Club Dead

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Spy Talk

Brink told me everything.

“Why don’t you quit?” I asked.

“What am I going to do out there?” Brink flipped her head towards the abstraction ’out there.’ “I’m no fool. I need this degree and I need college. I need credentials.”

“You don’t seem the credential type.”

“Oh, I can do it alright. Just have to stay out of trouble.” Brink drew a naked young girl on the school computer.

“You’re really good,” I said.

“At what? Trouble?”

“No, that, your art.”

“I hate that. I’m not that good. I’m adequate. And adequate at art won’t take care of my future.”

“What do you want to do?”

“Don’t know. Maybe teach.”

My eyes widened.

“What? It doesn’t look that hard. Young people need a cool teacher. I can be the cool teacher. And the schedule kills. Whenever I hear a teacher whine about how hard it is to teach, I just want to throw something.”

Brink drew a naked boy.

“You court trouble.”

“Yeah, it’s my fate. But I’m getting tired of it.”

“Could have fooled me. I think Mr. Harrison was eyeing you and your screen.”

“Ken? Man, he’s cool. Probably checking out the chick.”

“What if he tells Stone?”

“Let me tell you something about Mrs. Stone…”

“So you are a spy.”

“Shut up and listen.”

And that’s when I learned, among other things, from Brink:

“Mrs. Stone has one ambition: to become principal by the time she is thirty-five and superintendent by the time she is forty. From there, she’ll run for political office. Everything she does serves her ambition. Any one or thing that stands in her way will be dealt with. She cares nothing about education and kids. She is all will to power

Mrs. Stone’s ambition is fueled by a deep hatred of what she sees as the softening of society. You know she’s the one who got dodge ball back in. She defends the football program and hates the arts.”

“We still have the I Care Club,” I added.

“Not for long. Next year she has approval to start locker searches and random drug tests. She wants dogs, but the board isn’t budging on that. She likes high stakes tests that makes kids sweat. She is working with certain town officials to oust Blok.”

“You know a lot,” I said.

“It’s there if someone wants to know.”

“So, is she your controller?”

“My what?”

“Did she plant you in Club Dead?”

Brink stopped fingering the computer and looked over at me.

“How did you find out?”

“I don’t think I trust you enough to tell you. You’re slightly scary.”

“Smart girl. I’ll find out anyway, not that I care.”

“Will you tell me why you’re spying?”

“What I am doing is hardly spying. Stone probably has that room bugged anyway. And I’m not the only one who tells her what’s going on in this school.”

“What are you saying?”

“Are you stupid? I thought you were smart. A Stark girl. There are many students who will graduate because of Mrs. Stone.”

“You mean by doing her bidding?”

“You sound silly and moral. Don’t you know how the world works for people like Stone and me? Listen, by me telling Mrs. Stone completely meaningless details of your club, she will keep Wraithe away from me. You know they’re letting that monster back in.”

Brink rubbed her forehead.

“Still hurt?”

“It will always hurt.”

“Tell me about it. So you’re selling out?”

“Oh, little Stark girl, who is offended about how the world works. Maybe you and your mom can save the world at your new school.”

“Hey now, stick it to me, but lay off my mom. You know nothing about her.”

“Except what Stone tells me. Your family is doing no less than what Stone is doing: trying to make a world you like. And she doesn’t like your version.”

“Which do you like?”

“Neither. I’m caught in between. My parents hate me. I pretty much live grandma, blah, blah, blah. Do you think everyone is like the Stark family? Some people are not lucky. And you try to off yourself. Jeez…”

“Hey, now...”

“Go figure. You have everything. I would love to try on your suffering on for a week. Bet your mom cleans your sheets weekly.”

That stung.

“Go on, explain to me why your life is so bad that you have to end it?”

“I don’t have to explain anything to you. I don’t even know you.”

“Knew it. I didn’t take you for a drama queen.”

“I’m not a drama queen.”

“It gets me so pissed when someone has everything handed to them, the entire world is structured in her favor, and she wants out.”

“What do you tell Stone?”

“About your club? How many people attend, who attends, what you talk about, your goofy play.”

“I like that play.”

“But don’t think it’ll see a stage. Stone holds the strings to that too.”


“There’s a committee of students that will judge the winner.”

“Composed by Stone?”

“Now you’re understanding how it works.”

“Hold it. I think my sister is on that committee.”

“Well, then there’s a reason. She and Mrs. Stone have had some agreement.”

“No way! You don’t know Emma.”

“Oh, we all know the great Emma Stark.”

“I asked you once to lay off my family.”

“But they are such an easy target.”

“What do you tell Stone about me?”

“Yes, she does have an active interest in you. Your days are numbered.”

“What do you mean?”

“She was set to expel you before you tried to bump yourself off.”

“For what?”

“You disobeyed Blok.”

“How? I agreed to stop the club.”

“You didn’t get an advisor.”

“Big deal.”

“That’s the technicality Stone needed. It’s a safety, liability issue. One of your deadheads get hurt and the school’s in trouble.”

“But that’s ridiculous.”

“That’s the way Stone works. You’re fodder for her ambition.”

Suddenly mom’s school did not look bad.

“But your suicide attempt slowed that down. She figured you wouldn’t even come back. But there you are, and on stage creating a dangerous situation.”

“No wait, let me guess: school liability.”

“She’s still writing the indictment.”

“You’re weird!” I said at her computer screen.

“When I post this later it will receive so many hits.”

“I sit with some kids on stage at lunch and I’m out. You do that and you can’t be touched.”

“And, of course, you stabbed her.”

“I did.”

“That was very gutsy.”

“Guts had nothing to do with it. I was simply out of my mind.”

“And she really hates your chant.”

“That’s not what the kids think who clapped.”

“I know, and so does Stone. She knows your club has a following. And she is determined to erase it.”

“But cutting off the head.”

“You’re not the first to fall. I hear Club Dead is meeting again tomorrow.”

“You know more than me.”

“I know.”

“Will I go?”


“How do you know?”

“I have my ways.”

Brink’s art disappeared from the screen. The blank screen held our eyes.

“You’re not in a bad position.”


“Look, what do you care about?”

“That’s a big question these days for me.”

“Well, it should be obvious. You have a cool club, you’re doing nothing wrong, you have a sister on an interesting committee, your mom has friends – amazingly – at this school, you’re cool enough and you have a wacky play.”

“You think I’m cool?”

“Don’t grovel.”

“Hey. What are you saying? That I should make the play happen?”

“Zombie Charter School. Get that staged and you’ll be a legend.”

“And if I say I will, you will tell Stone and I will be gutted like a caught fish.”

“You know that what I do for Stone is to make my life easier. But that doesn’t mean you know everything about me. Maybe I don’t like what Stone is doing.”

“Do you want to be a double-spy?”

“What are you offering?”

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