Authors: Dan Gutman
Luckily, nobody in our class had head lice
headlights. But the next day Ryan and Michael sounded horribly sick.
“Cough, cough, cough,” coughed Ryan. Michael made weird nose noises and held his neck with both hands.
“Is something the matter, boys?” asked Miss Daisy.
“I have a sore throat,” said Michael.
“Me too,” said Ryan, coughing some more, “and a tummy ache. May I go to the nurse's office?”
Miss Daisy looked at them for a minute, like she wasn't sure if she believed them.
“Well, okay,” she
said. Then she called Mrs. Cooney to tell her Ryan and Michael were on their way.
“So long, sucker!” Ryan whispered to me as he was leaving. “Have fun learning about vowels.”
Miss Daisy told us about vowels and consonants. Consonants are all the letters that aren't vowels. They should be called un-vowels or anti-vowels, if you ask me.
is sometimes a vowel and sometimes a consonant?” I asked Miss Daisy.
“I have no idea,” she said. Miss Daisy doesn't know anything about anything.
When Michael and Ryan finally came back to class, it was time for lunch. We
found our usual table in the vomitorium.
“Mrs. Cooney is weird!” said Michael.
“You can say that again!” said Ryan.
Michael said that when he told Mrs. Cooney he had a sore throat, she didn't give him cough medicine or take his temperature or anything. She had him stand in a big cardboard box and try to wiggle his ears.
“How would that cure a sore throat?” I asked.
“Beats me,” said Michael.
Ryan said that when he told Mrs. Cooney he had a tummy ache, she had him bounce a balloon on his head while he tried to sing the ABC song backward.
“How would that cure a tummy ache?” I asked.
“Beats me,” said Ryan.
“Then she had me do push-ups on bubble wrap,” Michael said.
“Then she had me solve math problems while I was doing jumping jacks,” said Ryan.
“Then she put an ice pack on my head,” Michael said. “Only she ran out of ice packs, so she put a bag of frozen peas and carrots on my head.”
“So did it work?” I asked.
work?” Michael asked.
“All that stuff Mrs. Cooney had you do,” I said. “Did it make you feel better?”
“We weren't really sick, dumbhead!”
Michael said. “We were just faking it so we could go see Mrs. Cooney!”
I knew that.
Ryan and Michael also said Mrs. Cooney gave them homework. They had to go home and lick their elbows.
“What?” I asked.
“She said that if you can lick your elbow, it will make any sickness go away,” Ryan said.
I tried to lick my elbow, but I couldn't reach it. Michael and Ryan tried to lick their elbows too. They couldn't reach either. Everybody in the vomitorium must have seen us, because soon the whole school was trying to lick their elbows.
It was cool.
It was recess the next day. Me and Ryan and Michael were playing on the monkey bars when Andrea and her little study buddy Emily came over, like we were friends or something.
“I know what you boys are up to,” Andrea said. “None of you has been
sick. You just want to go to the nurse's office because you're in love with Mrs. Cooney.”
“That's a lie!” I lied.
Why does Andrea have to know everything? And why doesn't a garbage truck fall on her head?
“Mrs. Cooney is busy enough with kids who are
sick,” Andrea said. “She doesn't have time for fakers.”
“It's none of your business, Andrea,” I said.
“My mother is vice president of the PTA,” Andrea said. “She could get you kicked out of school for pretending to be sick.”
“Yeah,” said Emily, who agrees with everything Andrea says. “You're not sick. You're just in love with Mrs. Cooney.”
in love with Mrs. Cooney,”
Ryan said, “but not anymore.”
“What?!” said me and Michael.
“Mrs. Cooney is too weird,” said Ryan. “I couldn't marry her.”
“What's weird about her?” asked Andrea.
We told Andrea about all the strange things Mrs. Cooney did. I told her that Mrs. Cooney had me hop on one foot and cluck like a chicken while balancing a ruler on my nose.
Michael told Andrea that Mrs. Cooney had him stand in a cardboard box and try to wiggle his ears.
Ryan told Andrea that Mrs. Cooney had him bounce a balloon on his head
while he tried to sing the ABC song backward.
“And she put a bag of frozen veggies on my head,” added Michael.
Well, Andrea and Emily were shocked! They couldn't believe it.
“That's not what nurses are supposed to do!” said Emily. “They're supposed to take your temperature and give you medicine to help you feel better.”
