Frankie Fey

by Rigby Taylor

Chapter 15


While Frankie was at the Rationalist University learning how to think and socialise, Ingenio, Constantine, Karmai and Sylvan were enjoying the rural idyll; each couple in their separate house, as friendly and interdependent as the best of neighbours. Neither Karmai nor Sylvan wanted to accept Ingenio's offer to enlarge their flat behind the garage. They were perfectly happy and it'd only make more work. Once a week the couples enjoyed a meal together, alternating between houses, and they usually met at the lake for a swim before lunch, if it was warm enough.

One evening, a nervous Sylvan and an angry Karmai arrived to ask Ingenio and Con for advice.

'We've been arguing a lot lately. Does it mean we aren't compatible?'

'No, it means you care what the other one says or thinks or does.'

'Do you guys argue? Sometimes we feel like smashing each others faces in.'

'Of course we argue. It usually only means we've misunderstood the other, or are tired, hungry, or just feeling bad tempered… and its usually over nothing important. After a bit we realise we've been pricks and apologise and kiss and make up and vow to start anew and never ever argue again. We've done that at least a thousand times since we met.'

'That's actually very funny.'

'Funny? Maybe, but true. And we never go to bed with an argument unresolved.'

'Do you think we rushed into sharing everything too quickly?'

'Definitely not. He who hesitates is a fool.'

'You guys have been together since you were twelve! How did you know it was right and would last?'

'We didn't. Never even thought about it.' Con stated bluntly. 'I was a complete mess at that age; hated school, the world, myself… I was getting ready to hurl a stone through the kitchen window when Ingenio came out to the yard and started telling me about the book he was reading. I listened and looked and for the first time I could remember, felt calm, relaxed and complete. As though he was the last piece in the complex jigsaw of my life. Or the keystone stabilising the precarious arch of my sanity. His voice mesmerised me—still does actually. I don't recall thinking anything.' He turned to Ingenio. 'What about you?'

Ingenio laughed softly. 'Con didn't give me time to think; just grabbed my hand, dragged me into the garden shed and ten seconds later we were starkers with hands going everywhere and lips glued together. Very exciting for a virgin to discover that having someone else jerk me off was even more fun than doing it to myself. Afterwards, I felt as if we'd always been best friends and it's never occurred to either of us that we wouldn't be together forever.'


'What's most important to you guys,' Sylvan asked bluntly. 'Sex or friendship?'

'Why say friendship when you mean love?' Con's face was serious.

Sylvan shrugged in embarrassment.

'He thinks it sounds soppy,' Karmai stated sourly. 'Actually I also feel stupid saying it, as if I'm trying to be a teenager again.'

'Genuine love is so rare, it's sad we're taught to think of it as a weakness.' Constantine's voice was dreamy.

'As for sex,' Ingenio continued, 'everyone has a different notion of what it is, ranging from a kiss to fucking. Sex is no basis for a lasting relationship. Both lovers need to be physically, emotionally, mentally and philosophically attractive to each other. If you like sex with someone but don't have much else in common, then stick to friendship and fucks, and live separately.'

'Here's what you have to do,' Constantine sounded a bit pissed off. 'Tell each other now, at this moment, what you honestly think of the other. Clear the air. Sylvan, you start.'

Sylvan looked at Karmai and frowned in thought. 'I reckon you're physically perfect. I love the cool way you approach problems and seldom get flustered. I'm in awe of your brain; makes me feel stupid sometimes. And we seem to agree on what we value.' He looked down at his bare feet and wiggled his toes. 'Your turn, Karmai. Come on, I can take it. Be honest.'

'Sylvan, you've got a sexy powerful body. I love the way you leap into doing things, makes me feel like a scaredy cat sometimes. You've the sort of practical, pragmatic brain I've always envied, and we're on the same page when it comes to how we want to live. So…'

'So, sex is the beginning, not the end, Ingenio stated firmly.

'And when it seems things are going wrong,' Con added, 'remind yourself what it was like before you had someone to share things.'

'You're both so sensible,' Karmai said quietly, 'but it's not easy to always be sensible. What about rocks in the path?'

'Come on you guys,' Constantine said sadly, 'you're made for each other. It's so obvious when you're working together; the way you talk and relate to each other. You act like lovers, not just friends. As for arguments, apart from tiredness and hunger, the main reason couples argue is that they can't help trying to change the other person. Asking why they do something this way or that, or worse, saying things like, "Why don't you do it this way?" When you live with a guy you soon learn he isn't exactly the same as you imagined he'd be when you first met, because we're all more complicated than we appear on the surface, and therefore more interesting. Rather than accept the other person's differences, couples unconsciously try to nudge their partner in the direction they prefer. And that makes the other guy feel insecure. He starts to think he has disappointed his lover. But as he can't change, because no one can change their character, he gets annoyed and either shuts up or argues, or takes off.'

Sylvan was nodding. 'Makes sense.' He looked at Karmai who was looking at him, but not smiling. 'Would it be too bad if I thumped him now and again when he gets too far up my nose?'

