Frankie Fey

by Rigby Taylor

Chapter 40


Nervously, Frankie went to the door, opened it and peered out. No one. His stomach told him it was at least lunchtime. Fasting had done its work and triggered a substantial release of testosterone, generating a sense of purpose and energy and an obstinacy he hadn't realised he possessed. He wasn't going to run away with his tail between his legs!

Wrapped in the blanket, he left the cell and squeezed through a narrow gap between rock and building to explored the other side of the monastery, or whatever it was. The sun was high and blessedly warm. Directly ahead, two great craggy mountains joined by a monstrous white glacier, reared against the improbably dark blue of a cloudless sky. He relieved himself over the precipice, amused by the steam drifting off as his urine splashed down vertical rock.

Rounding a corner of crumbling stone he entered a cramped flagstone yard in which about twenty men of all ages in loincloths, were standing in front of a stone trough, filling wooden ladles with water that spouted from the rock, then pouring the freezing liquid over themselves, gasping and jumping up and down to keep warm as they washed.

Feeling dirty, dusty and desperately in need of a wash himself, Frankie dropped the blanket and joined them. They paid him no attention so he washed himself thoroughly, relieved to see his feet were not as badly cut as he'd imagined. Then, wrapped again in the blanket, he followed them inside through a narrow wooden door. And there his courage left him. The men disappeared and he sagged to the ground until the smell of boiled lentils drew him to the warmth of the kitchen where five men in rough, grey, long-sleeved tunics that fell to mid calf, were preparing bread and bowls of soup on ancient wood burning stoves. Without otherwise acknowledging his presence, a youth placed a steaming bowl and hunk of bread on the floor beside him, before carrying a large tray of food out through a wide archway.

Obeying silent, mimed instructions, he spent the rest of the day in the kitchen, scrubbing the floor, cleaning utensils, preparing vegetables. In between he sat on the floor as close to the warmth of the fire as possible. After the evening meal he was left alone for an hour, then directed to fold his blanket neatly, leave it on the floor, and go to a cell at the end of a draughty stone corridor lit by guttering candles. Inside, warmth enveloped him and he gazed around in astonishment. The floor was carpeted in shaggy goatskins. A large candelabrum gave both light and warmth from at least twenty thick candles. A tapestry covered the bare stone of one wall and a large oil painting of what looked like a sunny sylvan scene decorated another.

Beside an elaborately carved desk stood a man of indeterminate age, dressed casually in what looked like silken martial arts gear. Bare brown feet protruded below low-slung baggy cream trousers. A wide-lapelled loose coat of the same material, hung open to reveal a lean hairless chest and flat washboard belly. One of his nipples was pierced by a gold ring. The face contradicted the taut body, having collapsed into lines that suggested scowls. Brown, bloodshot eyes peered over prominent cheekbones, and the thin lips were not used to smiling.

He studied Frankie carefully then held out his hand. 'Wiley.'

Frankie shook the bony claw. 'Frankie.'

Wiley moved behind his desk and sat, leaning back in his chair, hands behind his head while gazing thoughtfully at his navel. After eyeing his guest for several uncomfortable seconds he snapped, 'Why are you naked?'

'I was mugged and had everything stolen on my way here.'

Wiley nodded as if that was quite normal. 'Are you cold?

'Not in here—the rest of the place is freezing.'

'Why are you here?'

Frankie shook his head in astonishment. 'I was stressed after finishing university and your advertisement promised peace, meditation, sanctuary from the stresses of the world… that sort of thing.'

'What advertisement?'

'In the email you sent.'

The man opened a folder, checked something then asked abruptly, 'What's your email address?'

'Frankie ten at xyzmail dot com dot a u.'

'Do you write ten as one zero, or the letters t-e-n?'

'One zero.'

The man sighed and placed a photograph on his desk. 'Take a look at this man.'

'Frankie had to lean against Wiley in order to get a proper look at a pleasant, well-made blond man in his late twenties, wearing board shorts and standing on a beach holding a surfboard.

Wiley's hand ran up Frankie's thigh and massaged his buttocks. 'Do you know this man?'

Deciding that in his present position it would be unwise to protest, Frankie shook his head. 'No.'

'His name is also Frankie and his email address is identical to yours but with the letters t-e-n. You received his invitation by mistake.'

'I'm sorry, but… this is a refuge-monastery sort of place, isn't it? The men I saw washing looked like monks, and so did the guys in the kitchen.'

