Jamison Pond: The Spy Who Came Down With a Cold
Jamison Pond: The Spy Who Came Down With a Cold is the first book in its series
JAMISON POND: THE SPY WHO CAME DOWN WITH A COLD
By E.A. Bundy
A dimly lit, covert meeting room in Portland, Oregon--
“Kidnapping those students from Virginia will be easier than orchestrating a third world country’s coup, and then…nothing stands in the way of completing our plan for world domination.”
The windowless, ultra-secure room seemed to absorb the man’s words as he said, “Abduction is simply the first crucial step.”
His female companion asked, “What about the Agency? They won’t just remain on the sideline and let us do this. That little girl, what’s her name…Min? Why take her with the others? It’ll bring her father down on us….and he’s got major resources.”
“That trillionaire wannabe? One of our silly prep school students has a better chance against me than Daddy Big-Bucks does. Even his daughter’s pathetic excuse for a friend stands more of a chance.”
“Jamison Pond?” the woman said. “That boy’s no threat at all.”
Chapter One: Harrowing Night—More Harrowing Day
“Look out, Min,” Jamison Pond yelled, tossing fitfully in his sleep. Moaning, he awakened to discover his 23-year-old half-sister, Annie, sitting on the edge of his bed.
“Another nightmare?” she asked.
He looked up at her, blinking in the bright lamplight. “The worst.”
“I had lots of nightmares, too, when I was eleven. Was this like your others?”
“Sort of…I was fighting army guys on top of a downtown apartment building, but this time there was a kid in a wheelchair on my side. Something bad happened to Min…I don’t remember what. And there was this…kind-of-spooky voice.”
“Is Min the girl who wants to be your friend?”
“Yeah, she thinks we already are friends just because nobody likes her…or me. If she’s my friend, I’ll never have any others at school. Everybody hates her too much.”
“I thought changing to private school might do you good,” Annie said.
Jamie shook his head. Why had his great aunts arranged his transfer?
“I know it’s…” Annie hesitated, “been tough, since…”
Oh great, Jamie thought, here comes the dead-dad-talk again—but she surprised him.
“…it takes awhile to make friends in a new school.”
“A whole year?”
“It hasn’t been that long.”
“Almost… Everybody knows I’m the ‘scholarship kid.’ A couple of the guys were nice at first and I thought things were going great but somebody put pressure on them and everything went bad for me.” He had thought private school was better than public school when he first started there. What had gone wrong?
“Should I ask our aunts to talk to the headmaster?” asked Annie, “Or I could give him a call.”
“No, he’s the problem. I got along pretty good before he came here.” Jamie knew if his sister phoned the school, it would only make things worse. “It’ll be summer before long and I—”
Annie cut him off. “Morning comes awful early and I don’t want you to miss the bus.”
Jamie smiled, thinking about being absent for a day.
“Want me to get you something to drink?” she asked. “You could sleep through the rest of the night on top of my bed if you want. I’ll grab a comforter.”
“No. I’ll be fine.” He sat up. “Do you think my dreams are telling me something?”
“I doubt it. None of mine ever has.” She reached over to his nightstand. “I know. Put on your music headphones and listen to…not heavy metal or rap…something that’ll help you sleep.”
He took her suggestion, placing the cushiony pads over his ears, snuggling back down into his covers. “Night…”
“Sleep tight, Bro.” Annie kissed the top of his head and turned off the lamp--
* * *
Walking up the front steps of the three-story brick edifice known as Catgrin Fables, Jamie mentally adopted his blending-into-the-crowd look before entering. The girl’s lockers were all located on the ground floor, which he noted was emptier than usual. Hard to blend into these bare halls, he thought. Was there a pep assembly first thing this morning? Jamie sighed. At least he didn’t get into fistfights here the way he had in public school.
Nearing the north stairway to the second floor and the boys’ lockers, he heard a commotion from the story above as students descended the upper steps.
“Leave me alone,” a girl screeched.
Jamie slipped into the elevator vestibule to the right of the staircase. Staff members prohibited students from using the elevator unless they had a serious injury. He sat on the bench and pulled a book from his backpack, pretending to read. A small figure darted down the steps and turned, almost entering Jamie’s area but then veered, going around underneath the steps to a locked door. She struggled futilely with the knob. “Help!” she screamed.
