Chants of Bells and Spices.

This ever changing life confused him. Thoughts of her had roused once passion in him, something he had abandoned. No, he said aloud, this time I will not give-in to my feelings. He turned; her voice sounded from beyond the sea and the words uttered through his voice chords frightened him. This could never be his voice. It vibrated with her passionate uttering, and did not belong to him any longer. He had ceased to exist, when she died. She had taken revenge on him, pulling his heart out and leaving his carapace behind. Calcified pieces that pressed into a shell, flung upon the beach; their edges shaped and smoothened by the constant battering of the waves: The eternal sea god sculpting with his powerful hands, causing ebb and flow.

The storms of the night pushed him high into the swell, where he rose to a dangerous roar of the senses. She lifted him high up for a last time, until he cried-out in pain. Soaring into the night air, she let suddenly go. He fell onto the inclined beach, upon the rocks; his pilgrimage to find the truth about her ended, as he shattered into pieces.

The stars above rotated in a golden circle and tumbled down. The crescent moon drowned in high silver-lined waves of emotions that swelled and crushed. Swelled and crushed. Mortally wounded, he sensed death between the shadows of the rocks. It smelled of rotten fish and musky seaweed.

At the crack of dawn a dusky woman would appear. Her slim amber feet placed gently upon the wet sand, tiny bells chimed above her ankles in her gait that matched the rhythmic swill of a low tide. She carried a slender pitcher of glazed ceramic clay on her bare shoulders: Sweet waters of salvation, she sang to the bell’s chime. He longed for a reviving drink. He’d pay for it with a kiss, longings to touch her face. He would adore her lithe body. He’ll die for her fingers that lifted his shell to scoop water from her cool and colourful pitcher; she had dug into the soft sand next to his shell taking it into her slender fingers.

As she placed his shell to his lips, sipping greedily, he sprang into life. He had all day, until the stars appeared for another night, when the dark sea’s tentacles would pull him back into the deep. The recurring chase for love of his elusive mate slipped from his hands like the good-bye from her lips.

He hated her for leaving him, a shell cast away and turned into a slave of the eternal sea.

Day for day he wished to be saved from the spell his deceased muse had placed upon him: I do not want you to go to another woman; she crossed his heart and tore it from his chest, beating in her palms, his life finished. His heart’s red flame – with her last leap from the rocks of Lesvos Isle – hardly lit up the darkness of the void, which claimed her with immediate absorption. He fell like Phaeton to his death, the red flame doused in the expanse of the sea…

No, he cried: I do not deserve this end! I loved her, adored her. I served her whims, composed her love poems and wrote her purple letters. If there is indeed a god of letters, why does he not have mercy on a fellow poet’s soul?

He shouted, swept upon the beach of water-bearers as their shell and he enjoyed being placed against their lips for a cooling drink.

He liked Anna’s lips most. Beautiful and soft-skinned like honey, her dark hair matched the glow of her eyes. Rays of sunlight played from the tips of her pearl-rows of teeth. Her slender fingers like rambling water-lilies clasped around his existence in pilgrim shell.

I’ll serve you as your drinking vessel; I love the touch of your lips. I’ll die for you, he sang and lamented. Did she hear him sing? Did she grasp his words?

He had though no choice in the matter any longer. If he kept still, he’ll reach the thousandth time of the ritual and he’ll be free for the next purifying steps of seven.

He needed to rise to the state of souls on the pyramid’s peak. Freed in a final flight he’d return to the world of the living. Their fate had set another series of tests to begin. Another round of suffering for the red heart commenced. Of a new heart? No, he preferred the one he had, even if it had been battered around, squeezed and mistreated. The juices of life had been regenerated, albeit the scars of love were cut with sharp blades deep into it. He’ll take his heart back again, nurture it and listen to its tales. It had felt well in the water-bearer’s hands. The slim fingers from the hands of the dusky woman, touched him like garlands, soothed his body and the warm glow from her eyes, dancing like sun-rays on the crest of the sea began to heal his wounds.

One morning she did not turn-up and he suffered from anxiety, his wounds opening-up again. He thought of having lost her and he wished to elope to an island in the Med, where he once felt to be at home. He had visited the Mediterranean Sea at night, clasped tight to a dolphin’s fin. He loved the Bay of Makri Giallos, the white washed houses of charming Analipsi.

His thousandth time up, he emerged as a black knight, his half-moon emblem on his fish scaled shirt lit up the way to the winding road that led to a small village. Why would he take the road to a village in the mountains, called Pepperi?

Something inside urged him on this quest to find a secret. Faced with the greatest surprise, he called out: “Anna, you are here?”

“Yes,” she beamed, rays of the new moon bounced from the cusp of her teeth.

“This is a surprise!” He felt overwhelmed, moving around her like a fisherman about an unusual catch.

