Frankie Fey

by Rigby Taylor

Chapter 41


Frankie was so tired that a straw pellet on the stone floor beside twenty-two other sleeping men seemed like luxury. In a coarse cotton nightshirt and wrapped in a sweet-smelling blanket, he slept deeply, only to be woken what seemed minutes later by the sound of a loud bell. He leaped out of bed imagining an emergency. Everyone was calmly getting up. A single candle gave just enough light to see the woollen monkish habits they were putting on over their nightshirts. Frankie found his hanging on a wooden peg beside his bed. After sliding feet into sandals, folding their bedding neatly, rinsing hands and faces in cold water at a row of basins at the end of the room, they filed along the freezing corridor to the equally cold and bleak meditation room where they sat cross legged on straw mats and began chanting something incomprehensible. Frankie gave up the attempt to follow and tried to empty his mind, or at least stop thinking about his situation. It was difficult to keep still and think of nothing, but eventually he found himself drifting into a sort of semi doze—eyes open and aware of what was going on, but unconcerned.

The daily routine was mind numbing—as it was intended to be. Woken between three and four in the morning, they folded their blankets, dressed, washed then assembled for communal chanting. At around six o'clock they scrubbed their whole bodies at the trough where Frankie had first seen them, then came in for a light meal. When there was enough daylight to see properly inside, the place was scrubbed and polished. The inside of the ancient stone building was scrupulously clean. Depressing and dull, but clean.

After a lecture by the Master in a language Frankie did not understand, they washed faces and hands and shaved heads at the outside trough. No one asked Frankie to shave his head, for which he was grateful. This was followed by working in the vegetable gardens or preparing food in one of the two kitchens. Simple fare for the monks, rich Asian food for the paying guests. Monks not rostered for duties were free to do as they liked. Most liked to sit and do nothing.

After a meagre lunch of lentil or rice soup and bread, accompanied by whatever vegetables the gardens provided, they took a short nap, then meditation for an hour, then manual labour—repairing, working in the gardens, chopping firewood, cleaning toilets, weeding, carrying heavy loads down the mountain for a purpose Frankie never discovered as he was never given the task.

As darkness fell they recited mantras until the evening meal of leftovers. This was followed by more meditation during which the monks had to be repeatedly hit to stay awake. Mind destroying tiredness due to lack of sleep enabled the master to take over the monk's already troubled minds. No one can think clearly with insufficient sleep, so they lived in a sort of resigned trance, imagining they were Buddha's blessed brotherhood experiencing disturbing visions of nirvana.

What surprised Frankie even more than the timetable, were the rules. Everything was regulated from the way they had to pick up and put down their eating utensils to the way they took off their sandals. Any error and they were hit by an older monk with a stick, hard enough to make the miscreant wince. He knew hazing was still rife in boarding schools and the army, but hadn't expected it in a place dedicated to spiritual awakening. But after receiving several painful clouts on the shoulders himself he realised it made unpleasant sense; regulate a man's behaviour and his mind will accept regulation. But it seemed depressingly dreary to replicate in the monastery, the miseries of life in the real world, just to prove that their sole hope of escaping reality was to retreat into their heads. Which was where all the other inmates, as Frankie had come to think of them, seemed to be. Drifting through the day like silent, sad automatons who seemed unaware of his existence and never attempted to communicate.

On the first afternoon when the other monks were sleeping, he had set off down the track in his tunic and sandals, but after only a few hundred metres a large man with a gun stepped out and forced him back. He was a prisoner. But not for long if he had anything to do with it. They couldn't watch him twenty-four/seven. Meanwhile he might as well experience the life of a monk while working out a way to retrieve his passport and debit card.

Over the following days - or weeks, Frankie began to lose count, he skipped afternoon meditation and wandered up the track above the monastery, having learned he was only stopped if he went downhill. He climbed nearby hills, explored valleys and sat gazing at the view, wondering why it depressed instead of elevated his spirits. And then he realised. It was as if he was back in Tasmania. Alone with a bunch of weirdos. Trapped in a cold, windy, uncomfortable place. Panic attacks unmanned him. Deep breathing didn't help. Was this his karma? Blood pounded in his ears and he would return to the monastery determined to quit the place. But how?

Eventually, he plucked up the courage to face Wiley, get his gear and get out. Concealing a sharp rock in his robe he knocked on the door. There was no response. He tried the door. It was locked and anger mutated into a worm of fear wriggling in his guts. What if he was never going to be free? What if…? He thrust the thought away and was on the point of returning to the meditation room when he noticed that the door that led to the part of the monastery where the paying guests were staying, was open. Every time he had tried it before it had been securely locked.

Heart pounding, he went through and along a short corridor to another door on which he knocked. It was opened by an excessively slim and attractive young woman in a sari. Frankie apologised for interrupting and asked the whereabouts of Wiley.

'I don't know,' the young woman replied in a surprisingly deep voice. 'I will ask Lu.' She disappeared to be replaced by a middle-aged man in a lime green tracksuit with a face that probably originated somewhere in south East Asia. He held out a hand.

