Frankie Fey

by Rigby Taylor

Chapter 14

Goodbye Melbourne

'The cops have been to see Karmai,' Frankie called from his bedroom. 'Just got an email from Sylvan.'

Ingenio and Con came running.

'What's he say?'

'It's… odd. I'll read it. "Hi Frankie. I arrived safely and found the place easily. Heck of a walk from the bus stop though. Police were interviewing Karmai when I arrived. Apparently a couple of blokes are missing. They wanted to know who I was, so I told them. I got the impression they'll contact Tasmania to check me out. The funny thing was they thought you'd been here last weekend, so I told them you couldn't have been because I'd been in Melbourne with you and you'd been doing homework most of the time and Ingenio had shown me around. They seemed surprised to learn you're only sixteen and still at school. This place is the best, and so is Karmai. Any news on when you'll be coming up? You won't believe how big and beautiful it all is. Cheers, Sylvan." Why did he say he'd been with us? It's great that he did but I wonder why?'

'Thank goodness he did! And thank goodness he got there in time to give Karmai support. But if the cops check with the Tasmanian authorities they'll know where Sylvan is.'

'He's a hero. Putting his own safety at risk. But you're right, why did say he'd been with us?'

'Karmai must have warned him somehow.'

'I'm going to pull a few favours from a cop in Central,' Constantine said. 'I'll get him to fax a detailed statement from us about Frankie's grandparents, insisting they stop the investigation immediately. If it comes from me, a nobody lawyer, it'll sit on someone's desk for a month. But Angus has some clout and can demand a reply within twenty-four hours.'

'So… not all cops are bastards?'

'The good guys are in administration. It's the wannabe warlords patrolling the streets who're megalomaniacs.'

'We have to get this place sold and go up there soon. It's too hard on Karmai.'

'Is there any reason, apart from selling the house, for either of you to stay?' Frankie asked.

'Not really. We're both free lancers.'

'Then give me power of attorney to sell it for you, and go. It can't be that hard to sell a house.'

'It isn't, the buyer does all the work as he's the one taking the risk.'

'Ok. Let's get that statement off to Tasmania now, then get yourselves organised.

'Shouldn't we watch the news?'

'Why? ABC is Australian government propaganda, and SBS and the others are all U.S. propaganda. You'll not hear any truth.'

'To see if they mention a missing businessman?'


The announcement was brief. Two men appeared to have disappeared while visiting a town in the Blue Mountains West of Sydney. They were last seen arguing in a Bar. Anyone with information please contact…

The following day was spent packing and organising transport for their shift north, and in the evening, viewers learned that the investigation for the two men missing in the Blue mountains was ongoing and a search party had been organised as the men had not been dressed for tramping in the hills.

The next morning Constantine received a fax from the Tasmanian Police Department stating they were ceasing the investigation into Sylvan Forray. An equally formal, but somewhat more conciliatory email arrived from Tasmanian Parks and Reserves, exonerating him from all counts of misbehaviour and inviting him to return to work. Frankie emailed the good news to Sylvan.

That night, TV News revealed that the police now had a firm lead. The two men had arranged to meet the owner of a bush block to discuss its purchase, however they failed to arrive. A witness who saw them leaving the pub told police they had headed towards the main highway to Katoomba. The Katoomba police have been asked to assist with the search.

Con said it was a common ploy to invent a witness when the cops had no idea what to do next. What often happened after such an announcement was that the real villains would relax, let their guard down, talk to someone or make a mistake, and bingo, they'll be caught. So, we don't fall for it. We don't mention it. We haven't been following this because it has nothing to do with us… clear?'

'Yes, Constantine. Very clear and very wise.'

The following day, Frankie owned a new Holden Volt for getting around town, and Ingenio and Constantine were on their way north, following a furniture removal van containing all the stuff they'd accumulated together in the previous fifteen years. Their station wagon was laden with things they didn't trust the moving company with—personal belongings and Ingenio's precious educational computing programmes.

Frankie found it easier to focus on study now he was alone in a house with one bed, one chair one small table and not much else.

