Tales of Crete© Things Go Better With Coke 10 By Jack Schimmelman

Yanni owned the “Mafia Café.” He was clearly a tough guy. He was short. He was skinny. He had a henchman, who was short and obese. His name was Manouli. They both looked as if they would remove your very breath if you inhaled at the wrong moment. Yanni had a German girlfriend, who was about 35 years old. She had a two-year-old son. They lived with Yanni. Our café routine was created. The “good” café for breakfast and perhaps lunch. The “Mafia Café” for dinner and drinking until we were drunk. One night there was a performance of local Greek musicians who played and danced the traditional Cretan tones. We sat and enjoyed every pixel of entertainment. White lights were strung along the few trees that gave minimum shade during the day and made a graceful tableau at night. Suddenly, the child began to cry and Yanni told his mother to shut him up. No matter how hard she tried, the kid kept crying. He wailed. Yanni had the solution. He stopped dancing with Manouli, picked up a bottle of Coca Cola from one of the tables and poured it over the child who became hysterical as soda poured into his eyes. I looked to the mother and said something to her, which I know she understood. I asked her how she could allow this to happen to her kid? Nobody moved toward the boy. I went to him, took him in my arms and calmed him while I yelled at Yanni. I told him and his ghoulish assistant that he was one giant asshole and that he would never do that again. I handed the kid to his mother. Jorge came to me and suggested I leave and go to the other café, and so I did. I did not understand what I had done. I had gone against the head guy of this little village, which seem to consist of him, his girlfriend and his Sancho Panza. I was certainly doomed. At least that’s what Jorge said. Margot came by and assured me that this was so. I was terminal. I went to my cave, certain they were exaggerating. Nevertheless, life had barged its way into my dream at Damnoni. The next day I awoke and went to the road to make my way to the waterfall. I stuck out my thumb, awaiting the only car that would roll

past me. I saw that Yanni was driving along with his buddy. They slowed their car, looked at me and showed me their opened hands. I had been told before I went to Greece that this gesture was a curse and if I were to run across it, I should surely run. It was the evil eye. They both looked at me as a wolf contemplated his prey I swear I could see spittle and smell sour whiskey emanating from their sweaty torsos that early morn. I turned down the ride and walked the rest of the way to the waterfall to drain myself of horror. I was in trouble. Later I was told that I had incurred their vengeance, which they swore to place on me. I was also told they both carried pistols. I was lucky. The day of my demise never arrived, but I never returned to the Mafia Café. Trouble had disembarked in Paradise. Inevitable.

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