Sunday, June 4, 2017
1st 5 Pages June Workshop - Franz
Name: Jason Franz
Genre: Middle Grade; Adventure/Mystery
Title: Sixth Grade Secret Service
My name is Abraham Truman and my problem started over a hundred fifty years ago. During a showing of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre, my great, great, great…great…great…whatever, grandfather, Secret Service Agent Jessup Truman, left Abraham Lincoln’s balcony to go to the concession stand...
The rest, as my dad usually said, is in the history books.
Long story short, my parents don’t talk about Grandpa Jessup much.
Ninety-in Dealy Plaza, Texas, my triply great grandfather, Agent Clyde Truman, tripped over his shoelaces and stepped away from Kennedy’s motorcade. He was just about to pull Mr. Bunny Ears out of the hole when—again, history…
Clyde’s another branch of our family tree my parents would like to break off.
After him, the secret service stopped trusting my ancestors with anything more challenging than changing the First Baby’s diapers. Until my dad.
He rewrote Truman family history when he rescued the president’s wife from the clutches of a rogue nation. Then my over-achieving, older brother just had to go and thwart that communist takeover of the White House…
Me—I can’t even get across the cafeteria without spilling my food tray. Which means, if Grandpas Jessup and Clyde are any indication, I’m one trip, rip, or loose grip away from my parents not even claiming me on their taxes.
But, like my best friend, Tibby Roosevelt, always said, “It’s not like there’s much chance to prove yourself in the sixth grade.”
That went double for a kid like me, until Tibby ran for class president.
The air was still in our crowded classroom. My eyes and ears were glued to a speaker hanging in the top right corner to the dry erase board. The JV jocks had been training extra hard for the weekend’s big game between our North Washington Allies and the South Washington X-Patriots, and I could smell that some of them had obviously not showered after practice.
It was almost, which meant the final count of the votes would soon be announced. What happened in the next few moments—the outcome of this election—would change everything.
It would change the world.
Or at least the world as the sixth grade knew it.
Tibby Roosevelt was sitting across from me. Her fluffy hair was the color of late batch maple syrup and was held back by a traditional Tswana headband. Over the summer, Tibby and her parents visited Botswana in South Africa. There, Tibby met her grandmother for the first time ever.
The headband was a handmade gift from her grandmother. A string of tan and red beads framed an inner band of purple beads which had been dyed with a native African flower. It was Tibby’s favorite accessory and she wore it every day, even if it didn’t exactly match the rest of her outfit.
Tibby’s eyes were fixated on the row of past sixth grade president’s pictures hanging above the chalkboard, specifically to the empty space at the end of them. Her space. She hadn’t blinked in over a minute. Finally, she came out of her trance. “You know, as my first act as President, I’m going to make you head of my security.”
Although Tibby was born in America, her mother had only immigrated to the United States just before Tibby was born, and she still had a thick South African accent. Subtle nuances had been passed down to Tibby and I loved listening to her talk, there was something so special about her voice. It was always kind, soothing and sincere, like she was eternally talking to a kitten or puppy.
My eyes bulged and I offered an unsure half smile. “That’s great, Tibby but I don’t think Class President of the sixth grade gets their own secret service. I mean what’s the worst that could happen, spitballs?”
“Are you kidding?” she said. “Have you forgotten who I—we—our whole class, is up against?”
I located the red hair that belonged to Chaz Nixon just as he kissed one of his biceps. He was the star of the JV football team, chauvinist pig…and sixth grade class president hopeful. He had this big ol’ forehead that made you ponder how closely related he was to the missing link. Admittedly, Chaz was the best football player North Washington had. As such, he felt entitled to certain favors, like forcing his teammates to scrub down the toilet for him with a tooth brush before (and after), he used it.
And that was just the way he wielded his MVP power. I couldn’t imagine what he would do with executive power over the whole class.
“No,” I said, “I haven’t forgotten.”
“And you know that if he loses and I become Class President, he becomes Vice President of the sixth grade?”
Well duh, I thought, but I just said, “Yeah.”
“Then you know that if I, for some reason, am unable to perform my duties as class president, he’ll take over.”
“Naturally.” Ms. Sunny, our political science teacher and student government organizer, bless her sickeningly-sweet heart, wrote that little gem of a stipulation into the rules. That way “everybody wins.”
Everybody except Tibby.
“But I thought you and him kinda got along.”
“Oh, we do—ish. We respect each other enough. Still—you know how he can be. If I won, there’s no telling what he’ll do to me if it means getting that spot.”
“Tibby,” I said. “If you’re that worried, why even go through with any of this? I mean what’s the big deal?”
Tibby tilted her head at me and raised her eyebrows. “Abe, My people, the Tswana, are known throughout Africa as guardians of justice. As the first Tswana-American president of the United States, I would be able to carry on that tradition on a much larger scale. One day, I hope to look back on this election as the start of it all.”
I stared at her, blinking in silence. “You know you take middle school waaaay too seriously, right?”
Tibby shook her head and let the air out of her lungs slowly. “You think I’m over reacting, don’t you?”
I did. “Of course not! It’s just—how can you really think I’m the best choice to protect you from THAT?” I said, throwing my hand in Chaz’s direction as he crushed an empty soda can with nothing but the table and his giant forehead. He did it, but it left behind a bright red ring on his brow. Yeah, like he needed to draw more attention to that billboard.
“Abe, your dad and brother are the Batman and Robin of the Secret Service these days.”
“Yeah, and meanwhile, I’ve been tripping over my own feet.”
Tibby crossed her arms. “You Trumans are all cut from the same cloth.”
“That’s what I’m most afraid of.”
“Oh Abe, not this again…”
“Well, apparently you’ve forgotten.”
“No.” Then she paused. “Except, why did Grandpa Jessup leave Lincoln, again?”
“Oh I don’t know. I think he went for a box of DOTS, or something. The point is that Lincoln trusted my family with his safety and look where it got him.”
“Don’t you think you probably take after family from this century?”
“Not with this hairline,” I said, twirling a few strands of it between my fingers.”
Tibby cocked her head.
“Are you kidding?” I said, tilting my head so she could see. “Alla this. Right up here. This is definitely Grandpa Jessup’s hairline.”