Frankie Fey

by Rigby Taylor

Chapter 50


Frankie raced over. Lucien was ashen-faced.

'Fuck I feel terrible,' he muttered. 'I think I'm going to be…' he was. What hadn't exited his rear end came out his mouth. He swayed slightly. Frankie caught him, assisted him into the sea and sat him down. He felt very hot, so appreciated the cool. He splashed water over himself till he was clean, then Frankie led him back to the shade of the trees. Before they got there, however, another gut wrenching spasm, and yellow liquid was again running down his legs.

Back to the sea for a wash, then finally to the shade where he managed to remain for half an hour while Frankie forced him to sip bottled water to prevent dehydration. Then he was again dragging himself to the water.

After that Lucien was too weak to move. His head felt as if it was bursting, his eyes ached, his throat and anus were raw. But he reckoned he'd be Ok on his own for an hour, so Frankie dressed him, then returned to town to buy bottled water, a small billy, a bag of rice, matches and a cup. Back at the shore, he built a small fire of sticks, hung the billy over it and boiled the water and rice for twenty minutes. After cooling the billy in the sea, he gave a cup of the starchy water to Lucien to sip, eating the solids himself.

They remained there until dusk, Lucien sipping the thick rice water. Then after another explosive wet fart and dry retching, Frankie cleaned him up and they limped back to the hotel. After tucking Lucien into bed, Frankie went in search of the proprietor. He was sympathetic, gave him a plastic bucket and towels, and sent his wife up to check.

She wasn't as sympathetic as her husband until Frankie pressed the equivalent of two weeks' rent into her hand. Then she agreed to boil water and rice and allow Frankie to use the laundry facilities in the basement. Her humour improved even further when she realised Frankie didn't want the services of the maid, who was already overworked as the hotel was full. He promised to keep the windows open for ventilation, to keep the room clean and sterile, and make sure no guests were inconvenienced.

Despite being empty of food solids, Lucien had to use the bucket three times during the night. Frankie covered it in a wet towel to keep the smell in and emptied and cleaned it at first light, fortunately meeting no other guests. By breakfast time Lucien was too exhausted to speak; pale as death, gaunt with dark rings around wide eyes. He lay silently in bed. Became agitated when Frankie said he was going for a doctor.

'Doctors make people sick,' he whispered. 'I only trust you. I can feel myself getting better.'

He wasn't worse, but that wasn't good enough for Frankie. After cleaning and scrubbing everything he and Lucien had touched, replacing the sheets, washing and bleaching the soiled ones and hanging them out in the drying area, he left Lucien asleep with water and a clean bucket, and went in search of advice.

The proprietor directed him to the nearest doctor who was overworked and impatient, demanding payment before consulting. After listening to the symptoms and learning there was no blood discharge he dismissed them as nothing. 'They will pass. The rice water is good, but you can try this too if you want to waste your money,' he said writing a prescription.

When he saw the prescription, the pharmacist shook his head. 'This stuff clogs everything up. Instead of diarrhoea your friend will be constipated, and that is more dangerous.' And so Frankie returned to the hotel to tell Lucien he would get better soon because it wasn't serious. However, confronted with a body lying in vomit on the floor having missed the bucket, shaking as if from cold although clearly suffering from a high fever, he panicked. After cleaning up, he forced some more water and rice liquid down his friend's gullet, tucked him into bed and went to seek the advice of the proprietor.

As he left his room, another hotel guest, a lean, intense man in his forties with a heavy beard, dressed in sandals, lungi and shirt, stopped him. 'I hear you are taking care of a sick friend.'

'Yes. I hope we haven't disturbed you?'

'Not at all. Tell me about him.' He listened intently to Frankie's tale, nodded seriously and said with authority, 'I will take you to someone who will cure your friend. Come.'

They walked quickly and ten minutes later were standing in front of the entrance to the Shiva temple with the beautiful white gopuram.

'As we enter,' his guide said, 'you must keep repeating Om namah Shivaya. Practice it now.'

'Frankie practised the words until the guide was satisfied, then they entered, each softly repeating the mantra until they were standing in front of a creamy white statue of Shiva that was at least three times larger than life. The God, naked apart from the usual loin cloth, was seated in the lotus position. Long hair over his shoulders. A snake around his neck and arms. Face serene. Eyes all-seeing. Mouth suggesting a smile. Concealed lighting illuminated him perfectly and Frankie's heart began to thump. He knew it was because he lacked sleep and was stressed, but even so, the feeling that something special was about to happen was palpable.

'Now, repeat after me, Maha Mrutunjay manthr.'

It took Frankie several tries before his guide was satisfied. He then repeated it ten times and the man put his finger in a small pot and placed a mark on Frankie's forehead.

'Now, clear your mind of all bad thoughts and ask Shiva to cure your friend. Ask with full trust that your wish will be granted. To doubt the greatest god is not wise.' The man stepped back leaving Frankie to gaze into the serene face.

