Frankie Fey

by Rigby Taylor

Chapter 22


Karmai and Sylvan's beefed up front gate looked slightly more formidable than before, requiring a tank to get through—or the combination of the heavy-duty lock. Five more security cameras had been hidden on the road frontage and at the gate. Visitors had to use a local landline phone placed to the left of the gate, then wait for someone to come down and let them in. A small electric scooter parked by the garage made that a quick trip.

'Ok, What's next, Con?' Karmai was impatient to get started on stopping the sale of the National Park, and punishing the extortionists.

'Acting as Frankie's lawyer, I will pay this woman a visit and get the names and addresses of the people she did the conveyancing for. You and Sylvan will be my back-up strong men waiting close by to save me if I ring you. And with Frankie's assistance, Ingenio will inundate social media with news about the impending sale of one of the nations most beautiful National Parks for development by foreigners, as well as the projected flooding within the next three years of all low-lying areas, and the government's secret dealings to ensure the welfare of the wealthy.'

'Sounds good.'

'I'll also find some way of alerting property owners about the stand-over tactics of middlemen buyers.' Ingenio added. 'Ah, the wonders of the Internet. Free email no matter the volume. It can't be long now before ISPs start charging.'

'Are you absolutely certain you can remain anonymous, Ingenio? Surely everything that leaves your computer to whisk around the Internet has an origin tag, or whatever it's called?'

'Nothing's completely certain, Karmai. You're right that everything uploaded is given a tag identifying the Internet Service Provider, but fortunately there are thousands of them. I use a program that allows me to choose what provider to use, and if I randomly select and only use each ISP once, there's no pattern so they're not going to notice if I piggyback. And even if they do, they won't find the origin of the data. The Internet may be wonderful, but it's also the most dangerous tool humans have ever invented and will be our eventual downfall. Meanwhile we may as well make use of it. My pupils—sixty-eight thousand and fifty-one at the last count, will receive anonymous emails from new protest groups with names and codes that will fool spam filters, explaining what's happening and inviting them to a protest rally in Martin Place. Affordable donations will be solicited to make them seem genuine, all the money going through a laundry service I set up ages ago, before landing in the coffers of ANTaR.'

'Good one, Ingenio. And if we need more muscle, I can depend on over a hundred young men I've kept out of trouble since we came here. They're supposed to be criminals, but I'd trust all of them further than any politician or cop. What a world humans make for themselves.'

'Don't you want to remain as anonymous as possible?' Karmai asked innocently. 'Surely the fewer people who know you're involved, the safer you and the rest of us will be?'

'Of course, but…'

'I assume your non-criminal mates are human?'

'Con nodded.

'Then they will tell their mates what they're doing because they'll be proud to be taking down the big bad guys. You'll be a hero and a saviour and on the news before you can blink.'

'He's right, Con,' Sylvan agreed. 'We five have something precious to lose. Those guys have nothing to lose and everything to gain. We must retain our anonymity.'

Con looked around, saw the serious nods and conceded. 'You're right. I was getting carried away. Felt like Castro leading the downtrodden against the vile capitalist exploiters. Sorry.'

'Forgiven,' Frankie laughed. 'But I must have more to do than give Ingenio a hand.'

'You are in charge of keeping this place going, answering phones, making meals, making yourself useful without getting into trouble. You're tough but innocent. We're able to keep our heads when all about us are losing theirs. You, dear boy, would race into battle and get yourself shot.'

'Like the way Sylvan did when I saved you all with my bow and arrow?'

'Ah yes.' Con looked at Sylvan who blushed.

'I'm dispensable, Frankie,' Sylvan said seriously. 'You are not. You are the owner, the person with the legal right to hang on to this place. Were I in charge of you I'd send you away until all this is over.'

Karmai rounded on Sylvan, grabbed a fistful of chest hair and shoved his face into his. 'You are not fucking dispensable, Sylvan. You are the most precious person here, as far as I'm concerned. And if you do anything stupid like that again, I'll… I'll…' He shook his head to stop the emotion. 'But I agree that Frankie must stay out of this. You're a great guy, Frankie, we all love you, but you're not nasty enough yet. Leave this to us. If we have to worry about you then we'll be in danger of stuffing up.'

