Breugel Children Playing Detail

Dear Frankie

Millais, Mariana
Measure for Measure

Millais, Mariana from Measure for Measure

Jean Paul Lemieux
Nineteen Ten Remembered

Jean Paul Lemieux, Nineteen Ten Remembered

  Prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue.
    Francis Bacon
  Essays, Of Adversity

Millais, Boyhood of Raleigh


Part 2B


Next day.   Saturday.   Lizzie is going crazy looking everywhere for Frankie as Marie tries to reason with her, finally saying in a placating tone:—

He's due at ten, isn't he? The Man?
— Yeah.
Well, you better stay here, just in case.
— In case of what?
Just in case. I'll find him. I promise.

And once Marie is safely out the door Nell offers assistance to her embattled daughter by questioning the identity of the man who is coming.

I told you, he's a friend of Marie's.
— Oh, that's a comfort. Jesus, Lizzie, we don't know anything about this man. He could be a ... We don't know anything about him.

She's right, of course.   Not very helpful, however, since Lizzie is already as frantic as any protective parent could be.

The doorbell rings, and Lizzie says despairingly, That's him.

Hey Frankie. Your mammy is worried about you.

Frankie is sitting on a high point where he can see the ocean port and cranes and freighters including the Accra far below.   Marie appears and settles comfortably beside him.

It's good up here, isn't it? This is my favourite place in the whole world ...

The Stranger has been taken into the tiny crowded sitting room.   He looks watchful rather than uncomfortable.   And when Lizzie announces her intention of going to the docks if Frankie is not back in five minutes, he offers unemotionally:—

He won't go on that ship.
— How do you know what he would do? asks Nell skeptically. You've not even met him.
He doesn't want to spoil the surprise. If I was a betting man —
Nell is looking even more disapproving as he adds carefully:—
— which I'm not —
I'd put money on it.

Mother, do something useful and put the kettle on. Would you like a cup of tea? — I'm sorry, I don't know your name.
— Jesus God.
What's Frankie's dad called?
— Depends who's calling him.
Call me Davey, then.

The doorbell rings and Nell gets up to answer it, as Lizzie begs her mother:—

Don't ruin this for him, please. Let him have this one day.

And when Nell goes to answer the doorbell, there comes the single most distressing part of this uncomfortable film, as The Stranger takes advantage of her momentary absence to clear his throat and demand of Lizzie:—

Have you got that money?
Oh, yeah. That's half now, half later.

And she hands him an envelope just before Marie and Nell come into the room with Frankie.

Before leaving, Marie invites Frankie and The Stranger to come to her shop 'for chips after the football.'   The Stranger is introduced to Frankie as his 'daddy', although the title becomes slightly questionable when The Stranger announces that he has got something for the boy.

Frankie wasn't looking for anything, protests Lizzie, while her mother adds:— You didn't need to do that.
I know I didn't need to. Here, that's for you.

The Stranger hands Frankie a package and Frankie tears open the wrapping, to display a large book, obviously not intended for an ordinary child.   Opening it at random reveals the illustration of a great white shark, and Frankie impulsively throws his arms around The Stranger, a look of disbelief and delight on his face — counteracting in a small way the consternation of his mother and the helpless awkward embarrassment of The Stranger.   Frankie is mouthing some words, and Lizzie explains:—

He wants to know how you knew.

The Stranger tries to answer that he read Frankie's letters and that's how he knew what to choose, and is shown that he has to look at Frankie so the boy can read his lips ...

Before they leave Lizzie hands Frankie a camera.

Here. You'll want to remember the look on Ricky Munroe's face.

. . . . .

The day goes as well as it possibly can — for Frankie and The Stranger at any rate, constantly shadowed by a helplessly frightened Lizzie.

With his father standing behind him in goal, Frankie confidently stops the final ball, thereby winning the football game for his side.   A reluctant Ricky pays off his side of the bet, and when Frankie turns questioningly, The Stranger assures him that a bet is a bet and he won it fair and square.

At Marie's The Stranger chooses not to have fish with his chips in deference to Frankie — described by Marie as 'a vegetarian who doesn't eat his vegetables'.

They go to the docks, shadowed by Lizzie, where to her relief Frankie settles for a photo of himself and The Stranger with the Accra in the background, rather than accepting The Stranger's offer to go on board the large freighter.

And lastly they go to the shore, where Frankie tries to get stones to skip along the water, shows one to The Stranger, who advises Frankie that he needs something flat.   The Stranger bends to search amongst the stones, selects one and gives it to the boy.   Frankie pockets the stone rather than throwing it into the water.   And then they go for a race which seems to please the boy and The Stranger equally.

You OK? I had an idea ...

Nell answers the door to them and tries to get Frankie to say 'cheerio and thanks very much' — an exhausted Lizzie arrives having followed them back to the house.   Relieved that he doesn't have to deal with Nell, The Stranger says:—

I think he wants to ask you something.
— What do you think he wants to ask me?
I don't go back to my ship till Monday.
— So?

And The Stranger suggests that it might be nice for the three of them to spend time together.   Lizzie refuses.   If The Stranger gave her a hard time in the coffee bar, Lizzie has her revenge.   Except that it's not easy to say no to a man on a mission and The Stranger is determined to stand his ground, finishing with that most worrisome phrase:—

Trust me. You've got to trust somebody someday.

Ordinarily when people ask you to trust them, it's time to check for one's housekeys and bus pass, but in this case I believe there's another meaning to those fateful words, and he is telling her to trust herself, to stop running and have faith in her ability to control a situation — to trust her judgment in settling in this particular community at this particular time, a place where she can find sanctuary and a feeling of belonging.   For herself and for Frankie.

Even Nell is on board, as she says to Frankie:—

Come on, son. You'll see him again tomorrow.

[June 2006 text only]
    [WebPage last amended March 27th, 2012]


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