. A third jock was in on the joke, extinguishing the fire extinguisher with Al Pacino intensity.
“Take that, you french fry eating freshman!”
Victor waited in the principal’s office, caked with foamy residue, a sad excuse for a powdered donut. They tore down the Berlin Wall, but Bono was wrong, that the world would never leave the 80’s behind.
His parents were on the way to Vanderpol Academy with a fresh change of clothes. Victor hoped it
wasn’t the jumpsuit with hot dogs on it.
J. Archer Avary farms cactus in the windowsill where he writes poems and stories. He wants to finish a novel one day but lacks that kind of focus. Sometimes he goes to hot yoga, but most of the time he makes excuses not to. Fun fact: he used to be a TV weatherman. Twitter: @j_archer_avary