We gaze across the table into her watery brown eyes. She has clearly been crying herself. And as she speaks on, her voice, now low and mellifluous and entrancing, we are transported by her words, up to the gorge in the heat of the afternoon. We are standing on the crest of rock that marks the drop into the gorge looking down into a rocky wilderness. The cypresses are far behind us now. Plants that have deep purple flowers and camouflage green leaves like medieval instruments of torture sprout here and there. Apart from some mosses on the shady side of rocks these are the only vegetation visibly alive. There is the occasional grey stump poking out of the ground attached to a withered and dried corm that seems itself to be being pushed out of the thin soil. We catch sight of a stream, a poorly looking, pale blue gash in the bottom of the gorge: no more than a metre wide at its broadest. Along its banks thin reeds and grasses struggle to survive in the blazing focus of the sun, almost directly overhead now. And then we see Pavlo. He is down by the stream - a metre or two away at most. He is leaning over the corpse of Dimitri and he has an axe in his hand. Beside him there is a roughly hollowed hole in what seems to be the stone bedrock. He raises the axe and brings it down, with a single stroke he has severed Dimitri's foreleg up to the shoulder. Dimitri no longer has a head. There is just the stump of his neck. Pavlo lifts the leg onto his shoulder, strides it over to the hole he has prepared and drops it in. He grabs the mattock in his right hand, shaking the bloody axe loose from his left and proceeds to scrape the earth back into the hole. He stamps the earth flat and peers into the sky, looking almost directly into the sun, shading his eyes with his hand in a gesture that must be as old as mankind itself. He looks timeless. The gerakia hover above him crying their childlike wails of communication Pavlo shakes his head and moves forward testing the earth with his mattock every few metres until he finds a likely spot and starts to excavate. Alternately using the mattock as a pick and a shovel he hollows out another hole. And then he returns to the corpse of his friend and, with a flair you would expect of a trained butcher or anatomist, continues this gradual, piecemeal dismemberment. We stand on the crest, thirsty and bewitched, unable to take our eyes from the carnage unfolding before us. It continues. He continues: lovingly laying to rest his companion of the last years. Cutting and chopping him into pieces that can be buried: making him safe from the birds of prey. An act of devotion at the end.
We watch until the sun has started to slide below the crest and Pavlo has finished his task. Bathed in sweat and covered in blood he casts the axe and the saw into the final hole before filling it in and stamping it down. He stands and says a silent prayer, looking up at the gerakia all the while. Finally, he stumbles to the edge of the stream and kneels to wash his hands and face in the trickle of mountain water that dribbles past. He washes the mattock, head and shaft, and hefts it onto his shoulder. Weary now and crying, we know not whether from sadness, exhaustion or exultation at his job completed he wanders across to a spot we haven't spied before - this must be where the head is buried. He kneels and closes his eyes, the tears still coursing down his battered, weather beaten cheeks and thus he stays in contemplation, who knows, in communication, for some several minutes. He walks, his head bowed, past us and out of the gorge. The mattock is across his shoulders now, his arms hooked over its shaft. He walks away from us into the gathering dark.