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Some of the teachers were hanging around like a murder of crows, it being their turn to supervise
the mass exodus prior to locking up the school for yet another day.

A few of the mini monsters were quietly hurrying towards the buses, awaiting to transport them home. Others, less angelic, were noisely jumping up and down, tossing school bags high into the air then watching the contents come crashing to earth.

The watching crows shouted their demands with promise of dire future consequences, but if any heard the pedagogues’ commands, few stopped to notice.

Jeremy Wilson ambled by. He was the one most likely to miss the bus. The teacher they called Mr. Scott silently wondered if Jeremy was thinking about the science problem he had set for homework that night, and delivered a verbal rocket for Jeremy to move his feet or else.

Funny creatures, teachers. They always seem to finish stern warnings with, “or else”, yet never bother to explain what remained unsaid.

Two young fellers, the very best of mates, were now well outside the school grounds, a routine they followed every schoolday afternoon, it being their time to enjoy a juvenile chat on the homeward walk before the respective parents took control of their brains …

  • * *

‘Who was that you were talking to at lunchtime?’

‘Oh, that was me new girlfriend. Her dad is the local copper.They only arrived ten days ago.’

‘Is she any good?’

‘Yea I reckon she’s a bit of alright, y’know.’

’What’s her name?’

‘Everyone in our class calls her Cackles, because when she laughs she sounds like a chook.’

‘How old is she?’

‘Dunno. I reckon she might be eight going on nine.’

‘You gonna marry her then?’

’I’m thinking about it. Me auntie Flo was telling mum the other day that a girl should always marry a man older than herself.’

‘Why is that then?’

‘Dunno, just because I suppose. Hey, my auntie Flo is forever rabbiting on about useless stuff but she never tells yer why. She even told me dad the other day he should spit on his shoes when he gives ’em a polish.’

‘Does he do that, your dad, spit on his shoes?’

‘Nah, dad reckons spitting is a filthy habit so he gives ’em to the dog to lick instead.’

‘How do yer know Cackles is yer girlfriend? Did she let you kiss her?’

‘Nah, Cackles ain’t into all that kissing stuff. She gets real stroppy like when you pull her pigtails and she reckons I can sit next to her on the bus when we go swimming at the Blue Hole and yesterday she was telling me about her dad being a hero and all that.’

‘Why, did he capture a gang of bank robbers single-handed?’

‘Oh way! Better than that, mate. He saved Cackles’ life as well as her mum’s.’

‘Garn, yer kidding.’

‘Nah, fair dinkum, ridgy-didge. They was in this little boat, see, way out in the ocean and it was night time and they was heading for Keswick Island or something, when all of a sudden a dirty big storm came out of nowhere, and the boat was crashing and thrashing and smashing. Geez, they all thought they was going to die, see, and they are singing and screaming and crying and praying for God to come save them and whamo! An extra big wave picked up the boat, took ’em twenty-five foot up in the air, then tossed them into the ocean.’

‘Geez, that sure is scary. What happened to the boat?’

‘The boat sank, stupid, and they was all left alone to die in them shark-infested waters crawling with giant poisonous sea snakes. Well, anyway, Cackles’ dad tells ’em to start swimming, see, and after about four hours he turns to Cackles and says “I can smell land.”

‘Hey, yer gotta be joking. Yer can’t smell land when yer swimming in the ocean.’

‘Cackles’ dad can. He’s a copper, see. They teach ‘em how to do that stuff when you go to coppers’ school. Anyway, her dad tells her mum to climb onto his back and Cackles she has to do the same with her mum, and when they are all safe and comfy and hanging onto each other, her dad starts doing a massive breast-stroke and he’s heading straight for the land he just smelt.’

‘Boy, Cackles’ dad sure is a hero.’

‘Yeah, not half. Anyway, just when he’s getting so tired his eyes are shutting and his arms are flopping and Cackles swears they are going to sink and become feed for the fishies, another big wave comes in a zooming out of nowhere and, what d’ya know, Cackles’ dad is doing body surfing at eighty mile an hour, heading straight for the island.’

‘Wow! That is fantastic. Even the Phantom never body surfed at eighty mile an hour.’

‘Yeah, well, it’s like she said, see. The next thing they know is … whammo! … they’re left hanging out of the coconut trees. It is still black as ink and the rain is pouring down in buckets bigger than elephants.

Cackles and her mum are starting to shiver, so her dad rubs two sticks together and lights a dirty big fire to keep ‘em dry and happy. They have to keep the fire going to ward off the ferocious blood sucking mozzies. Cackles swears they are as big as emus. Cackles’ dad tells her to go collect firewood, while he tears the scrub apart to build them a house.’

‘A house?! How was he going to build a house?’

‘Well, not a real house, like you and I live in. This was more like a wild Aboriginal’s house, see. You know, one of them gunya things,’

‘Geez he was a clever feller, Cackles’ dad. Maybe the Queen will give him a medal.’

‘Nah, that’s only for posh people. Cackles says her dad is not toffee-nose enough to go around collecting medals.’

‘So, what happened next?’

