Frankie Fey

by Rigby Taylor

Chapter 6


The following morning at half past ten, after a breakfast of fish and chips that Frankie failed to keep down due to nervousness and a stomach unused to anything other than lentils, beans and raw herbs, they watched the plane touch down at Hobart Terminal. Frankie waited nervously. Would Inge really be pleased to see him? Ten minutes later Ingenio appeared through the arrivals door, looked around, saw Frankie and waved with the old friendly smile and slightly crooked front teeth. Frankie had forgotten how young, lean and bookish he looked. He'd even forgotten he wore glasses. But he sure hadn't forgotten how much he loved him. He pointed him out to Sylvan.'

'You're joking. He's only a kid, no more than a couple of years older than you!'

'He's twenty-seven. But you're right; he does look young. Do we look alike?'

'You're both young—but that's about it. You're lean and tough and look as if you'd be a dangerous man to cross. He looks as if he'd use words rather than fists, and would prefer to be reading than diving into icy water and scrubbing himself with sand.'

Frankie laughed. 'Ingenio's tough, mentally, and you can trust him to back you up.'

As he was carrying only a small holdall, there was no waiting and suddenly they were hugging in relief at finding each other again. This time it was Ingenio who was crying—from relief at finding Frankie not only alive but in excellent health, looking fitter, leaner, older and somehow more mature. Certainly no longer a boy.

Frankie introduced Sylvan who shook Ingenio's hand somewhat diffidently. He was at home in the forest with other wild creatures, but felt awed by the intelligent eyes, questioning looks and smile of Frankie's self-possessed uncle.

'It's freezing!' Ingenio shivered. 'Aren't you cold, Frankie?'

Frankie shook his head. 'This is warm compared to where I've been living.'

'You make me feel soft.'

'You don't look soft,' Sylvan stated abruptly. 'You look… I don't know, like…'

'A geek?' Ingenio laughed. 'Don't worry, Sylvan. I'm used to being told I look like a nerdy schoolkid. It has its uses—stupid people don't take me seriously so I can get away with murder.'

'No!' Sylvan was embarrassed. 'You don't look stupid; you look…nice. It's your smile and easy manner. It's...'

'Flattery, Sylvan is the key to my heart. But you're the hero of the day. I've no idea how I can ever thank you for saving Frankie from my mad parents. Seriously, we'll owe you forever. If you're ever in Melbourne, or you need anything… no matter what, where or when, contact us and we'll do whatever we can.'

Sylvan thanked Ingenio shyly, then looked away and grunted something indecipherable.

Frankie grabbed his arm, pulled him to face him, looked into his eyes and said carefully. 'Sylvan, Ingenio means it. We'll both be there for you whenever you need us. Ok?'

'Thanks,' Sylvan said with more certainty this time. 'You two are unalike physically, but oddly alike in character. How long are you staying?'

'The return flight's at three thirty.'

'Have you eaten?'

'Tea and a biscuit on the plane. Too busy before leaving.'

'If there are clothes for Frankie in there,' Sylvan pointed to the overnight bag. 'He can change in the toilets before we get you both something to eat. Frankie couldn't hold down his breakfast from excitement.'

Over sandwiches and tea at Café Marée where innocuous background music in an unpretentious environment allowed more or less private conversation, Frankie gave Ingenio a quick run down of his months as a quasi monk, and heaped praise on Sylvan for daring to rescue him without resorting to the use of his superman strength. Ingenio thanked Sylvan again, laughed at his farewell insult to his parents, shook his head at their filthy lifestyle and apparent craziness, and asked if he ought to do something for them.

'Why would you?' Sylvan asked. 'They're not mad. They struck me as sane and selfish, doing exactly what they want without concern for anyone. Now their young slave has gone, I wouldn't mind betting they clean up their act, get some decent food and have a proper dwelling built—that is if they want to stay. More likely they'll sell the land and buy a place in Hobart. Do you agree, Frankie?'

'Yeah. Don't go near them, Inge, they'll only try to make you feel guilty and trap you. I never want to see them again—honestly.'

After a comfortable silence while they finished eating, Sylvan asked nervously, 'Does Frankie have an aunt who's as nice as his uncle?'

