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Thread: Monastiraki

  1. #1
    Registered User DieterM's Avatar
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    Monastiraki

    It's been a while that I haven't posted anything… so let's try this vignette. Hope you'll enjoy! And I'm glad to be back!

    A little jewelry store situated in a small side-street in Monastiraki. The quarter looks shabby and a bit forlorn. The sun flickers high in the sky, the hot air permeates everything, wafting through the street-canyons and lane-vales. In the smog-hazy background, white rocks, white columns, white temples: the majesty of the Acropolis. The brightness of the day hurts the eye and transforms the colours into shades of white; even the shadowy patches glimmer in a light grey. People walk the streets with the cautious, slow and shuffling steps the hot summer climate has taught them to adopt. I easily recognize the tourists, the only ones who run around in a fast, determined pace, eager to visit this place, see that sight; I can almost hear them ticking off the different points of their sightseeing-agenda in their heads.

    The buildings in this area are low and old and dusty. Many of the metallic shutters remain closed because it's Sunday. Only a few shops have opened, like this jewelry shop we're heading for. Two blonde, pretty American girls stand in front of the stand with the fragile silver rings. The girls wear their origin as visibly as a neon-sign. Their attitude is cheery-showy-talkative. Their voices ring loudly through the subdued, sizzling, lazy atmosphere of the street.

    "We come from Nebraska,” one of them says to the young, black-haired vendor. She flashes him a toothpaste-ad-smile. Her mouth is big, as are her shining white teeth. "Gee, Barbra,” she screams and nudges her friend. "Look at that one! Ain't it just gorgeous?” She points at a ring.

    "Yeah,” her friend Barbra nods vehemently. "Awesome!” She glances at the vendor with big, enthusiastic eyes. He stands there, his handsome face impassive, his tanned, muscular arms crossed over his chest. He’s watching the two girls as if they were aliens a distant dimension has just spat out. He doesn't utter a word, looks them up and down, listens to their chatter with silent contempt.

    The girls finger different rings, try to make themselves interesting and attractive to the young vendor. But he keeps standing there, without a smile, showing no reaction, mute and beautiful like a marble statue. A wave of warm, naive bonhomie seems to emanate from the girls; it is blocked off by the young man's cold, uninterested attitude. Finally, somewhat disappointed, the girls hurry off without purchasing anything. "My, I don't understand why they have to be so rude,” I hear them mutter.

    When the three of us approach, the young man gazes at us as coolly as he has treated the girls. He lifts a glass of frappé to his mouth and takes a sip. I see his Adam's apple move up and down while he swallows. "Yassas,” I say and wipe my forehead, where some drops of sweat are glistening. "Kani zesti simera, eh?” My standard sentence meaning, "Hi, it's hot today, isn't it?” In summer, you can never be wrong with that stupid phrase. Of course, it's hot; how could it be otherwise, in the middle of July, in Athens?

    The young man's attitude changes immediately, however. He lights up and beams at us. "Yassas, ta pedia,” he smiles and becomes even more handsome. "You tourists? Where you come from?”

    "France,” I answer before asking, "You speak English? I was hoping you might, but…”

    "Of course, I speak English,” he says and winks at me. "I just not like Yankees. They think everybody speaks English. They think they can buy everything. They think with dollars they can make me smile! You're different. You say ‘Hello' in Greek. Poli orea.” He nods approvingly. “And I like French.” He winks again, confusing me. “So - what your friends need? I can make nice price!”

    We spend half an hour looking at the rings, chatting amiably with the young vendor. Finally, we buy a ring each. The young vendor pats me on the shoulder when we leave. “Have a nice day,” he says. “Ya tha ta poume, to pedi.”
    Last edited by DieterM; 09-18-2012 at 09:07 AM. Reason: Wrong past participle form corrected
    "Im Arm der Liebe schliefen wir selig ein…" ("Liebesode" - Otto Erich Hartleben)
    New poetry collection available (Kindle and paperback)

  2. #2
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Excellent piece. You got me from the first sentence and held me. Wry humour, that captured Athens on a hot summer’s day, along with a twist in the story that was beguiling.
    The vendor was lucky it was not English tourists. “Dooo Yooou Speeeeek Engliiish?” If no reaction, repeat slower and louder, after all one is south of Calais.
    Welcome back.
    Regards
    M.

  3. #3
    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    response to story

    This was a small gem. Loved the descriptions and came to a realization as to why I like stories with foreign locations. It's the clash of cultures. Humans are such an interesting species.

  4. #4
    Justifiably inexcusable DocHeart's Avatar
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    The brightness of the day hurts the eye and transforms the colours into shades of white; even the shadowy patches glimmer in a light grey.

    I loved this bit in particular. It really does feel like everything is greyed out on hot summer days down here. You do a great job of conveying atmosphere.

    The two American girls need to be taken out and shown the real Athens. About a mile to the south of your location is a joint called "Crocodile". The owner is a guy who looks like Einstein after he's just got out of bed in the morning. He makes his own ouzo and serves it with a small plate of his own olives and feta. After the sun goes down there's a little semi-private club nearby with dungeon rooms. You can rent your own flogger or whip.

    Great piece, Dieter. Cheers.

    DH
    Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine...

  5. #5
    Registered User DieterM's Avatar
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    Thanks, y'all, for commenting! And Doc, I'd simply love to go to whatever place you might want to lead me to if it's in Athens or anywhere else in Greece... Miss that country badly and would rather be there at the moment than in the living room sipping morning coffee and preparing, mentally, for work while trying to persuade my eyelids to finally bloody unglue (okay, it's 6 am so they have a certain right to resist...).
    "Im Arm der Liebe schliefen wir selig ein…" ("Liebesode" - Otto Erich Hartleben)
    New poetry collection available (Kindle and paperback)

  6. #6
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    reponse to story

    I am new in the forum but I like reading and literature so much, I read the story and I liked the descriptions, and it attract us to read more

  7. #7
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    Didn't want you to think I hadn't read it Dieter. Very well written and atmospheric. Rang true for me. Only one tiny flaw - The past participle of spit is spat God, that's nit picky though. Really enjoyed.

    Live and be well - H

  8. #8
    Registered User DieterM's Avatar
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    TY, Dreamsqueen - if my little input makes you dig through many other stories on this forum, why, I'd blush and take it my story-telling has done a very good job.

    Hawk, thanks, too. Don't I ever spellcheck and grammar-check my writing? Especially where special past tense forms are concerned (school's so far away, my brain's getting old and messy, and English is not my first language, so...). But I guess I should not only check but also double-check next time. Because The Conjugator only would allow spit as the past tense and past participle form of spit, wouldya buleev it? So, even if I trust you blindly (made a typo here and wrote "blondly" - chuckle), I double-checked with Oxford. And yes, it's spit-spat-spat (but it seems spit-spit-spit is allowed, too). Anyway, I've changed that bit, if only to indulge in your nit-pickyism ;-)

    Have a wonderful day!
    "Im Arm der Liebe schliefen wir selig ein…" ("Liebesode" - Otto Erich Hartleben)
    New poetry collection available (Kindle and paperback)

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