'He's right,' Ingenio said. 'I don't want to be concerning myself about you when I'm concentrating on making waves.'

'Ok,' Frankie shrugged. 'I'm flattered, and I'll keep out of your hair—until you come begging me to put a poisoned arrow into someone. How about I print off a few leaflets and paste them here and there in the town?'

'Promise not to be seen doing it?'


Avarisha Louka's name, legal degree, hours of business and phone number were displayed in neat gold letters on the glass panel of a discreetly dark green door situated between a bank and a sports shop. They entered and climbed steep, carpeted stairs to the first floor where the lawyer had her rooms. The only occupant of the no-frills waiting room was a pale and wan young man with long, greasy hair, sitting behind a computer. He looked up guiltily. Con apologised for not having an appointment, but needed to see Ms Louka. The young man shut down his screen, told Con to take a seat, and disappeared into the room behind.

Con remained standing until, about five minutes later, a largish, somewhat shapeless woman in early middle age and a dusty pink dress, opened her door, eyed the visitor coolly, and invited him in. Her room was large and carpeted wall to wall in nondescript brown and beige and orangey shapes. Ideal for parties where the guests are prone to technicolour burps. The air, a toxic brew of stale cigarette smoke and overpowering perfume, caused Con to breathe shallowly and decide to keep the interview short. Shelves filled with books and folders made a floor to ceiling backdrop for the imposing desk and it's glowering owner, who sat down with a slight grunt, waved Con to the chair in front, raised questioning eyebrows and asked rudely, 'Who are you and what do you want?'

Con smiled pleasantly, secure in the knowledge that he who keeps his temper longest wins. 'I'm Constantine Tollirint, representing Frankie Fey,' he said clearly, noting a twitch in the otherwise dead face. 'He owns a large property in the mountains just east of Katoomba, backing on to the National Park. When all his neighbours sold their properties, he decided to sell too, but so far no one has shown any interest. So I contacted a friend in the Land Transfer Office who told me you had done the conveyancing. Acting under Mr. Fey's instructions, I am here in the hope you can put me in contact with the people who are buying in that area.'

Ms. Louka's face remained impassive. 'You are saying that Mr. Fey wants to sell?'



'He's had enough of romantic isolation. Being in his thirties he's come to the conclusion he quit the bright lights too soon… I think.' Con pulled a wry face as if to share silent criticism of his client.

With no acknowledgement of his attempt at familiarity, the woman stated bluntly, 'Give me his details and I will contact the buyers.'

'I would prefer to approach them myself.'

'Not possible.'

Con sighed. 'Then I've wasted my time. Mr. Fey had intended to use the local Estate Agent, but I convinced him it would be better for him to use the people already familiar with these sorts of transactions.' He stood and held out a hand. 'So, as we are unable to do business, I'll visit the other fellow.'

A flicker of fear. 'Sit down, Mr. Tollirint. I was merely trying to save you time. Of course you may have the name of the buyer. I will post it to you as soon as possible.'

Con remained standing. 'No thanks. I'm in a hurry. I know from experience that a lawyer's soon as possible can mean weeks. If you haven't got the details, or permission to tell me, please just say so.'

This time the annoyance was obvious. She stared at Con as if to read his mind. After a few seconds he shrugged and moved to the door as if he'd given up.

'Here,' she snapped, scribbling on the back of one of her business cards, then handing it to him. 'This person bought the other properties.' She stared at him, lip curling contemptuously. 'I've heard about you, Mr. Tollirint, keeping riff-raff out on the streets instead of locked away where they belong. The world you're now playing in is very different. I suggest you buy yourself a long spoon.'

A nervous chill ran down Con's spine as he nodded, turned and left. Despite having maintained his composure he didn't feel he had won anything.

He joined Karmai and Sylvan at a coffee shop two blocks away and they drove to a small park on the harbour where they could talk privately.

