Genre: Middle Grade; Adventure/Mystery
Title: Sixth Grade Secret Service
For most kids, when a relative says you remind them of great-grandpa, it’s a compliment.
Not for eleven-year-old Abraham Truman—the kid whose Grandpas are the biggest screw ups to ever wash out of the secret service. Abraham learned to live with being the family-flop, the class-klutz. It didn’t bother him. Not really.
Until his best friend (and crush), Tibby Roosevelt, became sixth grade class president. After agreeing to protect her from class bully, Chaz Nixon, Tibby is accused of taking a bribe and goes missing. Chaz is set to take over if she doesn’t return by the end of the week. But even if Abraham finds her, he fears the haters will force Tibby to change schools.
Now, Abraham must not only find Tibby, but prove her innocence as well. But locating one little girl in Washington D.C. is harder than finding an honest politician. Abe quickly realizes he needs help. Soon, his redemption, and the fate of the sixth grade, rests on his team of unlikely heroes: his German shepherd, the janitor's eccentric son, and the sixth grade newspaper writer. If they fail, their class faces rule under power-hungry Chaz, and all the wedgies that come with him.
The air in our crowded classroom was still. My attention was on the P.A. speaker. No way was I going to miss the announcement. Tibby sat in the desk across from mine. Her eyes were glued to the row of past-class presidents’ pictures above the whiteboard, specifically to the empty space at the end.
Her dark, curly hair was held back with the beaded headband she’d gotten while visiting her grandmother in South Africa. She thought those tan, red, and purple beads went with everything and made her look good no matter what she wore.
I just thought she looked good no matter what.
It’d been a full minute since she’d blinked and I was starting to worry when a loud burp from the jock’s corner of the room made her jump. “Abraham, as my first act as class president, I’m going to make you head of my security.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Tibby, is your headband on too tight? You know what happens to presidents around us Trumans.”
“Why’d your grandpa leave Lincoln’s balcony in the first place?” She said.
“Oh I don’t know. I think he went to concessions for a box of DOTS, or something.”
See, although I’m only in the sixth grade, my problem started over a hundred fifty years ago. First day on the job, my great, great…gre—whatever, grandfather, Secret Service Agent Jessup Truman, was assigned to protect President Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre.
You would’ve had to flunk third grade history to not know how that turned out.
“Maybe it’ll be different for you.”
“Yeah. I’m sure that’s what Grandpa Clyde thought when he agreed to protect Kennedy in Dealy Plaza—right before he tripped over his shoe lace and history repeated itself.”
“Your shoe’s untied,” Tibby said, pointing at my sneakers.
“See. It’s a sign!” I snatched the laces angrily and stuffed them into my shoe. “Ya know, if Grandpa Clyde had just worn Velcro we could have avoided a national tragedy.
“I could go on—there was the time Grandpa Gus lost President Regan’s dog, Rex. Ticked The Great Communicator off so bad he almost started world war three with Russia! Let’s see—the White House burned down in 1814—”
“Abraham. Everyone knows British troops snuck in and did that!”
“Yes—but who do you think forgot to lock the White House gate? It don’t matter anyway. Sixth grade Class President doesn’t get their own secret service. I mean what’s the worst that could happen? Spitballs?”
Tibby looked at me like I looked at my alarm clock (annoyed and a little disgusted). “Excuse me? You’re not the one whose bike brakes mysteriously stopped working right after I announced my campaign against him.”
I located the kid to blame. It wasn’t difficult. Chaz Nixon had this bright red hair on top of this big ol’ forehead. I shook my (normal-sized) head as he kissed one of his biceps. He was North Washington’s best athlete, but that didn’t give him the right to trip kids who already had enough trouble getting across the cafeteria without spilling their food (namely me). The other jocks didn’t even like him—rumor had it he’d called dibs on his own special toilet in the locker room and made his teammates to scrub it down for him.
With a tooth brush.
Before (and after), he did his business.
“Chaz thinks he can win this election by threatening me. Well, I’ll show him it takes more than a cut brake line to stop the future president of this country.”
Geez. I didn’t even know what I wanted to do after I did my chores. But there Tibby was—already President of the United Sates. “You know you take middle school waaaay too seriously, right?”
“You think I’m over reacting?”
I did. “Of course not! It’s just—you really think I can protect you—from THAT?” I threw my hand in Chaz’s direction as he crushed an empty soda can with nothing but his desk and his giant forehead, leaving behind a bright red mark.
Yeah, like he needed to draw more attention to that billboard.
“I know what you’re trying to do, Tibby. You’re trying to make me feel better. But I can’t do it. I can’t even get through football tryouts without losing the ball, remember? I even had to buy the school a new one out of my allowance. I took the presidential fitness test and Coach O’ Hern said I owed points. Then there was the time I tried to help with the school play…”
“Translation please.” Tibby said, refusing to see my point.
“Everything I touch either costs me something or goes crashing through the stage wall into the science room. I won’t add your name to that list!”
Tibby got that look she gets when she thought I was being too hard on myself. She was thinking of just the right piece of what her mother called “Tswana wisdom” to change my mind. “You think you’re so different. But we all share the same ancestry.”
“It means you’re no less than any other sixth grader, Abraham.”
“Hah!” Chaz bolstered.
Great. He’d overheard. A pit grew in my gut as Chaz puffed out his chest and strode over, his big stupid arms swinging like big stupid sausages. “That’s nice, Tibby, but as Chaz joins us, I’m reminded of some Truman family wisdom: watch out for cow pies.”
“Don’t call your future president a loser,” I said.
“I didn’t, Truman. You’re just such a loser, you count for two.”
“Now, whatcha talking about—what a great class prez I’m gonna be—or the look on Tibby’s face when she realized she wouldn’t miss that dumpster without brakes?”
“For your information, Abraham was just agreeing to be my secret service after I win this election.”
Chaz took the wind out of me with a hard slap to my back. “That true, Abe?”
“I haven’t agreed to anything yet, Chaz,” I said, immediately regretting it. I knew what was coming. Aside from sports, Chaz was gifted in only one thing—finding new ways to torture me with my family’s failures.
“Aw c’mon Abe, don’t drop the family torch, who’s gonna peel toilet paper off the first lady’s shoe when she gets outta the crapper if not a Truman?”
Yup—Chaz was the reason everyone in school knew that after Kennedy, agent Trumans always got stuck with things like First-Baby diaper duty or following behind First-Fido with a little plastic baggy.
“Shut up you big butthole,” Tibby hissed. “You don’t know what you’re talking about—and neither do you, Abraham. Your family made mistakes but your dad and brother are like the Batman and Robin of the Secret Service now. That big action movie from last summer, FRANCE HAS FALLEN, could’ve been their biography!”
Chaz got that prickly grin then put his arm around me. “You hear that, Abe. Tibby’s right—guess it’s not your family—you’re just an apple that fell too far from the tree—then got chewed up and spit out by a lawnmower!” Before the words even left his fat mouth he was laughing.
And then it hit me. All of my humiliations—the football tryouts, the fitness test, the school play—had something in common. They all ended with Chaz standing over me.
Teeth clenched. Hands balled into fists. “Tibby…” I said, my eyes burning into Chaz’s.
“I’ll do it.”