“Can you show me the magical spice tree?” she turned, a child glowing with great expectation in her wide open eyes.

“Come along my friend, I show you.” He took her hand.

Together ascending the incline, passing the left bend between low rise houses, with dark entrances and open windows, her fleet footed gait pulled him along. His gaze towards the top of the road, his own anticipation raced the pulses in his temples. His silver-haired presence dwindled and the golden locks of his youth curled around his forehead and nape. The magical tree rose in front of them like a giant umbrella; an arching soft cover with its emerald crown.

“See Anna?” he stretched his hands to grab a ball of seeds, red like a cluster of magenta miniature grapes. The enclosing feathered leaves trembled in a breeze that rushed through the rocky ravines and the dusty-brown olive groves from the distant sea. The air turned moist and salty. He rubbed the cluster of red corn between his fingers.

“Mh,” she closed her eyes as his fingertips touched her face. She smelled the strong scent and the spice spread like wildfire into her. She opened her lips and closed her eyes. He kissed her. The warmth enhanced a burn that melted their bodies.

“Ahhh,” she gasped like a fish, swallowing air, freeing her upper lip.

“I’ve done this a hundred times.” He smiled.

“No,” she gasped “where?”

“Every time, you sipped the sweet water of life from the cup of the pilgrim shell.” He gazed at her eyes.

“No,” she blushed with a glow of her amber skin.

“The pilgrim shell, you’ve picked up on the beach near the lighthouse, at Umhlanga Rocks.” He watched her eyes changing as she recalled the incident.

No,” she whispered “my god. That was you?”

“Yes,” he sighed “I had a free wish. You came to this place of my innermost desire.”

He kissed her again. He could not get enough of her carmine-red lips. As he kissed them, he wanted her brown eyes. When he kissed her eyes, he wanted her lips that changed to the colour of the crimson red corn clusters from the magical spice tree.

“The cycles of the moon draw me,” she stood at the full height window. He gazed at her streamlined body, caressed by the rays of a full moon. The flow of milky light transformed her into an angelic being.

He cringed. He hated good-byes. As she grew wings, he closed his eyes.

He’ll never see her again; he crossed his fingers, her scent of red pepper and cinnamon tasted on his dry lips. The air felt warm and he stretched out.

“Anna, let me love you one more time?”

The intensity of his union with her shattered the shell of his locked up existence. The smithereens from his heart fell like drops of dew upon the pale green crown of the magical pepper tree below a sparsely furnished, white walled room.

He could hear cries of joy and chants of pain from a distance. He did not know which force propelled him into the air, into the clouds, only to be dropped from a daring roller coaster ride above the mountainous Isle of Crete…

BUS RIDE

BUS RIDE.

By Zoltan Zelan

(Written in Patra, Hotel Delfini 2004, edited 2013).

He struggled to get-out of bed, when the alarm went-off. He switched the mobile phone off, turned-on the lights in the corner, where the small bed was located. He slept here one morning, after he had been writing about his feelings for a woman he had loved once physically to the point of self-destruction.

Now it was only compassion he felt for her. He thought he still loved her, but then, as she was hurrying to get close to her, time had passed. He could get only near her through her generosity to let him stay at her place that was a stone throw from the sea.

It is rather a place that is pretty in its natural setting on a small hill that faces the boat harbour to the south-west, with the port that is active during the day and at night the stars fall onto the bay in the glimmer of a myriad of lights. The shutters are closed and he routinely got-on with his breakfast: Cereal, nuts, yoghurt and a spoon of honey topped with some powder of cinnamon.

His spouse came from the bedroom and joined him for breakfast. He had finished quickly, as he had a fast eating habit. He packed his knapsack while Jo-Ann was eating and waited for her to make coffee. He was particular to pack his poetry, notebooks and pens, the present for his Muse, her palmtop to download his digital photographs and the edited version of his novel, he had written during the seven months of his absence. She had a natural feel for his writing. Perhaps she was too sympathetic in her critique, just to keep him positive and encouraged. However he did not want to miss the opportunity of her comments and her critical input.

He took his packed knapsack, said good-bye to Jo-Ann and left through the terrace. “Be careful on the marble, Jo-Ann shouted, I slipped the other morning.” Indeed the early morning mist from the sea had turned the surface slippery. He locked the front gate and waved her good-bye as he descended the few stairs to the street. He unlocked the dark-blue Morris and he started the car that gave-off its familiar roar. He rolled down towards the beach-parking to keep it there for his return, carefully positioned below a group of maple trees. The beach was already visited by the local swimmers, who cared about their morning exercises. It was five to seven and the red bus supposed to arrive at seven. Sometimes a bit later, depending on the number of stops, where it had to pick-up or let passengers exit. It arrived just as he checked his time, the angular bulky watch with tinted windows. The air was already warm and pleasant and as soon as he stepped inside the bus, its cooled air was waking him-up immediately.

