Billy Sure Kid Entrepreneur and the Haywire Hovercraft
I’M BILLY SURE—PIZZA lover, dog owner, and kid inventor. I do a lot of different things, including talking to my mom over video chat. Why do I talk to her over video chat? Because my mom has a super-confidential, TOP-SECRET secret—she’s a spy, and she’s always off doing spy things!
Yup, that’s right, my mom is a spy, complete with coded messages, hidden documents, secret missions . . . you know, all the cool spy stuff.
So sometimes, when she’s away on secret
missions, the only way I can talk to her is over video chat. Like now.
“I miss you, Billy,” Mom says from my laptop screen. “I can’t believe it’s been two weeks!”
“Me too,” I say. “Wow. Two weeks already!”
Okay, so backstory. I didn’t always know my mom is a spy. In fact, I only just found out a few weeks ago. Mom used to claim she was a scientist doing research for the government. I thought this was true until my thirteenth birthday, when she surprised me by sharing her real profession. And then she surprised me even more by taking me to her agency’s Spy Academy, where I took spy classes and built inventions to save secret agents on dangerous missions.
This is all 100 percent real. Mom was so impressed with all the inventions my company, SURE THINGS, INC., has produced—inventions like the ALL BALL, which turns into any sports ball; the SIBLING SILENCER, which, uh, silences your siblings; and the STINK SPECTACULAR,
which smells super gross but tastes super great. We’re also the company that created GROSS-TO-GOOD POWDER, which makes gross food taste delicious. (If you eat in my school cafeteria, you’re welcome!) Our latest invention is the NO-TROUBLE BUBBLE, an impenetrable bubble where nothing can get to you. (Not even those silenced siblings!)
But it’s been a while since Sure Things, Inc. has come out with a new product, what with my being away inventing at Spy Academy. That was a lot of fun, but I realized that I’m not cut out to be a full-fledged secret agent. I also missed my best friend and Sure Things, Inc.’s CFO, Manny Reyes. So I decided to come home, even if it meant going back to boring “normal” school and dealing with Emily, my boring “normal” older sister.
Like Mom said, it’s been two weeks since I got home from Spy Academy, and this video chat is the first time I get to catch up with her. Seeing her face is really nice. I can almost forget that she isn’t safe and sound at home, rather than possibly
battling DANGEROUS NUNCHUK-WIELDING NINJAS in—well, who knows where the lair of dangerous nunchuk-wielding Ninjas is!
“It feels like I was just at Spy Academy,” I tell Mom, “although I’ve been pretty busy. That’s because I told everyone I was on vacation in Barbados, and I had to do a whole report on my trip to Barbados in social studies class. Thankfully, Manny helped me with that research.”
“Sorry about the extra assignment. Has the rest of school been all right?” she asks.
“It’s been okay. When I was away, the Fillmore Middle School Inventors Club elected a temporary president. Do you remember Clayton Harris?”
“Of course!” Mom says. “He was, um—”
“Not super cool, yeah,” I say. “The one whose favorite activity is going to the dentist. Well, he was elected club president, and I decided to let him keep that position. I still want to help the club, but I don’t have time to run the day-to-day details anymore. Besides, Clayton has done really well as the president. He’s found his place. He’s made new friends, he’s a good
leader of the club, and he’s even become kind of popular—or at least less unpopular.”
Mom smiles widely. “That is WONDERFUL!” she says. “Who knows, maybe Clayton will be president of the country someday, all thanks to your club!”
I try to imagine Clayton running for president or nestled into Mount Rushmore or kissing babies, but all I can picture is the same kid who blew chocolate milk out of his nose at my birthday party.
“And how are things at Sure Things, Inc.? Is Emily still helping out?” Mom asks.
“Sure Things, Inc. is okay,” I say. “Manny and I are working on something really big—a hovercraft. And now we’re feeling the pressure to get this invention out as our Next Big Thing.” Just to fill you in, our hovercraft is going to be the coolest invention ever. It’ll really fly and it’ll change the face of transportation as we know it. There’s just one little problem. We haven’t quite figured out how to make it fly. Manny is waiting on some “QUALITY WINGED MATERIALS” to arrive from overseas. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but Manny says they’re the latest in hover technology.
