I was sitting outside the Zanzibar, watching and waiting. There’d been no interesting new comers on the latest bus in from Corfu town. I chatted with Wand, sharing an ouzo and water when a moped drove past. No helmets in Corfu, I recognized the mop of long thick brown hair and the fag drooping out of his mouth, but it couldn’t be, could it?
“Oi Sleeze!” the Essex boy shouted. “Raahh!” It was, it was Nick, a Southend boyfriend I had forgotten to list previously but relevant enough, don’t know why I’d forgotten him. I’d spent many nights in the house he shared with three other lads, we’d shagged lots in his box room and visited his best friend in Southend General Hospital. I fancied Nick’s friend more than him, I was attracted to his dark wit and hands-on analysis of hospital food, but he was very sick and died.
There is another unsaid saying in Pelekas – ‘If you bring a boyfriend it won’t last’. I hadn’t seen Nick in ages, he’d been a long-term fling really and once his friend died the novelty wore off and I certainly hadn’t invited him to Pelekas. But word had got out in Essex, Half Man Half Barstool (John No. 21) had told Nick that Marni and I were away. Curiosity, lust and Essex boredom had got the better of him.
Nick’s excitement in finding me so quickly, also got the better of him. His bike had slid on the sharp left turning, just past the Zanzibar, and he’d fallen off. We laughed as he parked the bike up and joined us.
Nick bought a round of drinks, and then another and then another. Word had already got round that Nick was flush, he’d just finished 6 months labouring on a building site in Stuttgart. Our group got bigger and there were tequila shots all round. I got so trashed, Nick’s white skin and new German beer gut paled into insignificance.
“Where haven’t you shagged?” Nick asked. Ours was a competitive group, over the tequila shots we’d been comparing all the different places we’d had sex in and around the village.
“The graveyard” I said.
“It’s a rite of passage” someone said.
“Let’s do it.” Nick pulled me off my seat and four of us trooped down the hill, up a short track and stood in front of the iron gates of the cemetery. Someone opened the gates. It was still daylight, and we did it, four of us on two selected stones – a terrible thing to do. A really terrible thing to do. Why had I suggested it? I wondered in my drunken drunken haze whether in some unconscious way I was trying to get through to Nick’s dead friend or closer in spirit to my granny who would come back to life and direct me to a more sensible path.
We ran out of the grave yard and Nick took me down the mountain on his scooter. He stayed in our tent with me while Marni (who was presently single and pining for Lang) slept in French Freddy’s tent. In the morning I woke to Nick’s snoring which was louder than the donkey’s 6 o’clock braying. I crept out of the tent and walked to the taverna, bumping into Wand along the way.
“The Greeks reported you” Wand reported. Word was out yet again and this time God had spoken, we would pay a penance for our behaviour. I was thinking about the Greek mourners who’d found us and imagined my mother paying respects to my granny in the same situae. Me putting a condom on Karl Marx’s head in Highgate cemetery one drunken afternoon with Fraser was nothing in comparison.
“You need to lay low,” Wand warned. “Stay out of the village for a few days, the police will be looking for you.”
“Fuck,” I said. Nick’s snoring was now less of a problem.
“Don’t worry” Wand continued. “They won’t come down the beach, they won’t be arsed.” I guessed Wand was certain about this, he’d had a few close shaves with his dope selling and the police had never come to find Freddy and Yvon’s possessions.
I got comfy in the taverna, nursing a Metaxa and chocolate milk and wondering how I would get out of staying with Nick now we were confined to the beach.
Then God came – this time in the form of Ouzo man, he made a b line for me. I fancied Ouzo man but had never talked with him since seeing him on that first Pelekas bus. He’d always been hooked up with Goddess Scandinavian women.
“I’ve got something for you” he said, holding his hands behind his back.