Fabulous Five 014 - The Seventh-Grade Menace

BOOK: Fabulous Five 014 - The Seventh-Grade Menace
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THE
FABULOUS FIVE #14

THE SEVENTH-GRADE
MENACE

BETSY HAYNES

A BANTAM SKYLARK
BOOK®

NEW YORK • TORONTO •
LONDON • SYDNEY • AUCKLAND

RL 5, IL age 9 and up

SEVENTH-GRADE MENACE

A Bantam Skylark
Book / December 1989

Skylark Books is a
registered trademark of Bantam Books, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell
Publishing Group, Inc. Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and
elsewhere.

All rights
reserved.

Copyright © 1989
by Betsy Haynes and James Haynes.

Cover art copyright
© 1989 by Ralph Amatrudi.

No part of this
book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means
, electronic
or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage
and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

For information
address: Bantam Books.

ISBN 0-553-15763-9

Published
simultaneously in the United States and Canada

Bantam Books are
published by Bantam Books, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group
,
Inc. Its trademark, consisting of the words "Bantam Books" and the
portrayal of a rooster, is Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and
in other countries. Marca Registrada. Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York,
New York 10103.

PRINTED IN THE UNITED
STATES OF AMERICA

CW         0 9 8 7 6 5
4 3 2 1

To Susan Korman

CHAPTER 1

Jana Morgan flashed her biggest and brightest smile at Randy
Kirwan as she crossed the Wakeman Junior High school grounds and headed toward
The Fabulous Five's favorite spot by the fence. He waved and gave her his
1,000-watt smile back.

Even though it was Monday morning, Jana was still
daydreaming about their super weekend together. On Friday night, they had gone
to the movies and Bumpers, the fast-food restaurant where everyone from Wakeman
Junior High hung out. On Saturday, Randy had bicycled to her house, and her
stepfather Pink had dropped them off at the West Side Mall, where they'd met
the rest of The Fabulous Five: Katie Shannon, Beth Barry, Melanie Edwards, and
Christie Winchell, who were there with Tony Calcaterra, Keith Masterson, Shane
Arrington, Scott Daly, and Jon Smith. Later, they had all gone to Melanie's to
watch a video and eat popcorn. The evening had ended with Randy's holding her
hand as he walked her home and kissing her good-night before getting on his
bicycle and leaving. Jana knew she had a dopey smile on her face as she thought
about the terrific weekend, but she didn't care. Let people stare.

"HEY, GET OUT OF THE WAY!"

Before Jana could react, someone slammed into her, knocking
her backward. She tried to catch her balance, but she tripped instead. Her
books flew in all directions as she hit the ground with a thud.

"Why don't you watch where you're going?"

Geena McNatt stood there, glaring down at Jana. She was
dressed in a pair of red sweatpants and matching top, which were both several
sizes too big for her. She had one hand on her hip and was holding a football
with the other.

"I was walking where people are supposed to walk!"
Jana retorted angrily. How in the world could Geena accuse her of being at
fault? Jana got to her feet and faced the other girl.

Geena had reddish-brown hair that she hardly ever combed and
freckles across the bridge of her nose. She was a year older and half a head
taller than Jana, even though she was in the seventh grade, too. Jon Smith, who
had gone to Copper Beach Elementary with Geena, had told Christie that Geena
had been held back in the fifth grade.

Even though Jana and Geena were both in Mr. Broderick's
social studies class, Jana hadn't talked to her very much. In fact, Jana tried
to stay out of her way. Geena was always picking on kids who couldn't defend
themselves and disrupting the classroom.

"Well, you'd better watch where you're walking,"
Geena said, turning to throw the football in a perfect spiral to Bill Soliday
and trotting after it.

"Are you okay?" Randy asked, running up.

Jana brushed off the back of her denim skirt and checked the
scrape on her elbow. "I think so. I didn't see her coming."

"I'm not surprised. She was running after a pass, and
you were looking the other way."

