Frankie Fey

by Rigby Taylor

Chapter 35

What Frankie Saw

There was enough moonlight to see shadows and shapes as they followed an overgrown path that led to a sagging corrugated iron shed full of old tyres and spider webs. Frankie had been there before but not entered, being wary of snakes. Knowing where they were heading, he increased the gap between them in case he trod on a stick or broke a branch. The scraping of the sagging door as it was dragged open, suggested they were entering, so he waited three minutes to make sure they weren't just picking something up and continuing their walk, then slowly crept forward. The old shed, deep black in the moonlight, looked like a flurry of fireflies. Electricity wasn't connected so they must be using a battery lamp and the light was escaping through rust holes in the walls and along the edge of the roof.

He crept to the partially open door. A patch in the middle of the earthen floor had been cleared for a mattress. Both men were naked; Harley on his back with his legs in the air, his son between them silently pumping. Harley's eyes were closed and a smile softened his normally critical expression. Massimo climaxed, held it for several seconds, then slowly withdrew.

'Fuck I needed that,' Harley said with feeling. 'Thinking of you with that creepy Frankie every night made me so horny I even fucked Columbine. And then I had to sit through the bitch's bloody video of you two fucking. How much longer do we have to put up with those two fuckwits?'

'Empirika says she'll have everything she needs in a couple of days. So relax. Do you want to fuck?'

'Of course.'

Massimo withdrew, rolled over and was getting onto his hands and knees when he glanced at the door.

Frankie pulled back. Heart pounding.

'I thought I heard something.'

'Bandicoots, echidnas, rats, possums, snakes, lizards… of course you heard something.'

Frankie remained frozen until the sound of rutting males covered his retreat.

Back at the house he wondered if he should wake Prudence, but decided against it. They couldn't do anything tonight, and as Empirika was involved in whatever was afoot it would be stupid to do anything unusual.

Massimo showered and crawled into bed half an hour later. Frankie pretended to be asleep while increasingly grisly scenarios tumbled through his head. It wouldn't be possible to talk to Prudence alone anywhere on the property without attracting suspicion. So where? And how to arrange it?

The following morning just before dawn he suddenly howled and clutched in agony at his belly. 'Sorry, Massimo,' he gasped, panting, eyes wide, face contorted in a spasm of suffering. 'I couldn't stop myself.' Another agonised groan sent Massimo to fetch Prudence who pressed here and there on belly and chest, eliciting yowls of torment and a secret wink. She took his temperature and said it was hovering on forty. An emergency! It was still only half past six, too early for doctors, and an ambulance would take ages, if it didn't get lost, so she decided to take Frankie to outpatients at the nearest hospital. Massimo helped him to dress and Columbine made a thermos of tea and a few sandwiches while Prudence dressed and brought her car around. Empirika remained in bed complaining about the noise.

'Have you got your wallet and car card?' she whispered as she settled him in the passenger seat. He nodded and they were away, zipping down the drive, along the road and into the city, stopping at the first park to drink their tea and eat the sandwiches. Frankie described the previous night's scene and conversation. Prudence remained silent for several minutes, concentrating.

'I guessed about Harley and Massimo. Harley's been visibly jealous of you sleeping and wrestling with him. And I'm sure Columbine knows, which is why she made the video of you two wrestling and fucking and made sure Harley had to sit through it. And Massimo would have loved making his father crazy with jealousy. They're a weird bunch. Massimo's a con man, but he's not a cameraman, hasn't the faintest idea. Didn't you notice, when he was filming you and the sculpture that is never going to be finished? As for Rika, did you see how angry she got when you suggested she use a 3D printer? That's because it's how the sculpture of me was made. She's competent, but not that good. She only asked you to stay because she thought that would annoy me, but then realised her mistake and now hates you being here, keeps suggesting I should get rid of you.' She laughed. 'That, of course, only made me determined that you stay. So she did me a favour because I'm really pleased you're here.'

'So am I'

'Good. And there's something very odd about Columbine's relationship to Harley. What woman would marry a man who's screwing his son? She's Rika's mother all right, but not Massimo's. I think Rika's story about causing the death of that jilted woman was a warning. Am I paranoid in thinking they want to get rid of us?'

'No. Sensible. Yesterday Massimo told me he wasn't Columbine's son. He dislikes them all, he reckons. How long have you known the Kwins?'

'Just on two years. In my second year at University I met Rika at an insignificant art gallery in the city where she was exhibiting small sculptures. She was sexy so I bought a couple of pieces and we swapped phone numbers. A week later she rang, I invited her out, and she's been here ever since. She's useful and good in bed. The other three came and stayed for a week in their campervan. The next time they stayed for a month, in the house. They're like gypsies. Always on the move. Always big plans and nothing to show for it. I've never seen any of their educational videos or anything else they say they've done. I just thought they were harmless layabouts living on their wits and the dole. Now it seems they aren't harmless and I'm worried. What can we do?'

