Friday, 23 January 2009

Frank's Secret - Episode Sixteen of an Original Australian Mystery Novel

This is Episode Sixteen of Paternity in which Frank reveals a secret and Pip has some thinking to do.


And please leave feedback in a comment at the end of this instalment.

Frank seemed to take a deep breath, as though he was about to jump into a deep pool of water. And then he leapt:

‘Ah. I talked to a mate over at the court – the forensic bloke. He knows about DNA tests. He got one for me..

‘You? For you? Have you been doing something you shouldn’t have been doing Frank?’

‘No – I don’t think so. Nothing I wouldn’t be proud of …’

‘Anyway this mate got this DNA test and he’s given me the result.’


‘And .. What if .. what if .. Robson wasn’t your father after all?’

‘I’d cheer. Of course.’

Then Pip got a gist of what Frank was trying to say. Was he suggesting? No. It couldn’t be …

‘Come on Frank. Put me out of my misery.’

‘That’s really what I’m trying to do Pippin. Just that. In a way.’

Frank bent even further forward towards her.

‘Your mother Selene and I were very good friends years ago. Very good friends. In fact we were together for more than a year when she broke off our relationship without warning. It nearly killed me.’

Frank stared at his wine.

‘That’s when I really got on the grog. That’s how much she meant to me …’

For a moment Pip wasn’t sure she was hearing this …

‘Gosh Frank. I had no idea you even knew each other.’

‘We knew each other all right. She was the centre of my existence and always has been.’

‘So why didn’t you say this before? Why on earth not?’

‘Well mate. For a while I didn’t twig that Violet Selene was the Selene I knew. Your name is Holmes and I knew your mother as Selene O’Rourke. That was the name in the court report in the paper remember? And that’s how I knew her.’

‘But you saw her pic …’

‘That hit me hard that did. I thought I’d better do a bit of research in case I put a foot wrong, so I didn’t say anything. I knew she had broken up with me months before the court case.

‘I hated the fact that she had been in so much trouble. Especially with those characters. A pack rape was nothing I could connect with my Selene.’

Frank’s eyes were swimming as they connected with hers across the check tablecloth.

Pip felt numb.

‘So … what about the DNA test?’

‘Well, by itself it was just a DNA test, and doesn’t tell us much. But I’ve been thinking about dates.

‘I reckon there is a very good chance that I could be your Dad.’

Pip looked closely: rapt.

The man who gazed towards her with such an earnest expression was the person she had known and admired as a young cadet. The Frank of old – confident and capable; trustworthy and empathetic. It was something of a transformation.

For Pip, his demeanour carried more weight at that moment than the words that tumbled into the quietness of that beautiful spot.

‘I’m sure I have at least as good a chance of being your father as Robson has, and given justice and fair play, I have a lot more.’

It was then that the words came together to produce a meaning – a meaning that could hold the key to her very existence.

A flock of galahs flew screeching from a nearby tree and a goanna skittered across the clearing. Then the clearing became quiet, but for the hum of cicadas in the distance.

‘I needed to talk to you. To see if you wanted to follow this further Pippin. Whether you really want to know beyond doubt. If it was me …’

Frank was staring intently at his hands, as though something minute on his skin could hold an answer to their dilemma.

Could he be right? Could this man be her father? This person whom she had admired for so long and who had been her mentor?

Frank was wondering if she wanted to follow through on his theory. How could he wonder that? How could he imagine she would not want to banish the possibility of Con Robson?

‘I would understand it mate if you didn’t want me in the picture. I can understand that …’

‘Frank please …’

‘We need never know – if that’s what you want. I just believed I had to tell you what may be …’

Right then there was hope in Pip’s heart. There was hope that the gang rape with all of its misery did not have far reaching consequences beyond those which had already destroyed her mother’s life. She did not want to imagine herself as the seed of that evil.

‘Of course I want to know. We must know! How could you think otherwise?’

She reached across the tablecloth to the nicotine stained hand lying there, and held it gently.

‘I’d love it if you were my Dad.’

A tear trickled down Frank’s weathered face.

'But what about you? Do you want to do this?'

'I'd be the proudest man on the planet ... if it was me.'

The tear mingled then with a broad grin.