Jamie realized this small classmate was Min.
A mob of girls swarmed down the steps in a flurry of blue-and-white-checkered skirts, surrounding her. Jamie thought if she’d just kept her mouth shut they wouldn’t have found her.
“Snitch,” yelled a girl in the cluster, grabbing at Min’s navy blue sweater.
Min screamed, “Let me go!” as others yanked her hair and pulled on her arms.
“What have you told him about me?” an eighth grade girl demanded.
Then a trio of boys arrived, forcing their way through the knot of female students. Six-foot-two Landry yanked Min from the first girl’s clutches, hoisting her into the air while his dudes prodded and poked her. “We’ll teach you to narc on us.”
Seeing girls pull on Min was one thing, but big brutes pummeling her was another. Leaving his unread novel atop the book bag on the bench, Jamie impulsively jostled through the outer ring of girls and pushed his way to the inner circle of guys. He yelled, “Stop it!”
They paused, perhaps thinking a staff person intervened, but immediately realized it was just a boy—younger and smaller. Their anger toward Min now included Jamie. One of the threesome tried pushing him away but Jamie batted the hand aside and socked the guy in the nose. It was the last thing anyone expected, even Jamie.
Red dots splattered and girls shrieked, moving back to prevent their clothing from being soiled.
As the other two fellows stood in surprize, not believing what they'd seen, Jamie stepped closer. Filled with resignation, he kidney punched Landry, causing him to drop Min and step back, clutching his side.
The third boy ceased staring and began flailing wildly with his fists. Jamie wondered where the guy had learned to hit, but his next thought was, so much for not fighting in this school.
By then his surprise advantage had worn off and everyone in striking range slugged at him. Jamie instinctively dropped to the floor, noting with satisfaction that many of the students now fought each other, caught up in a mob mentality. Min sprawled a few feet away, trying desperately to reach a crumpled note. Jamie impulsively pocketed the tattered paper, and Min screamed as someone stepped-on her hand.
Angry students kicked at Jamie from every side and he blinked as a heel slashed past his nose. Curling into a protective ball, he commenced tripping any legs he could reach. In moments, he was at the bottom of a dog pile, various arms and legs prodding him from multiple directions. By the screaming, he guessed other kids had received worse punishment.
A police whistle blared, freeze-framing the turmoil, and Jamie knew the girls’ PE teacher, Miss Stacker, had appeared on the scene. A jarring scream pierced the temporary silence and Jamie crawled from under the pile of students, knowing his nightmare about Min seemed to be materializing. He guessed he was in really big trouble.
Chapter Two: In Trouble Again
On the third floor of Catgrin Fables, three students faced the consequences of their recent misdeeds.
“Let me get this straight,” said the headmaster, interrupting his scowl at Jamie to brush a wisp of overlong hair from his sunglasses. “Only last week you climbed onto the fire escape to save a cat that was not there…and today you instigated a brawl in the entrance corridor.”
“Yes…sir,” Jamie said, wanting to say “No” or to look away, yet keeping his eyes riveted on the man, and guessing expulsion was imminent. Jamie shifted nervously, because anything he said was likely to get him into deeper trouble.
“Sir,” Min began.
“Miss Minerva Ructions,” the man’s voice cut her off. “If I want your input I will say so.”
Jamie was concerned about Min’s anger. She hated anyone calling her Minerva, and apparently, the headmaster knew that about her as well. If she lost her temper, things would get even worse.
“Did I ask your opinion?” their interrogator said again.
Her face lowered, “No, sir.”
“I doubt your father will appreciate another call from me. What do you think, Miss Ructions?”
Jamie chanced a sideward look at Min, whose light-brown, pigtailed hair was too short in front to provide bangs she could hide behind. Although they were both eleven years old, she looked more like a third-grader than sixth, and seemed smaller than ever sitting in the big, overstuffed chair.
Beyond her, curly-haired Landry—taller than most kids in their school—slumped down and glared at the floor. For once, he was silent.
“Miss Ructions, need I call home?”
“No, Mr. Missing.” She stared at his brass nameplate resting just inches away on his teakwood desk. Engraved in large letters it said M. Missing, Headmaster.
Min glanced quickly away and Jamie knew she avoided focusing on the jokes they all made—especially Landry—about the headmaster’s surname. As Jamie’s eyes moved forward he carefully avoided the name etched in brass, for fear he’d break out laughing like he had once in the past.