At the next stop, uphill again, as bus followed a one-way system, he noticed a young woman entering, who took the seat in front of him. He had to look at her, feeling drawn to her. He noticed his conscious deriding his inner longings. He observed her from this acute angle. She had soft brown hair and dark brown glasses that obscured her eyes. At times she would turn her head, as if she would signal to him some preparedness to start communication. These manoeuvres went-on for some time and he was conscious of them. He had opened his notebook and he had started an outline for a story. Inspired by this indicative contact of her head turning at an angle that allowed him to see her profile, he then thought of her just being curious and then gave-up making nothing of it. Then as she continued, animating his attention again, he thought of his friend’s words: You are too sensitive Zany. Indeed, he felt even close to this strange woman who seemed familiar to him. He intended to chat her-up, phrase a question that would spark-off a conversation, get to know her. But what should he ask? She was attractive and looked intelligent to him. She might even speak English. He finished his thoughts about her and then as he wanted to say: Tell me do you speak English? She stood-up from her window-seat and as she turned she smiled at him fleetingly. He smiled back with the words frozen on his lips. She left the aisle moving forward to the front door that supposed to be the exit. He tried to read the bus station’s name, but his knowledge of the Greek alphabet was incomplete and he could not decipher the name as quickly. The bus moved-on immediately as soon as the passengers were stepping on to the pavement.

The stop he wanted to exit did appear just 5 minutes later. It was marked with a big M for Metro. He took the stairs down to the station and got on the blue line to the city. He intended to exit at Syntagma Square. As the train doors opened, spewing-out the majority of travellers, he felt drawn along in that vortex. Taking the escalator up he recalled the time, just seven months back, when he prided himself to have the fitness of walking up the stairs, often competing with others, to be faster, arriving ahead on street level.

The square was filled with people criss-crossing into all directions, many parts still closed-off to be finished off with a combination of marble slabs with granite flagstones in decorative patterns, to be ready for the arrival of foreign visitors to the Olympic Games this summer of 2004.

He continued to find the stationary shop along Ermou Street to stock-up on the items he had noted down. Besides he wanted to buy sweets for Aline and some for Jo-Ann, a notebook for Lian and then he checked his available funds, as he always overspent in the city. Athens is a boisterous town and for the squeamish best to be avoided. But this time, although he loved the city, he felt less enthusiastic about being here. He intended to visit Aline, but something told him inside that she was now more interested in her girlfriend Misch than in him. It had hurt him first, but then he did not own her and he had to curb his expectations, she had the cunning talent to stir passion and longing in him. She turned him on with wild desire for her and as she ignited his lust, they did engage in the fieriest sex he had for a long time. They had mutual freedom of expression in sexual lust and their fusion melted in the intensity of their engagement.

Then suddenly a few months ago all this intense and engaged daily communication faded, ceased and collapsed. She had poured cold water on the fire of their permanent renewable lustful merging and eventually her libido had cooled down.

She had handed over herself to the medical professionals, within the medical help she was subscribed to by a state funding of medical personnel, who subjugated her to a long series of tests. He worried about her. With some viral infection his anxiety became dominant and the subsequent hypertension caused his near-suffocation. The consulting doctor told him to stop taking the pills for his cholesterol control and try some alternative medication for asthma. It helped him immediately and he recovered. While he suffered in a state of anxiety, sensing almost a foreboding of a dramatic event, Aline told him in held-back sobbing that she was diagnosed finally with cancer of her spleen. She had to undergo chemotherapy and she was afraid of it. He felt sick. They commiserated and he fell suddenly into a sobbing mood that she wanted not to happen to him. How could he avoid his emotions of fear that burst to the surface, now as he was told he would be losing her?

Then he gradually recovered from this shock. He influenced her with his positive attitude and thinking. He loved her and wanted to help her, do anything he could to heal her. She called him her hope. He would not disappoint her. His sexual love had turned suddenly into strong compassion for her.

He exited the bus at the small square that defined its last station from town. The suburb she lived in was on a hill and the view of the town was spectacular. He pressed the button to her apartment and as soon as he heard her voice on the intercom, he answered. She pressed the release button for the electric lock and he got into the hall. He walked-up the marble steps for one floor and then took the elevator to the fourth floor. She had already opened her door slightly. He entered and she closed the door behind him. He intended to kiss her, but she was slow at closing the door. Then she turned and at that moment he kissed her. Finally she let go of the door handle and she embraced him. He pulled her tightly to his warm body and they kissed deeply. Then she eased off him, touching his arousal slightly, taking his hand, she led him to the terrace. He sat in the chair; he always used to sit and absorbed the breathtaking view of the Acropolis and Filopappou Hill. The traffic of the city flowing beneath with a pattern of ants scurrying along the known roads through the forest of building blocks strewn about from the distant mountains, as if giants had played a set of domino.