As Randy started picking up Jana's books, the rest of The
Fabulous Five joined them. They had been Jana's best friends for what seemed
like forever, and she knew she could always count on them. Now they were all
giving her sympathetic looks.

"I think they should outlaw throwing footballs on the
school ground," said Beth. "It's dangerous."

"Only when Geena McNatt's playing," said Christie.
"The guys are more careful than she is."

"I don't think I broke anything," said Jana. "It
was just an accident."

"Are you sure you don't have footprints up your back?"
asked Keith Masterson, who had just walked up. "Geena almost stepped on
you."

Jana smiled. "I'm fine." And except for a few sore
spots, she did feel fine. It had just been an accident, she told herself, and even
though Geena was in her social studies class, she might not have to speak to
her again.

 

As Jana made her way to the cafeteria for lunch later that
afternoon, she met Funny Hawthorne. "Are you going to run for Miss Seventh
Grade?" asked Funny. "If you do, I'll vote for you as long as you
promise not to tell Laura."

Funny's question surprised Jana. She hadn't thought of
herself as being popular outside of her own group of friends, let alone being
well enough known to run for Miss Seventh Grade.
The Wigwam
yearbook was
running its annual contest to determine who were the most popular kids in the
seventh, eighth, and ninth grades at Wacko Junior High, as most kids called
their school. The winners would receive their awards at a school assembly and
have their pictures in the yearbook. Students who wanted to be candidates had
to get fifty signatures and turn the list in at the office by Friday.

"Why would I run?" Jana asked Funny. "Kids
wouldn't vote for me. I'm not that well-known."

"
What?
Lots of kids know you, and I've never
heard
anyone
say anything bad about you." Funny hesitated and
looked embarrassed. "Except for Laura, maybe."

Jana sighed at the mention of Laura McCall. She was the
leader of a clique who called themselves The Fantastic Foursome. The Fabulous
Five had had a run-in with The Fantastic Foursome on the very first day of
school, and they had been rivals ever since. Besides Laura and Funny, Melissa
McConnell and Tammy Lucero were members. Jana had heard that Laura made the
other girls do things to belong, but she could never find out what, even though
Funny and she had become friends. And Laura was always bragging that since she
lived with her single father, she could do just about anything she pleased.

Funny giggled, breaking into Jana's thoughts about Laura. "I'm
even starting a rumor that you and Randy Kirwan are going to run together as
Mr. and Miss Seventh Grade," said Funny. "Everyone knows you're the
perfect couple."

Jana's mouth fell open. "
Funny!
You're not
really
doing that, are you? Randy would make a super Mr. Seventh Grade, but there
are lots of girls who are more popular than I am."

"Name one," demanded Funny.

"Why . . ." Jana thought for a moment. "There's
. . . uh, Christie, and Laura, and what about you? You're so friendly. Everyone
likes you."

"Christie doesn't like to be the center of attention.
Remember how she didn't want to run for class president? And Laura? She's my
friend, but I don't think that many other people like her as much as I do. She
is kind of bossy.

"And me," continued Funny. "I guess people
that know me like me, but I don't have nearly as many friends as you do.
Everyone
knows The Fabulous Five, an
d you're
their leader."

Jana looked at Funny. She hadn't considered running for Miss
Seventh Grade, but if Randy ran for Mr. Seventh Grade, it would be fun for them
to run together. Randy was liked by everyone. He was the kindest and most
sincere boy in the world, and he always stood by his friends. He had been the
quarterback on the seventh-grade football team, and now he was on the
basketball team, so everyone knew him. Maybe it was a good idea after all.

"I don't know," Jana said, still hesitating. "Maybe.
But I'll have to think about it."

"Great! I'm taking that for a yes," said Funny. "I'll
keep spreading my rumors, too. Gotta go," she said as they approached the
door to the cafeteria. "If Laura sees us together, I'll have to explain
why I was talking to you." She flashed Jana a big smile and waved with her
fingers as she skittered away.

