HE CAREFULLY UNDRESSED HIM. The water in the pot was almost boiling. She washed his hair, his armpits, his feet… She rinsed the soap off and wrapped him in a worn out bath robe. They crossed the yard and climbed up the stairs to the house. The belt was trailing on the ground and he even lost his slipper at one point. She dressed him in festive clothes and gave him some cheap cologne. She kissed him on the forehead and accompanied him to the front door.
Despite his hastiness it took him an hour to get there. He had a problem in his arms and legs and was walking as slow as a snail. He climbed the stairs and entered the small living room. He was alone. He sat on a chair and waited.
She came out of her room wearing a red nightgown. “The only one we needed now was you…,” she said. “I am not available today, come back next Monday.” She entered the bathroom. The flush was heard. The door opened and a bad odor filled the room. “Still here? Why don’t you go to someone else, is mine made of honey? All these years and we never found a faithful man and fate brought us you…” Why was she taking it upon this relic now… She lifted her nightgown up to her shoulders. “Come, damn you, I don’t want you to say that you stayed hungry…” He could see her breasts, her belly and a huge black underpants stuffed with cotton strips. “Come, you can touch a little if you want…”
He suddenly felt shy and lowered his gaze. He left a hundred drachmas on the table and went out. He took the street that led to the public gardens. He bought a sandwich and sat on a an isolated bench. He gave his battle in the dark, but he was not redeemed. His hands and trousers were filled with mustard. He buttoned up. He didn’t like moving at all.
This Monday was unremarkable. And tomorrow he will start his everyday struggle, the agony to sell his lottery tickets. Six days of passing from offices, tavernas… and every street is uphill for him. And only next Monday night – every Monday after the draw – he will again have three hours for himself, family time, himself, his mother and his lover.
Tonight the bath was useless – “The roof of the washing room needs mending,” said the mother – useless were the two hours walk to her house, since he didn’t have those five minutes of his redemption.
Tonight a whole week’s work was pointless. “Our whole life is useless, mother, I wish this Monday would never dawn.”
He started slowly for his home. He was very tired. The moon rose and lighted up his path. A hungry dog neared the bench and devoured the leftovers of his sand
Source: From the short story collection I Vespa and other provincial short stories (Nefeli editions, Athens, 1990).
Vassilis Tsiambousis (Drama, Greece 1953). Studied Civil Engineering at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. He lives and works in Drama. His first book is I Vespa and other provincial short stories (Nefeli editions, Athens, 1990). His last book is: Na s’ agapaei i zoi (Short stories, Pataki editions, 2004).
Translated from the greek by
Vassilis Manoussakis (Athens, 1972). Poet, short-story writer, translator. He holds a Ph.D. in Contemporary American Poetry. He currently teaches at the Hellenic American University in Athens.