She was not well lying down in her reclining armchair. Soon she fell asleep. He took his notebook from his knapsack and he wrote about the brunette woman, with the brown matching glass frames, he had met in the bus. He remembered her overall impression, some details of the square shape of her watch and the design of her sunglasses matching it. Finishing his story, she woke and then started sharing some memories with him and then they looked at some of her collected photographs. Then they held hands, almost like a married couple, still blessed with the magic of love. And as his time was up, he left as if he would just visit the food store for ice cream on the groundfloor below her apartment. She smiled. A bitter expression formed around her curled lips.

The next day he was invited with Jo-Ann to visit her and they took the same bus. They sat at the same place where he had sat the day before. The first station from the centre, the brunette woman appeared. She took the window seat before their seats, eyeing him with a smile, which he returned. As the bus moved and slowly climbed the familiar route, Jo-Ann fell asleep. Then at one station, passed the port behind them, the bus stopped, but it did not leave. An argument ensued between the driver and an elderly man with a crop of silvery hair, which shook as if in a breeze, as he got worked-up and the voices of the passengers grew cacophonic. Then the conductor moved-in, then again someone else. Soon the entire bus was involved, except for him and Jo-Ann. They could not understand the reason for the argument and the subsequent shouting matches, nor its contents. The woman in front of him turned to the side in her seat, eyeing him. “You have of course not understood the goings-on.”

“Of course not,” he replied, almost excited. She had taken the opportunity to talk to him. She translated roughly. The cause was the claim of the elder man, who felt insulted by the driver. He had greeted him with ‘good morning’, and the driver did not reply, which he thought to be rude. Then as the arguments for and against were aired, she also got-up and threw in her bit of excited talk that sounded like an accusation, as if this supposed to be a traditional way of dealing with a debate, taking sides and voicing it: An immediate court, but did it offer a solution? The bus had not moved for 5 minutes and the driver had switched the engine off. “He says, it is his bus, and it’s a private company,” the young brunette woman continued and he enjoyed conducting a dialogue with her beside the ongoing debates she was involved in. He became spirited, as he could come closer to her and he had guessed right the first time, she could speak English well. He felt closeness to her and a familiarity by now. As she turned her head back from facing him, her hair touched his left hand that was placed in the gap between the seats. He felt stirred and aroused. He knew there was a spark and there was chemistry at work by now. He had this gut-feel they matched quite well. He observed her hands, her angled fingers, as if she had become stirred too, slightly excited perhaps that they had met finally this way, became friends in a short time, wanting to meet again. She let her emotions fly in the excited way she had added her piece of shouting towards the driver, probably to get on with the bus ride as she had to be at work on time.

The conductor fetched the driver from the nearby café, he had eloped too, glad to have a cigarette break. The elder man with the loose crop of white hair refrained from calling the police, as he had threatened before to do. He moved to the back of the bus and as soon as the driver was seated, the trip continued.

The young brunette woman excited from the debate, but also from his attention moved to the aisle at the same time, preparing to exit the bus. He noted her light-blue jeans, her lighter faded-blue top and her wine-red strap on her square watch. Then he lost her out of sight.

A few days later he had to take the bus again from the small seaside port to the city. As usual he waited to see her again, but she would not pitch. He sat on the right hand side of the aisle at the same height as she used to sit on the left. But there was no sign of her. He was disappointed. He wished to talk to her and befriend her today. He had missed the opportunity to ask her for her cellphone number.

Then suddenly he saw her. She had turned half-way, pretending to look at something on the other side of the street. He would finally see her again; even hear her voice, as she spoke to a woman seated next to her. He observed her from the corner of his left eye. She sat today on the seat, he had sat on the other day, when they met for the second time and talked about the incident. But Jo-Ann had chosen other seats.

He scolded himself of having taken this seat, and not the one he had taken last time. He could have met her easily and sat next to her, exchanging details, perhaps name a place for their communication.

As she left the bus, he looked at her, checking her clothes: Tight khaki pants in a sand colour with pockets on the sides; a cerise-red top, faded and soft. She loved light colours, suitable to her watch strap and her accessories, colours related to natural objects.

There will be a next time, he thought. Pity though, he could have met a nice woman here in the port of the Pyramid-Isle, as he referred to the place: A Nefertiti, a Cleopatra almost, as he had gazed passing Raftis Island. He noted down the name of the bus station.