“Maybe Mrs. Cooney isn't a nurse at all,” Michael said. “Did you ever think of that?”
“What do you mean?” asked Emily, looking all worried.
“Maybe she's a fake nurse,” said
Michael. “Maybe she kidnapped the
Mrs. Cooney and locked her up in an airplane hangar somewhere.”
“Stuff like that happens all the time, you know,” I added.
Andrea sat down on a swing and rested her chin on her hands.
“I've been giving this a lot of thought,” she said. “People are not always who they seem to be. I hate to say this, but I've come to the con
clusion that Mrs. Cooney is no nurse.”
“So what is she?” Emily asked.
“I have reason to believe,” Andrea said, “that Mrs. Cooney is aâ¦spy.”
We all gasped.
“A spy?” asked Michael.
“You're talking about the woman I love!” I said.
Andrea got up and paced back and forth from the swings to the seesaw. She looked like one of those detectives in a police movie.
“Think about it,” she said. “Mrs. Cooney is always gathering information on everybody. That's what spies do. She talks in a whisper, like she doesn't want
anyone to hear her secrets. And she always wears that nurse's uniform.”
“So?” Michael asked.
“School nurses don't wear nurse's uniforms!” Andrea said. “They wear regular clothes like everybody else.”
“Wait a minute,” I said. “You're saying that Mrs. Cooney can't be a real nurse because she wears a nurse's uniform?”
“Exactly!” Andrea said. “It's the perfect disguise!”
“I don't believe it,” I said.
“A.J., you're blinded by love,” Andrea said. “Mrs. Cooney probably came to our school to spy on us, and she's going to sell the information to some bad guy
who's going to try to take over the world.”
“We've got to do something!” said Emily, and she went running off the playground.
“You don't know anything about spies,” Ryan told Andrea. “I've seen lots of spy movies. Spies always wear trench coats and carry briefcases and drive cool cars. They're always slinking around in the dark and looking in file cabinets. And they've got all kinds of cool spy gadgets.”
Michael was right. I've seen a lot of spy movies too.
“You watch her,” Andrea said. “You'll
see I'm right.”
It was hard to believe that Mrs. Cooney might really be a spy. But after all, Andrea
a genius who knows everything. She's right about everything else. Maybe she was right about this, too.
We decided the only way to find out if Mrs. Cooney was really a spy would be to spy on
So we watched her like a hawk the whole next day. Andrea listened to Mrs. Cooney's conversations whenever she talked with the teachers. Me and Ryan
snuck in the nurse's office during recess. Emily pretended to be sick so she could gather more information.
Finally, when school let out at three o'clock, we got together at the monkey bars in the playground to compare notes.
“There's a cabinet in the nurse's office that's locked at all times,” Emily said, “and I saw the word âpoison' on a bottle inside!”
“Poison!” Michael said. “Spies are always poisoning people!”
“And she took my temperature with that weird thing she sticks in your ear,” said Emily.
“How do we know that thing is really a
thermometer?” asked Ryan. “Maybe it's a secret brain scope.”
“She has all kinds of spy gadgets,” said Ryan. “Like those machines she uses to
test our eyesight and hearing every year. Maybe she really uses them to transmit secret coded messages.”
“What about that tape measure thing she's got?” I asked. “The one where she pushes a button and the whole tape goes flying into her hand. That thing is cool.”
“Mrs. Cooney is always weighing and measuring things,” Emily said.
“She's obsessed,” said Andrea. “She's constantly gathering information about us and writing it all down.”
“Like a spy,” Michael added.
“You know, when I was in her office today,” Emily said, “she told me she isn't allowed to give kids medicine.”
“That's true,” Michael said. “She'll give you a cough drop or some crackers. That's it.”
“Once she had me gargle with salt water,” Ryan said. “A lot of good
“Or she'll put a bag of frozen vegetables on your head,” said Michael.
“What kind of nurse can't give medicine?” Emily asked.
“A fake one,” Michael said. “A spy nurse.”
“This morning I saw her standing in the hallway,” Andrea said, “and she was whispering into the phone.”
“She was probably passing secrets to that bad guy who wants to take over the
world,” said Ryan.
Wow, the evidence against Mrs. Cooney was mounting. Maybe she really
“We've got to do something!” Emily said.