Chapter 5: True Tales of Terror

I should have kicked her out when I had the chance.

But there were three reasons I couldn't. First, she probably could beat me up. Second, she was a girl. Third, well, it had been kind of quiet around the house, anyway.

Actually, there was a fourth reason: As I poured a glass of lemonade in the kitchen, I suddenly realized who she was. She was THAT Minerva Wimberly! The Infamous! The Notorious! The Middle School Terrorist! The kid every other kid in town had been talking about for weeks.

She had transferred to our school just two weeks before summer vacation, but in those two short weeks she'd done stuff that most kids would never dare to do in a lifetime. The teachers called her "the transfer student from Hell."

I hadn't met her then, because I had the chicken pox and missed the last two weeks of school. But I sure had heard the stories. When my friends stopped by to bring me my homework, they spoke of her with awe.

"They put her in Miss Stiletto's class," Eddy said. "Guess they thought the old witch could tame her. But they were wrong, dead wrong."

Her first day in school, she made fun of Miss Stiletto in front of the whole class. When Miss Stiletto announced that "Sugar is the only word in the English language that's spelled with an S but has an SH sound," Minerva laughed out loud and shouted, "Are you SURE about that?"

Miss Stiletto was so mad she told Minerva to write a 500-word essay about George Washington and to read it in class the next day. So Minerva went home, looked in the phone book, found a guy named George Washington, and called him up and interviewed him. He was a janitor in New London.

I heard that story from Billy Barnstable, who was in Miss Stiletto's class.

"The next day," Billy said. "Minerva gets up and starts reading: 'Every morning, George Washington brushes his teeth and shaves, eats a bowl of Wheaties and then heads down to New London City Hall, where he mops the floors and cleans the toilets.'

"Miss Stiletto turns about three different shades of purple and says, 'What is the meaning of this?' 'It's my essay about George Washington,' says Minerva. 'I told you to write an essay about George Washington, the father of our country,' says Miss Stiletto. 'No, ma'am,' says Minerva, 'You just said George Washington. You didn't say which one.'"

Other friends told other stories: How she got caught selling cigarettes on the playground, how she gave a group of boys a guided tour of the girls' bathroom, and how she set fire to the wastebasket next to Miss Stiletto's desk. (No one could prove she did it, but no one could think of anyone else who would.)

Of course, nobody liked her. The girls snubbed her because … well, because that's what girls do. And though the boys admired her, none of them really liked her. Too much competition, I guess.

Now the legendary Minerva Wimberly was sitting in my living room. And she was the first girl - other than my mother - who had ever been in my house. True, she had insulted me, and true, she had knocked me down, but she was certainly the most interesting visitor I had ever had.

As I turned to walk back into the living room, a funny feeling came over me, the same kind of feeling I got whenever Luann Ellis borrowed my eraser in school: an empty ache yawned inside my chest, and my hands felt all tingly and weak.

Only a girl could make me feel like that.

Suddenly, I was afraid to go back in there. I was afraid she would look at me with those moony eyes, and I wouldn't know what to say.

So? So what? I took a deep breath, picked up my glass and walked in.

She was gone!

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