They exited the bus at the final station in Areos Park, close to the NARMU, as he called it by acronym. They would be viewing their treasures today. Joey was enthusiastic about the museum at all times. He loved Poseidon’s sculpture in bronze. Some referred to it as Zeus, which he did not believe. The position of the god’s right arm that supposedly was throwing the thunderbolt rather looked like the position of a movement holding a trident to be thrown.

After the extensive visit to the National Archaeological Museum, he took Jo-Ann this time for refreshments to the Joly Café opposite the museum. They sat in the cool atmosphere and ate sandwiches and drank iced coffees.

It was singing hot at noon, melting everything that was not cooled sufficiently. Finally they took the bus and arrived at the street where the grey apartment building was situated, and where Aline lived. He went around the corner to the flower shop. He was mesmerized by the beauty of a dusky-eyed young woman in black clothes that attended to the customers. She had perfect breasts and her hip jeans sowed her pretty midriff, her navel that was free due to her short top. He was smitten by her appearance, attracted to her immediately. Jo-Ann noticed that and stood back, looking at some flowers in the entrance area. He talked to her, admiring her, complimenting her a bit and she smiled her beautiful smile. He was stirred deeply and wished for a future opportunity to continue their talk on plants and flowers, as he wished to prolong this stimulating talk. The flower girl noticed Jo-Ann’s jealousy and she took a rose from her container to give it to her, balancing the situation of his erotically sensual leaning towards her. He asked her the name of the plant he had chosen for Aline. Erotica, she seemed to say, or so he understood. Love-flower. How well chosen, he thought.

Aline was waiting for them and he gave her the plant. She was elated. Where do I put it? She asked him to bring it to the balcony, where she pointed to a place for him to place it.

Do you think it is nice here? He was not into small talk, only to be able to hold her. He was animated for sexual love and to fulfil that was impossible now, though their hearts met, caressed and sung together. The power of their belonging to each other felt palpably in his body’s welling and his lustful oncoming enticement. You are so easy to arouse, she had once commented on his physical reaction to her touches. I am not aroused with everyone, he replied to her, but with you foremost. She was pleased in her direct way of confirming her pleasure that rebounded in her body and turned her on for him, despite her sudden outbreak of a terminal illness. She had the phase of anger that precedes acceptance not overcome yet. Now and then the apocalypse of thoughts stormed passed, causing a sudden pain. She got pale in her face, almost sullen in her expression with her cheeks falling in. He saw in front of him a shadow of her beauty, a statue that she had offered to her sanctuary and the goddess of love, to be truthful and be healed. He wondered then what her shadow of being did still reveal to him, as he wished he knew everything about her and slowly a pattern of her fulfilment in love emerged. It was as if he had seen a picture in his fantasy that had nestled in midst the lewdness of lovemaking in him. It was always the same picture: Aline with a girlfriend and her husband. Pity, he thought that Jo-Ann had some dislike to Aline. They could have fulfilled her need to be officially with him and her in life and bed. Such interplays were the turn-on for her, he would not mind, but one person is usually the loser in a threesome, one is the sexual handicapped and then the intimacy breaks-up. The girls usually stay together. Men are always tarnished as losers. Aline was an Amazon.

All he felt was a strong attraction to her and he continued to research this phenomenon. Slowly she had revealed to him her preference for women. Slowly it killed him at first and then, as he fled into the world of his own creative being, he turned the tables of jealousy and pain and he gained advantage over his personal feelings again. He felt enticed by women, who were sensual and beautiful and he was not holding back his feelings any longer; nor did he hide or suppress them. He treaded though gingerly, almost as a cat. He had learned that from her. Life has to be lived and she had pulled back like a crab into its shell. He had on the other side, just emerged from his carapace and he disliked retreating into the darkness of an armour again. Life was beautiful and he felt pain, thinking about it this way, while she suffered and fought the circling shadows of the underworld. He had tears welling in his left eye and he did not suppress this emotion any longer. He cried. She could on occasion, as she was present now on the phone, but also in reality be like a mother to him, protecting him. He felt like a child, powerless and ashamed, yet in need for her love, this way. Then he moved into the next stage to hold her close, tight as possible, without causing her pain: A son loving his mother.

Then another change of mutation of feelings and love flooded him for her and he wished to touch her, even if she would lie down supinely on her bed and he would massage her left foot and her calf, she liked done the way he did. Her skin was dried-out and her muscles hurt and receded as if she never had use for them any longer. He was her lover turned angel and then her son turned lover. She smiled an almost dried-up smile and he watched her facial transformations as he expressed his love for her. Some faint sounds in her voice, some loose indications of a name, just a lightly kept tone of a mention told him to be prepared. Prepared for some news she popped like bubbles of champagne within him. Droplets of poison that seeped into his bloodstream and flowing towards his heart: The swift increase of hurt that became finally a catastrophic asphyxiation. But by now he was warned and prepared enough by his attuned consciousness. Yet he could not avoid the welling of jealousy, thinking of her other lovers that still stirred in him. The fact that he could not possess her drove him even more so toward destructive feelings. He was handicapped by his non-existence in the circle of family and friends: A solitary and stealthy lover, her underwear in the peak of his fervour. Now he was running as a blind, a man lost, hitting his head against the plate glass wall of a paradise behind a Fata Morgana of his desires that became piled-up into another mountain that he felt was about to fall upon him, squash him and finish his life that still had so much left open. He had not yet tied all loose ends, had not yet poured all his love he had still deep inside his spiritual well, onto the persons of his own desired extensions. But it will happen. Happen soon.

