She peered into the downtilted cabin window, smiled, and ducked through the doorway. Mitchell and Georgios were snoring on the floor, beside the overturned table.
She stared, fascinated by the sheer wreckage of the old fisherman, bulky in layers of dirty, smelly, wornout shirts and sweaters, hands scarred and callused and stained into blunt paws, gray stubble and high-beaked nose under the greasy cap, and the frayed leather eye-patch hiding God knew what disgusting mess. The thing was she could almost see the vanished beautiful boy inside all that, like those pretty young men strutting around Athens or Ariadne’s island. All heading for this? She started to shudder, but turned it into a shrug.
“Sleep tight, boys.” Leeza dumped the rest of the retsina bottle with the dissolved ’ludes over the side, grabbed her portable recording gear, and popped a purple-striped capsule, expectancy humming through her. Up and running. “Showtime.”
“Sto plaz! Sto plaz!” Leeza was laughing, the boys were laughing, and she never wanted to stop, peaking on the Purple Flash sizzling through her veins, beat-up electric car packed to the max, whole goddamn Crete merchant marine on leave and she’d hardly got her thumb out when they’d peeled over in a cloud of dust, crazy hot wind blowing, antique boombox on the floorboards blasting out some ancient disco crap but it was loud enough it didn’t matter, boys chattering and she didn’t understand, but what the hell she’d learned, “Sto plaz!”
To the beach! She wanted to go skinny-dipping.
The boys just laughed as the car careened drunken along the dark cliffs and the hot wind blew through the glassless windows. She was coughing on the dust, jostled on top of knees and shoulders, somebody’s flat cap pulled low over her eyes, somebody else copping a feel. She slapped randomly, clutching the camera goggles and laughing, jacked in to the leads and riding flying swooping down out of the hills to the spark of town lights below.
Leeza went a little fuzzy on how they’d gotten out of the car, but somehow they were all stumbling along winding cobbled alleys.
Dizzy sweeps of closed storefronts, a tethered donkey, terraced houses above on a steep hill glowing dim white in the dark beneath the stars and the slow writhing serpents of colored auroras. Somebody caught her as the hill spun and tumbled down on her through the camera goggles. More jerky glimpses of frowning women in black hurrying past, cobblestones snaking away, harbor at the end of the side street, boats bobbing under lamplight.
“Sto plaz!” She spun around, tucking the goggles away, tugging free of their arms. “Sto plaz. Come on, you troglodytes, I wanna go swimming!”
The boys in their caps and imitation American jeans—the beautiful, carved-statue boys with their perfect profiles and big dark eyes and incredible eyelashes, Madre it wasn’t fair to waste those on men—the boys just laughed and took her arms and jostled her along, chanting, “Sto taverna! Sto taverna!”
She decided after all maybe she could go for some beer—none of that retsina swill—she could feel the buzz leveling out and the thirst setting in. So she let them sweep her along toward the harbor. People were eating under diner awnings in the lamplight, one old man dancing slow by himself to that whiny string-music farther on, then a flash of sputtering pink neon spelling out Space Cafet ia.
“Let’s go in.” Leeza dug in her heels. “I want a drink in the Space Cafeteria.”
Arms kept dragging her along. “Ohi, ohi. Eleni’s.” They stumbled toward a low, cement-block building on the edge of the harbor. Music pulsed out the door to nab them and float them on in.
An enormous greasy man swathed in a stained apron pushed through some dancers to smack a tray of glasses and a pitcher of wine on their table. Leeza blinked up, grinning. “Hola, amigo. I mean, ciao Eleni. I need beer.” She winked.
The boys roared and the waiter looked pained, but a bottle of warm beer appeared on the table. She gulped it thirstily. Little plates started passing around, weird things like soggy leaves wrapped around mush, big raw peas, and sausage-like appetizers stuffed into chewy skins, which tasted okay until she gathered from a real hilarious pantomime that they were made from some kind of animal guts.
Music pounded through dim lights. Time to dance. Two or three sailors at a time gyrated and twirled her, strutting and rubbing their crotches up against her with soulful looks. Some other macho cut in, max-fusto in open shirt and gold chains, tight pants. Leeza laughed and stumbled against the table, a glass crashing to the floor. Like some kind of signal, everybody went nuts, jumping up and hooting and flinging plates and glasses onto the floor, dancing wild in the shards.
“Maximal!” Leeza flung another plate, dancing, pounding to the music until she couldn’t feel her feet.
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