Phil’s greatest diplomatic truce.


Eddie, who is in Grade five, has been working on this story for weeks. Now, finally, we bring you…..

Phil’s greatest diplomatic truce.

Every time a boat used to come to the lighthouse to dock, all the boy could hear was the sound of multiple gun shots firing away, while the horns where honking and people were yelling at the top of their lungs. The lighthouse, recently constructed to warn the amphibious vehicles about the rocks, was shiny silver aluminium, and it perched very high on a dangerous precipice overlooking the massive azure ocean.

The boy’s name was Phil and his dog’s name was Max. The two of them played outside behind the lighthouse while Phil’s father, the lighthouse keeper, turned on the radiant beams which showed him what was going on in the harbour. Phil could see a mysterious marine figure appear out of the sea holding a sniper rifle.

She had light blue hair, dark blue clothes and a thick rainbow-coloured tail. She was a deadly mermaid. Phil and Max both recognised the girl called Julie who was, at that moment, pointing an SR-98 at the people swimming out to the floating trucks to drag them into the harbour. Julie had a hazardous habit of shooting at the heads of everyone in the docks, which Phil knew had been prohibited a very, very long time ago.

“Julie! Stop!” Phil shouted as Max began to bark loudly.
Julie turned her head towards the boy with a mischievous smirk. Above in the sky dark clouds began to gather. “What a boof-head!” Julie muttered, pointing at a fat man who was running towards them.

The manager of the amphibious vehicle convoy approached, running towards the boy, his face red from sprinting.
“What’s wrong with that mad mermaid?” he shouted. “You think life is one humungus warzone.”
“I’m sick of all the noise. I never get any sleep because of the loud engines. It’s one continuous racket whenever your boats drive over into the port. Above, overhead, slowing down, honking horns, dinghies making high pitched squeals, the sound of anchors dropping … it’s enough to wake every mermaid in mermaidville.” The mermaid with light blue hair was really upset.

Phil felt quite worried about Julie. Even though she was short tempered and had a tendency to violence, he didn’t want her to ‘hurt’ the company owner and he didn’t want Julie to be arrested either. It would be pretty bad for a mermaid in prison; she’d be injured — badly — and wouldn’t be able to swim. Surely there was a solution! “I know” thought Phil, “I could make some kind of truce treaty to send down a blue print perhaps.”

The trouble was that Phil was not good at all at being diplomatic – he was very poor at saying the right thing to calm down the situation.

“Julie’ he said silently. Don’t you think it is time to capitulate – to just let the men do their job and get their rafts out of the harbour as soon as possible? You can’t just be pointing guns at everyone in the docks just because you can’t rest”.

“A truce! You’ve got to be kidding!” laughed the mermaid contemptuously.

The manager of the amphibious vehicle convoy stamped his foot and while growling with a frown. “I’m just trying to do my job!” he said, quite reasonably, Phil thought. “If you’d leave us alone we’d be in and out in the same night, and you’d only have to put up with us for a brief time, and then you’d get back to sleep. We need to transport groceries for the people on the island. It’s all we need to do.”

“YOU BIG BUT-HEAD!” That was Julie’s donation to harmony. She really did have extreme anger and very little intelligence, the boy pondered to himself. Every time Phil was with her, he wondered why he liked her in the first place! During the big kerfuffle, Max was barking at the top of his lungs to attract attention to a treasure he found which looked like the top of a big plastic dome.

Just then Phil’s father burst around the corner, obviously scorching with fury, and paced rapidly up the hill towards the gathering.

“And I’m sick of your shenanigans ….” Phil could hear him shouting all the way down the road. He glanced at Julie and she glanced at him. If there was one person Julie would listen to, it was Phil’s father.

“Okay, okay”. She nodded her head. “Before we are deluged in the wisdom of the lighthouse keeper, I agree.” Even before Phil’s father caught up to them all, she was unloading the gun and preparing to hand it over.

“Julie! The gun was loaded!” gasped Phil in terror.

“An unloaded one is useless!” Julie replied, making an awkward croaky voice that might have been mirth. Without explanation, everybody started to laugh.