Jana didn't mention her conversation with Funny to her
friends during lunch. Running for Miss Seventh Grade for the yearbook contest
was such a new idea to her that she needed to think about it. If she and Randy
both ran and won, being chosen together would be so romantic. Funny had said
everyone
thought they were a perfect couple. That thrilled Jana, even though she had
secretly known it for a long time.

Jana waved to Shane Arrington as she entered her social
studies class that afternoon. Shane looked a lot like River Phoenix and might
be as popular as Randy, she thought as she settled into her seat. He was fun,
played on all the seventh-grade teams, and was really laid-back. If Shane ran
for Mr. Seventh Grade, he could have a chance to be elected.

Jana looked around for anyone else who might be competition
as Mr. Broderick began calling roll. Curtis Trowbridge, who had gone to Mark
Twain Elementary with Jana, was seated to the right of his girlfriend, Whitney
Larkin. Whitney was a brain who had skipped sixth grade and gone right into seventh.
She was smaller and shyer than the other kids. What about Curtis for Mr.
Seventh Grade? Jana asked herself. He's seventh-grade class president so he's
pretty popular. She shook her head. Although Curtis had won the election for
president, neither Randy nor Shane had been running.

A movement near Whitney caught Jana's attention. Geena
McNatt sat on Whitney's left, and Jana thought she had seen Geena pulling a
folder from between two of Whitney's books. Jana couldn't be sure if that was
what had really happened or if she had imagined it.

As the period passed, Jana couldn't keep her eyes from
returning to Geena. Geena partially opened her notebook, and it appeared to
Jana that she was looking at something in a folder, but had she really taken
the folder from Whitney? Then Geena took out a blank page and wrote something
on it. When she was finished, she dug a paper clip out of her purse and clipped
it to the top of some papers she took from the folder.

Jana frowned. What was she doing? Just then, Geena glanced
up and her eyes locked with Jana's. An arrogant look spread over her face, and
she stuck her tongue out at Jana.

Jana could feel a hot flush creep up her neck.

"All right, class," Mr. Broderick said as the
period drew to an end. "Please turn in the articles about pollution I
asked you to cut out of newspapers and magazines over the weekend."

Jana dug into her notebook and took out her assignment.
There had been another oil spill off the coast of Alaska, and it had been easy
to find lots of articles in the Sunday papers. The only problem was, everyone
else probably had the same ones. She had dug through some old
Time
magazines that were stacked under the coffee table in the living room and found
a few others that were different. As she passed her assignment forward to Joel
Murphy, who sat in front of her, she noticed Whitney frantically searching
through her books.

Geena passed something forward and then gave Jana a mean
look.

As they left the room, Geena walked up beside Jana and
bumped her. "You tell, and I'll get you," she said, and then hurried
down the hall leaving Jana staring after her with her mouth open.

CHAPTER 2

"Can you believe her nerve?" grumbled Jana,
glancing at Geena McNatt, who was standing by herself near the old Wurlitzer
jukebox in Bumpers. Jana was sitting in a booth with the rest of The Fabulous
Five in the junior high hangout. "She actually took something from Whitney
Larkin and threatened me if I told."

"Do you know for sure that it was Whitney's homework
she took?" asked Katie.

"No, I can't prove it. I talked to Whitney after class,
and she was almost crying. You know Whitney—the kids who went to Copper Beach
Elementary with her say she's never made a grade lower than an A in her life.
Not being able to turn in homework on time just blew her mind. She had cut out
several articles about pollution, and if I know Whitney, she went to a lot of
trouble to find some that no one else would have. But Geena could have gotten
her own articles. Sunday's papers were full of them."

"What about the folder?" asked Beth. "Wouldn't
that prove she took them?"

"Not if Geena doesn't have it anymore," said
Christie. "And I'm sure she wouldn't keep it around for someone else to
find."

"Why did she have to pick on Whitnev?" said Melanie.
"She's so shy."

Everyone nodded agreement.