'Until three years ago it was a Zen Monastery. But the Master died and it closed, leaving three monks rattling around with nowhere else to go. They were thrilled when I bought the place and told them they could stay on.' He sat back with a smug smile. 'Turned out to be a smart move. Scarcely any renovation, no overheads, and I make more money than most five star hotels, without the fuss.'

'From what I've seen it doesn't rate as a luxury resort.'

'It's two resorts in one. The monks run a traditional monastic retreat for those who want it, and the other half is refurbished with mod cons for… other clients.'

'Clever. Do many people want the ascetic life?'

'We've twenty-two young and not so young men whose parents are prepared to pay well to keep them out of the way.'


'They're soft in the head, or drug addicts, or in strife with the law, an embarrassment to the family… loads of reasons.'

'And the other half of the place?'

'You're a nosey young bugger.'

'Not as nosey as the finger that's attempting to invade my bowels.' Frankie laughed to hide his annoyance.'

'You don't like it?'

'I'm flattered by the intimate attention, but… no, not really.'

Wiley slid his hand between Frankie's thighs and fondled his scrotum. 'In the refurbished part, I accommodate men who are prepared to pay royally for security and privacy.'

'Was the other Frankie one of those?'

'Would have been.'

'So that's why it's so expensive.' Frankie thought for a bit. 'Why wasn't I allowed in when I first arrived; naked, freezing, hurt and hungry?'

'We knew you weren't the bloke we'd been expecting, so hoped you'd just go away.'

'Naked with no money or passport? It's going to be a bugger getting a new one.'

Wiley reached under his desk and produced Frankie's satchel, plonking it onto the desk. 'Is this what you lost?'

'How…?' Frankie's eyes became slits and he would have moved away if his testicles hadn't been in the firm grip of a lean claw.

'I pay the fellow in the Lachung hostel to let me know whenever anyone asks the way here. When he told me you'd set off on foot, I sent a man down to wait in the abandoned houses to check if you were the fellow we were expecting, or an unwelcome intruder. As you looked nothing like the photo of the other Frankie, he phoned me and asked what to do. I thought you were probably a spy, so told him to discourage you, which he did.'

'He left me lying unconscious right on the edge of the ravine! I would have fallen over if I'd moved!'

'That was the idea. Unfortunately, another of my guests who'd spent the night somewhere else, was returning the following morning and thought you were just another druggie, so kicked you away from the edge. I could have strangled him when he told me.'

'It would have been an easy death,' Frankie said thoughtfully. 'I'd dream I was flying and then it'd be over.'

'Are you sorry he kicked you out of the way?'

'Sort of, although what happened between then and now has taught me rather a lot about myself. It would have been a pity to miss that.' He turned angry eyes on his host. 'Do you still want me dead?'

'No. You can make the three monks happy by being their only sane pupil.'

'I will transfer five thousand dollars to your account and leave. This is not the sort of place I expected.'

'How dull life would be if everything was as we expected.'

'Please give me my satchel.'


'Why not!'

'Because you interest me. Why would a good looking, fit young man spend time up a mountain on his own in order to have his mind bent by a bunch of geriatric old misfits? Most people your age go around in groups, drinking, screwing, making a nuisance of themselves, learning to run with the pack.'

'That doesn't interest me. And now I know this is merely a safe house and lunatic asylum, I want to go.'

'Clearly, you don't know what's good for you. You should see a bit more of the world before running back to mummy.'

'I have no mummy.'

'Then you're a lucky man.' Wiley laughed, absurdly pleased with himself, and with his free hand placed the satchel in the solid-looking cupboard under his desk, closed and locked the door and dropped the key into the top pocket of his jacket. 'It'll be safer there than in a dormitory with a bunch of weirdos.' He pointed at a small silver bell on the far edge of the desk. 'Ring that, will you?'

Fear of having his testicles torn off was the only thing that prevented Frankie from smashing his fist into the side of Wiley's head. Instead, he leaned across and did as requested. Almost immediately an unattractively wrinkled old man in scaly skin and a grey woollen tunic similar to the ones worn by the kitchen helpers, came in, stood to the side of the desk and bowed slightly.

'Master, This is Frankie. He wants to get to know himself. I'll place him in your tender care.'

The lizard man's lips curled into a sneer as he gazed pointedly at Frankie's groin.

Wiley laughed too loudly, released his hold, and thrust Frankie roughly towards the old man, who grasped his charge by the shoulder, pushed him into the centre of the room and turned him slowly, prodding with a bony finger as if inspecting a beast at the saleyards. With a contemptuous sniff he shrugged, then led him out of the warmth into the freezing old monastery.

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