THE GOATHERD, THE WRITER, HIS WIFE AND THEIR CITROEN DS - part 3.
Vantaris strides to the gate and peers up into the bright sun and toward the village. In his peripheral vision he glimpses one of the dark brown kids attempt an ambitious leap from one rock to another. Dark brown with a small white mark to the left of his tail. Vantaris notes it for future reference. The kid had landed badly and, in that seemingly insignifcant blunder. sealed its own fate. He shields his eyes and catches a flash of white as a small Fiat pickup negotiates one of the hairpin bends above. He takes a battered red box of Sante from his rolled up shirt sleeve and lights one. And he waits.
Gilbert drops the Fiat into third and sweeps into the bend with tyres howling - the sun has heated the road and softened the tyres. The empty water canisters slide across the truck bed behind him and he smiles, "I should have tied them down ... I always think of it ... and always it is too late ..." Remembering his old Citroen DS he automatically reaches for the column change and has to correct himself. "She was a beauty, but a farmer needs a pick up not a limousine ... she ate these hairpins ... and at night ... the headlights tracing out the bends before I got into them ... and the ride ... smoothing out the potholes ... she was a goddess indeed ... but we have to let go ... come on Pansy ... come on little pickup." And he uses the diesel's extra torque to make up for missing his gear change. As he rounds the last hairpin he sees the spring and coasts the last 50 meters.
Vantaris watches the little white Fiat come round the last bend and listens to the engine, "Bravo, - it is Gil, maybe he will have some rope. Of course he will have rope. Gil carries everything in that little fortigaki of his." The windows are wide open and Gil is wearing a huge straw hat tied on under the chin and smoking. "So Gil, he never uses the air-con" and he was back to his childhood when first he had met Gil.
He had been out with some friends and he had stayed long after them He had stayed too late - watching the buzzards in the gorge way below his village. It was dark but it had been spring then, and so it was not properly night-time. Gil had swept past him in the magnificent Citroen, the feeble headlights picking him out against the hedge only at the last moment but Gil had braked and waited for him to catch up. They had driven to the village in silence, his english had been very scant back then and Gil's Greek almost non-existent. To this day he recalled the smooth black leather of the seats and the utter opulence of the alien car. Even the smell of it lived with him yet. He had had the windows open that day - all of them - and refused to put on the air-con but it had only been much later, when they were real friends and he had been to the frontisteria for a few years that he had dared to ask why. Gil had patiently explained about how running the air-con used more petrol and reduced the speed of the car. Vantaris had not believed him and so Gil took him out onto the then new main coast road in in the Citroen to prove his point. demonstrated. One hundred and eighty kilometers an hour through the twists and bends late at night - he had been so exhilarated. And still Gil does not use the air-con. And neither does Vantaris.
The Fiat pulls up beside the spring and Gil gets out of the passenger door pushing his hat to the back of his head. Dust tumbles out after him. "Mother of god. has he not fixed that door yet?" Vantaris watches him take the water canisters from the back of the pickup and saunter over to the spring. "Will he see my boots?" he wonders. Gil does see the boots, and carefully moves them into a shadier spot before he reaches the spring itself. "Gil is good people" he says to himself " and the lovely Becky too. They are good people". He checks the goats, listening carefully to their bells and placing every single one of them on the rock faces before resuming his study of Gil.