An irregular, irreverent, post-modern account of the surreal, the ordinary, and the bizarre happenings on and around the Felia lavender farm in Crete

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A new short story - part 2

Tiny tremors run through the soles of Vantaris'  feet, his toes separate, and he arches. He is gradually waking himself and flexing his body. He rolls off his back and plants his bare feet on the red dirt that surrounds the bench, the same red dirt that the fields to the east expose to the beating sun. Dust rises just below the ridge that hides the lake. "Antonis is ploughing" he thinks "... watermelons again no doubt". He pulls his mobile from his shirt pocket and checks it. He looks to the sky to check the time. His shirt is black, the cuffs rolled back to his elbows. His trousers are black. Not solid black but a faded, weathered black. Not a north european black but a mediterranean black. Not the black that the tourists wear. Vantaris wears black because his family is from Sfakia but his father buys man made fabrics these days because the black does not fade. Vantaris respects the old ways and so has to buy a new shirt and new trousers for every family occasion - for weddings, for parties,  for baptism and yes, for funerals.  The very next day these clothes get circulated into his work clothes roster.

A stone falls behind him and he turns instantly, shouting. "Fige, fige!" he shoos the white goat away from the church grounds. The goat scrabbles back up the vertical face and looks back angrily. Vantaris waves his arm, "Fige ... ".

Satisfied that he has dealt with the white goat he fishes his iPod out of his back pocket and punches up some Pix Lax but no sooner has he put the earbuds in than he changes the song - Zavarakatranemia by Nikos Tsilouris - one of his all time favourites - Tsilouris,  now there was a real man! His bare foot taps, he turns to look out over the bay and wonders where he left his workboots.  The sky is almost white now - bleached out. "By the spring!". He had sat there and cooled his feet in the sweet  mountain water before he came up here, before the sun was properly risen. The track finished, he runs his thick fingers through his thick, close cut hair and searches in a tussock of coarse grasses from which he removes a bottle of spring water. Safe from the sun it has kept a refreshing morning chill. He gulps deeply and sighs. Psarantonis's lyra announces the next track, from the 1996 Από Καρδιάς (De Profundis) album, - "No mistaking that sound"  he says to nobody, to the goats maybe. But thinking of Psarantonis and Xylouris makes him think of his own brother - Andreas.

Andreas is a modern Cretan and Vantaris loves him and despises him all at the same time. Andreas runs the family hotels. He is a businessman. He drives a Porsche Cayenne and makes kamaki with the tourists. Named for his father's father, as eldest sons always are, Andreas is everything Vantaris hates about what is happening to his blessed island.  "The Cretan gaze ... where is the Cretan gaze? Kazantzakis would not recognise these Cretans ... and if he did he would hate them too". He shouts up at the white goat again, gets to his feet, and drinks deeply the sounds and scents that surround him. A diesel engine.

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