"Do you suppose Whitney will tell Curtis what Geena
did?" asked Katie. "If I know Curtis, he'll get
really
mad if
he finds out."

"I told her I didn't think she should, and she agreed,"
said Jana. "Geena would probably run and tell her two brothers, and that
would
not
be good for Curtis." Jana thought about the McNatt boys.
Max was in the ninth grade at Wakeman and played noseguard on the varsity
football team. He was rough and walked around looking as if he didn't like
anyone. Joe was Geena's twin, but he was in the eighth grade instead of the
seventh, and he was a slightly smaller version of Max. Jana had noticed Max
sitting in a booth across the room with two other ninth-grade boys.

"What exactly did Geena say to you?" asked Katie.

"She said if I told, she'd get me," replied Jana.

Katie frowned. "That's not enough evidence to bring her
before Teen Court. It would be your word against hers, and you can't prove it
was Whitney's homework."

"I know." Jana poked at the ice in her soda. Since
Katie was one of the student judges on Wakeman's Teen Court, she knew what she
was talking about. "It's one thing for her to threaten me," Jana went
on, "but I
really
hate to see her get away with what she did to Whitney.
Whitney can't defend herself like most kids can."

"It doesn't look as if there's much we can do about it,"
said Christie.

"Changing the subject, how come your best friends are
the last ones to find out the big news?" Beth asked, looking at Jana.

"What are you talking about?"

"Dekeisha Adams said that she heard that you and Randy
were going to run for Miss and Mr. Seventh Grade in
The Wigwam
contest."

The others looked at Jana in surprise.

Christie almost knocked over her soda. "Is that true?"

"No. That's just a rumor that Funny Hawthorne is
spreading," responded Jana.

"It sounds like a great idea to me," said Melanie.
"Why don't you do it? Everybody would vote for you."

"And it's not like running for class president or Teen
Court," said Katie. "It's an honorary position, and you wouldn't have
a lot of things to do once you were elected."

"And you and Randy are such a
great
couple,"
chimed in Melanie. "Oh, Jana! You just
have
to. We'll all help. You
know we will."

Jana looked at each of her friends. They were
really
serious.

"Well, say something," said Katie. "Will you
do it?"

"I might," Jana said slowly, picturing Randy
standing next to her on the stage in the auditorium while they both waved to a
crowd of Wacko Junior High students. "But only if Randy agrees to run,
too."

"Fantastic!" squealed Beth. "We've got to
have another meeting and make plans and posters like we did when Christie was
running for class president."

"You mean when I
almost
ran," Christie
said.

"Hey, wait a minute! Wait a minute!" Jana
interrupted, holding her hands up to stop them. "I haven't talked to Randy
about it yet. I don't even know if he'd be interested."

"Well, ask him," said Christie. "He's right
over there."

"Not in here," said Jana, feeling instantly shy. "I'll
talk to him tonight and let you all know in the morning." She looked at
Randy, who was in an animated conversation with Keith and Shane. He was
so
handsome with his dark wavy hair and his wide white smile. He would make a
perfect Mr. Seventh Grade.

"OUCH! Darn it!"

The shout startled Jana, and she looked around quickly.
Geena and Clarence Marshall were squared off in front of the jukebox, and blood
was dripping from Clarence's nose onto his sneakers.

"You hit me!"
Clarence said angrily.

"Well, you shouldn't have shoved me!" retorted
Geena.

"I didn't shove you. I just wanted to get to the
jukebox to play a song."

"You did too shove me," Geena insisted, sticking
her face into Clarence's as if she were a baseball player arguing with an
umpire.

Jana saw Geena's brother Max bounce out of his seat and head
to his sister's side.

"Did you push my sister?"
Max snarled,
jabbing a stubby finger at Clarence's chest. He was built like a small version
of a refrigerator and was two or three inches taller than Clarence.

Clarence held his ground. "No, I didn't push her. I was
just trying to get to the jukebox to play some music, and she stepped in front
of me. Then she hit me."