The headmaster turned his attention to the upper-class-man. “Mr. Landry…. You have lunch detention for a week. I expect more out of you than today’s shoddy behavior, and I’d better not see you in my office for at least that long. Are we clear?” Without waiting for a reply, he added, “You are dismissed.”
By the time Jamie looked around, Landry was gone. He'd really started the fight, Jamie thought. The headmaster was playing favorites again. If Landry got into too much trouble, he’d be excluded from sports—tainting the school’s image and prestige not to mention the year's flawless win record.
“Uhhh-huh.” Clearing his throat, the horse-faced man said in an ominously quiet voice, “Miss Ructions, I want the note…the piece of paper that started this entire mess.”
“I…don’t have it, sir.”
“Stand up and empty your pockets.”
Jamie saw her swallow hard as she slid forward out of her seat. She still had her blue sweater on, now misshapen from tugging. It was her token acknowledgement of the school uniform. Since the dress code was voluntary, she also wore her imported, Mexican-made jeans with flared legs and abundant embroidery. She never wore the recommended blue-and-white-checkered skirt. She pulled out her front pockets, dropping coins on the floor. “No note.”
“Turn around,” the headmaster ordered.
She complied and Jamie guessed that even though her pants fit snugly around her slender hips, a piece of paper would not create a bulge in her back pockets.
“My secretary will scrutinize your pants further,” the man said.
Jamie felt sweat trickle down the center of his back. What if the headmaster decided to check Jamie’s pockets? He’d forgotten all about picking up Min’s paper.
“What was in that note, Miss Ructions?”
She turned bright red but kept her mouth tightly closed.
Seeming to know she would say no more on that topic, Mr. Missing asked, “Have you had your rabies shot?”
Min looked surprised and began to say something, but then closed her lips.
“The reason I ask is this…” the headmaster paused for emphasis and then continued, “…you bit an eighth grade girl’s ankle and that is the action of a mongrel dog, not of a girl who attends Catgrin Fables. Reprehensible is what I call it.”
Jamie remembered the off-pitch scream he’d heard right after the police whistle. He did his best to keep a smile from his face.
“I will see you back here in my office after school…” Mr. Missing paused for emphasis, staring hard at Min. “Every day this week. Things around here need tidying up and that will allow me to keep an eye on you. I have no idea why a girl from such a nice family… Why do you associate with wayward boys?”
The tone he used when he said boys made it sound like they were loathsome insects. Although the reference was plural, Jamie knew it referred only to him—and was uttered in spite of the fact he didn’t really hang out with Min.
“I don’t know, sir,” she answered and then asked, “Every afternoon?”
Min nodded at Jamie as if acknowledging his earlier attempt to rescue her, and for keeping quiet about her note.
Jamie swallowed, hoping the headmaster didn’t interpret her gestures correctly and catch on about the message in his pocket.
To Mr. Missing, she said, “Yes, sir,” and exited his office.
Jamie found himself alone with the scariest person in the whole school. Something about Missing really creeped Jamie out.
The administrator rolled forward in his office chair, pulling open one of his desk drawers. “Why did you force me to this point?” he asked, obviously not expecting an answer.
Fumbling around through some papers, he withdrew a file folder labeled Disciplinary Referrals, and tossed it onto the desk. Jamie couldn’t see the title but didn’t need to; he’d gazed at it often enough before.
“What will your aunts have to say this time? They must get awfully peeved when they receive these, although this one’s a new low, even for you.” The man wrote on the form as he talked. “You’re really not Catgrin Fables material,” he muttered. “I’m running out of patience…and consequences. What shall it be this time? Kicking you out of here is too easy…and probably just what you want me to do.”
Jamie hated Catgrin Fables but he also dreaded his sister’s disappointment if he was expelled. It wouldn’t look too good on his permanent record, either.
The headmaster said thoughtfully, “We don’t have a Saturday school—more is the pity—but…”
With the cap of the pen in his mouth, the man leaned back and swiveled to peer out the window. For the first time that day, he revealed his bald spot to Jamie—who often thought it would be a nice place for playing tic-tac-toe with an indelible marker.