'Hi, I'm Lu; you must be Frankie. What's the problem?'

'I need to see Wiley. He's not in his office.'

'He's away on business for a couple of weeks, come in.'

Inside was the complete opposite of the rest of the monastery; a polished stone floor covered in colourful rugs, comfortable arm chairs and couches, a blazing fire, and on the far wall, large, double glazed windows offered spectacular views across an apparently bottomless ravine to jagged snowy mountains.

'This is beautiful! And I suppose your bedrooms are as comfortable?'

'Pretty good, you can sample mine tonight if you like.' Lu's predatory smile was probably intended to be enticing.

'Thanks, but I'm not into guys.'

'Neither am I, normally, but stuck up here a man gets desperate.'

'That's scarcely a compliment.'

Lu laughed a little too boisterously. 'What are you drinking?'

'Just water, thanks. If the monk master, or whatever he's called smelled anything else on my breath he'd beat me with his stick. I'm beginning to think he's a sadist.'

'He is.' Lu looked across the room and yelled, 'Shiv! A whisky for me and water for Frankie.'

'Can you please let me know when Wiley returns? He has my gear locked in his room so I can't leave.'

Lu's hand rested heavy on Frankie's shoulder. 'Of course I will let you know. Meanwhile, sit down and relax.' He dropped onto the sofa and patted the seat beside him.

Frankie sat as far away as he could, but Lu sidled closer till their thighs were touching.

The sari clad young woman appeared with a tray, handed Lu his glass and offered Frankie the tray. In the daylight streaming through large windows Frankie realised Shiv was no more than eighteen, had a well-defined jaw, a shaving shadow and an obvious Adam's apple. She was looking down at him intently as if trying to communicate.

'You're a man, Shiv.'


Frankie turned questioningly to Lu.

'None of us are turned on by boys, but there are no females here so we make the best of what we've got. From behind with her skirt up all you see is a nice bum and a tight little hole. Tighter than my wife's hole, that's for sure.'

'And you all fuck him?' Frankie was unable to conceal his disgust.

Lu's face darkened. 'Her, not him! Shiv is female and don't you forget it!'

Frankie turned to Shiv. 'Do you like being fucked by these men, Shiv?'

'It is my job, sir. What I'm paid for.'

Frankie turned back to Lu. 'Why have I never seen any of you around the monastery?'

'We have our private garden, gymnasium, Internet, library and access to walking tracks. That's where the other two are. Shiv cooks for us and cleans. She's a good girl and well worth the fortune we pay her.'

'Except I haven't received anything yet, and I've been here five weeks,' Shiv said softly.

'You'll get it when we leave. Now bugger off and start making supper.'

Shiv scurried out a door.

'Well, it's been a pleasure, but I'm sure you have better things to do than hang around here.' Lu heaved himself off the couch and opened the door.

Frankie walked out silently and the door slammed behind him. 'Fuck! I shouldn't have sounded critical. He'll take it out on that poor guy, Shiv,' he whispered to himself. 'I am such a fool!' The feeling of being trapped almost overwhelmed him. They were both prisoners, he realised. Both had no control over their life! Taking long, deep breaths to slow his heart he shuffled back to the empty dormitory, the worm of fear burrowing deeper into his confidence.

The following morning during outside ablutions, Shiv appeared, wrapped in a blanket.

'I'm sorry to intrude, but the men are asleep and I needed to see you.' His face looked drawn and ill in the cold morning light.

Frankie took him to the outside room he had sheltered in when he arrived. 'What is it?'

'I overheard them talking about you last night. They often forget I'm there. Lu said you were a very pretty young man, so they shouldn't be too hasty about letting you go. They have no intention of releasing me; I know that for a fact. I'm very frightened. I don't want to end up in a brothel.'

'Did you know they were going to fuck you when you applied for the job?' Frankie asked.

'No way! The advertisement was for a man to cook and do minor housework, that's all. I thought it was to be in a city, not up in the mountains. And I'm also worried I might be infected. Until last week there were ten men here and they all fucked me. And I wonder... It's very sore. Can you look for me?' He bent over and pulled up his robe to expose a red and swollen anus.

'It looks sore, but not infected. Just bruised, I think. How on earth did you cope with ten?'

'I taught myself to relax my sphincter and have so far avoided splitting my ring, but I worry every time that it will happen. But they don't care; to them I am nothing but a fucking toy.'

Frankie was horrified. 'Do they use condoms?'

'Yes, but only because they're worried the others might have diseases, not to protect me. But they're mean on lube. I want to escape, but they have my documents and I don't think they are going to pay me for the five months I've been with them.'

'As soon as Wiley returns I'll get my gear and we'll leave. Together we'll easily make it down the mountain and escape. I've been going for walks and know an alternative way to the track from here.'

'Thank you, Frankie. You are the only nice person I have spoken to since I left home.'

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