'Ingenio laughed pleasantly. 'No, he has another uncle, whose name is Constantine, and who is mentally a bit like me but physically more robust.'

'And very handsome,' Frankie added. 'I love him almost as much as Inge and you.' He turned to Ingenio. 'Sylvan's got a nosey wife which is why we slept under the stars last night, so she wouldn't find out about me and insist we prosecute Grandpa.'

Sylvan blushed. 'Well, I said that because I was too embarrassed to tell you she kicked me out six weeks ago and I've been sleeping rough ever since.'


'I wasn't able to give her a baby.'

Wasn't able or didn't want to?' Ingenio's eyes were alert.

'Both. I don't want the responsibility; and I'm impotent.' Sylvan sighed hopelessly. 'There, I've said it. Embarrassing eh?' he sighed again. 'Let's forget it. There's nothing I can do.'

Ingenio laughed.

'It's not funny.'

'You're right, it isn't. It's tragic. You're a fabulously fit and strong man in the prime of life who is sexually attracted to other men, but married to a woman who wants kids but doesn't want you.'

'Hang on! What makes you think I'm queer?'

'I can't imagine a heterosexual male of your age taking the trouble to look after a fifteen-year-old youth, can you?'


'When you were Frankie's age, how many men took a genuine interest in you for yourself, not because you could do something for them?'

Sylvan frowned, looked up and said slowly, 'None. Not even my father. He always wanted me to be something other than what I wanted. You're right… most men, including teachers, treated me as if I was a nuisance unless they wanted something. It seemed like they had to prove they were superior. I hated most of them.'

'There you have it. Only people like us would do as you have done because we can empathise with a boy who isn't like all the others. By the way, I don't identify as queer or gay or any other label. I'm just a man whose natural inclination is to live with and love another man.'

'That's a definition I could live with.'

'How old are you?'


'Get the divorce then find yourself a man to share your life with.'

'Where will I find this mythical man?'

'Doing what you like doing.'

'I love being a Ranger.'

'Then jerk off to the trees until you come across someone similarly inclined.'

Sylvan grunted a laugh. 'When did you discover you wanted a man instead of a woman?'

'I've always known it, in the same way you've always known what you want.'

'Ah,' Sylvan said thoughtfully. 'There lies the rub. I've never known what I wanted—just done what everyone expected me to. All my mates were doing it, the family expected it, and when my wife proposed I said Ok because I like her—she's a good woman. But now….'

'You want my advice?'

Sylvan nodded.

'If your wife will take you back, then perhaps you could compromise and adopt a child. A dull marriage with someone you like in a social setting where you are respected and welcome, is perhaps better than a lonely life getting the occasional fuck from strangers while being shunned by your old friends. It's much harder for us to find good partners than it is for heterosexuals. The population of Tasmania is about three hundred thousand. Half are children. Half the adults are females. Of the seventy-five thousand adult men there are only about three and a half thousand gays—not a vast pool from which to select someone to share your life with, especially as some are already spoken for, about half are in false marriages, and a good proportion of the rest are in denial. Actually, the number of available gays will be infinitesimal because they tend to migrate to Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane. Even on the mainland it's hard to find someone compatible, which is why there's as much family violence and as many messy divorces amongst same sex couples as among heterosexuals.'

'So I just put up with it?'

'You do what makes you happy, after thinking carefully about consequences. Go to a gay club, go home with a few guys, and then decide. If you come to Melbourne, I insist you give me a ring.' He fished in his wallet, produced a card and passed it to Sylvan. 'This is our address; I don't have a mobile phone because I trust no one.' He searched Sylvan's face. 'I meant what I said earlier, you'll always be welcome.'

'Then I am doubly flattered that you trust me.'

'You've proven yourself better than trustworthy, you're also a decent man.'

Sylvan had to return to work to write up and hand in his report on the Hartz Park inspection, so after an emotional farewell from Frankie, he returned to work.

The reunited pair filled in the remaining hours wandering through the shopping centre, and like all genuinely happy people saw nothing they wanted to buy except some bread, cheese and rolls that they took down to the harbour, sitting on the edge of an old wooden wharf with their feet dangling just above the water. Frankie wondered if he ought to get a haircut, but Ingenio said he liked it long because it suited his new wild persona.