"Let me hit him again!" yelled Geena, trying to
get at Clarence.

Max pushed her away and puffed out his chest, and the look
on his face got angrier.

Just as Jana thought he was going to hit Clarence, Shane
Arrington stepped in between them.

"Hey, Max," Shane said in a friendly voice, as if
he were oblivious to what was going on. "I was wondering if I could have
your autograph."

A look of confusion came over Max's face. "My
autograph?" he asked suspiciously, squinting at Shane.

"Sure," said Shane, putting his arm around Max's
broad shoulders as if they had been buddies for a long time. "I was
talking to Jana Morgan, and she and Funny Hawthorne are going to have a feature
in the yearbook about the animals that some of the kids at Wacko collected
money for at Christmas. Since you donated, they thought you'd be a good model
for a reenactment."

Jana's mouth dropped open at what Shane was saying. It was
true that she and Funny Hawthorne were seventh-grade coeditors for the
yearbook, but they hadn't talked about a feature like the one Shane was telling
Max about. She had seen Shane trick Max into donating money to save the
animals. Was he trying to con Max again? She left her seat and went closer so
she could hear better.

"Model? Reenactment?" asked Max. He had forgotten
all about Clarence Marshall, who was wiping his bloody nose with the end of his
shirttail and listening with interest to the conversation.

"Sure. You know how they do it when they want pictures
of something that's already over," continued Shane. "They set up a
reenactment and take pictures as if it were just happening. Since you
were
so nice about donating money, they thought you wouldn't mind having your
picture taken at the collection table in the cafeteria." Seeing Jana
nearby, Shane added, "Isn't that right, Jana?"

Not knowing what else to say, she nodded. "Yes, it is."

"See? What did I tell you, Max? And since you're going
to have your picture in
The Wigwam
so many times, being a star football
player and all, I thought I'd ask you for your autograph for my yearbook before
everyone else did."

Max looked at Jana. The angry look had faded from his face.
She shrugged and smiled at him.

Then, as if he had just remembered Shane was a lowly
seventh-grader, Max winked at one of the ninth-grade boys he had been sitting
with. "You'll have to stand in line."

"Okay," said Shane, smiling. "I just thought
I'd ask." He walked away casually, but Jana saw him look around for
Clarence, who had gone to sit with Joel Murphy.

A short while later, as she was leaving Bumpers, Jana caught
up with Shane.

"You're such a con man," she said, laughing. "What
would you have done if I had said I didn't know anything about doing a feature
story on saving the animals at Christmas in
The Wigwam
?
"

"Ducked," Shane responded with a big grin.

"That's twice I've seen you do that to Geena's big
brother. The other time was when you tricked him into flipping a coin to see if
he would donate to the animal fund, and he lost."

Shane looked at her with a twinkle in his eyes. "But
you'll never be able to prove I tricked him, will you?"

They had walked along together for several blocks when Jana
noticed a frown cross Shane's face. "What's wrong?"

"Hmm?"

"You were frowning."

"Oh, I guess I was just thinking about Igor."

Jana braced herself for whatever was to come next. Igor was
Shane's pet iguana and he was always making fantastic claims about him. He
insisted that when he let Igor out of the house and he wanted to come back in,
Igor would bang on the door with his tail. He also claimed that Igor had a
stuffed dinosaur that he liked to sleep with. During the campaigning for class
officers, Shane had brought Igor into Bumpers wearing a sign that was draped
over the lizard's back that said Igor for President, and he had even tried to
use Igor as a substitute baby during a Family Living class project. Shane was
the only person she knew who loved an iguana, and she was sure he was about to
pull something funny on her.

"Okay," she said with an I-know-it's-coming-so-get-it-over-with
sound in her voice. "What's wrong with Igor?"

"He's sick, maybe even dying."

His words hit her like a cold wind. She waited for Shane to
break into a smile and tell her that he was kidding, but he didn't.

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