In the softest whisper Frankie said, 'Beautiful Shiva. Please cure Lucien because although he's a selfish git, he's not totally bad and if he dies that will make lots of trouble for me. By the way, I love your temple. Oh, and I really do believe you can do this, and I trust you implicitly.' While saying the words they didn't seem either childish or silly. He was completely serious, and when he stopped whispering, a great shuddering tingle ran up and down his spine as he stepped back, awed, unable to look into Shiva's face. After a slight bow he turned and without knowing how he got there was suddenly outside, having passed unaware between scores of worshippers who also took no notice of him.

The man was waiting. He nodded as if he knew what had happened, then said, 'Now we will buy amrita.'

'What's that?'

'Come and sit under that tree and I will tell you a story.' They sat on a wooden bench, a boy came and they ordered tea, and when it arrived the man who declined to introduce himself began to speak.

'Aeons ago the gods lost their strength and demons were overtaking the world, so Shiva, appearing as Vishnu, promised to restore their strength by instructing them in the preparation of amrita, a sacred substance that bestows immortality and vigour. "Do now as I command," he said. "Cast into the Milky Sea potent herbs, then take Mount Mandara for a churning-stick, the serpent Vasuki for rope, and churn the Ocean for the dew of life." Then, wrapping the huge serpent around the mountain, together they used it as a giant pestle in order to churn the potent herbs they had cast into the Ocean of milk. And that was how they made amrita. Today, men use a smaller pestle and mortar to grind milk and cannabis in order to make the earthly bhang.' He cleared his throat and gazed intently at Frankie to see his reaction.

Frankie's eyes were alight. 'That's what the sculpture in front of the white building on the hill is about. Thank you! I saw it yesterday morning and I think it is wonderful.' He realised the man was frowning, and blushed. 'I apologise, sir, for interrupting. Please continue.'

Appeased, the man continued. 'During the churning of the sea, evil poisons were produced that would have killed all life, so Shiva detoxified them by drinking them. In the process they turned his throat blue. That is why, if you have asked him sincerely, Shiva will remove the poisons from your friend. And now, if you have finished your tea, go and pay the boy who served us, be generous, and I will take you to buy bhang, today's version of amrita.'

The government-approved shop was well advertised. Frankie bought a small flask of the milky liquid hashish, thanked his guide profusely, and literally ran back to the hotel where Lucien was dry retching into the bucket. He sat him up and told him to sip the elixir.

Too exhausted to question the new drink, Lucien sipped and swallowed and sipped again, then lay back and within minutes was sleeping calmly. Frankie couldn't believe it. He sat beside the bed cooling the patient's forehead with a moist cloth and whispered, 'You'd better bloody well get better mate, otherwise I was cleaning up all that shit and vomit for nothing. And if you kark it I'll get bogged down in red tape.' As the sleep appeared to be deep, he went down to the hotel restaurant for a meal and told the proprietor what had happened. He was pleased, but not surprised, and hoped the effect was permanent.

It was evening when Lucien woke, feeling thirsty and able to talk.

'Actually, I feel as if I could keep some food down,' he said.

Boiled egg and rice without salt were washed down with weak tea. A further swig of bhang set him smiling, astonished that he didn't feel like throwing up. In fact he'd like to go for a walk. Five minutes later he was asleep, and stayed that way till morning. Frankie was still asleep when Lucien got up, a bit wobbly from lack of food, but ready to eat something substantial.

Frankie sat up and laughed. 'Well, you've certainly got rid of your love handles. Rid of just about everything except bones and skin. You need a good feed.'

'I certainly feel as if I do!'

They washed and dressed and were among the first guests for breakfast, greeted with smiles by the landlady and a nod from the bearded man. Frankie introduced Lucien to him. He smiled and bowed, but no words were exchanged.

Lucien wasn't able to eat quite as much as he'd imagined, but was feeling much better so they walked to the shore, sat on a concrete wall and Frankie satisfied Lucien's curiosity about the elixir.

'You bought cannabis on the street and gave it to me? That's brilliant! It means Indians are as sensible as the Dutch. In the States you could get twenty-seven years for what you did. What made you get it?'

Frankie told him about the bearded man he had introduced him to at breakfast, and his interview with Shiva. He seemed so serious that Lucien felt no inclination to laugh.

'I'd like to visit Shiva and thank him.'

'I've forgotten the words you have to say, but I'd also like to go there again.'

They did, and stood and gazed, but nothing happened. Neither felt anything except what they'd always felt in front of images of supernatural deities.

Outside again, drinking tea served by the same boy as last time, they discussed Frankie's odd experience.

'I suppose I was under stress, so talked myself into feeling I was in the presence of something powerful,' Frankie said.

'Makes sense. After all, the gods are men's creations, so it would be odd if men didn't also create feelings about them sometimes. And I imagine the gods wouldn't waste time on idle chatter. Neither of us needed him this time, so why would he come? And we didn't chant the right words so how could he take us seriously.'

'You're having me on, right?'

Lucien grinned. 'I also had a mysterious experience when I was delirious, I imagined the gods were speaking to me.'


'Yes, it was straight after I had that first drink of hashish. I heard a voice telling me I'd better bloody well get better because my death would be more of a bother than my illness.

Talk about this story on our forum

Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.

[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]

* Some browsers may require a right click instead