“As for Emily, she and Manny got along okay while I was away, but she’s been in a pretty grumpy mood ever since I got home.”
“What now?” asks Mom. “I talked to her on her birthday a few days ago and she seemed perfectly happy.”
Right—Emily’s fifteenth birthday. She might
have been all smiles on her video chat with Mom, but the day was anything but fun for me and Dad.
It started like this: Emily woke up and started whining for Dad to take her to get her learner permit. Honestly, I didn’t see why the permit was such a big deal. All it does is allow her to take a driver’s test next year when she’s sixteen—or to drive with an instructor now. It’s not like she can pick up her friends and drive to the mall by herself.
But anyway, Emily kept on complaining.
Dad tried to remind her that it was a weekend, so the drivers office was closed.
“It’s not fair,” she sniffed. “Mom took Billy on a trip for his birthday! No one’s offered me a trip. I want to go somewhere. And I can’t even get my stupid learner permit.”
“Actually, I was working the whole time I was at Spy Academy,” I tried to remind her, but Emily ignored me. Emily usually ignores things I say when they don’t support her argument. So she complained ALL DAY until the next morning when Dad took her to the drivers
office first thing. Then Emily started pestering Dad about when he would take her out to learn to drive.
I tell Mom all of this and watch her expression change to a frown.
“I wish I could be there to teach her how to drive,” she says. “I always feel so guilty that work keeps me away from you kids.”
“It’s okay,” I tell her. “Dad will totally teach Emily how to drive, but he’s just a little busy right now. His artwork was accepted to an art gallery.”
My dad is an artist, and a pretty good one—if you consider close-ups of my dog Philo’s toenails “pretty good.” He has a studio in the
backyard—a converted garden shed, actually, but he likes it. He can spend days at a time out there painting and be perfectly happy. I’ll never understand why a gallery is interested in his WACKY PORTRAITS, but I’m proud of him anyway.
I think Mom is thinking the same thing I am because she starts to laugh, which makes me laugh. In a few seconds we’re both roaring to the point of tears, imagining Dad at an art gallery showing fancy art-lovers some portraits of Philo’s butt!
“So what’s going on over at Spy Academy?” I ask when I stop laughing long enough to catch my breath. “How’s Agent Paul?”
Agent Paul is my mom’s partner on her spy missions. And oh yeah, he just happens to be an octopus.
“He’s doing SWIMMINGLY,” Mom replies, chuckling at her own silly joke, one I’m sure she’s made a hundred times before.
“But seriously,” she continues, “I’ve been keeping a very close eye on Drew. So far, at least, he seems to be behaving. He even helped us catch another online scam artist.”
I frown at the mention of Drew. At Spy Academy I became very close friends with him, but then Manny found out my new friend was actually the nephew of Sure Things, Inc.’s arch nemesis, Alistair Swiped, CEO of Swiped Stuff, Inc. That wouldn’t have been a problem, except Drew was trying to sabotage my inventions the whole time! Like uncle, like nephew, I guess. I let Mom know, but she thought it was best for Drew to stay at Spy
Academy. Maybe some of his EVIL GENIUS can be tamed under careful supervision.
Now that I stop to think about it, it really is amazing how much has gone on in the couple of weeks since I got back. Just talking about all of it makes me tired . . . which reminds me that I’ve got a busy day of school and inventing ahead tomorrow.
“I think I’m going to go to sleep, Mom,” I say. “Lots to do tomorrow. We’ve really got to get this hovercraft out ASAP.”
“Okay, honey, get some sleep. I love you.”
“I love you too, Mom,” I say.
My monitor goes blank.
I’m always a little sad at the end of a video chat with Mom, but somehow, knowing the truth about her makes it all a bit easier. My mom is off saving people. And that’s pretty cool.