'Are you saying I've gone feral?'

'Well, you have been living in a wild semi-natural state after escaping from domestication, haven't you? From me that's a compliment, so treasure it.'

Frankie grinned happily. Feral. He liked the sound of it. He certainly didn't feel or want to be domesticated and was relieved that Ingenio didn't expect him to be.

The flight was exciting. The small plane flew low enough to see fishermen on boats on the choppy sea below, and Melbourne looked just like flying over a Google map. Constantine was waiting for them and the reunion was all Frankie had hoped for.

It was a profound relief, yet strangely unsettling to be back in civilization. It took several days before he could get used to living with people who chattered and talked and laughed and took an interest in everything. They didn't pump him for information, wisely letting him offload his experiences in dribs and drabs as he processed them himself. What he missed almost painfully was the forest filled with non-human life, the clean air and possibility of danger, new things to discover, and the knowledge that whatever happened to him during the day was totally the result of his own efforts. Melbourne smelled dirty, the air thick, the noise constant and invasive. He tried to meditate but couldn't exclude all the things he disliked and couldn't ignore them. His brain felt as contaminated as his lungs.

And he'd lost his independence. Instead of being a lone wolf he was part of a team and had to consider the others. And there was nowhere to escape to! At least nowhere he wanted to go. Parks were tame and full of idiots. The city centre was jammed with cars and humans but no other life, and unbearably noisy. At least there was no television in Ingenio's house, nor radio, as according to Constantine all mass media were merely mouthpieces of multinational corporations and subversive of all that was decent. At nights he slept peacefully, appreciating the warmth and lack of fear, but some mornings he woke in tears at the realisation that outside was not wilderness, but mean suburbia and millions of incredibly stupid people who let others tell them how to live.

He managed to keep most of his sadness concealed, and spent a lot of time with Con who told him to also remember the unpleasant things like loneliness and fear at nights, the inherent danger of being alone in a forest, of accidents by falling, or poisonous snakes or falling ill. It was Constantine who persuaded Frankie to attend the local High School to complete his final year so he could go to university.

Frankie wasn't sure he wanted to, but agreed it'd be stupid not to keep all options open. 'But I'll be at least a year behind the other kids; they'll never enrol me.'

'It's not a State School, so they enrol whoever they like, as long as they pay. Last month the Victorian government decided to sell all services to private enterprise, from health and welfare to education, transport, police and prisons and communications. From now on the government's sole function is to pass laws and collect taxes to pay for their own generous, life-time salaries and superannuation packages.'

'Then who pays for all the other things?'

'Whoever uses them. No money? No services.'

'But what about all the poor people who can't find work?'

'They starve, get sick and die under bridges. People have finally woken up to the fact that the planet is dangerously overpopulated, so this is a solution. A slow one, but things are speeding up as winter approaches.'

'A nasty solution.'

'Not nasty, natural. It's how all animals behave when threatened. It keeps me busy.'


'The corporations that run the prisons need a ninety percent occupancy to make sufficient profit, so they set targets for the cops, who target anyone wandering around alone. They goad them into swearing or giving the fingers, then shove them in prison for attacking a police officer. I try to get as many off as I can.'

'But if they're poor, how do they pay you?'

'With the fruits of their labour. Stolen food, drink, petrol, clothes.'

'You accept stolen property? You! A lawyer.'

'Two corporations own all food and clothing stores in the country and they collude on prices. That's stealing, so it's only justice to steal from them. Subsidiaries of eight large multinational companies own every thing in Australia from accommodation to agriculture, horticulture to vehicle spare parts. Construction to roads, transport to food. You name it, it's ultimately in the hands of one of the eight corporations.'

Why don't people complain?'

'Who to? All mass media are owned by corporations who like things the way they are. Consumer complaints are handled by the same businesses that are complained about. We're back to the time when kings and their henchmen owned everything and everyone else lived at the king's pleasure in more or less slavery. It's the way human society has been organised ever since they started living in villages and towns.'

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