‘Well, come the morning the rain had stopped and the sun has riz, when all of a sudden Cackles’ mum gets the bright idea they all need a feed before they starve to death and of course this turns out to be an island that is totally minus people. ‘Worry not, Sal’ says Cackles’ dad, and with that he charges through the jungle in search of a feed.’

‘Hang on, thought you said this was an island in the middle of the ocean, half way to New Zealand. Them islands don’t have jungles.’

‘Have you ever seen this island, Mr Know-all? … No, of course you haven’t. Well, Cackles has, see, and she swears it had a jungle and what’s more her dad crashed through that jungle full of enormous snakes like you would not believe, mate, and dirty big poisonous spiders as huge as turkeys and before it knew what was happening her dad jumped onto a massive wild goat and strangled it with his bare hands, he did, so there!’

‘Oh WOW! That is just soooo fantastic. Cackles’ dad must be the world’s greatest hero.’

‘Yeah, well … now that the rain had stopped and they had this beaut house in which to live, they would have been happy to stay on the island for one hundred and six years, but disaster struck when Cackles’ dad came face to face with the world’s biggest cane toad. Her dad said it had been feeding on baby goats and koalas …’

‘Hang on, koalas don’t live in jungles.’

‘These koalas did, mate. You will be looking for a smack in the chops if yer not careful. Anyways, Cackles’ dad comes face to face with this massive cane toad and just as he speared it between the eyeballs it fired its blinding spit at him. Cackles says that cane toads have two spitting glands up near their ears and if they spit in yer eye yer can’t see a thing for the next three weeks. You go totally blind, mate, and that is what happened to Cackles’ dad. He had to use his nose to find his way back home.’

‘Oh WOW! Great jumping turtles, how did they survive without food?’

‘Well, it was a jungle, wasn’t it? They had buckets of apples, grapes, cherries, bananas, oranges … you name it … just hanging off the trees just waiting to be picked.’

‘Wow, it must have seemed like Paradise.’

‘Nah, according to Father Murphy, yer gotta be dead to go to Paradise, mate. Besides, at the end of three weeks Cackles’ dad could see again. That was when he had the bright idea to go fishing. Up until now, seeing as they didn’t have any hooks or lines, he hadn’t been fishing, but now he was going spearing.’

‘Did he manage to spear anything?’

‘Yeah, the wrong end of a forty foot white pointer shark, mate. Speared it clean through the tail and that shark was sooooo cranky! Cackles’ dad was running like the clappers and his bare feet never touched the razor sharp coral that passed for beach sand … and what’s more the shark was only ten feet behind him and snapping its monster jaws like my auntie Flo when she is blueing with poor long suffering uncle Larry.’

‘Did the shark manage to catch him?’

‘Nah, Cackles’ dad was too smart by a mile. He shot straight up to the top of the nearest coconut tree and started tossing dirty big nuts on top of the shark’s head, see. Managed to knock it unconscious, he did. Then, quick as a flash, he slid down out of the tree and strangled that monster with his bare hands.’

‘WOW! Fancy strangling a forty foot white pointer with yer bare hands.’

‘Yeah, but that’s not all, mate. Yer gotta remember this bloke is a flaming hero, mate, so once he has strangled the shark to being dead, he picks up a whale bone off the beach, sharpens it to a point at one end, then using the shark’s intestines he stitches up its gob to make it watertight, then, without stopping for food or drink, he removes all of the shark’s belly area, uses coconut logs for spreaders and flooring and, before it is time for brekkie, this bloke has made an ocean-going canoe, with a mast and goatskin sail. The clever bit is that the shark’s huge dorsal fin becomes the keel so everything is hunky dory once he has it floating on the ocean, and his ever-loving missus is working the tail as a rudder. Next he dives in and strangles the living daylights out of a passing turtle so Cackles can use the shell to bail in case the seas are rough. Finally he is as happy as a kid who’s been told there is no school today. They load up the canoe with buckets of fresh fruit and coconut milk, then shove off to sail back to civilization.’

‘Geez, did Cackles’s dad really do all that hero stuff?’

‘Cross me heart and hope to die, mate, only I would not go sprouting off yer mouth to anyone else, see. Keep it as a secret between us three, okay.’

‘Yeah yeah, mate, no risk. As me mum always tells me auntie Flo, me lips are sealed tighter than a duck’s bum.’

‘Yeah, wel,l just make sure it stays that way … and, hey, I wonder what it is like having a copper for a father-in-law?’


iAN Derrick

Tweed Heads, Australia

  • Artist
  • Artwork Comments 22

Artist's Description

Long before most of us were ever born there existed a journal called “Boy’s Own”…full of stories of dashing brave heroes fighting against all odds…Well I guess in some respects this is one such tale…..
So will you please all stand and salute our hero
""Cackles’ Dad." a true blue outstanding Aussie hero.

Artwork Comments

  • © Karin Taylor
  • © Karin Taylor
  • Matthew Dalton
  • iAN Derrick
  • © Karin Taylor
  • iAN Derrick
  • Jakki O
  • iAN Derrick
  • © Karin Taylor
  • iAN Derrick
  • © Karin Taylor
  • Mark Bateman
  • iAN Derrick
  • Jeannette Sheehy
  • iAN Derrick
  • MillicentMorrow
  • iAN Derrick
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