sat at the edge of town, overlooking a small bay where Saint Paul had
once preached Christianity to the local pagans. Now the descendants of
those converts had flocked to the bay to honor the Saints memory
with a festive night-long ceremony.
Albie Knolls stood on the houses patio, looking down on the bay
whose curving strip of white beach was dotted with villagers. He raised
his arms and cried out, Hail! Your emperor salutes you! Have a ball
tonight! Party on, my people! Party on!
Then, chuckling, he turned away and crossed to the table where he spent
much of his time, under a trellis of grapevines and bougainvillea. He
sat down, took a whiff of oxygen from the cylinder beside him, and shouted,
Nicole! The sun has slid down behind the yardarm! Its time
for a cocktail!
A tall, statuesque
black woman appeared, carrying a pitcher filled with tomato juice, ice
cubes, and vodka. She was attired in nothing but a straw hat.
Here you are, massuh, she said with a smirk.
Albie filled his glass and drained most of it in one long, thirsty swallow.
You should go easy in this heat, Nicole said.
I dont see why, Albie replied. My goal is to get
My dick is dead, woman. Im in mourning for it.
Drinking vodka will only make things worse, she said. It
doth impair performance.
Ive always been able to handle vodka. It has never had a bad
effect on me.
That was before you came down with emphysema. And decided to rent
a house in the Greek islands.
My emphysema is not to be blamed. Same goes for the Mediterranean
Whats causing your problem then? Are you no longer attracted
Dont be silly. Im still crazy about you.
Blame it on mortality. The march of time.
Stop it. Youre not that old.
I am no longer able to fuck or write. My life has run its course.
just hit a bad patch, a psychological block. Youll get over it.
My sex drive might conceivably return, but theres no hope
where my drive to write is concerned.
Why is that?
The doctors have forbidden me to smoke. But I cant write without
smoking. The two things have always gone together with me.
Why not give one of those nicotine patches a try?
They dont work for me. I started smoking when I was fourteen.
Its second nature with me.
Came the braying of a nearby donkey, followed by a pounding on the courtyard
Oh no, Albie said. Its Zalichey. He glanced
at Nicole. Youd better go put something on.
Its too hot to wear clothes.
Zalichey is a village woman. Shell have a shit fit if she
sees you in the nude.
Her problem, not mine.
Albie shrugged his shoulders and turned away, shouting, Embros,
Zalichey, an old crone in widows black, entered, carrying a tray.
Thelete yiaourti? she shrieked. Do you want yogurt?
Then, having spotted the bare-assed Nicole, she gave a horrified cry,
Aiiii! and began crossing herself frantically.
Albie shot another look at Nicole. If you dont get dressed,
the poor woman will die of shock.
and sauntered slowly toward the house. Zalicheys gaze didnt
leave her until she had disappeared from view. Then she turned to Albie
and croaked, Ilthe i yineka sou.
I dont understand, he replied. Dhen katalaveno.
Zalalichey struggled to find the words in English.
...your woman...she come...
My woman? Which woman?
Zalichey held up her left hand and tapped the ring finger. Albie cried
out: What are you saying? That my wife has arrived?
Youre right about that! came the sound of another voice.
Albie turned and saw his wife, Kathleen, standing in the doorway.
Smiling brightly, she stepped forward and cried out, Avon calling!
* * *
Youre a day early, Albie said later as they sat over
wine and a dish of feta and olives.
Nicole was supposed to have left by now.
Olympic Airways lost her luggage when she arrived. They promised
to find it and deliver it. Shes still waiting for that to happen.
Surely you dont expect me to live in the same house as her?
You dont have a choice. There are no rooms to be had in the
village, owing to the festival. Youll have to tough things out for
a few days.
Why dont I just return to the airport and catch the next flight
possible. All flights are booked until the end of the week. Why not just
hang in and try to enjoy yourself?
Albies right, a voice said. Theres no reason
why we cant live in peace and harmony together.