He leaves with his tail between his legs, a dog beloved and kicked now hard with her spiteful behaviour, induced by her dragon-friend. “Ah Shit!” He cries and then he flees into the arms of the sexy woman next door, opposite a cemetery, indeed! Life is here to be lived, he tells her. Aline has already declared him dead, as she struggles to live and breathe and is in need of a juicier friend, ah! What is this talk of token friendship for? All of these living moments show the cities she had once mentioned, turning into tinsel-towns and are not of the same substance as places she was living-in physically as she described them before. There is a change of scenes and the play will enter into a final act. He shudders and is relieved that the woman with the hip jeans and a sexy belly, who sells flowers in this shop, is indeed a beauty, despite the liver marks on her left breast that act as an interesting tattoo by nature, see? How do some disadvantages the owners feel as such, turn suddenly crimson-red switch of a turn-on for onlookers? Yes, he desires her and she senses that. Then she offers his spouse a rose to compensate for his emotional ride upon her in their projected mind’s scenario.

He will not ever take another bus ride back to his lover, but indeed to meet this new woman of his lustful life: The flower-woman. Lascivious thoughts accompany his eyes that he has set upon her figure that he disrobes already in his mind. He could come just being close to her now, he’d come!

But whatever image he does set before Aline’s face that is deeply ingrained in him, she still does haunt him. She has engineered her love acts so well and so profound that he is struggling now to overcome virtuality for reality. She had after all two decisive facts that helped her to abandon the ship of stone-cast lust: Firstly her libido stopped and then she pushed her terminate illness in front of all the demands other lovers could have on her. Now she hides officially, not any longer stealthily. It suites her and she has thus been manoeuvred swiftly into the hands of her gild-haired friend, the scheming Amazon from her student days, she was in love with. He has lost, she signals to him with flashing lights of sensual photographs, which she sends him immediately. Well she has united with her love-sister. But she has not the right to scorn him with somebody that is not of his concern. When he asked her questions about her gender liaison before, she was almost shy to talk about it. Suddenly she is brave, well under the Nordic woman’s influence. Instead of being nice to him, as a poet supposed to be happy, she once said. Is hate following love? Has he not turned one layer of love into another one of compassion and all he can see is that she has fallen into the trap of a woman’s misused powers? He actually feels sad about the matter and he puts the pictures aside. Now he does understand why she never wanted to enter another room with him, but her own. Just to be able to get back to him, at least needle him for a while. Become a mean woman? He would never have thought about that. They two have succeeded to turn-on the furnace of derision, lust him to death and then burn his carapace in the heat of sacrifice, she also once disliked, and then watch him burn to ashes in hate’s holocaust. Then as all cooled down they drove to Filopappou Hill and the two love-sisters, Aline and Ais took Lian the budding daughter along, who had a love-hate relationship with her mother Aline, and they cast Zarkos’ ashes onto the shards of houses below, the endless splinters of marble, bricks and wood that was assembled through the thousand of years, the wind taking the grey flocks of once flesh and blood and blow it over the dust of times they have suddenly revived from their lofty heights.

But he is not yet completely lost, not yet burned to death, only his virtual image is; he is still in with a chance to find some safety-net for his stirred-up feelings. Lian has saved his early fatal fate and she has emotionally turned against her mother, rather liking Zarkos, secretly coding his photograph with intumescent layers of her own love.

He sits for days on end on the terrace of his temporary stay, he now treats as if he would have as well to forget, to abandon and to find another place instead of this one, hired from Aline, who is completely strange to him and she entices him to find another woman, friendly to his nature. Perhaps close-up, depart, seek something he does not know where and how and what: Another place, another home, another entire different story. He had a strange telephone call the night before. The voice of an upset woman that sounded concerned. All he understood was the name Aline. The rest was a lament in Greek he could not follow.

