The Betrayal of Bindy Mackenzie (4 page)

‘A zebra finch?' I said. ‘A zebra mussel? A zebra shark? Or a zebra longwing butterfly?'

I was trying, light-heartedly, to point out that the word ‘zebra' appears in the names of many animals.

He turned and fixed me with his gaze. ‘No,' he said. ‘Just a zebra.' Then he turned away.

I said I would be a giraffe, but, much like Finnegan Blonde, I did not explain.

Anyway, after the animal game had finished, Try said we had one more game to play. She said it was a game we'd play regularly throughout the year. She called it the Name Game. We had to write our names in the centre of a blank piece of paper and pass the paper around the group.

‘Each new name you get,' said Try, ‘write a small comment about that person.' She looked at Finnegan Blonde. ‘You're new, aren't you? Sorry, if you can believe it, I've already forgotten your name—I remember you come from Queensland,
but I can't—anyway, it might be tough for you to write comments about the others because you're new, eh? But maybe you noticed something just in this class today? Do you think you can get by?'

And so we all wrote our names in large letters and we surrendered the Names to the group.

I beg your pardon.

We surrendered them to our life raft.

After some time of passing the papers around, the Names arrived back at their owners, and we learned what the others thought of us.

For your information, I have typed out the comments that the seven others wrote, and this is attached to my report.

I could tell that the others were pleased with their Names (as I was with mine). There was much laughing, gasping, even some teary eyes about the room.

The bell rang.

As we packed to go, there was talk of a party at Emily's house this Saturday. Who was attending? Why was it being held? Was it somebody's birthday? (I am paraphrasing of course.) Had Sergio not heard? He was invited! General hilarity; disgraceful language; and so on.

I left without saying goodbye.

As I did, I heard a voice croaking behind me like a cane toad in mating season. It was Toby Mazzerati: ‘Flying fingers Mackenzie, folks, there she goes, the talking dictionary, and where does she go, to the library, folks, is she off to the library to learn some new polysyllamogononsense words? Or . . .' And so on.

Then I heard another voice. It was Try, the teacher, beside me. She came up to my shoulder.

‘Bindy,' she said, ‘I like your nail polish.'

She was smiling at my fingernails, which I paint in multi colours—red, green, purple, and so on.

At least she had remembered
my
name.

Attachment to Report on ‘Friendship and Development': Sample of the ‘NameGame'

Bindy is a kind-hearted, caring human being and
none of us could ever do without her.

Bindy earns our respect by getting marks in the
99.9th percentile. That takes hard work and
dedication!

There is nothing I would change about Bindy. She is
perfect. Bindy, stay exactly as you are.

Bindy's hairstyle (and her multi-coloured nail polish
and wacky glasses) say: ‘I'm a fun and zany girl!
Don't be afraid to say “hi” nor to ask for some
help with Economics.'

 

Bindy Mackenzie

 

Bindy takes time from her busy schedule to represent
the school in debating and oratory.
And she's a fast typist.

Bindy is never conceited or ‘big-headed'. On the
contrary, when she does well on an exam, she
immediately offers to share the paper around, so that
others can learn from her success.

Bindy's voice is like the dawn chorus
of a flock of nightingales.

4

A Memo from Bindy Mackenzie

To:
Toby Mazzerati
From:
Bindy Mackenzie
Subject:
Cane Toads
Time:
Friday, 10.00 am

Hi Toby,
I believe you chose the animal ‘cane toad' at the FAD session on Wednesday? I thought you might like to know a few fun facts about yourself:

•
You were introduced to Australia in 1935 to control beetles that were eating sugar cane roots. That was a disaster. You got out of control. Now there are just
too many of you.
•
You are poisonous! People have died after eating you in soup.
•
Your poison oozes out of your glands. Also, you squirt people in the face with it.
•
In the mating season, you grow lumps on your fingers which help you hold tightly to female cane toads.

All the best,

Bindy

As Saturday sings and skips along, so Bindy unwinds from her busy week by:

1.
Kmart. Morning shift (7.30–12.30) (Womenswear)
2.
Maths homework
3.
Biology assignment
4.
Reread
The Duchess of Malfi
5.
Piano practice
6.
Musicianship preparation
7.
Household tasks (laundry/vacuuming)
8.
Babysitting. Brentwoods (6.30 pm until midnight) (BRING JOHN DONNE)
9.
German translation
10.
Visualisation
11.
Prepare Sunday list of things to do
12.
Go to bed

FROM THE TRANSCRIPT FILE OF BINDY MACKENZIE
Saturday, 12.45
Castle Towers food court, after work. I sit near Mister Minit, where keys are cut and bracelets are engraved. There is an occasional horrible shrieking sound from Mister Minit. Single lines of conversation float into my hearing.

A man says to his wife:
And all this is real? Because, you know, it doesn't seem all that plausible.

A girl rushes by with a group of friends, concluding a story with the words:
It was a great, big, giant head of cabbage!!

Here are some Lines from a Book which Caught Brady's Eye Today . . .
On the etiquette of shopping

‘In inquiring for goods at a store or shop, do not say to the clerk or salesman “I want” such an article, but, “Please show me” such an article, or some other polite form of address . . . It is rude to sneer at and depreciate goods, and exceedingly discourteous to the salesman . . . Whispering in a store is rude. Loud and showy behaviour is exceedingly vulgar.'

From:
Our Deportment, or the Manner, Conduct and Dress of the Most Refined Society; including Forms for Letters, Invitations, etc, etc, Also, Valuable Suggestions on Home Culture and Training by
John H. Young (1881), pp 150–151.

