Thursday, July 22, 2010



I will be damned if I will pee blood and have a baby. Boy, ole golly about shot through the roof when I said that. I mean it, I’ll be damned if get my period, even if she explained you don’t pee blood and that you can’t have a baby without being impregnated first. Marion Hawthorne may think she knows everything, but wait until I tell her about how menstruation really works. She’s going to turn as green as a pickle. But I don’t think I will have a period because I am a spy. Where would I keep my maxi pads when I’m on the lamb? But Ole Golly says even Mati Hari had periods, so I maybe I will have to reconsider.

Beth Ellen stopped eating. Zeeny came in from Milan or wherever mothers who are models go for photo shoots and told Beth Ellen she looked like a cow. If Beth Ellen is a cow, I must be a hippopotamus. Doesn’t Zeeny know everyone calls Beth Ellen a mouse? Doesn’t she know Beth Ellen is the skinniest girl in our class? Not only does Beth Ellen not eat, but she takes some pills Zeeny gave her to make her not hungry. What kind of person doesn’t want to eat? If I couldn’t eat my tomato sandwiches I would die. But maybe if I was doing spy work in the Sahara I might need those pills to survive. Or maybe I could give them to people I was interrogating. If they didn’t eat they would get weak and succumb to questioning faster. I need to ask Beth Ellen for one of these pills, but it will have to wait until she gets back from the hospital. She hasn’t been at school all week, and her grandmother says she isn’t feeling well.

The boy with the purple socks now wears a purple ascot as well. Sport and Pinky Whitehead call him gay boy, but I don’t understand; what’s so terrible about being happy?

I always thought little Joe Curry would drive the De Santis out of business because he eats more food from their deli than he delivers. But he no longer sits in the stockroom eating pepperoni sticks and cheese all day. On my spy route last week he sat in the alley smoking bubbles from a little glass pipe. Why would smoking a little bubble pipe make him too happy to eat? Today I spied him taking food from the De Santis’ stock room, but he wasn’t eating it. He was selling it to some people down the street. Then he went into an apartment building and came out with a little package. Back in the alley, he pulled some rock candy out of the package and smoked it. I know little joe curry isn’t all there, but this is the weirdest thing I’ve seen anybody do. I’m going to have to follow him closely the rest of the week to get to the bottom of this.

Janie Gibbs was working on something new in her lab today. I don’t normally like to hang out in Janie’s lab because things have a tendency to blow up, but sport wasn’t around and I’d finished my spy route early. She made me stay very far back from the bench because she said the ingredients of methamphetamine are very volatile and I could get burned. I asked what about her? But she just smiled that smile of hers and kept boiling something. I asked her if methamphetamine is like the play-Doh she made last summer and sold to the kids in the lower school cheaper than the store stuff but she said, oh, Harriet, for a spy, you’re so naïve. I said, no I’m not - you’re just crazy - and left.

Sport and I hung out at his apartment until it was time for me to go home and eat dinner. I eat dinner the same time every night because that’s when the cook cooks it, but sport and his father eat whenever they want. Sometimes they don’t eat at all if sport’s dad doesn’t make any money. Anyway, I was lying on his bed reading comic books and he laid on top of me and poked me with it from inside his pants and I told him to stop because I was at this really good part in atom ant but he kept at it. We’re too young to make babies, I said, but he said we weren’t going to make a baby because he was going to stop early. I didn’t care what his plan was because I wanted to finish atom ant and plus it hurt. But then it got me thinking and I asked sport if I was his girlfriend now and he said no, you’re not my girlfriend because you’re ugly and then I called him a poor, dirty writer’s son and went home. Ole golly said that when people call you ugly they really mean you’re pretty. The seventh grade is definitely tougher than the sixth grade.

P.s., I don’t want to be sport’s girlfriend anyway because I am a spy and romantic attachments are too complicated, even for Mati Hari.

That sport is sure fresh. Who does he think he is, sitting with Carrie Andrews at lunch? I had to sit with the boy with the purple socks and ascot, and when I told him what sport and I did, he got really excited and asked what sport’s thing looked like. I said, I don’t know, why don’t you ask him? And then I skipped school and my spy route the rest of the day.

My parents had a conference about something. I tried to listen at the door but they talked quietly. I did hear the word “home school.” At first I thought no way, I want to go to the Gregory school but then maybe it would be fun. Ole golly could teach me just about anything those teachers could. I could eat lunch at home, and then I could go on my spy route. Boy, would Jamie and sport be jealous.

There is a rumor going around that I am a slut. When I asked sport about it he shrugged and walked away with Carrie Andrews. I wonder if the boy in the purple socks and ascot started it. I couldn’t ask him because pinky beat him up during gym and he went home with a broken nose. The upshot of all this is that a spy’s cover should never, never be blown, and if people are talking about a spy, that means she’s visible. The only thing to do would be to go into deep cover. I need to ask my parents about the home-schooling again.

Beth Ellen is still in the hospital. My mother says it’s not really a hospital at all but a place people go when they need help. Does she mean the loony bin? I bet if I tell everyone at school that Beth Ellen is crazy, they’ll stop talking about me.

I had a dream that Beth Ellen and I were kissing. When I woke up, I still wanted to kiss her. I wonder if she thinks I’m ugly. I wish she would come back. Some days, aside from Ole Golly, I think she is the only friend I have left.

Ole golly says that when life gives you lemons, you learn to make lemonade. So I am keeping up my spy route. I followed little Joe to the apartment building where he gets the rock candy. I pretended to read the mail boxes in the lobby while he was upstairs. Boy, that place was a dump. Urine and trash everywhere. I wondered if Jamie could make me some rock candy to sell at school, but then the strangest thing happened; I thought I saw Jamie walking down the other side of the street while I was tailing Joe back to the deli. What business would she have in the rock candy neighborhood, unless she’s already selling rock candy she’s made? What kind of rat fink wouldn’t cut in her friend? I can’t wait until home schooling starts. I’ll start my own rock candy business.

Beth Ellen is moving to Germany with Zeeny. I know spies are supposed to be tough, but I sunk under the tub water so ole golly couldn’t hear me and cried. I’m sure she would say something about bucking up, being brave, but I really think the only thing to do is to follow Beth Ellen to Germany. I will get Beth Ellen’s address from her grandmother, take my passport from when I went with my mother to Paris last summer, and go.

The guy giving me a ride to the airport is nice. He’s older and smells too much like cigarettes and onions, but when I explain everything to him, he pats my shoulder and tells me not to worry. He’s not driving the way to JFK that the taxi usually does, but I’m sure he knows a better way. After all, cab drivers always cheat you. Ole golly used to say as much and walked everywhere or took the subway. I wonder what she will think when I don’t come back. She always says to thine own self be true but she also always says a fool and his money are soon parted. I’d better get traveler’s checks just in case.

Jen Michalski's first collection of fiction, Close Encounters, is available from So New (2007), her second is forthcoming from Dzanc (2013), and her novella May - September (2010) will be published by Press 53 in October as part of the Press 53 Open Awards
. Her chapbook Cross Sections (2008) is available from Publishing Genius. She also is the editor of the anthology City Sages: BALTIMORE (CityLit Press 2010) and edits the literary quarterly jmww.

Photo by Adam Lawrence.
Street art JOS-L.

"Spy on the Floor" comes from the latest album from Chicago Underground Duo, Boca Negra, which was released by Thrill Jockey back in January.

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