Since they were on the third floor, only the tops of a few trees and some distant buildings showed through the glass. Catgrin Fables was noteworthy for its grounds and Portland being the Rose City, numerous rose-filled beds were located throughout the impressive brick complex.
“That’s it.” The headmaster swung back to his desk. “You will help the gardening crews every Saturday for a month.” He chuckled, obviously pleased with himself. “Of course, that’s not all of your punishment.”
He began writing again. “What’s your aunts’ last name? I should know it by heart—it’s so odd.” He looked expectantly at Jamie.
The boy said quietly, “Deadend-Spinster…its hyphenated but Deadend is one word, unhyphenated.”
The headmaster smiled, seemingly despite himself. Jamie didn’t know if it was in reference to his aunts’ last name or because Jamie had racked up yet another referral.
The man said, “I see you’ve learned something about punctuation in your time with us, Mr. Pond.” Then he asked, “Do you remember your aunts’ address?”
“Lake Oswego,” Jamie replied. “I forget the rest.” He hadn’t really; he just wouldn’t cooperate.
Mr. Missing signed the form with a flourish and set it in his out basket. “I’ll have my secretary look it up.” He pressed an intercom button on the phone. “Miss Alignment, will you please come in here for a moment?”
The office door opened almost before the man had lifted his finger from the phone and the voluptuous woman asked, “What do you need, M…? I mean, Mr. Missing.”
“Will you look up the address for Jamison’s guardians...? And, get this into the mail right away.”
“Certainly.” She left Jamie alone with Missing again.
The headmaster said, “I’m actually doing you a big favor, Jamison, with this gardening thing. You’re less likely to get into trouble with your Saturdays tied-up.”
When the door closed behind Jamie, he stood outside the headmaster’s office for a moment and sighed deeply—letting the reality of a month of lost Saturdays sink into his mind.
From behind the receptionist’s desk, the lovely, dark-haired secretary smiled at him. She licked his referral envelope. Jamie thought she must really like sealing envelopes because she did it so enthusiastically. Then she set it very deliberately in her out-basket, pointedly avoiding the Outgoing Mail box. With a knowing eye on him, she winked conspiratorially. Jamie was embarrassed.
A few feet beyond the administrative offices, Min waited for her “friend.” Parts of her body—particularly her feet—protruded around the corner so she wouldn’t totally surprise him. Apparently she felt he wasn’t ready for another shock right away.
Despite his downcast spirit and because Jamie felt more than a little animosity from the first-floor altercation that morning, he reached out and poked her as he went by.
She leaped after him. “What’d you get?”
“Gardening,” he said, “every Saturday for a month.”
She stopped. “A whole month?” She stared at him but he continued walking down the hall to the steps. Descending the stairway, Min caught up but kept silent.
Jamie finally said, “At least I don’t have to be around that old dork every night after school.”
“It’s not so bad,” she said.
Jamie stammered, “With Missing, in his office…not so bad? How many times for you is this, anyway?”
Min stopped, “Too many, but there’s something I need to tell you.”
Jamie’s mouth tightened as he stared at her. Finally, he said, “You just do the cleaning-up for him, right?”
Her head shook in the negative. “What then?”
Min spoke so softly he could barely hear. “I’m…his…spy.”
Jamie stared in disbelief.
“Don’t tell,” she begged, clearly frightened.
Jamie could now make sense of what the other kids had said to Min earlier that morning. “How could you?” he asked. “And for Missing. What did you tell him about me?”
“Nothing.” Her face lightened. “It’s…” She looked around suspiciously and guided him down to the next landing, through a door marked Staff Only, into a storage room.
“You remember how Susan and those other kids were so mean to us?” Min asked.
He nodded, feeling overwhelmed by her recent revelation—and the noxious smell of cleaning supplies.
“Well, I found out stuff about them and told Missing. Mostly, it was true…and he believed me. Nobody’d ever caught them before and they deserved it. Remember the time they planned to set-up the new boy so he’d get caught in the girls’ locker room?”
Even under his current circumstances, Jamie smiled. That had backfired. The kid helped set a trap for Susan’s gang, recording them discussing their plans to mess with him.
“That was your doing?” Jamie asked.
“I’m Missing’s mole,” Min snickered. “Only…I’m careful about what I tell him. You know….”
Jamie recalled what one of the older boys had accused her of that morning and asked, “You sit in his office after school narcing on kids?”
