Today was the last day Frankie was coming to TAFE with me, and it poured and poured for him. It was all I could do to keep him dry. Our Maths teacher was away in the Galapagos sunning herself (and sitting on ancient tortoises for me, if she has any decency!), so us poor mortals were left with the rain and with a substitute teacher who took us through Probability Maths. (photo 81)
Frankie quite liked it – he got to be circumspect and keep his cards decently tucked in his bag, but he watched me flick coins, pull playing-cards using my infamous Tarot shuffling style (and pulling only diamonds and spades in fifty-out-of-fifty pulls, in red-black-red-black order), and roll a die, and do some maths based on the results.
The class was broken into pairs, one to do the stuff and the other to record the results, and as there was an odd number of students, I got to have the teacher record my results. She saw Frankie, I explained that to me a fifty-six-card deck was badly crippled, and the upshot was that I slipped her a business card. Neither of us wanted to compromise ourselves professionally by doing a reading (my work) at TAFE (her work), but when Robyn is back and Gayle is gone, Gayle will be in touch. Sadly, by then Frankie will be long, long gone.
We went home.
“Hey, Frankie!” I said. “It’s almost time for you to leave – one more sleep in my house – and I have someone I want you to meet now.”
“Who?” he asked. (photo 82)
“Will it be fun?” (photo 83).
I immediately slipped into my dorky Stan-Laurel-Persona. “I soitenly hope so, Ollie!” I said, in The Voice. “After all, he’s a relative of yours.”
“One of my ancestors?” he asked. “I know you have a lot of them in that wicker box with all the rest of them.”
“Not really an ancestor as such,” I replied. “Come here and see.”
Frankie put his best Two Cups forward, as a welcoming gesture (photo 84), while the other deck paused for a moment.
“It’s got a nice bag,” said Frankie. “That’s Latin, innit?”
“Indeed it is, Frankie. You’re a well-travelled deck, and starting to be quite wise.”
“The bag is pretty, isn’t it. More cultured than mine. But very brown.” He cheered up. “See, I do colours. Boy, do I do colours! Who is he?” (photo 85)
“Who do you think he is, Frankie?”
“Well, I dunno, but all me Pages are starting to tremble all of a sudden. Is ‘ee very young? I know I haven’t gotten any decks into trouble – the Anna K. on my way here simply wouldn’t allow me into her shrink-wrap – but I could swear I’m starting to come over all paternal, all of a sudden! Remember when Le Fanu came over all paternal? I feel just like he did!”
“Are you ready to meet him yet? I asked.
“I soitenly am, Ollie,” said Frankie, parodying my bad parody badly.
He extended his best Two Cups again, and I helped the other one take a peek – backwards. (photo 86)
“I know that cardback!” said Frankie excitedly, looking over his own shoulder. “er …” and he started shuffling himself rapidly, trying to find the one that matched.
The new deck turned around to face him (photo 87).
Frankie stopped shuffling. “OhMyGoshIt’sMe!” he said, all in one word. “And he’s showing me the very same card I first showed to you!
I grinned. “What a coincidence, eh? Why am I not surprised? No, he’s not really you, nor an ancestor of yours – more a descendant.” I got formal then, and said with a flourish: “Frankie, meet Spawn of Frankie. Spawn, meet your long-lost father.”
They both blushed and hung back, kicking at the carpet, their hands behind their pockets and showing me no cards. Frankie muttered something in Portuguese, a language I don’t know. (I’ve noticed before that when he gets very emotional he tries to channel his father, Le Fanu).
Then Frankie had a thought. He jumped up on my keyboard and started whispering in good Australian-English. “Does this mean you want to get rid of me?” (photo 88)
I considered. “Well, for an old and fat lady like me you are pretty tiring,” I said. His face fell and he rushed to find a card. I stopped him, laughing. “But you were fine to have around and quite funny at times,” I told him. It’s just that it’s Rhombchick’s turn now, and then you’ll get to see Solandia. Hey, ask Rhombchick to tell you about Solandia – if it wasn’t for her, you would never have been born, and then you couldn’t have had a baby like the Spawn to leave behind with me and remind me of you.”
“Will you treat him well?” asked Frankie, a little wistfully. (photo 89).
“Have I treated you badly?” I countered.
“I remember police cars and Courthouses! that can’t be good!”
I started. Then I relaxed. He was Fool-ing! (photo 90)
Who knew Frankie would ever be fooling?
I put them on the lounge amongst my daughter’s comfortable academic quagmire of paper, both undressed, so that they could enjoy each other’s company. (photo 91)
I first met Frankie early on Wednesday morning on my way to Ambrosia’s place at the Post Office: it is only fitting I send him away to Rhombchick tomorrow on my way to Ambrosia’s again, a little older and wiser. Oh, and bruised. He still has amnesia about my whupping him on the table when he was rude to me.
This is the first time in my entire thirty-odd years and eighty-odd decks of Tarot history that I’ve ever held onto a deck – the Anna K – for even a few hours without giving it some serious attention, and I’ve carefully avoided her for a whole week! I know Frankie’s a celebrity, but I’m sure Anna will be very relieved, tomorrow afternoon after Frankie is on his way and I’m back from seeing Ambrosia home, for me to pick her up and spend some quality girl-time with her. (photo 92)