Explosion Aftermath

“The Brewer’s Backstory” – Episode 2

February 2001

The Brewer's Justice cover

Coming January 2016!

The explosion happened in a nanosecond. The consequences developed like those gentle snowstorms that occasionally came through Denver—large flakes, infinite in number, beginning a leisurely descent at dusk and continuing all night and into the next day with no rush. Those calm, slow storms could eventually bury a car.

The minute AP Chemistry class ended, Brad dialed his mother. Better to give her a heads up. It was nearly lunchtime when Eric Villarreal, Brad’s doubles partner on the varsity tennis team and a student assistant in the office, pulled him out of World History.

The entire class watched as he stored his book, zipped his backpack and slung one strap over his shoulder. In the hall, he asked Eric, “Which parent came?”



“Waiting in Applebaum’s office.”

They maneuvered through Mrs. Fishburn’s geography students drawing maps on white butcher paper in the hallway outside her room. Brad decided to ignore Cody Martinelli, strategically sprawled to inconvenience anyone attempting to walk by. He’d been a dumb, annoying four-year-old when his family moved in next door to Brad’s. Ten years later, he wasn’t any smarter, just bigger and more annoying.

“Hey, Brad! I heard they’re suspending you for a month.”

“Can it, butthead,” Eric snapped.

They rounded the corner. The main office loomed thirty steps ahead. “Jesus, even the freshmen are talking about it?” Brad asked.

“Dude, it’s one thing when Mike Rutledge spills acid and strips in Mr. E’s class. It a whole other level when his star AP Chem student almost blows up the lab.”

“Christ, Eric, one bottle. Not the lab. And Mary Beth Larsen is now the star student.”

The whole student body had been obsessed last year with the story of Rutledge “dropping acid” in class. In reality, the football jock was holding a test tube of sulfuric acid when he tripped and dumped it all over the Belmar Bobcats jersey he was wearing for Spirit Friday. As soon as the bell rang, girls in the hall were going on about Rutledge ripping off his sweatshirt and running to the emergency shower in Mr. E’s room. Apparently, the thought of Rutledge’s muscled chest and ripped six-pack fascinated every female at Belmar High just as much as it grossed out every secretly envious guy. Rutledge had kept what was left of the jersey in his hall locker for the rest of the year and showed it off every chance he got.

Eric thumped Brad’s shoulder a couple of times the way Coach did when he sent a player into a match and raked the air with his hands, fingers hooked into claws. “It’s a great day to be a Bobcat! Rrrrr!”

“Not funny.”

“Hey, district policy says they can’t give you more than a week.”

“Will you shut up?”

The door to Applebaum’s office was open. The assistant principal sat behind his over-sized desk, facing two people in orange plastic chairs. Brad’s stomach tightened even before his parents turned around.

“Good luck, dude,” Eric whispered.

His father, jaw clenched of course, stood, as did Applebaum. His mother looked like she was fighting back tears. The result, as Eric had predicted, was a one-week out-of-school suspension. He had to do all homework and take all tests within a week of his return. No more than sixty percent credit for his work.

It was going to be one long, miserable week.

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