'We, Prudence?' Frankie asked with a smile.

She blanched. 'Sorry. I know I seem cool and strange, but I've always considered you a good friend. Actually, it's embarrassing to admit, but you're the only person I know that I'd trust or confide in. And after your confession last night I was hoping you were…'

'I was.'


'Referring to us. I want to be your friend and I'm going to help.'

'Thanks, Frankie. What do you suggest we do?'

'We write down everything we know, what we suspect and what we need to know, then I'll send the information to Ingenio, and if there's any information about them on the Internet he'll find it and report back.'

'How long will it take?'

'An hour or so.' Frankie laughed. 'When Rika introduced me to her family I assumed they were stage names, Harley Kwin, Empirika, Columbine, Massimo. Seriously, who has names like that?'

'You mean they ought to have normal names like Virtue and Ingenio?'

'Touché. Still, we'll ask Ingenio to check if they're fakes. Now, where's an Internet café when you need one?'

'What if he's not home?'

'I've a code that triggers an alarm no matter where he is.'

'I'd like to meet your father.'

Frankie grinned. 'Who knows what might happen.'

It took them ten minutes to compose and send the email. Half a minute later Ingenio responded, assuring them he'd get onto it immediately and asking for the make of the Kwin's campervan thing. And could they come to "85" and stay overnight in case there were further questions?

Frankie turned to Prudence. 'Can we? Do you trust those four alone at your place?'

'You've the keys to your car so they can't use that, and your wallet. There's nothing I value that they can harm, and if they do other damage I can call the cops and I've a feeling they might not like that. So yes.'

'Do you know the make of their vehicle?'

'As it happens, I do. I was struck by the absurd name and it's stuck in my head, it's a… a Faylabago.' She spelled it. Goodness knows how the manufacturers came up with a name like that.'

Prudence left a message on Empirika's phone that Frankie's condition probably wasn't serious, but he was being kept in hospital overnight for observation, so she'd find a motel and they weren't to worry about her.

Frankie emailed the make of the van and said they'd be home in a few hours. Three hours later they were back at "85" where Prudence was welcomed with tea and Madeira cake.

'After seeing the video we wanted to tell you how much we enjoyed your portrayal of a nymph,' Constantine said, 'And now we can. Well done,'

'Thank you kind sirs.'

They laughed, enjoyed the tea and cake, then settled in front of Ingenio's computer to see what had been learned.

'I started with the sculptress,' Ingenio said with a frown. 'There was no sculptor called Empirika Kwin, but the exhibition you mentioned had her listed as Empirika Swyndill. No luck with Columbine Kwin, but here's a mug shot of Colleen Swyndill from Empirika's social network page, is this the woman?'

It was.

'You're extraordinarily ingenious, Ingenio,' Prudence declared. 'I'd never have thought sideways like that. I always think in lines. You deserve the name.'

'Thanks. Now to Harley Kwin. No luck with Kwin, Quin, Harvey Kwin, or any logical combination that sounds similar, so I tried Massimo, Wrestler, and found a video of a short, handsome, powerful guy wrestling in a North Sydney competition. Does that sound like him?'

'To a T. Can you get a surname?'

'I scanned old programmes from National Wrestling Competitions and found one from five years ago announcing a new member of the team, Massimo, formerly Martin Harley, a twenty-year old from Queensland. So I checked Harley Harley, Harvey Harley and similar combinations and found nothing. Then I scanned the Queensland Vehicle Registration records for the Faylabaygo Campervan. There are only a couple of hundred in the country, and one is registered to Jeremy Harley.'

'How interesting, we've been living with Jeremy and Martin Harley, and Colleen and Empirika Swyndill. All we have to discover now, is what they're planning.'

'First, a meal,' Ingenio laughed. 'When Karmai and Sylvan heard you were coming back they invited us to dinner. Karmai found a monitor lizard road-kill on the road and is preparing a traditional delicacy.'

'Can't wait.'

'They won't mind if I come?'

'They'll be as pleased to have the chance to congratulate you on your dancing as we were,' Constantine told her.

'Gosh. Fame for the only thing I'm no good at.'

'You're too modest, Prudence, Ingenio smiled. 'Constantine and I need to freshen up, so Frankie will show you to your room and the bathroom. Back here in about twenty minutes?'

Only the lizard's head had been squashed, the meat was white, tender and sweetly tasty, and the vegetables succulent and delicious. Prudence discovered to her astonishment that no one seemed to think she was strange, cold, clinical or aloof, so she relaxed and enjoyed herself. After discussing their quandary for an hour, during which Karmai warned them that conmen and women were seldom harmless so they should expect physical nastiness, and Sylvan offered his brawn if it was needed, they returned to the large house.

Frankie was pleased to be back in his own bed, alone, and Prudence loved the guest room, especially the view in the morning across treetops to distant hills.

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