Night Time Musings of Bindy Mackenzie
Monday, 4.30 am

I have awakened in a feverish state.

Strange, strange how my heart crashes about like a sneaker in a clothes-drier.

There are just three days until Wednesday.

Already, I have written to the Board (step 1), and have begun to expose the poisonous souls of my FAD class (step 2).

Anyway, I have exposed the poisonous soul of Toby Mazzerati.

I think that was a success. On Friday, I put his soul in an envelope and stuck it to the outside of his locker.

Later that day, I saw him leaning against a classroom door. ‘Hey, Bindy,' he said as I passed by. ‘Thanks for your note.'

Everything about his words had a careful, uncertain tone. As if he were seated at a piano, trying out a difficult new piece.

‘You're welcome,' I said, mysteriously, and I smiled.

‘Uh,' he said, ‘but, by the way, I didn't say I was a cane toad. In the FAD class? I didn't say cane toad.'

‘You didn't?' I feigned surprise.

‘No. I said wolverine.'

I laughed then, a waterfall of laughter, and continued on my way.

Emily Thompson is next.

As for the weekend? My first weekend in Year 11? I think it went well. At Kmart, I was on the changing room door and had to give out the plastic numbers: 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5. (It is forbidden to try on more than five items at a time.)

I like to imagine that I am the Gatekeeper to the Kingdom of Changing Rooms. The plastic number is my gift to shoppers. A magic key that will reveal its purpose at an unexpected moment. Perhaps it will slay a dragon or open a secret door?

I have noticed that shoppers do not see the plastic number in this way.

Anyway, I survived Kmart, and I ticked off everything on Saturday's list. But I encountered my downfall again:

 

reverie

 

This is what happened.

When I arrived at the Brentwoods to babysit on Saturday night, Maureen Brentwood gave me TWO BOOKS.

She runs a second-hand bookshop called
Maureen's Magic,
and she has been promising to set aside a book that I might like. I have never believed her promise. Why give away books when you could sell them?

Seriously, it's just not the secret to success. There is flaking paint on her front door and mould spots on her bathroom ceiling: I believe she could use some success.

Yet, she gave me two books as she ran out the door, her husband waving from the car.

Now, I was
planning
to spend the evening reciting John Donne poems to Rebecca (aged three) and Sam (aged one), to help me memorise the poems (and for the good of the children's vocabulary), but instead, I watched them play with their fingerpaints.

And as I watched, I thought to myself:
what a lovely person Mrs Brentwood is,
and
what a rare thing it is, to meet a thoughtful person in this cruel world,
and also:
how did she know that I love history?
(The books are about etiquette in the nineteenth century.)

Next thing I was caught up in reverie about books, history, clothes, rules, manners, kindness
and so on,
and all the time I was so happy that Mrs Brentwood had thought of me, I wanted to cry.

After I put the children to bed I played Mr Brentwood's PlayStation™ all night.

I don't know.

So much for the night of John Donne!

Last night there was babysitting for Eleanora—no chance of working there, of course!
(She
knows of my fondness for history, but I cannot imagine her giving me books.)

How do I expect to maintain my position (first) in all my classes if I don't use every moment? People say that Year 12
is important because that's when you do the HSC, but it's in
Year 11
that your rank is set in stone. If I slip down a rank or two this year, I doubt I will be able to climb back up and I will end up living on the streets with a cardboard sign:

$1 for a smile

Now, it is my belief that character flaws should be imprisoned to stop them from spreading. But I'm tired of writing the word ‘reverie' and putting it into a box.

reverie

I must think about Emily Thompson.

It's lucky I don't need much sleep.

reverie
reverie
reverie

I believe that Emily Thompson is a vampire.

Also, I believe that Emily Thompson wrote the following on my Name Game:

Well, what can you say about Bindy. Hmm. Did someone say the word ‘SMART'???? Bindy! You have words in your head that would be too long to fit in anyone else's head! Because you have SUCH A HUGE HEAD!! Just kidding!! (kind of)

 

Let me explain why I think that.

Emily Thompson is a walking exclamation mark.

She is always opening her mouth and her eyes in astonishment. She reminds me of the face at Luna Park, or a set of swinging double doors. Life bursts out of Emily's face just as people burst through swinging double doors.

She
adores,
nay she
devours!
(sucks the blood) of the people she likes. (Such as her two best friends—who, along with Emily, spent the summer with my mother, by the way. Did I spend the summer with my mother? Why, no, actually. Thanks for asking. She was busy with Emily Thompson and Emily's two best friends.)

And she
hates
and
despises
(nay she
demolishes
!
)
the people she dislikes.

I am a person Emily dislikes.

Lucky me.

What else? She wears too much lipgloss. She talks in capital letters (her voice is so loud you can hear her from the front gates of the school).

And, strangest of all, she is obsessed with doing well at school.

Strange because she is a moron.

She will never do well at school.

Yes, there is no doubt. She is the one who wrote that comment on my Name Game. All those exclamation marks and capitals. Poor girl, she can't stand how well I do, so she tells herself I am ‘big-headed'. Jealousy, thy name is Emily.

So, how to describe her true nature?

I will reflect upon it and before this week is up,
I will show her.

But, more to the point, on Wednesday afternoon at the next session of FAD, I will show them ALL my own true nature.

At last, I am going to speak my mind.

I wonder how to slow my beating heart?

Resolutions from the Heart. This week, Bindy will . . .

1. Live until Wednesday afternoon (that is, do not have a heart attack before then).

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