There was a lightness in the air as the two of them enjoyed the wine and laid plans which might solve the mystery for once and all.

Pip felt sure that Denzy would come to the party, having Frank’s DNA results compared with her own. She could get those from the Macquarie Street specialist who did her test.

Frank said his research had clarified that he and Selene had broken up on June 30 1975.

‘I remember wondering if there was anything significant about it being the end of the financial year. They’re the sort of crazy things I was thinking.’

He had wracked his brain for reasons when Selene came back from ten days away to announce out of the blue that their relationship could not continue. She’d been travelling on her own, as she often did, exploring the countryside.

‘She seemed so distant when she got back that I thought she may have met someone else. Had another relationship going.

‘But she didn’t seem right somehow. She was lifeless and I felt deeply that there was something wrong.’

Selene had resigned her job soon afterwards and left Sydney.

Frank’s eyes were still moist. ‘I never saw her again.’

Pip was thinking fast: Frank and Selene broke up their relationship on 30th June 1975 and
the rape happened just six days previously, on June 24, while Selene was on her holiday. Pip herself was born on March 27 1976.

Almost nine months later. It was possible that Frank was her father.

On the other hand the rape date was also filled with possibilities.

‘You’re thinking that Selene got back after the rape in a complete panic …’

‘Yeah. Whatever, she wasn’t being rational. I mean if she thought she was pregnant at that time she’d have known that it wasn’t a result of the rape… I don’t think she knew at that stage.

‘I also think she couldn’t cope with any sort of closeness after that experience. Our relationship was just too much for her as well.’

‘The reports said that Selene was a virgin at the time of the rape.’

‘Shows you can’t believe everything you read in the papers,’ said Frank with a very large grin ‘I tell you she was no virgin. She was great!’

Pip remembered that Selene had changed her surname just before she gave birth. They both had been known by the name Holmes ever since.

Altogether, it was entirely reasonable that Frank would not have made the connection any earlier.

‘You’re making sense Frank. We need that DNA comparison!’

‘Mmmm. We do.’

As the sun lost its heat they piled into the car and meandered back into town. The two of them even sang along with a CD of ‘Give Me a Home Among the Gum Trees’.

After dinner with Frank at the Greek cafe Pip went back to her pub bedroom to find a single pink rose lying on her pillow, with no sign of where it came from.

Although puzzled, there were more pressing matters on her mind. She made a long phone call to her friend Denzy, the pathologist.

Denzy agreed to compare the result of Frank’s DNA test with the one of Pip’s which had been done through the Macquarie Street doctor’s. It would be ready in a day or so, depending on the time it took to have the test delivered from the CBD.

She hadn’t given Denzy too many details.

Pip made herself a cup of instant coffee in the pub kitchen and took it to the upstairs verandah outside her room. By this time the half moon was showing itself low above the horizon, and she leaned on the balcony railing to watch its glow as she mulled over the afternoon’s events.

Pip was also analysing her feelings.

She knew her immediate reaction to Frank’s suggestion was a positive one and now, thinking again on the possibilities, she still felt comfortable with the prospect of him being her father.

She’d always had a good friendship with Frank, right from the beginning of her cadetship when she’d arrived at the Sydney daily as a raw university graduate.

They’d had their ups and downs when she made mistakes.

And Pip had reservations about Frank’s increasing reliance on alcohol. Over the years they worked together she saw the blunting of the sharpness which had made him one of the city’s most respected journalists.

She had never understood why he let the demon drink enmesh him so completely in the end, and had watched the strange on-again-off-again relationship he had with Flo, the press bar attendant he lived with in between emotional explosions. Pip had always respected Flo and felt sorry for her.

It was a strange feeling, to imagine that Frank could be the source of her existence.

On the other hand, she had to be realistic. It was also very likely that her real father was Con Robson, the monstrous solicitor.

Pip’s dreams that night were a strange mixture.

She tossed and turned in between horrific images of werewolves and moons, strangely entangled, and with more peaceful dreams in which she seemed to be floating on quiet seas. Here, the moon remained with her, as though for protection.

The foregoing is excerpted from Paternity by June Saville. All rights reserved. No part of this novel may be used or reproduced without written permission from the author.