Always a pragmatic opportunist, he took the opportunity to invite his friend, Sadu, the co-author and director of the play that had so changed his life, to stay with him several nights a week. His seduction of the lean and handsome Indian during rehearsals for the play had been an exercise in patience. Sadu's interest was obvious to Frankie, if not to his fellow Indian students, but he had been very careful to reveal nothing during rehearsals. So Frankie had taken the initiative and pretended that as he would be naked he needed help to ensure none of his moves would be offensive, and asked for one-on-one rehearsals during which Sadu would also remove his clothes so he could demonstrate exactly what he wanted and also why some moves and positions would be unsuitable on stage. Bravely, Sadu had securely locked the door, ensured all windows were covered, and delicately stripped before demonstrating, then physically manhandling Frankie into the positions he desired.

Naturally, touching led to caressing, caressing to kissing, and kissing to such an ecstatic conclusion they vowed to repeat it as often as they could; which wasn't often, as Sadu lived with an Indian family that had promised his parents to protect his virtue.

Their hours of intimacy, once they had Frankie's house to themselves after school, cemented a firm friendship, and Frankie was invited to stay with Sadu if ever he found himself in Hyderabad.

Ingenio's house was sold two weeks before the end of the academic year, so he took a room in a nearby hotel until exams were over, then after affectionately sad farewells to his fellow thespians and teachers, drove north.

When Ingenio and Constantine had arrived at "85" they found Sylvan in the process of cleaning the house from the top of the dome to the base of the pillars of the verandah, repainting all the woodwork, and repairing whatever needed attention. Their few bits of furniture looked so out of place they had decided to wait till Frankie arrived before buying anything new.

On seeing the place again, Frankie realised he loved both house and land even more than he'd realised. There was something enchanting about the frivolity of the architecture and its placement at the top of a grassy field surrounded by almost impenetrable forest, backed by wild gorges, cliffs and mountains.

He'd been given the best bedroom with morning sun and a view towards forest and hills. Karmai had prepared a welcome banquet, which they ate in the dining room with every French window wide open. The effect was simultaneously relaxing, luxurious and simple.

Frankie was delighted to find that Karmai and Sylvan were living together. The police had returned once, but remained polite when Constantine informed them he was a lawyer and ostentatiously videoed everything. They had wanted to take Karmai to the Station for questioning, but when Con insisted that, as his lawyer he would be accompanying him with full video equipment and would remain at the station with his client until he was returned home, they said there was no rush. Some other time.

Karmai had been almost catatonic with fear by the time the police left. He hugged Con, tears streaming. 'Con, you have saved my life. If they'd got me there I'd have been left alone for an hour, then found dead when they returned. Probably hanged myself. It happens all the time. And they'd have a signed confession and say all the bruising and cuts were self-inflicted from guilt at having murdered the two blokes. You've no idea…'

'Actually I have, Karmai,' Con said sadly. 'It happens everywhere. The media have convinced the public that crime is on the increase and blacks are the problem, so they're happy when one disappears. Until this is over, please don't leave this place on your own. Make sure one of us is always with you.'

'I'll make sure of that,' Sylvan growled. I've waited forty years to find this man and I'm not going to lose him.' He hugged his lover, plonked a manly kiss on his forehead, and insisted they upgrade their security.

'Whatever you need,' Ingenio declared.

'The only access is via the roadside gate. I'd like that to be made tank-proof with electronic locks and video surveillance. Also the top gate.'

'Whatever you need, get it. Can you install it yourself?'

'Of course.'

Ingenio turned to Frankie. 'You don't mind me acting as if I own the place do you?'

Frankie laughed and turned to Constantine. 'Con, please fill in the required forms making you, Inge and me joint owners of this place, and if we give each other power of attorney, then only one needs to be present to sign things. And as we all need to have access to the money - joint accounts I reckon. '

'Are you sure? What if I run away with a pretty young man from the city? Or empty the bank account, or gamble it all away, or cheat you?'

Frankie looked at Ingenio, who smiled and nodded. 'If we can't trust each other then we don't deserve the luck we've had and this place. It's that simple.'

Con grinned. 'Your wish is my command, oh son and nephew of my handsome lover.'

Everyone laughed. Sylvan and Karmai shook their heads in disbelief that three people could so trust each other, and then it was time for lunch.

Life was busy, rewarding, and demanding. Con was already in demand in the town for pro bono services for the many unemployed and quasi-homeless people that were the inevitable by-product of the government's laissez faire capitalist laws. Ingenio's learning program was up and running and being disseminated via a new aerial and the satellite dish on top of the garage. His pet project—AmivaVifka, an acronym for Autonomous Mobile Interactive Verbal and Visual Interface for Knowledge Assimilation, was available freely to everyone now denied education in the user-pays education system. A free app could be downloaded to even the most primitive computer.

