Gabriel Tsivourakis, Grade 7
It was a cold winter afternoon. I breathed in the sweet, yet somewhat salty scent of freshly cooked burgers. I was at the diner. The diner that seemed to shape my world, no – not just shaped, created George’s.
It was the only place where the town could be at peace.
This history of our story starts with my grandfather George Herbert Johnson Sr., and trust me, it’s a long one. Granddad George was a humble guy, he was as mediocre as it gets. Just an average guy that had enough money to start a small restaurant in good ol’ Winslow Arizona. He created it first as a way for the small community to come together and cherish that time when everyone was equal. See back then, the era of racism had just ended, and our small town was split up, we like the call this little fiasco News vs Olds. The town was split up half and half, and you couldn’t walk down a street without hearing people screaming at each other. It eventually got to the point where the government had to split the two groups up, they moved everyone on the New’s side to one side of town, and the same with the Old’s. Granddad was on the New’s side, this choice had him outlawed from the rest of his family, who were all on the old’s side of thinking. He got a job and eventually made enough money to start his dream of becoming a restaurant owner. He with the help of some friend’s city council was able to put the diner right on the border between the News and the Olds. The diner became the heart of the town, it was not only the center of the town, but it was the only place where the town could be at peace. Eventually, my Granddad found his mistress Miss Sally Jackson. Then they had my dad, George Herbert Johnson Jr., as the time passed the New’s one the argument, and the majority of the town had been decided. Also, during this time, George’s grew to be popular all around the state, and stretched to Southern California. Although no one, except the people of Winslow new the origin of the restaurant chain.
As the chain grew, so did my Dad’s name. At this point, my Grandad had already given ownership of the chain to my Dad, and soon he rose to the peaks of fame becoming the first millionaire from Winslow. He eventually met my Mom, Maxie Smith, and eventually they gave birth to me, George Herbert Johnson the third, and yes there will be no more George Herbert Johnson-ing people, at a certain point it gets redundant. I’m at the diner right now, yes, the original, and I’m scarfing down my Jumbo BBQ Burger. I’m with my friends Kate, and Ayden. Ayden’s been my best friend ever since I can remember, and Ayden’s dad was my dad’s best friends, and same with our grandparents. Kate on the other hand is a different story, she joined the group just last year, and that’s were our story begins.
That’s where our story begins.
It was a normal summer day, right before school started, and like always Ayden and I were trying to finish all five of our summer reading books within the week school starts. It seemed like a staple of every summer since 5th grade, we always rushed to finish every ounce of summer work right before school starts. It never occurred to us that we should’ve spread our work over the summer. We were both at my house and both of us were almost done with our last summer reading book. Eventually we decided to go to the diner, mainly just the arcade, were it seemed we spent most of our summers. We rode our bikes there, which took five minutes. We strode through the doors of the diner with a sense of pride, even though we were some of the youngest people there. It quickly came to a halt though; the diner was quiet except for one man and what we assumed was his daughter. He was massive. I’m talking a defensive lineman massive, then add a couple inches. He was probably around 6’6 and two-hundred fifty pounds. So yeah, if that doesn’t sound massive then I don’t know what does. He heard us come through the door to, he didn’t turn around, but you could tell he knew. No one else was there, and we silently walked to the arcade. Once we got there we went to the Pac-Man machine, just last year I won a Pac-man tournament, and Ayden came second. We were the best at it, probably in the state. On this certain machine we had the two highest scores, but not today. Someone named K-pop was on the top. She had a score almost double mine, which was the highest yesterday. This was the turning point for both of us. For the next 6 hours, we tried to beat the score. We probably spent around a hundred dollars on credits, and the closest we got was two thousand points lower than what the mysterious K-Pop got.
After that we walked home and saw him, again. The massive man, was there not with his daughter this time, putting boxes into a house, and not just any house, the house next to Ayden’s. I had to go home at that point because it was almost time for dinner.
“Good luck,” I told him before I rode back to my house.
That night seemed normal – eat dinner, watch TV, and go to bed, it went by without a second thought. I woke up the next morning to my dog, Baxter, licking my face, I went downstairs, and ate breakfast and finished my fourth book. I then rode to Ayden’s house, forgetting about the seem-to-be terror that slept in the house next to him. I knocked on his door and was greeted by his mother. She was short and was from Latin. Their family moved here right before World War One started, why they choose to live in Winslow Arizona, I have no clue, but they did and I’m happy about it. She told me he’s inside and offered me breakfast, and I politely declined and went inside to the basement to great him. As soon as I went down, I smelled the popcorn. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Popcorn for breakfast don’t these kids know anything?”, yes, we do know it’s not healthy, but we really don’t care. There’s something Ayden likes to say, “I would rather die on a full stomach of Pizza than die with a stomach full of vegetables.” I tend to agree with him. I got down and saw him on his massive couch, with popcorn, and watching Star Wars. This is why we’re friends. We finished the movie, and ate more popcorn than I’d like to admit, but it was definitely worth it. Right after the movie ended, we went to the arcade at George’s. It seemed that we forgot we had been bested the day before. Once we got there we remembered and started taking turns trying to beat the score. Eventually I beat K-pops score by 50 points. I’d accomplished a goal. Although this goal was one of those goals that gave you nothing except for bragging rights, which weren’t that helpful when you’re a thirteen-year-old in a small city, and in a small school. So yeah, it didn’t give me that much. After that Ayden and I went to play different games. Then she walked in, the big guys daughter, at least we think. She walked up to the Pac-Man machine and put in a coin. We stood behind her without her noticing. She was incredible. The best I had ever seen play Pac-Man. Her moves were fluid almost like an orchestra, but also incredibly quick. She understood the game more than anyone. We stood there for minutes until she messed up. Eventually she did, and we both ran to other games to pretend we weren’t watching. After she left, I walked over to the game to see how well she did, and it turns out she beat my record by more than 700 points. With one credit. She was so much better than me it was funny. I know this because Ayden was laughing at me.
It seemed that we forgot we had been bested the day before.
“You got destroyed.” He said in between breaths. “You completely obliterated.” While still laughing.
I simply replied back “I hate you”, and we both left to go back home.
A couple days later it was the first day of school. My first class was science, I walked through the halls remembering all the trouble Ayden and I got into last year. I was like see my life flash before my eyes, only not really. I got to class and went to my seat. Then she walked in. The destroyer of my universe. K-Pop. She sat down two rows Infront of me. The teacher stood up and started to call role. I said “here” after my name was called. She hadn’t said anything yet, so her name hadn’t been called. I waited patiently for her to reply to some name.