He tried hard to get her name, but he failed. It haunted him for the rest of the night. You can write her story, Aline had said to him, when he told her about the phone call, referring to her cousin, a hypochondriac. Probably lonesome, he thought. She refers to her cousin as scornful, crying a lot, as she has hurt herself, splaying an ankle. On these shitty pavements it is no wonder, he would reply angrily, still heaving inside with a storm of emotion, taking her cousin’s side. Aline hammers into him as if she would get him interested into her cousin’s life. She is cunning and he already knows that: Cues, suggestions, love affairs, and indicative sensual matters, thoughts of controversy and changes of mood. No? Yes it all has to do with Aline; she’s turned into a mental chameleon.

He has gathered his thoughts, relaxed on the beach with his spouse and has felt the relentless burning of the sun, thinking of the love-sisters to extinguish him. His skin can take no more burns, he has to dive into the saving waves. Now in the wake of his feelings for the pretty brunette-haired woman with the colour co-ordinated taste of clothes and accessories, he met in the seven-morning bus, he intends to take another ride, another try to meet her. This time he would not fail to talk to her and put-up the required sharpness of mind and courage of his heart to impress her. After all she spoke English well.

He is finally at the station, taking the bus to the city. He did not know that it was her day off. Oh blast, darn, no sight of her, however hard he turns in his seat and he scans the station where she usually does get-in. Fuck! Then at the next station that follows he can see her. She stands somewhat aside, her bathing stuff in her bag and she enters the bus. She sits down at a different seat to her usual one and soon falls into conversation with a woman sitting next to her, ignoring him totally. He feels hurt and offended. He’ll continue to concentrate on his notes. Secretly now and then he ogles in her direction and he notices that she does the same.

This is like cat and mouse, a battle of who is interested and if; a battle of nerves had begun, who will chicken-out first?

He’ll write her a note, he is better in that. As he wants to hand it to her, greeting her, she suddenly exits the bus in a hurry, not even turning, except for a stolen glance and not returning his smile this time. It reminds him of his girlfriend, same darn game, same deceitful longings. He is exhausted from games of love, yet he is pursuing them with fervour.

This can be a thrill and an excitement and this pursuit to chase sexual stealthy love that will take many ups and downs and end in the peak of frustration to scale new heights of a first climactic merging. That’s it we all want this to be. The chase is more exciting as the repetitive physical pounding in the end; otherwise we would all just walk the convenient road to Piraeus and find solace between the thighs of sex-workers and prostitutes, wouldn’t we?

He is annoyed; she has mastered the art of pushing his adrenalin levels, busting the temples of his head. As soon as she is out of sight, he relaxes, forgetting his mind-fuck and falling asleep. He will not visit his ailing Muse Aline this time. He’ll rather visit the flower-girl with the sexy midriff, or the girl in the electronic workshop that did show interest in him. Now he is already keyed-up to enter another love life, much the way Aline has taught him, the ways to counterbalance the innate boredom in repetitive sex with the same person. This is exciting he thinks. This is just great.

Then he exits the bus, he feels compassion towards Aline. After all she has always helped him and loved him. Now it is his turn to love her back.

He takes the bus from the centre of the city and exits at the shop where the flower girl works. He asks her for a bouquet of pink roses. She says she has only a few. He takes what she has and she combines the roses with other flowers. He wants some white and light blue shades added. He talks to her in colours as he is ignorant of flower names, as the seasons produce different flowers here. She rattles down the names, he cannot catch. She is hectic today. “What will happen next?” She asks him. “This,” he says, and kisses her on the cheeks. “Wait,” she says and then hands him a red long stem rose.

“Thank you,” he says.

“I thank you too,” she says. “How long are you staying?”

“I do not know yet,” he says with a bitter-sweet smile, “but I am sure I’ll see you again.” Then as she smiles and a feisty thick-set woman enters the shop, she introduces him to her. “My mother,” she says. As she wants to take the bouquet from her hands, her Mom pushes her away and hisses like a snake. “Ok,” he says, “I am a friend,” and he smiles at the fleshy woman, who has little humour it seems and is pushy with her dominant attitude.

Then he says good-bye to Heli and he takes the last few meters to the main street and then towards the side street that faces the Acropolis. He rings the bell. “Oh,” Aline says through the intercom, “please come-up.” As he enters the passage to her apartment, she has already opened the door. “I did not expect you. I am glad you are here.” She beams and takes the flowers. He helps her to place them into a large vase. “They are beautiful,” she says, “thank you.” Now she smiles. He returns her smile. Then she asks him to accompany her to her adjustable seat, she has especially bought for her relaxation and she can sleep in. She sits down, reclines and falls asleep.

He is in suddenly in a mood to jot down some ideas for a poem. Does poetry not express the deep feelings at a given moment that emerges suddenly from one’s heart? A love poem this time.

She has called him hypersensitive and she has been drawn to his innate femininity with the awakening of her innate masculinity. How important was this analysis? Maybe it was what she felt and he felt something different. Was this the motor that they had once coined as a matching chemistry?