'You can try, you muscle-bound oaf, if you're looking for a black eye.'

'There you are!' Ingenio shouted with delight. 'You even agree on that. I predict a long and exciting future for you both.'

'Ingenio and I war with words, and they can be as hurtful as fists, I reckon', Con said thoughtfully. 'So it might be a good thing if you physically battled it out occasionally. Try not to spoil those handsome faces though, or do permanent damage.'

'You're serious, aren't you?' Karmai asked.

'I am. You're both tough men; used to finding physical solutions to problems, so why waste a talent? Just remember though, that characters are fixed. 'No one changes. The person you fell for is still there, even though he is more complicated than you first realised. That means we have to adjust our expectations and accept the totality of the man, warts and all, or bid our love goodbye.'

'No!' Karmai said with a soft intensity. 'I do not want to split up with Sylvan. I've never met anyone before that I feel like this about, and I'm sure I never will again. It's just that… Sylvan's so competent and occasionally I get the feeling he thinks I'm a bit dumb. But I've been running this place for ten years and know a fair bit about it, so I'd like him to sometimes just do as I suggest without offering other ideas. If it goes wrong, then he can gloat and I'll accept it.'

'I don't think you're dumb! I said before you're the cleverest man I've ever known. I love being with you… it's just… I love you so much I want to make your life easy.'

'And that's a serious problem gay couples have that heterosexuals don't,' Ingenio interrupted. 'Men have evolved to protect and provide for their spouse. This works brilliantly with women who have evolved with a powerful urge to be protected and provided for. Problems start when both guys want to protect and provide for the other. Pretty soon one becomes too protective, taking over hard jobs, doing unnecessary things for the other with the result that the other feels he's being treated as less than a man. He feels under-valued, and rebels. Two men living together have to consciously work at bolstering each other's sense of manly self worth, by listening and adopting their boyfriend's ideas, taking each other seriously, asking if help is wanted, not just barging in as if the other is incompetent. We have to curb our urge to warn, to protect, to imagine that we know what's best for him, when we don't. Ingenio and I have had to learn to listen to each other and pay attention to what the other wants, and to let the other take control of his own life, even it is not what we think is best. It's the only way.'

'You're right!' Sylvan blurted, 'I worry about Karmai and keep wanting to protect him and do things for him and that annoys him and then I say stupid things and then he…'

'Karmai draped an arm around Sylvan's shoulders. 'I know you only want the best for me, but I've looked after myself for over forty years and it makes me feel a bit useless always being checked up on as if to make sure I'm being a good, sensible little boy.'

'Fuck, I never thought of that. Sorry.'

'Don't be sorry, it's great to have someone who cares. I feel the same about you, but you always seem so bloody competent I wouldn't dare tell you to be careful.'

'Me? Competent? I'm the world's greatest bungler. I can't believe you haven't told me so, you're usually free with you opinions.'

'Does that annoy you?'

'No way! A man without opinions is dead.' Sylvan grinned, 'But you don't always have to be so honest.'

'Ha! You mean like at lunch time when I said your rissoles were too sticky?'


'You'd rather I said they were delicious?'

'Of course.'

'But then you might make them like that again.'

Every one laughed and tensions eased and over the following months and years the two older men slipped into comfortable, at times stormy, but always rewarding companionship because they never lost sight of the man they fell in love with, and learned to trust the other to continue loving them, no matter what.

As a result of their shared desire for independence and self-determination, the four men each developed routines in which they were busily, pleasurably and usefully occupied in maintaining their separation from the insanity of modernity. They left the world alone and, for the most part, were left alone, socially at least. They couldn't escape the need for food, services and technology, unfortunately.

For Ingenio and Constantine, independence in this uber-civilized world meant financial autonomy, without which there is no freedom or liberty, and it concerned them that neither Karmai nor Sylvan were financially independent. They needed to be certain that both men remained living at "85" because they wanted to, not because they needed the money the job provided.

So they arranged with Frankie that Karmai and Sylvan each be given five million dollars to do with as they pleased. Naturally, the intended recipients objected, declaring their friendship wasn't for sale, but after protracted discussion they realised that the opposite was the case—Frankie, Ingenio and Constantine wanted to free them as much as possible from the tyranny of overpopulated, over regulated, over policed, constantly surveilled civilization with its inescapable interdependence of idiots.

Ingenio's investigations into the world of property crime led to the despicable mire of slum landlords, rental rip-offs, murder and mayhem, bribes and the entire litany of corruption aided and abetted by equally corrupt politicians making laws and regulations at the dictate of their oligarch overlords instead of the people who thought they had elected them.

While looking into Tony's background, he gained the impression that more people were delighted at his disappearance than were upset. His enemies had been many, and therefore were all suspects. But that didn't let the five friends off the hook—it made things worse. A culprit had to be found to free the nasties from suspicion and constant police surveillance, so the inhabitants of "85" had to be even more on their guard than ever.

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