It was Nicole, wrapped now in a bright red and yellow African sarong.
Kathleen stared at her, with obvious distaste.
Albie sipped his wine and said, This has the makings of a very interesting
* * *
Later that night Albie sat alone in the courtyard under a full moon. On
the table was his portable typewriter and a stack of papers. His oxygen
tank was nearby. He typed a few sentences, then ripped the sheet out of
the machine and crumpled it up, crying out Shit, shit, shit!
Kathleens voice was heard again. Someone doesnt sound
happy. What on earth could be the problem?
She was clad in a tight summer dress and was short of breath from her
climb up the hill from St. Pauls bay. With her balled-up underwear
in hand, she crossed to a nearby stone basin and began to rinse it in
Youre back early, he said.
Early? Its midnight, remember? And Im jet-lagged.
Did you and Nicole have a good time at the festival?
I cant speak for her, since we went our separate ways down
there. As for myself, I had quite a jolly time.
looked down on the bay. Its horseshoe beach was festooned with lanterns
and covered with tables at which the villagers sat over mounds of grilled
lamb, pork and goat, drinking glasses of beer and wine. In a far corner
of the beach, perched on slab of concrete, four musicians played folk
tunes from Rhodes and other Greek islands.
Everyone present seemed to know the words to these tunes and often sang
along with the vocalist, a hefty woman who sat on a chair in a red satin
dress and red shoes, belting out the lyrics with cigarette in one hand,
wine glass in the other.
Cries of joy went up when the vocalist quit singing and the band leader
picked up his accordion and began to squeeze out the first few notes of
a waltz. The romantic sound got everyone up on their feet, husbands and
wives, boys and girls. Standing face to face with their arms wrapped around
each other, they tromped around in rhythmic fashion, grinning happily
all the while. All of this happened with a bright yellow moon shining
directly overhead and the sea lapping away at the shore, specks of luminescence
shimmering in the foam.
Its like something out of a romance novel, Kathleen
murmured to Albie. You should have come with us.
I was happy to be alone for a while. It was a chance to try and
get some work done.
And did you?
I was unable to write a single fucking page. Albie gave a
wail. Im finished as a writer. Finished! I cannot create without
If you start smoking again your lungs will quit on you. Not even
your oxygen tank will be able to save you.
the bind Im in. I need to finish my novel, make some money. But
to do it Ill have to start smoking again. Every cigarette will be
like another nail in my coffin.
Then give up writing. Find another line of work.
What do you suggest? Carpentry? Nursing?
Do what most writers do for a living. Teach English somewhere.
Talk about writing instead of actually doing it? Id rather
blow my brains out!
Kathleen dipped her spoon into a clay bowl filled with Zalicheys
thick, goat-milk yogurt.
This is the best yogurt Ive ever had, she said.
Albie scowled. Why are you trying to change the subject?
Because were going in circles here. All you do is complain
about not being able to write.
Thats not the only thing I cant do any more. My dick-
I know all about your dick as well: your dead dick.
She eyed him and said bluntly,Thats what you get for shacking
up with that bimbo of yours.
Nicole is not a bimbo. She is a highly regarded professional woman,
Who likes to have rough sex with you.
Albie shook his head and growled, Youre such a prude, Kathleen.
Disliking rough sex does not a prude make.
You ought to give it a try. It might resurrect our marriage.
What would resurrect it is if you ditched your black concubine.
would be a mistake. It would upset the balance of power.
What are you talking about?
Ill put it another way, a culinary way. Youre my meat
and potatoes. Nicole is my champagne and caviar.
Fuck you and your insults.
Im not trying to insult you, just explain myself.
Its always about you, isnt it?
Thats normal behavior for a man whose dick is dead.
Again with the dead dick. Youre a stuck record.
What can I do? he cried out. My life is all messed up.
Im well aware of that and so are all the villagers. They know
Nicoles your mistress and that shes living under the same
roof with us.