'There's only one person buying, so I'm guessing our two buyers were working for him, and probably the blokes who intimidated the other property owners to sell were working for him too. So he's the one we have to go to. I've never heard of him, which is no doubt deliberate. But Ms Louka seemed frightened. She told me to buy a long spoon. What did she mean?'

'It's an old saying,' Karmai explained. 'He who sups with the devil needs a long spoon. I went to a mission school for a while and they were always saying that, meaning don't get too close to bad people or you'll get hurt.'

'Good advice.'

'What's the bloke's name?' Sylvan asked.

Con handed him the card on which Ms Louka had scrawled, A. Thrope, and a phone number.

'What sort of name's Thrope?'

'An odd one.'

'And why are we so sure it's a bloke? Loads of females just use initials so no one will guess they're not men. Writers of gay erotica are mainly females with names like Alex or Kris. Have you read any of their stuff?'


'Don't, it's just Mills and Boone with erections. Fantasy crap that does more harm than good to young guys questioning their sexuality. They need a dose of reality, not wet-dream fantasy.'

'I've never read any gay stuff; thought I was a heterosexual till I met Karmai. Do you reckon I ought to? You know… make myself more knowledgeable?'

'There's nothing to know. We're all individuals doing whatever we think is best for us. It's only our enemies who say we're all the same.'

'Yeah, right-wing nut jobs and religious crackpots. Apparently they're usually closet queers, trying to divert attention from their own lusts. Poor buggers.'

Back at "85" Ingenio had sent out his bulletins while Frankie prepared a score of notices. After dark he would stick them up around the town.

Pretending he wanted to look at what Ingenio was doing on the computer, Frankie leaned closer and blew lightly on his neck. 'I reckon necks are the most beautiful part of a man's body,' he said softly. 'They are the graceful, powerful columns that support our intelligence and wisdom.'

'It's too hot for philosophising, no matter how poetic' Ingenio grunted.

Frankie lightly kissed the tanned column.

Ingenio carried on looking at the screen.

He placed his hands on Ingenio's shoulders and massaged them lightly.

'You're radiating so much heat my back's pouring with sweat. Let's go for a swim.'

'Yeah, race you.'

They exchanged shorts for sandals, Frankie grabbed a large towel and they jogged down the track to the swimming hole where a trickle of water ran down rocks into a pool about as wide and deep as the average Jacuzzi. The surrounds were rocky, so they slithered carefully into the cool liquid, sat on smooth rocks and wallowed in silence.

'Ah, bliss.' Ingenio sighed. 'Another reason not to have air-conditioning. We'd not bother to come down here if the house was cool.'

Frankie reached over and removed a twig from Ingenio's hair.

Ingenio laughed. 'You're a fusspot, you know that?'

'I'm just…'

'Just in need of a boyfriend and something useful to do.' Ingenio lay back on the warm rock, closed his eyes and relaxed.

Frankie sat leaning against a boulder and consciously studied this man he thought he knew. Ingenio looked the same as always, but… smaller somehow. Of course Frankie had grown and Ingenio hadn't over the last four years. Even so he seemed more slightly built—less robust than Frankie had always imagined. Not fragile. Lean and… spare. That was the word. No flesh to waste, but fit and healthy. A sudden protective urge swept through Frankie when he realised he was now taller, heavier and physically tougher than his father.

'Inge,' he said softly, 'I'm really grateful that you pretended to be me when the heavies came knocking. I could never have faced them like you did, but I'm older now and tougher, so it's time I took responsibility for myself. Is that Ok?'

'Very Ok,' Ingenio said with conviction. 'I've never enjoyed telling lies and I was terrified each time.' He gave a short laugh. 'Believe me, it's a relief to know that next time someone wants to meet Frankie Fey they'll be dealing with you; as long as you promise to always take care.'

'I promise.'

They lay contentedly gazing up at the sky through leaves and eucalyptus flowers. A parrot screeched. Three large black butterflies chased each other. Cicadas chirruped.

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