by Willard Manus
down your sexual fantasies, Azul urged. One fantasy per chapter.
Embellish seven of them and you will have your book.
Silence as everyone in the class made notes. Then Ursula piped up: Azul,
its not zat easy. Suppose youre someone who has no sexual
Impossible, Azul said. Everyone has sexual fantasies.
I dont, Ursula replied. I guess zats why
Im finding it zo difficult to write anything for you to criticize.
Azul, who was sitting cross-legged on the beach and facing a semi-circle
of students, shifted around uncomfortably. His jellaba was hiked up and
revealed his bare legs and feet-which were being burned red by the
caustic Greek sun.
What should we do about Ursula? he asked. How can we
Another silence. Then Rollo raised his hand. Why dont each
of us supply Ursula with a fantasy?
Excellent idea. Please start.
Rollo looked out at the deep-blue Aegean Sea, which was lapping gently
at the shore. The water was so inviting, so calm and clear, that he could
barely keep from throwing himself into it.
Okay, he said finally. Heres one for you, Ursula.
Youre a woman whos been locked up in a Nazi prison. Youre
in a cell, lying naked and alone, when a procession of guards visits you.
They take turns fucking you, one after another, for about an hour.
a disgusting idea, Ursula shouted. How could you even imagine
zat Id be turned on by it?
Your heroine might be.
My heroine would not be into zado-masochism!
Wait a minute, Azul interrupted. Theres a sizable
market for sado-masochism, Fifty Shades of Grey being a case
in point. It sold tens of millions of copies world-wide.
Fifty Shades of Grey was a piece of shit! Ursula cried. It
was scheisse! Im not interested in writing anything like it!
Okay, then. What are you interested in writing? Rollo asked.
Give us a clue.
I wish to write about sex that comes out of love. Is made beautiful
and holy by love!
Then what in hell are you doing in an erotic-writing workshop? You
should be writing romance novels.
Theyre pure shit as well!
But they also sell like mad, Azul pointed out. Theres
a whole publishing industry devoted to romance literature.
You should be raising our literary values, not lowering zem.
If youve got to write junk to survive, then do it! You can
always write good stuff on the side, the way I do with my poetry.
Speaking of your poetry, said Emma the Dutch girl. How
about reading us your latest work?
Youre not paying money to hear my poetry, Azul said.
But we look forward to hearing it nonetheless.
Emmas right, we do like your stuff, Rollo said. Anyway,
its too hot to continue with this lesson.
up. Okay, you asked for it, he said, scrunching up his face
as he tried to recall the words to his latest verse. Then:
The way is empty
it cannot be drained.
The way profound
you cannot touch bottom.
Blue is the key.
It untangles knots
Softens the glare
Passes the sharpness
Follow the way
Move to your own step
You were born of heaven
Be the way
A silence. Then Emma said, What do you call the poem?
Like your name.
Its beautiful, Emma decided. Then she ripped off the
top of her bikini and flung it aside as she raced into the sea, crying,
Its time to cool off, everyone!
* * *
It was a
two-week course during which they studied together, swam together, and
lived together, in an old two-story house in the center of the village.
Each had a room to himself, with a sleeping platform and a chunk of plastic
foam for a mattress. A chair, a night-table and a plywood dresser completed
the decor, which included a picture of Jesus smiling down from a pink
cloud in the heavens.
The first hour after returning from the beach was reserved for showers,
with the four women going first. By the time they finished washing their
hair, all the hot water was gone, a situation that annoyed the two males
greatly. Then Rollo discovered, when he slipped out back, that the house
had a cistern. He dropped a bucket down the shaft, coming up with some
cold, bracing water that he dumped on himself.
He was drying his balls when he heard a female voice. So ziss is
vere you clean yourself.
It was Ursula. The stocky, sturdy German woman had a towel wrapped round
her head and a glass of ouzo in her hand. I vondered vere you did
it, she said, taking a quick look at his genitals.
I hope you can keep my secret, he said, slipping into his
She took a sip of her drink and said, You should apologize for vot
you zaid to me before.
I was only trying to help you.
You brought in zee Third Reich, implied zat being fokked by a bunch
of Nazis vould turn me on.
Well its possible, isnt it? You are a German, arent
Do you sink all Germans are Nazis at heart?
course not. But it wouldnt surprise me if lots of Germans still
had a thing for Adolf.
