The gang all got together at Morning Tea. We’d lost our spot on the playground, just on the rise overlooking the oval with an awesome tree to stand under. Everyone knew it was our spot, but that didn’t stop people trying it on occasionally. That stupid test had kept us in while Mr Patterson collected our papers. When he’d finally given us permission to leave, Tony had marched double-time out the door and, as soon as he thought he could get away with it, broken into a sprint across the oval to claim our spot. However it was too late.
We were on shaky ground with the Principal at the moment. Last week we’d spent a fair few lunch times standing outside his office for playing tackle red-rover, so we decided it wasn’t worth the risk of trying to muscle our way back in. It was a close thing, those guys from class 6C always thought they were so cool and now we could tell that they were secretly laughing at us. Plus their teacher was weird. Steve reckoned that he ate a whole loaf of bread for lunch each day with squashed banana for the filling. I mean, that’s just gross, so the 6C guys would have to be weird too with a teacher like that. Letting them have our spot was almost too much, but in the end we decided that we had bigger things to talk about than them. Everyone wanted to know about the test.
“So come on snake-man,” Damo said to me, “tell us how you really knew about the test today.”
“I found it in my cat’s vomit”, I said.
“No be serious, tell us really”.
“I am being serious”, I protested. They didn’t believe me. “I really found the message there.”
“Dude you’re full of it,” sneered Jason.
“Yeah come on man, that’s the same quiz from last year”, said Tony, “I remember it. That’s why I’m going to get an A+. Did you hear Mr Patterson talking to someone?”
“Yeah I bet that’s it”, said Jason. He looked jealous. “Or maybe you found a copy on Friday while you were cleaning the dusters after class? Something like that.”
Damo cracked a huge grin, “Good one dude, but next time let us all know earlier so we can study too. You must have nailed it with a head’s up like that.”
Actually I knew I’d done badly. I mean who could possibly know the cubed root of 27 off the top of their head like that? You needed some space to work it out for the first time, not the pressure of a quiz. We probably learnt it in class but there was just too much else interesting to think about to pay much attention in class. “Er, I actually think I stuffed it pretty badly”, I admitted.
“But you knew it was coming”, said Damo. “We know you’re smart when you have time to prepare.”
“Yeah … maybe not”, grinned Jason.
“Look I didn’t”, I protested again. “I’m telling the truth, I found this note in the …”
“Yeah, yeah. The cat’s vomit. You’ve already told us”, said Tony. “Look I’m repeating the grade, it’s not the end of the world.”
“Shut up man. I’m not lying and I’ll prove it to you, come over this arvo and I’ll show you the note”, I said.
“You could have made up the note yourself, dude”, said Damo.
“Yeah and I went to all that trouble and then didn’t bother to study anyway so I could get teased by you guys”, I said. “Just come around and see.”
This had them a bit stumped. It was a fair point and so reluctantly they conceded I might not be lying after all. “Ok, we’ll give you a chance”, agreed Tony, “but first I’ve got one thing to say … You’re it!”. His arm flashed out touching me on the shoulder and our game of tag was on. I lurched at Damo, got him in the chest but was so over balanced that his return tag got me before I could move out of the way. “Hey no backsies”, I complained but they were all already sprinting in different directions, so I took off trying to find a suitable target to chase down.
Charlie met me at the gate as usual this afternoon. He was lieing under the front hedge but didn’t wander out from his position until I was at the gate and his greeting was just a scratchy half-hearted sound. I got the feeling that he wasn’t too enthusiastic today. “Charlie, where did you get that message from?”, I asked him as I scratched his ear. “Can you tell me what grade I’m going to get on that stupid exam? I reckon I could have done well if I’d studied.” Charlie had started wending his way between my legs in a figure eight. He seemed to have his mojo back and his voice was loud again. “(meow) … What, you reckon I’m going to get an A? … (meow) … Nah no chance … (meow) … Really … (meow) … Well we’ll see.”
I left Charlie in the garden and ran up the steps, “Hey mum”.
“Hi Pat. Did you have a good day?”, she called from the kitchen.
“Myeaa”, I replied non-commitally. “Hey mum, the guys are coming around! What’s for afternoon tea?”
“There’s pikelets on the bench. You can have two. Eat quickly before you friends arrive.”
Mum was doing something in her sewing room so I wandered into the kitchen and scoffed the food. I wanted to get a quick run at Diablo before the guys came around, at least see where my character had actually ended up after the debacle on the weekend. There probably wouldn’t be time later on because we weren’t allowed games after 7pm. After that, all computer time had to be ‘educational’.
That was how I found out the story of St Patrick and the snakes. There’s all sorts of interesting stuff on the internet. I loved just surfing for random facts, but somehow they were never the ones that were taught or tested in school. Did you know that Benjamin Franklin thought about Daylight Savings in 1784 during a trip to Paris? He wrote about how many candles could be saved because of the extra light at night and how much it might save the economy. That’s sort of interesting, not like grammar at school.
I was just about to turn on the computer when Mum’s voice called from the sewing room again. “Hey Pat, before your friends arrive, could you quickly clean-up the mess in the laundry?”
“Aww mum!”, I complained. Always when I’m about to play on the computer. “I didn’t mess it up, what are you talking about?”
“Pat, don’t argue”, Mum called back.
I stomped down the hall, once again found myself in the library and there before me was another pool of cat vomit. My shoulders slumped and head fell forward in mock exasperation. I must be the most unlucky kid in the world. Well I suppose it explained why Chalie’s voice had been scratchy earlier at the gate. I tell you that if he wasn’t such an awesome cat, I’d probably start agitating to get rid of him.
Just then, amidst a clatter of footsteps, Jason arrived puffing with exertion and peered over my shoulder into the laundry. “How convenient”, he wheezed, “another one just for us to look at.”
(to be continued …)