Hounds in Santorini

I drop my pencil and it rolls under the frame of my bed. I reach under and feel around. The gap between the floor and the frame is too small to see under without me having to bend down and put my face to the carpet. I feel around and grab this strange cold thing. I forgot about the pencil and take out the object. It’s this small statue of a tortoise. A friend of mine who lived near me last year gave it to me because the nose is chipped and she didn’t want it. She told me that if you put it under your bed it brings you good luck.

– – – –

“Charlie, take this.”

“Ok,” I said. I take it. It’s small and cold in my hand.

– – – –

I remember putting it underneath my bed when I moved to my place in Dublin. It didn’t give me any luck, but I smiled when I found it.

I dropped it. The head snapped off. I put it to the side. I thought I’d shatter the whole thing if I touched it again. I planned to fix it later, with some glue or clay or something.

– – – –

At the museum, I sometimes forget the wax figures are wax and I talk to them about the weather and my dead relatives.

“Great weather, huh John?”

John stares over me blankly.

“Shame about Uncle George”.

John stares over me blankly.

I want to hold a candle up to Steve Jobs, who I share a birthday with, and watch him melt. I want to see if John Lennon is still John Lennon when he’s just a puddle.

Sometimes I forget the people at the wax museum are people and I think they are wax. It’s so hard to keep track, especially in the dark.

– – – –

The waiter hands us our coffees and the dog in the corner gets up and walks outside. Jane says to me, “I feel like I’m living someone else’s life’. I feel like that too sometimes.

I say, “What do you mean?”

She says, “I don’t know.”

– – – –

We pull up to the Yacht Club. We are drinking at the Yacht Club before we go to this party. There’s this girl I don’t know who’s having this party, and this boy I barely know told the whole senior year about it all. I’m a senior.

The girl doesn’t go to my school, she goes to another in the same town. The Yacht Club sounds like a real fancy place but it isn’t anything like that. We come here all the time, Oliver, Ben, Harry, and everyone. We have nowhere better or bigger to go. There aren’t any yachts or anything like that. I don’t know if you could fit a yacht on this lake. Only canoes and kayaks and creaky docks and little tiny sailboats here.

My friend, Alex, he’s gotta key to the place. We drink here and smoke here and sleep here. I remember this one time when I got really fucked here.

– – – –

I drank too much and I smoked too much because it was being thrown at me all night up to this point. I walked to the big field down the road and kicked the stones around till I couldn’t stop myself from being sick. I laid down in the grass. I looked up at the stars and they looked nice. I stayed there until my friends found me. I thought I died.

“Jesus Charlie”.

– – – –

I had received an email earlier that day from family and just remembered I was meant to respond to it.

I wrote the email.

Henry,

I am sorry to hear about Uncle George. He was a wise and intelligent man and will be missed. These past days I have been thinking through the stories he told me, of Japan and Italy and his time at Yale and all else, and they helped to cheer me up. He lived a great life and taught us all to be better and for that, he will live on.

Condolences,

Charlie

It is always hard to write to someone about death. It took me more to write that short email than it does for an essay. I wrote it three times in my notebook alongside my grocery lists and math equations before I typed it up. Telling someone you are sad for them isn’t easy. When people die, what are we meant to say? I don’t know. I hope my email came across alright.

– – – –

The reason we came to the Yacht Club is cause it’s close to the house where the party was happening. The Yacht Club is made up of these three shacks. Two of these shacks are just wooden planks in a square. The third is furnished and slightly insulated and its gotta bathroom and a little kitchen and a tiny porch.

My friends set up a table with red plastic cups in triangles and bottles of rum and fireball in the centre. Fireball is this sort of cinnamon whiskey. I carried in a big case of Bud Lite. They played beer pong but put shots of rum and fireball in the cups instead and sipped on the blue cans of Bud Lite to clear out the taste.

“Hey, you wanna play?” I play.

“Fireball tastes like shit”. I thought it was great when I was younger, like 15, but not anymore. I am very drunk. My vision drags and my feet look too big. I burp.

We shamble to out of the gate to the yacht club. I say to my friends, “Leave the cars here and we’ll come back later and sleep on the couches in the Yacht Club.”

The party is fun. There is plenty of free alcohol and there is a hot bonfire.

– – – –

I wonder what would happen if that place broke out in a big fire, what’d it look like. I know the wax would melt and all that, but I wonder if it’d all look anything like Indiana Jones.

– – – –

I forgot what I was doing before I dropped my pencil so I got up. I ate toast and drank coffee. I can never decide if I like toast. It’s just mediocre I think. It’s morning still and I hadn’t done anything.

I take the tram into town. It’s called the Luas here. On the way in there’s this cafe that I pass every day. In the seating area outside of the cafe, the waiter is stacking up dirty plates and cups to bring back to the kitchen. He drops a fork and before he picks it up he’s out of my view. I go to the library where I can study and read for my lectures.

The wood of the tables is worn and grey in places in the library, and the blue on the chairs is faded. The murmurs from outside would come through the glass but no words could be made of them. Papers shuffled. I sat in the library trying to read for my lectures but was distracted by all there was to be distracted by. I got little done and left for my lecture.