You are wrong about zat. Most Germans are anti-fascist today.
Then she turned away, found a seat beside the tool shed, and took another
What did you zink of Azuls poem? she asked finally.
I was highly amused by it.
Its quite funny, dont you think, that were here
taking a class in sex writing from a believer in Oriental mysticism.
I rather like zee idea. Zee mixture of sex and spirituality appeals
Rollo fell silent as he eyed Ursula, wondering if he should come on to
her. She wasnt really his type-too German, too stolid-but
she was hetero, unlike the two American girls in the class, who were a
couple and made it clear they had zero interest in men. That left Emma,
the tall, slender, free-spirited Dutch girl. But she obviously was smitten
Little did Emma know, though, that the object of her affections was lusting
after a girl named Pelagia. A village girl, a Greek girl.
Rollo knew enough about Greece and its ways to realize the folly, the
danger, of such an infatuation. Pelagia was young, innocent, and virginal.
And was expected to remain that way until she got married in a Greek church
to a Greek boy, not some bearded hippie who walked around in sandals and
a robe, spouting Zen maxims.
first spotted Pelagia while she was heading to the square to fill her
clay jug with water. Although running water had come to the village a
decade ago, most Greeks still preferred to go to the square for their
drinking water, which came down from the mountain in the center of the
There was a ritual to the event: Pelagia and her girlfriends met at six
pm every night and sauntered to the square together, chatting and giggling
as they passed by Shaky Costas café, where the young men
of the village sat over drinks, watching them silently but hungrily. On
his first night in the village, Azul sat down at a nearby table, ordered
a cup of tea and began writing a haiku, only to slap his pen down when
he first spotted Pelagia.
With her slender but oh so shapely body, her long shiny black hair and
dazzling blue eyes, she reminded him of his fantasy girl: the young Elizabeth
From that moment on he could not stop thinking about Pelagia, dreaming
about her. He went out of his way to cross her path, engage her in conversation.
That wasnt possible when she was on a water run; tradition forbade
her from speaking to a Greek boy, much less a foreigner. But Azul soon
learned that Pelagia often ventured out on her own during the day, heading
to the bakery for fresh bread or to the market for fruit and vegetables.
Azul tried to be at one of those places when she arrived and to exchange
some words with her, banal things having to do with the weather or the
price of cucumbers. Gradually a kind of friendship was formed. They managed
to communicate in a mixture Greek, English and sign-language--and to laugh
at the silliness of it all.
It took Pelagia
quite a bit of time to get over her first impression of Azul, which had
been formed when the tall, gaunt, bearded foreigner stepped off the bus
in his robe and sandals.
Christos Anestis! she had thought. Christ has arisen!
He has returned from the dead!
She wanted to drop to her knees and kiss Azuls feet, but her father,
a retired school-teacher and something of a sceptic, had taken hold of
her and prevented her from making a fool of herself.
This man is not Jesus Christ, he said. He is not even
Greek Orthodox but believes in some strange, forbidden religion. Do not
go near him.
Pelagia did everything she could to obey her father, but that didnt
prevent Azul from following her, talking with her. Finally she got over
her fear of him. She even began to find him interesting...and rather good
looking. This upset Pelagias father, Kyriakos, so much that he immediately
asked to meet with Rollo.
He had singled Rollo out because he spoke Greek fairly well, having spent
a fair amount of time in the islands.
How much do you know about this man who is trying to seduce my daughter?
Kyriakos wanted to know.
I know very little about him, Rollo replied. I only
met Azul about a week ago.
What brought you together?
I am studying writing with him.
What kind of writing?
If he told the truth and said erotic writing, Kyriakos would
have assumed the worst and concluded that a bunch of pornographers had
arrived in the village, purveyors of filth and wantonness. So Rollo simply
said, Mythistorima (mythic writing, fiction writing).
All right. Thats a worthwhile endeavor, I suppose. The village
can live with that. But it cannot live with things like nude bathing on
We dont go nude, Rollo corrected. Its just
topless, something thats quite normal in France and Spain-
This isnt France or Spain. This is Greece, a poor but proud
and pious country. Im afraid that you people are insulting our values
with your immoral behavior.
We have gone out of our way to swim where nobody can see us-in
a small cove on the uninhabited part of the island.