So - what will be the news from Denzy? What will happen next?



  1. Oh, I just got the chills. I have always thought that Frank was her Dad (as I asked in my previous comments), but you may have other ideas in mind to end the story. But Frank has a kind heart and Pip just can't be here on earth from a rapist's seed...she just can't...or all will not be right with the world!

    I love your devotion to Pip. I think she's a pretty good bird myself! (In the Aussie mode of understatement.)
    Well, if you believe that Frank is a worthy Dad for her, maybe it will happen ...

  3. OoohHhh... this sentence got me very interested and my ears pricked up (i.e. I was alert):
    ‘Your mother Selene and I were very good friends years ago. Very good friends. In fact we were together for more than a year when she broke off our relationship without warning. It nearly killed me.’

    Then, the revelation – WOW:
    ‘I’m sure I have at least as good a chance of being your father as Robson has, and given justice and fair play, I have a lot more.’

    Great sentences – I just love the imagery.
    “Frank’s eyes were swimming as they connected with hers across the check tablecloth.”
    “Pip looked closely: rapt.”
    New word for me – ‘galah’... I love it!

    Strong ending:
    “She tossed and turned in between horrific images of werewolves and moons, strangely entangled, and with more peaceful dreams in which she seemed to be floating on quiet seas. Here, the moon remained with her, as though for protection.”

    So – you leave us wondering who Pips father is... Frank, Con Robson, OR??? Once again – I really enjoyed this chapter... June, when do we find out the ‘whole truth’ (LOL)?

    p.s. It'd be great if you got this book published... it is such a good read (the chapters I've followed so far)!

  4. Re question... the news from Denzy is that Frank IS NOT the father... LOL! It'd be a beautiful ending - but I'm ever the pessimist or rather a realist!

  5. Hi CATH
    Pleased you're still riding alongside Pip in her adventure - thanks.
    A galah is a pink and grey parrot - one of many Australian native parrots. It's noisy and cute.
    So far as your second email is concerned - you are naughty. Poor Pip!

  6. I, too, have always thought that Frank was the father and Pip was glad of it. That is where she gets her journalism skills from him! I always thought Paternity might end this way but you just might be throwing us off, June! I think we all want a good ending for Pip and Con being the father would be terrible. Pip is a good person like her dad and he loved her mother very much!

  7. I wish for Frank to be Pip's father, so much nicer for her to be the product of unrelenting love than of an ugly terrible act of violence and greed.

    I can feel's Franks pain, and hope. A hope for a reality that has escaped him for years. A hope for the treasure of a daughter, a daughter to be proud of even if he didn't get to be Daddy.

  8. Well JUDY! Who would have thought a story of rape could turn into one of love? Let's hope you're right.

  9. ERIC
    I want to hug you! I'm sending one now ...
    You are a wonderful human being.
    Everyone seems to be there pulling for Frank.

    By the way a galah is also a big nuisance for farmers. They travel in huge flocks inland and can swoop on a field of grain and wipe it out in a day.

  11. I knew it ! hehehehehehe, now don't go changing the ending June :) Cheryl

  12. Now Now Cheryl
    Life decides, not me. I am simply the channel for Pip's adventures. What will be will be.

  13. Looks like, I'll have to go back to Episode One and begin reading this!

  14. June... thanks for the information re galahs. Great to be learning so much from the blogging community, hey? Further thoughts... should Frank NOT be the father... you might have a SEQUEL in the making re how Pip comes to terms/reconciles herself and identity with whichever 'monster' might be her father (lots of possibilities there)... just a thought (CHUCKLE!) As always, it's lovely chatting with you!

  15. BAGMAN
    You a discerning reader! Enjpy and please leave some feedback - I really treasure it.


  16. WHEW!
    I think I'll finish this one first CATH.
    Good thought though.

  17. Amazing connect.Left me confused for sometime and then it got revealed. Enjoyed it.

  18. Hi June-
    I read all the comments and short of Cath, I don’t agree with any of them.
    If I were Pip-I’d be mad as a wet hen at Frank. All that Pip’s gone through- life threatening scenario’s and he suddenly pops up with this, “Oh by the way…”
    He ‘didn’t put it together’- my foot! He knew immediately. Frank needs a reckoning and major slap up against the side of his head.