About lynettefinch

Dr Lynette Finch. Once I was a poster designer and illustrator. I ran a small poster business called Mantis Prints, specializing in political posters during the odd days of the Bjelke-Petersen Government in Queensland. I’m told my posters hung on the walls of Rizhsky railway station in Moscow, although I’m not sure about that. They are in the collections of the Queensland Art Gallery, on several on-line websites, and in the following book: Lynne Seear and Julie Ewington, eds. Light II, Contemporary Australian Art 1966-2006, Queensland Art Gallery Publishing, 2007, pp. 110-117. In my next incarnation I was a senior lecturer in history. I published books and articles on urban health and feeding people in modern industrial cities, on the Queensland home front in the second world war and the role and history of war propaganda. Sometimes I wrote about Marxism and its impact around the world as well as intimate oral histories of communists in Australia, their experiences in conservative society, their role as social and political radicals in small towns and cities. Once I went through a death phase and wrote about the role of the Coroners Court in colonial society, about abortion and infanticide in nineteenth century cities, and about the role of gossip in policing. My research took a decidedly happier direction when I was granted an Arts Fellowship to Antarctica in the 2007/08 season, as research for a biography about Antarctic surveyor and explorer Syd Kirkby. I bunkered down in a blizzard in Brooke's hut near Davis station and imagined what it was like for Syd, caught for twelve days in a 150-knot blizzard, high in the plateau beyond Mawson in 1960. Some of my books: Australia’s Frontline: Remembering the 1939-45 War. With the rapid escalation of the Pacific War in 1942, Queenslanders suddenly found themselves perilously close to the frontline, especially those in the far north. The book is based on interviews of men and women who worked their farms in the north, some of them Italians and Germans who were interned as enemy aliens. Nevertheless, the book is essentially a story of courage, of community spirit and neighbourliness, and of the public and private war effort of a community facing crisis and loss. Dark Angel: Propaganda in Modern Warfare. This book traces the origins and development of propaganda and media manipulation from the 1800s to today’s ‘spin’ and ‘false news’. Why have governments at war allocated resources to propaganda leaflets, broadcasts, movies and art during major military conflicts? Read the book. You’ll find the answer. The Classing Gaze: Sexuality, Class and Surveillance. Concepts like sexuality and class share the same moment of birth during the nineteenth century as social inquiry turned to analysis of the workings, population growth, thought patterns, economic systems and internal bodily workings of humans (or Man, to be historically accurate). How did these ideological concepts impact in the real world? A great deal, is the short answer, outlined in this book. Young in a Warm Climate: a history of childhood in Queensland is an edited volume about childhood on the Queensland frontiers, at school, at home, in hospitals and other institutions. Fixing Antarctica: Mapping the Frozen South. In 1956, in the height of the cold war, the biggest wintering expedition that Australia had ever sent to Antarctica set out to map the great frozen landmass of Antarctica, driven by official fears that the Soviet Union meant to take the continent for themselves. The fourteen scientists were chosen from a field of hundreds of applicants. The surveyor, the central character in Fixing Antarctica, was Sydney Kirkby. Over the next twenty years, Syd Kirkby explored and map more unknown regions in the world than any other person in history. Earth, Wind and Fire is essentially twelve generations of my father’s mother’s family but it’s much more than that. It’s kind of Game of Thrones without the dragons. It starts with a kidnapped girl in Shelford, Nottinghamshire in the east midlands of England in 1618 and follows an unbroken chain of recorded births, deaths and marriages which spans four centuries until, six generations later, her descendants flee their farms in Ireland and join the diaspora to Australia. Using family stories, family photographs, published diaries and official documents, it’s the interwoven stories of five families struggling to survive amidst the most tumultuous times in European history. What’s next? I’m wandering into the boggy territory of creative fiction, writing a series of crime stories set on King Island, a beautiful windy island in the Bass Strait between Victoria and Tasmania. I’ve finished the first draft of Book One, The Rock. There will be seven, I think. I’m also writing a stand along novel, called The Key Collector. It’s about a World traveller, Angela who settles in a Tasmanian village near her daughter and grandson where she witnesses a car crash that kills three women. Convinced the collision was an act of murder, she digs into the tragic lives of the victims and is mired in a mystery stretching across three continents and reaching into the second world war.

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