We are looking at the front of the kafeneion from the bank opposite. Slightly elevated, we look down on and across the dusty road that has no pavements but just leaks into the front doors of the kafeneion which were once dark green, for Pasok, but are now sun blistered and peeling. One of the panes in the left hand door is cracked all the way across about a third of the way up. The glass is reflecting our own images back at us it is so covered with dust. Our bottom halves are offset a little by the crack and the image we can see is a duotone. The sun is directly behind us and its glare hurts the eyes even in reflection. There is a heat haze rising from the dusty road in front of us and just to our left on the other side of the road the owner is desultorily pushing an old fashioned broom back and forth in front of two old olive oil tins each of which contains a fine yucca plant behind her is a small shrine.
The light is so bright that everything looks washed out, almost hazy. Our mouths are dry and full of dust: our tongues leathery and harsh on the inside of our cheeks. Our noses are caked inside with the same dust that lies everywhere, covering everything with its pale shroud. Inside, only the smoker remains. We hear footfalls to our right and glance up to see Pavlo striding this way like a young man, head held high, back straight. He raises a small cloud as he passes, looking neither to the left nor to the right. From behind, for he has passed in a trice, he could be taken for a thirty year old. As he passed, we noticed that his breeches were held up by a green webbing belt with a dingy brass buckle. The breeches have no belt loops and so the belt is just cinched in under the waistband. We must have been looking at his boots last time not to have noticed the belt.
We cross the road and sit down at one of the outside tables where there is a little shade from a mulberry tree on the bank across the road that has been shaped over the years into an elaborate fan. A little respite from the punishing sun. The possibly lovesick proprietress takes our order for Gazoza and disappears inside where she disappears once more into a vast, pale green american fridge almost twice her height where she keeps the Gazoza good and cold. Gazoza from Vrysses. She brings the Gazoza and two frosted glasses, setting them down in front of us before whispering, almost stage whispering, "Something is not right. Mark my words." And she is gone. Our table has a copy of the battered aluminium ashtray that the smoker is trying to fill inside and we decide to give it a try. The heat is overpowering and the dryness is harsh. The urge to close one's eyes is strong and we submit for a while drifting in the shimmer between waking and sleep. The gazoza is warm now and rings of condensation dribble away from the bases of or thick, pebble like glasses spilling from the galvanized table top into puddles in the dust. Dust settles onto the puddles, iridescent. More footfalls, this time to the right. Another cloud of dust, and in less than half the time it took him this morning Pavlo is past again. Striding back up the incline and carrying what looks like an axe and a saw at his belt and a mattock over his shoulder. We smoke some more, finish our warm Gazozas, and head home for a siesta.
It is evening, the sun has sunk behind the mountains at the back of the village but the cicadas continue their maddening racket. The air has barely cooled. It is hot and dry and there is, once more no breeze. Dust coats all four tables outside the kafeneion where we sit. Looking across at the mulberry we notice that its glossy leaves are coated in the same dust, the dark green foliage beginning to mirror the dusty, peeling paint of this kafeneion. The sky is purple and heavy, a bank of cloud above the village showing fringings of pink where sun has set behind it. The heat is remorseless and draining, seeming to rise from the road and just hang there taunting. "I told you there was something not right." It is the owner. Somehow she has crept up on us without us being aware of her. "Katsei, sit, please". She does. Tell us what happened. In a single movement she is up and moving. She shuffles off inside and brings a bottle and three small shot glasses. Sikourthia. "We need a little raki for this" she says and settles herself back down amazingly elegantly for an old lady. I pour three glasses and we wait. "Si gia" she says throwing the raki back in one bite and pouring three more. "I told you. Didn't I?". This must be serious. Cretan ladies seldom drink raki and less seldom still do they swig it back. "Yes you did. So, what was it?"