“Just ones who deserve it,” she answered. “I also help some kids. You are my cover. When we get into trouble, it gives old Missing in Action a reason to have me around.”
Missing In Action or MIA was their nickname for the headmaster. All the students called him that when there were no adults nearby. The way the kids saw it, the top administrator stayed up on the third floor away from students and was definitely MIA.
“Besides,” she added. “I get to play computer games and stuff.”
Jamie said, “No way. He let’s you use his computer?”
“He gots this so-cool laptop,” she said. “It has all kinds’a things on it, not just Minesweeper and Hearts.”
That got Jamie’s attention. “What about...?” he was going to say the name of his favorite game when she nodded, yes.
“Uh-huh. I just sit there playing and thinking of stuff to get the mean kids in trouble. Most of the time, I don’t have to make anything up.”
No wonder she has no friends, Jamie thought. With the mental image of Min snitching on classmates who then received citations, Jamie’s mind returned to his own troubles. His face must have communicated his concern because Min looked questioningly at him.
“They’re sending another referral to my great aunts,” Jamie said.
She asked, “How many does that make?”
“I don’t know—over ten.” Jamie recalled he hadn’t gotten any until MIA became headmaster a few months earlier.
“Whoa.” She sounded impressed.
“This one might get me kicked out of here. Especially since Aunt Lilly’s talk of sending me to some place in southern Oregon—a religious boarding school. My aunts say they’re too old to deal with me and if Annie can’t manage, then—”
“Who’s Annie?” Min interrupted.
He replied, “You know…my half-sister; Missing calls her my governess, which we hate. She takes care of me since…”
“Oh, yeah,” Min reached out her hand and touched his arm. “Well, we won’t let them take you away.”
“The referral’s all addressed,” he said, “ready to go, just sitting on the secretary’s desk.”
“In her Out-Basket.” Jamie looked thoughtful and said, “She smiled and winked at me.” His face felt flushed just telling about it.
“You thought she was coming-onto-you?”
“No,” he said, afraid to admit the truth.
“She was probably just showing you where to find the envelope. It’s not in the Mail Box?”
“No. In her Out Basket.”
“Wait here, I’ll be right back.”
Before he could answer, the door closed behind Min.
She reappeared while he was still trying to decide what to say about her being MIA’s informant. Her smile seemed too big for her face as she slipped the envelope out from her pink undershirt beneath her sweater. “Here.”
“They just let you take it?”
“Nobody there—besides, I don’t think she planned on sending it. She wanted us to get it.”
Jamie said, “That’s what you told me about the fire escape. ‘No one’s going to care.’ But printed right on the window it said, EMERGENCY USE ONLY. And now I’m in more trouble for helping you this morning.” In his mind, Jamie added, “You little snitch,” but all he said was, “I got Saturday work for a month.”
“But I really had to get my note back,” she said defensively. “Do you still have it?”
Realizing this was the second note he’d gotten in trouble over because of her, he reached into his pocket and fished it out. “I hope this was worth it.”
Min snatched the paper as though she feared to let anyone, including Jamie, read it.
She paused for a moment—considering something—and held out the note to him. “I didn’t even want you to read it. It’s for my diary…not anyone else, but you earned the right.” She turned crimson.
Jamie pushed her note hand back. “No.”
Her upper lip quivered as she turned and wiped her eyes. “We better get back to class. I’ll call you tonight.”
Jamie winced. He’d given her his phone number once when they worked on a school project together. She’d turned out to be a good researcher and they’d gotten an A, but long after that, she kept calling for all sorts of dumb reasons.
Min visited the girls’ restroom as they returned to class and Jamie continued alone at a slowed pace.
Outside the class, he glanced down the hall. No indication of Min, thank goodness. He looked back toward the doorway, noticing his teacher’s name plaque.
Mrs. I.C. Moore
He pushed through the entranceway with a sigh, knowing his teacher would add to his already difficult day. Things can’t get much worse, he thought. However, a flash from the ominous dream he’d woken from that morning intruded in his mind—definitely a bad omen.
Website copyright © 2011-2013 by EA Bundy. All rights reserved. None of the text, photographs or illustrations may be used without the author or publisher’s—Singing Winds Press—written permission. (Please note, Singing Winds Press is closed to submissions.)