The Bulgarian Wants Me Dead

Barbarian Warrior
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I have two problems. The first is Andrea, who wants to change our relationship. She shows me some articles in Martha Stewart's Living, about how to build an outdoor shower and a folding bench to put next to your barbecue. When I don't show the proper amount of enthusiasm she threatens to leave me taking Amarandi with her because she wants to be in more of a partnership. If I don't want to do these things with her she will find someone else who does. Why do we need an outdoor shower? We live two hundred miles from the beach. 

My second problem is more serious. I think the Bulgarian guy wants to murder me. I can't be sure because we communicate in Greek which neither of us speaks very well. Today at Katina's he grabs my arm and forces me to join him for a beer, even though I argue against it for ten minutes, explaining that I never drink in the afternoon. My eyes must have given me away because I was thinking about all the alcohol I drank yesterday and eventually I have to concede to one glass. I pick out a small one but he keeps refilling it while speaking a mixture of Greek and Bulgarian in secretive tones, his eyes moving from side to side, occasionally making the motion of a knife coming across his throat. Somehow he is insulted because I paid for his beer last week. He tells me these stories about Bulgarians unleashing disease and pestilence on an unsuspecting world, about bribes, murders and computer viruses. Terrible things. I think that's what he is saying. On the other hand he might be trying to tell me that today is his name-day and that he has nobody to celebrate with. Whatever it is he's trying to say, the message I am getting fills me with fear and I worry about my family, myself and if this is in some way connected to the needless killing of the smerna. The paradise of Kalohori turns into the play land of a hate filled Bulgarian killer, and I am to be his victim. Maybe it's because we had taken his house and forced him to make the long walk up to Vrissi every night. I imagine him trudging up the steep road, his mind filled with Bulgarian tortures for the happy American family that had stolen his home. 

Niko the contractor walks in and says hello, asking me if everything is OK. I nod but try to send him a silent message with my eyes. "Get help. The Bulgarian has me trapped." 

I realize in a flash of cognition that the Bulgarian has no idea that I don't understand him. That's because he is doing all the talking and never says anything that requires more than a yes or a no answer, which I am defensively supplying, whether I understand him or not. I'm afraid to tell him I don't, imagining his reaction will be to shatter the beer bottle over my head before Niko the Contractor can make a move to save me. I finally get up the courage to confront him when he returns from a trip to the bathroom. 

"Yannis" I say, in Greek. "You and I are the same. We have the same problem." 

"Yes," he nods. "We are foreigners." 

"That's part of it. But the main problem is that you don't speak English, I don't speak Bulgarian, and we speak in Greek which neither of us speaks very well." 

He looks stunned and hurt for a moment. 

"Do you mean you haven't understood what I have been telling you for the last half hour?" He asks. 

I flash on his throat-slitting gesture. 

"Not all of it," I say (rather than "hardly any of it.") "You must understand the Greeks here in Kalohori. They don't like foreigners. They only like their money. I have some while you have none. They treat me like a welcome guest and they treat you like a donkey." 

For the first time he smiles and it seems like I have broken through. 

"Let's have another beer," he says, grabbing my arm before I can run away. I break away from his grip and tell him happy name-day and goodbye. I would have gotten off Scott-free but feeling sorry for him I look back. He takes this as an invitation and follows me down the road to continue our conversation and try to steer me towards Yannis and Ester's bar for one more beer. I literally have to run away from him. 

"Take a nap. I'll see you at the panagyri in Vrissi tonight." He looks like he's just been invited to a coronation. Yes, he would come with us to the panagyri tonight. 

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