DOUBLE DIGITS – ATHENS, MAY 12, 2010

OMENS

Things were not looking good today.

It was in the double-digits. Everything I touched doubled. Everywhere I went I stumbled.

Although I had left the house listening to the beat of Liszt, soon the sounds of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds thundered.

AVALANCHE was the name of the song that pushed its way to the top of the list.

The sole of my shoe brushed the side-walk.

Did a Jazz shuffle.

I offered double what my cigarettes were worth, and the clerk asked me why. “I guess I am still asleep,” I said, and left.

I stared at traffic head-on, while waiting to cross Patission, so I could hop on the bus.

I had thrown a 2nd notebook into my bag…

I missed my bus again – as I had yesterday. And while crossing the street, I stumbled on the footsteps of a man who scolded me for not adhering to the rules of crossing.

“Zig-zag?” he said to me.

But I ignored him, and cut across the striped line for pedestrian crossings, and sat on the bench and waited for my bus.

BUS 054

“Do you go to the University? (my first stop always)” I said to the driver.

“To Akademia,” he said. “Not far from there.”

“But can I get on the τραίνο from there?”

«Το τραίνο;» he said.

“I mean το ΜΕΤΡΟ,” I said.

“Ναι,” he said.

“is it far?”

“ΌΧΙ,” he said.

It was my practice to always stop by the University first, before heading elsewhere.

And, I did the same at the end of my day.

There I looked at the gods who anchored the Temple of Learning and the city, before dipping into the city below.

THE TRIP ON BUS 054

I was famished by then, Hungry for Homer, but tired.

I could see Athens burning.

Presses had rolled and fueled the city that never sleeps. New messages had been posted to the walls of Athens.

I had difficulty reading them at first, but many had been posted, so I picked up bits and pieces, while the bus spun its wheels into Central Athens.

THE SIGNS

GREECE BELONGS TO HELLENES
AND NOT TO THE BANKERS

LOST CIVILIZATIONS
(A picture below showed the pyramids of Egypt and Pharoahs)

WE Have Not Forgotten

Church doors swung wide-open.
People crossed themselves.

My hands trembled today.
And my script was jagged, its strokes uncertain.

THE CITY BELOW

I caught my reflection there.
And frightened.

16:00 HOURS

Bottles of beer hovered below tables. I considered reaching for one, but then I remembered that afternoon I had had my first beer since arriving on these shores.

I am not a beer drinker. Nor do I much like wine. But the combination of beer and the blue skies of Athens makes for an unusual combination. One is predisposed to linger there.

But this was not the time for me to linger.

I had work to do.

I ate a dish of baked chicken and potatoes drenched in lemon.

Soon after I finished my meal, my nose began to itch, and however much I scratched, the itch would not stop.

The men in dark suits had … Vanished.
So stealth was there mission.

Well-fed tourists lumbered along, heavy bags hung from their arms, filled with treasures.

I picked the meat from my teeth.
A piece of ash fell into my drink.

A passerby yanked the plugs from my ears – How had he gotten so close to me?

BMWs and Mercedes Benz barreled down the streets.

Then suddenly I could not move.
I had become paralyzed.
But move I had to.
So I shook the fear from my limbs, dipped into my purse, grabbed a vial of blood I kept there, tasted it.

I pulled at the noose around my ankles, paid my bill, and moved uphill, to my perch, to the side of Constitution Square –

… To file this report …

… But not before washing my hands …

At precisely 18:00 HOURS

[Malediction, Franz Liszt, Klavierwerke, Disc 3]

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