Can he recall suddenly a series of incidents that were living proof to him of a matching chemistry in heterosexual proximity: The incident of meeting someone, when the heart does strike a note that one pays entire attention to?

Yes, he has recalled the incident on the bus ride to the city and the meeting of the flower-woman. Incidents if followed-up entirely and with reasonable tenacity, would lead to the same status quo of a relationship, he is finding himself in now?

Not quite. Perhaps physically, but mentally he has question marks against them. He has to seek her advice; advice from his lover, as she gets advice from her girlfriend Ais, who offers her healing through her younger son, who is a doctor online.

Indeed there is more to love than he ever thought possible.

“Ais thought I need a younger person now,” she says to him. He muses. This is an interesting situation indeed. He also needs a younger person. He has his one Muse, called Danyelle, he loves her. Now he has felt the instant notion of a fathom as her words did strike home. A death is never something easy. It is a finite answer to life. The ultimate. He recalls a piece he wrote about two lovers: A Death in Athens. He thinks is tragic, emotionally charged, a drama, especially a love between two artists. This is a bomb of emotional shards that’ll hit anyone who became involved. He wonders how many that would be. He knows of Ay, Lian, Heli, Ais, Vassilis, Mai, Takis and Altis. There are Lin and her brothers, cousins, maybe seven to 12 lovers and a host of family and acquaintances and others, he does not know yet, and she had never told him about. Would that be considered as normal today, probably yes, even on the lighter side. Still in certain societies, it’s traditional and called Hetaerae, where well-groomed men and women moved about in important positions and Hetaerae knew them intimately as a circle of friends, they also influenced and especially if they were bluestockings.

I will love you, he signals her in a moment of inspired writing, without the fear of others, without a timid heart.

Love that will entail the love of all others and accumulate like an enriched mineral, extracted within the furnace of pleasure, melting down and burning us alight, inflaming all traces of energy left behind that recognizes the new approved fervour, forged by the lust this one love will generate. The powerhouse of our intense communication, you and I do value all above else; even if we delve into deeply confined fields of our being, on matters of art, we will still have this erotic backdrop to our mutual stage of our lives, we do meet upon.

He finishes his monologue to her that does not let-up and carries on in an almost continuous fashion, when the layer of his yearning has reached a boiling point.

He has not seen her for a while, engaging in a driving away on the mood of a moment to see the other side of the Attic lands.

He is almost gone for a whole week, even extending his stay for another day. He visits many places, meeting many people, but his hunger for spiritual and physical fulfilment is hardly stilled all together. Either his spirit is sated with the overpowering beauty of a place, or his physical side is stirred-up into a frenzy of auto-eroticism that’ll bring him to a burst.

Another Tuesday. He considers it as the day he wishes to travel to town again. Would the brunette haired beauty be there? This is the time he will choose the seat close to the entrance of the bus, a place she seems to prefer. He has some questions to ask her, of course if she agrees to be questioned by him. Is there still the basis of their friendship left that touched on the periphery of sympathies they felt the first time, as their heads came close between the headrests of the seats that left a gap enough to gaze into each other’s eyes?

How were these eyes now meeting? But there was no such a woman, perhaps all was just a great imagination.

This Monday the twenty-sixth of July his inner voices were at turmoil, ready to explode and he had to take a chance to travel to the city. He had to handover the letter he had written to her, or should he rather drive these demons of his lewd associations from his body, free the mind and clear the spirit, see what happens first, let the incidental touches of the moment be the motor for his departure into the moods and voices of the day. Let the riches of the heartbeats melt by the incidents of nearness that’ll determine the start-off to a story or it won’t. Let the day evolve with all its colourful flowers and the bare midriff’s enhancement of the flower-woman’s attraction, when buying another plant. He’ll greet her as a friend and pour his love into the collective cup of sweetness. Lets enrich the man-made world of peace and gentle togetherness of minds and hearts, the collective spirit of love reflect on all the faces he’ll encounter today; this is it, he thinks, this, the best bus-ride of them all. This bus ride enriched by the beauty of the humanistic spirit: the love for all the arts.

He’ll sit on the seat that was to be the bus-lady’s seat, but she does not turn-up any longer.

Then another lady will sit next to him, who’ll throw glances of curiosity towards his profile. She crosses herself at every church along the known route. She has an almost angelic face, waxy, but pretty against the soft-flowing pitch-black of her straight hair, she keeps tied-up with a five-fingered clasp at the back of her head. He’ll sink into his seat and he thinks of Aline and her mental ride across the open pages of her notebook, something she does write with great renewal of vigour, she could be enticed into. And as he meets her again, she radiates. “I have written a story.”

“What is it called?” He asks.

“It’s called: The Bicycle Ride,” she says and smiles. It is about some interesting happening from my childhood.

*