While learning how to use the program, Frankie spent a great deal of time with Ingenio and was surprised at how relaxed his father was; laughing, making jokes and fooling around in a way Frankie had never noticed before. Intrigued, he kept his mouth shut and observed instead of hogging centre stage as usual. When Ingenio asked him what he was thinking, Frankie had to ask himself what he was thinking, and was embarrassed to admit to himself he didn't really know his uncle/father at all. Ingenio had always just been there for him like a reliable car or piece of furniture. But when he thought about it, he suddenly realised how much he owed to him. How much he needed him. How much he loved him—not for what he had done for his son, but for who he was—his character, kindness, patience and endless good humour. A feeling akin to shame crept over him and he vowed to be more aware of other people as individuals in future.

Once he understood the program and how useful it would be at university, Frankie took the video camera and hiked into the surrounding forest to test the Wi-Fi range and image quality. Days were spent exploring his domain. Taking sandwiches and a bottle of water after breakfast he would set off and remain in the forest till almost nightfall. Ingenio worried, but Karmai told him to relax, he knew the property so well he'd have no difficulty finding him if he needed finding.

They kept track of the manhunt for the two missing men via online news bulletins, and when it was announced that the police were cutting back their investigation, they smelled a rat. The stench of corruption increased when the next bulletin described the drive-by murder of two women the police had been investigating on suspicion of fraud. What sort of fraud wasn't mentioned.

'I know those names.' Con stated. 'One of my clients was recently ripped off by them when trying to get his bond back after quitting one of their slum apartments.'

'Rents, land deals, I wonder…'

'Wonder what, Karmai?'

'Our bloke was into buying land for speculation. Rental properties are speculative; it wouldn't surprise me if there's a turf war. Tony and company have gone and others are squabbling over the spoils.'

'I'll probe a few police and government websites if you like and see what I can find,' Ingenio offered.

'For goodness sake don't leave any traces. When you're on the Internet it's like standing naked on stage in the spotlight shouting, I'm here!'

'I know, but if there are enough loops and alternative servers and pathways that never lead back home, it's safe enough.'

Frankie's examination results arrived on his seventeenth birthday, and informed him he wasn't as academically talented as he had thought. The university he'd signed up for didn't want him, so he searched for an alternative and found The Rationalist University of New South Wales where he was accepted the instant he offered to transfer the full cost of the first year's tuition. Karmai baked a cake to celebrate both the birthday and the fact that Frankie wouldn't be so far away in Melbourne.

The Rationalist University was a pleasant, privately owned, residential institute on Sydney's northern edge, with park-like grounds, elegant post-modern buildings and an excellent reputation for philosophy, art, drama and literature, as well as a constitution banning sexism by forbidding the use of all words denoting gender. The fees were high, but that wasn't a concern for the children of the wealthy families for whom a university education was merely one more trophy on their road to successful, corporate adulthood.

Living on campus was going to be a benefit, Frankie decided, because after eight weeks of sharing the place with two pairs of love-birds he was feeling increasingly like a gooseberry. The wider social sphere beckoned and he was ready to try his wings and learn how to become a social butterfly. He might even find someone sexually compatible.

For the remainder of the summer break, Frankie walked, swam, climbed, meditated with Karmai and had enormous fun using and evaluating Ingenio's latest invention; a miniaturised mobile 'teacher' that fitted into a small backpack when tramping in nature, on the street, or in the classroom. For home use the 'teacher' was a small robot; a sphere of concentric, rubberised rings that allowed it to move in any direction, while gyroscopically stabilised. It had three hundred and sixty degree vision, a sense of smell, acute hearing and the ability to listen and respond intelligently to questions.

Ingenio's educational theory could be reduced to a few basic principles. Punishment destroys the will to learn. Reward encourages learning. Active participation is essential. After listening and/or reading, the student must ask questions of the book or instructor, and then ask questions of himself, and then answer questions and discuss the topics with the instructor. Finally, he must be able to teach the knowledge to a third party. As nothing succeeds like success, Ingenio's learning teaching machines provided endless positive feedback so the pupil knew when he had succeeded.

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