Church on Sunday

Kyparissi Church 1963
Photo from Nicholas Econopouly's Greece in the Sixties

Amarandi wakes up in a bad mood. She whines and cries to her mother. This calls for drastic action.

"Elaine, are you going to church?" I ask, fresh from my religious experience of the night before.

"It's too late" comes her reply from her bed in the kitchen.

"Too late? It's never too late for God. It's never too late to be saved. And it's never too late to go to church. You can do as the Greeks do and get there for the last five minutes of the service appeasing God without having to sit through the boring part."

It was a good idea. God doesn't care who arrives late and your fellow church-goers don't know because they're facing forward watching the priest. If I were God I would make it more of a sin to turn around and see who was arriving late than to actually be late. Face forward or straight to hell. That would be my rule.

Elaine sees the light and in twenty minutes is dressed and ready to go, taking a happy Amarandi with her. Now maybe I can get some sleep.

I write for most of the morning. I'm trying to rid myself of some painful thoughts by completely ignoring them. I had an unpleasant evening of tossing and turning thinking about the fish I had massacred. I had asked Andrea if fish had souls. If they could think or love. I knew they felt fear. I could see it in the eyes of a young skaros when I cornered him and he knew the game was over. I had been haunted by those eyes all night. Strange eyes for a fish. More like a cartoon character. In fact the skaros is very much like some kind of creature created in the mind of an animator. Too cute to shoot. Perhaps that was their defense and why they were suddenly in such abundance in these waters. Even the bloodthirsty Greek divers couldn't pull the trigger on these delightful little creatures. And here was I, like a demon from hell, hunting them down with my trident. Merciless. I feel ashamed. But they sure taste good. This last thought reminds me that I am hungry. I take the fish out of the refrigerator and go to Katina’s.

The restaurant is as wild as it had been in the evening. It's Sunday so nobody is working. Everybody is drunk. Vassili the contractor is dancing with Mister Octopus, their bellies bouncing off each other as they leap to and fro. I give the fish to Katina and in a few minutes she has fried them all. I pass them around to the delight of my fellow diners and the festivities continue with a renewed frenzy powered by the souls of the fish. My question was answered. A few hours before lost in a quagmire of existential angst I had considered giving up fishing altogether. Now I see what happiness they bring. "If taking the life of a fish can give a man one moment of true happiness, then it is a life worth taking," I tell myself.  I celebrate my rebirth by ordering chicken and leave the fish to be devoured by my family and friends.

As we leave the restaurant storm clouds are gathering. By the time we get to the beach it's raining. We have a short battle with the geese who are angered by our invasion of their privacy but a few well-placed blows send them on their way honking loudly. One lone goose returns to challenge Andrea's authority but she makes short work of him and sends him packing. Humiliated he returns to the flock and takes his new place at the bottom of the pecking order. With the rain we have the beach mostly to ourselves. Amarandi screams in terror as we try to take her into the water to play with her little friends who have gathered. We soon grow tired of this and return to the house to read and listen to the rain.

At seven the ferry comes on its return trip to Athens. We go to the dock and wave good-bye to everyone who is leaving. Andrea and I take advantage of this poignant moment to have an argument and I stomp off. James, the artist, motions to me from the bar. I join him for a frappe. The air is as humid as a North Carolina summer. My shirt smells of mildew and irritates me. We chat for awhile and then I have to take a swim. Andrea and Amarandi come too. Elaine is going with Niko the contractor to look at some property for sale in Metropolis. We swim with Anastasia and baby Maria. Anastasia has a great body, smooth and slender. I have trouble keeping my eyes off her and keep casting sneaky glances while she isn't looking.

When we try to get Amarandi into the water with us she screams bloody murder. I let Andrea take a long swim while I amuse Amarandi on the shore. Soon she is again surrounded by her little friends who treat her like a prized pet and I am able to slip away undetected.

We begin our dinner festivities, with ouzo at Katina's and then continue with kontosouvli, salad, horta and the last of my fish. We drink lots of wine and by ten o'clock Vassili the Greengrocer is dancing again. Elaine joins and eventually so does almost everyone else. Even Andrea is clapping and smiling. I sit next to Vassili after he leaves the dance floor and question him about his beautiful niece Connie, the coolest of the Kalohori-Americans. She is going to school at Berkeley. Perfect for my good friend Peter. I write her last name and run to the phone-card-phone to call. But Peter is not there to take the call that would change his life. I had tried. I had done my best and I had done enough good for one day. I go home and pass out.

Return to Spearfishing in Skatahori Index

Athens Survival Guide

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