The Greeks dont give a damn. They think all foreigners are
Youve put the horns on me. How do you think that makes me
Im sorry about that. It was just bad luck that weve
ended up here together this weekend.
You dont get it, do you? You dont realize how awful
youve made me feel.
Quit talking like that. You know I still love you.
Youve got a strange way of showing it.
Lighten up, will you? So Im having an affair. Whats
the big fucking deal?
at him. Then she suddenly smiled and said, I fucked one of your
Greek pals tonight.
I think you heard me.
He took a long, desperate whiff of oxygen. Who was he?
All I know is his first name: Takis.
Takis, the guy who takes tourists up to the acropolis on his donkey?
You got that right!
Where did this happen?
Down at the festival. We danced a few waltzes and tangos together
and then he asked me if I wanted to take a walk.
And you said yes, just like that?
She nodded. We left the beach and climbed the hillside and sat down
behind the little church up there.
Dont tell me you fucked Takis behind St Pauls chapel?
It was quite an experience. He pinned me to the ground and shoved
his cock in me, the biggest cock I have ever felt in my life!
Albie squirmed around and cried out, Holy shit!
And then we got up, walked back to the festival together, and when
he saw his cronies he flashed them a thumbs-up sign.
So now the whole damn village knows what happened.
Oh yes, they know, all right, they know that your wife has cuckolded
With a donkey boy!
Thats right-with a donkey boy!
Albie jumped up and went at her. You bitch!
him quite easily. Hows it feel, doctor? Hows it feel
to taste a bit of your own medicine?
Nicole entered the courtyard just then. She stopped short when she spotted
Albie standing there with his angry, contorted face, wheezing like an
old diesel engine. Whats going on?
Kathleen turned and said, Your boyfriend seems to be in need of
Nicole picked up the oxygen tank and carried it to Albies side.
He sank into a chair and began desperately gulping down air.
What happened? Nicole asked.
Lets just say your boyfriend heard a bit of news he didnt
What kind of news?
Kathleen looked at him and asked, Should I tell her?
Albie lifted the oxygen mask from his mouth. It would appear that
Kathleen just got it on with Takis, the donkey boy.
Nicole burst out laughing. Thats just about the funniest thing
Ive ever heard!
I fail to see the humor. Its a low blow. I may never recover
Get off it, Albie. You know you enjoy things like this.
Not true. I am deeply and truly upset.
Bullshit. Youre a dirty old man. And a conniver. Youll
find a way to use this story in your new novel.
But its a novel I cant finish, not without cigarettes.
finish it, she insisted. Nothing will stop you from getting
what you want. No matter what, youll eventually push through.
Nicole turned to Kathleen. Im going back to the festival.
Do you want to come with me?
Kathleen shot a look at Albie.
Stop worrying about him, Nicole said. Hes indestructible.
Come with me, she repeated. Well do some Greek dancing.
Ive already learned a few of the dances. Theyre not
all that hard, just a few tricky steps. Youll get the hang of them
and well dance the rest of the night away!
You sound just like a village girl.
I feel like one! Maybe Ill forget about going back to the
USA. Maybe Ill just stay in Lindos and marry a Greek boy-
A donkey boy! Kathleen said with a whoop.
Thats right, a donkey boy! And Ill make yogurt for a
living, just like old Zalichey.
Great. I just might join you!
Nicole laughed and put out her hand. Come on, then. Lets put
on our dancing shoes!
The two of them skipped out the door, leaving Albie sitting behind the
courtyard table. He sat there quietly for a while, not moving, lost in
thought. Then, after taking a big whiff of oxygen, he lifted up a garden
pot and brought out a pack of American cigarettes.
open the pack, tapped out a cigarette, and lit it. He drew deeply on it,
giving a cry of ecstasy. Then he turned to his typewriter, stuck a fresh
sheet of paper in it, and began typing. As he smoked and wrote, the musicians
down in St. Pauls bay began to play again, a catchy and clamorous
Albie grinned and kept writing, piling up page after page as the night