    I don’t buy it. I think there’s more to this story and that your purposely putting us off track- you sly girl you.


  19. Hi NSIYER
    That's what mysteries are for - to be a little confused eh?
    Pleased you are enjoying it. I'm having a few computer problems so the next episode may be delayed. Hope it won't be too long - depends on a technician.

  20. G'day VIKKI
    My goodness that's a tirade against Frank isn't it? You little stirrer. You'll have all Paternity followers on each other's necks!

    I suppose we'll see if your bile is deserved - soon.

    SLIGHT PROBLEM - my computer crashed with my files not accessible right now. May be a little delay. SORRY FOLKS

  21. I have read some of your posts. I liked the same and would like to revisit your website.

    If you like short stories and paintings, then a visit to my blogs would be an interesting one for you.

    Naval Langa

    Another Interesting Blog

    Thanks for visiting Journeys. I found your short stories interesting, and I particularly liked seeing the modern Indian paintings.
    They were very beautiful and showed great respect for their female subjects.

  23. Oh my June. What a twist eh? You certainly have drawn an aweful lot of comments both for and against Frank. My vote however, would have to go in favour of Frank. Maybe when the truth comes out in the DNA, he will decide to quit alcohol and become the father he has never been to dear Pips. And where did that rose on her pillow come from? I love it! keep it up girl! :-)

  24. All the posts are breathtaking with the photos. There are stuffs for both laughing and thinking.

  25. Hi ROGUE
    You are the only person to comment on the rose. Yes, where did it come from?
    Also, it would be good if Frank was to quit alcohol - even if it turns out he's not Dad.



    That's what I liked about your blog. Your little sculptures invoke thought.
    Please let us know a little about yourself ..


  27. So June,
    You're just on to me at every turn, aren't you? You knew exactly what I was doing with my comment. I have to say I was giggling the entire time I wrote my comment wondering what the reaction would be. I came very close to saying 'Oh, Frank's just an old drunk! He probably just imagined he slept with Selene!" -Although, I thought that might be a bit over the line.

    -But don't I have a point here? If this is true -Frank needs to be punished! At the very least, Pip should stomp away from him or slam a door in his face.

    This story is just great and getting better with every segment. I've enjoyed it so much.

  28. VIKKI
    What Pip would do and what you and I would do might be three different things. We'll see my dear.

  29. I have greedily gobbled up every episode of this novel.
    Now I am wondering about the twist?
    I have enjoyed it all thus far, & had wondered if it 'writes itself', so to speak, or if you had it all mapped out beforehand?
    I do like your character portrayals, they evoke just the right amount of sympathy empathy loathing & detestation!

  30. Hi MEGGIE
    My writing is all of that really - I do a lot of planning and getting to know the characters and their context. And then to some degree they tell me where they want to go - so long as I agree with them collectively I let them have their way!

    I had 'finished' the novel before I began serialising it on Journeys. However, I became dissatisfied with the end and have re-written quite a bit. Right now I know exactly what I want to happen until our conclusion, and I am dying to get at it.

    However for the last week or two life has got very much in the way. I am now struggling to get enough time to get in the right 'space' although I am very enthusiastic about getting there.

    I had hoped that my present dilemma might give my readers time to 'catch up' as you have done. Sorry about the delay but better to have it right!

    They're mighty fine compliments you've paid me. Thank you.

  31. showComment=http://1234254540000#c6255119244768777093


  32. I don't think Frank would be Pip's father. That would be too tame an ending...
    Not quite the anti-climax a reader imagines! But the story's turning out to be great! I hope you publish it in book form, later.

  33. You want blood SMITA? We'll see ...

  34. I love your Pip more than the Pip of Dickens' 'Great Expectations.' But patience is not one of my greatest virtues! Can't just wait for the end...

    Make it happen soon!

  35. My Goodness SMITA - what a compliment! Dickens!
    I do have some personal problems timewise and getting into the right headspace-wise. I apologise for the delay, but all will come out in the end.


Thanks for leaving a comment. Its good to know who is having a peek! I will certainly send a comment in reply.

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Also, you may like to have a look at my other blog 70 Plus and Still Kicking.

Cheers June