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

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Aunty Who Turned Herself Green

Luke drives southward, The road is narrow and winding. One one side there is a sheer rock face towering above the little car. On the other a sheer drop. There is no edge nor kerb to the patchy asphalt.

Kate sits beside him in the passenger seat. She has the sheer drop on her side and refuses to look that way. She peers past Luke myopically at the gouged out rock face. Kate does not herself drive. She gradually becomes aware that Luke is checking his rear-view mirror more often than is strictly necessary - there are no cars behind them and there have been none for the last 20 km or so. Not since they left the little mountain village where they stopped for coffees.

Aunty Maureen is in the back seat, positioned to obscure the driver's rear view perspective. Aunty Maureen has never been to the Greek Islands before and stares fixedly through the windscreen. Looking neither left nor right she sits forward in the seat, almost breathing down Luke's neck.

It is hot in the car and sweat beads down Luke's cheek. Kate leans over and dabs at it with a tissue that comes away sodden. Luke turns up the aircon and shifts in his seat - haemorrhoids draw in the heat.. The aircon seems to make no noticeable difference and Kate passes him the cold water when they reach a straight section. Slugging back a mouthful of once frozen water he hand it back and again glances up at the rearview mirror. Kate feels Aunty Maureen lean forward and feels her breath. She hands the bottle back and concentrates on Luke who is by now checking his rearview mirror every few seconds.

Luke is aware that his concentration is slipping and shakes his head. His mouth is still dry, he shakes his head to clear it and a solitary drop of sweat from his forehead splats onto the windscreen. Not thinking, he switches on the wipers and curses under his breath. He switches them off as they scrape back to park in the layer of dust. He simply cannot believe what he is witnessing.

 Aunty Maureen is turning green as he watches her assiduously. He nods archly and raises a damp eyebrow to Kate who he knows is watching him, and asks solicitously,  "Are you feeling OK in the back there Maureen?".  

"I'm fine, pet - I could do with a comfort break - I'm a bit hot but - no I'm fine thank you". Aunty Maureen is now a shade of green somewhere between olive which is very appropriate as they descend through olive groves and khaki. And, finally, Kate looks round, looks directly at Maureen, and cottons on to what Luke has been hinting at.  She swivels back to Luke and nods knowingly,  "Can we stop at the next taverna Luke? I could do with a break too. And we need to check some things on the map".

Luke drives on. The road has straightened now and the driving is easier but the sun has strengthened. HIs T-shirt is firmly stuck to him and he shifts in his seat again but without achieving any relief. A sign appears for a taverna in 1000 meters and he relaxes. He checks the rearview mirror and gulps. He slips into the forecourt of a traditional blue and white painted taverna and parks up under a mulberry tree. He slips the car out of gear and pulls on the handbrake in welcome shade as a scream escapes Maureen in the back. Kate and Luke, seatbelts now released, turn round swiftly. 

Luke is sitting looking down to the Libyan sea and drinking a frappe - black with a little sugar. The girls are in the toilet. It is a pleasant enough little taverna and the frappe is fine, strong but good and cold. The girls have been in the toilet for some time now. Maureen was near hysterical and sobbing as Kate led her off but the taverna owner had scarcely appeared to notice as he shuffled from behind the till to take Luke's order. Luke had ordered only for himself - who knows how long this would take and in this heat ice melts quickly. He motions the owner over, orders a small beer, lights a cigarette and continues to wait.

Halfway down his beer Kate appears. Aunty Maureen is dogging her footfalls. Kate smiles wanly, unconvincingly. Maureen has paler streaks down her cheeks where her tears have flowed. They sit resignedly and Kate orders two glasses of raki - Maureen does not normally partake of alcohol but has decided to make an exception today - under the circumstances. Maureen is still green - a muddy pond bottom green. Not just her face, but pretty much all over.

Kate leans forward and in stage whisper describes how Aunty Maureen has been using a fake tanning foam since she arrived and how, on hearing of the clouds of mosquitoes common on the south coast had decided at the last moment, just before leaving the house, to slather almost half a tube of mosquito repellent on every exposed inch of herself. The green colour was clearly the result of a chemical reaction of some description, perhaps accelerated by the sun and the heat. Luke laughed. Kate scowled. Maureen burst into tears again.