There is no such thing as an uninhabited part of the island. There
is always someone around-in this case, a shepherd. He has observed
you for a week now and is very upset by your behavior-and so are
his goats. They have stopped giving milk.
And hes blaming us for that? He must be kidding!
The important thing is this. This writing teacher of yours is behaving
dangerously. If he does not quit pursuing my daughter, he will be punished.
Go and tell him that. Give him my warning. If he fails to heed it, blood
will be spilled.
* * *
apart from his students, in a one-room, white-washed house in the hills
beyond the village. It was easy to find, though, thanks to the smell of
incense that hung in the air and to the sound of recorded Indian music.
He found Azul sitting naked in the lotus position, listening to the twangy
music and smoking a joint. His portable typewriter and a stack of manuscript
pages sat on a nearby table.
Azul didnt flinch when Rollo conveyed Kyriakos warning. The
man doesnt frighten me, he said. Hes not going
to stop me from courting his daughter.
Dont talk like a fool. He will punish you if you dont
quit trying to seduce that girl.
I dont just want to seduce her. I want to marry her!
What? Are you nuts? Shes a village girl...and half your age!
I dont care. Im in love with her, madly in love!
Azul, youre making a terrible mistake. A familys honor
counts for everything in Greece. To besmirch it is to invite disaster.
Bah! Thats not going to stop me. I know how to defend myself,
Azul said, reaching for a pistol that he had hidden under a nearby pillow.
What the-? Where did you get that? Rollo cried out.
Ive carried this piece with me ever since I got out of prison
ten years ago. You better believe that I know how to use it.
Wait a minute. Prison? You were in prison?
That was in another life, long before I took the name of Azul and
dedicated myself to the teachings of the Tao.
What were you in prison for?
a long story. Lets just say that I was in the porn business and
ran afoul of the Mafia, which tried to take over the racket when it became
Did you ever shoot anyone?
Yes, but Id rather not talk about it. Im a different
man now, a man of the Tao, of peace and enlightenment.
How do you square that with trying to fuck a village girl?
Didnt you hear what I said? Im not trying to fuck Pelagia.
I want to marry her. Shes a rare beauty, a jewel in a dung heap.
I love her more than Ive ever loved any woman in my life. I am going
to make her mine, come hell or high water. You can tell Kyriakos that!
Azul, wise up. You have no chance of marrying Pelagia. Youre
not Greek. Youre not of this village. And shes underage.
Nonsense. Girls of fifteen often get married in Greece. Its
And its crazy. Really, how could you possibly be happy, married
to a 15-year-old?
Oh, Id be happy, all right. Id be delirious! Think of
the great sex wed have! And of the great novels that would come
out of being married to the girl of my dreams, the young Elizabeth Taylor!
The dream will turn to a nightmare of youre not careful. Stay
away from Pelagia! Dont even so much as look sideways at her!
Spoken like the timid little fellow you are.
are timid, you know. Its in your writing, its why your previous
novels have failed, why youve turned to erotic writing to find success.
But it will never happen. Your timid nature will doom you to failure!
Thats bullshit! Ive made a living as a writer. It hasnt
been a big living, I admit. Thats why I decided to give erotic fiction
Forget it. Timidity is incurable. Unteachable. Youll never
make it as an erotic novelist!
* * *
Rollo left the island on the next ferry-boat out. Thus he wasnt
there when Azul suddenly stopped Pelagia outside the bakery and said,
in carefully-practiced Greek, Sagapo tora ke sagapo
pantote, followed by the English translation.
I love you now and I will love you always.
He continued. I want to marry you. Yes, you heard me right. Tell
your father that. And tell him that I want nothing from him in return,
no dowry, not a single penny. I want nothing more than to have you as
Rollo heard, second hand, that Pelagias father reacted explosively
when she told him this. He smacked her across the face and told her he
would never give her permission to marry Azul. Soon after that she and
Azul somehow escaped the island together and made it to the mainland,
where they were married in Athens at a ceremony at the Buddhist Center.
on the Indian name that Azul gave her: Kumari, the virgin goddess.
Kumari served as the heroine of Azuls next erotic novel, Love
Under Aegean Skies, which became a best-seller and earned Azul upwards
of a million dollars.
This also inspired him to sit down and write a new verse:
Lakes resting, one on the other
the image of the joyous
Thus the superior man
joins with friends
for discussion and practice.