The lecturer spoke with a thick accent. It was not always easy to make out his words but that is my problem, not his. People snuck into the lecture late and whispered. The lecture went on.

– – – –

There is loud music. I don’t know the songs. There are so many people here and I know only a third of them. All the schools in the area are here. I haven’t met the host. I don’t know her name. The house is big.

I go outside to piss in the woods cause I can’t find the bathroom and everyone I ask doesn’t know either. I stand by the bonfire with some friends and we poke empty beer cans in the fire with a long metal pole. Sparks shoot out and land on our white socks and blue jeans.

“Cops”. Someone yells cops. We all ran into the woods. Some of our friends are not with us. There are dogs in the yard next door and they bark at us and chase us but their electric fence stops them before they get to us. I bet they would’ve just licked us or something. Dogs are nice.

We ran through the woods and around in circles and got to the lake.

“Let’ swim to the yacht club.” We swim to the yacht club. We lose lighters and cans of beer to the lake but hold our phones and wallets above our heads so they stay dry. We got to the shore and saw the light that points out the yacht club. The sand is mushy and muddy, and as we come out the water, our feet are stained with wet dirt and dark weeds.

My friend Harry immediately walks up and to the left near the forest and pukes and boots and pukes and empties his stomach. My friends and I sit at the picnic tables and talk.

“Fucking cops”.

“I’m not surprised”.

“Have you seen Alex?”.

As Harry walks away from his pile of vomit to the picnic table, someone mentions their car.

Harry says, “My car is at the party, on the road.”

Someone says “Dumbass”.

– – – –

I left the lecture with some friends I had run into. We walked out of the lecture hall and back into the main hub of the building. It was busy then, with tourists and students. As we walked outside we were hit with the weather, warmer and brighter than we thought it would be. I checked my phone, I had messages from friends I was meant to visit later that week. We had been planning the trip for some time and I was meant to fly to them that Friday.

I went to lunch with my friends at a falafel place not far from college. After we got beers at the bar at the park. There was a nice girl there who I hadn’t met before with an Irish name I couldn’t spell. She was friends with my friends. I had to go to the ATM to get money for the night so I left my friends. As I waited for the person in front of me to finish, the wind hit my face in a way that took me out of it all.

– – – –

We got on the ferry to Santorini from Athens early in the morning. Pre-sunrise. When the air is still cold and you can see the light of the sun but not the sun itself. I am visiting Greece for about a week or so. It is October. I like the old music in Greece. It hits you in some sort of way, just like the old music from Cuba or Ireland. I wouldn’t listen to it but I liked it.

Earlier in the week, we all went to this one place in Athens and we were the only Americans in the place. We ate souvlaki and drank wine. The food in Greece is also very good. The tzatziki sauce and bread, the gyros, the feta with the honey.

There was rowdy live Greek music. All the people in the place were smoking thick cigarettes and clapped their hands. Everyone stared at us because we were American.

– – – –

I feel out of touch, I like the fire though. It’s hard to tell what I am dreaming and what I am living. I feel like I might be reading about my own life. The fire fades, and only coals are left. It pops. My father, who made the fire, is asleep upstairs.

 

– – – –

“Should we get some ouzo?” Kira asked.

“Yes,” we said.

– – – –

I couldn’t remember my pin, so I gave up and got onto the tram to get back to my apartment.

Once back in my room I put on some music, showered, and shaved. I was to see this girl that night. We saw a movie about a boy in Lebanon. It was so sad that I felt ashamed for complaining about anything for the next day.

“Good movie,” I said. She bought a pack of cigarettes and I stood in the store and watched my feet. I don’t smoke.

We walked a few miles to a pub where we were supposed to her friends. Nice little pub named after a playwright. Isn’t it weird how playwright is spelt “playwright” instead of “playwrite”? Gotta be a reason for that. We drank until her friends came. Her friends are nice. I wonder if I will see them again.

– – – –

I carried my bag of laundry over my shoulder and felt the change in my pocket. I walked past the picnic tables in front of the apartment buildings and saw the girl. I hope she will not notice me. She notices me.

I say “Hello”.

She calls me over “Come over”.

I say that “I gotta do my laundry, give me a minute”. I put my laundry in the machine and set a timer on my phone. I walk back out. I go to the table. I sit down. I regret sitting down. Maybe I shouldn’t have sat down. We talk. Her friend is there. I make an excuse. I leave.

– – – –

It’s after 10 PM. The sun has set. I’m driving my old Honda.

I pull into Oliver’s driveway. Oliver goes to college in Vermont. I go to college in New York. We are back home in Connecticut for the summer.

– – – –

In my bedroom, there’s this old wooden wardrobe with a sock drawer at the money. I kept the extra tips I made at the restaurant I worked at. I grabbed thirty bucks. I close the drawer.

“Dinner’s ready.” My mother calls.

– – – –

The driveway’s real long and at the bottom is Oliver’s house. His house is in the middle of the forest but all of the houses are in my town. It’s a modest white house with a red door and a two-bay garage on the right side. The brown and blue garbage cans sat outside, one for trash, one for recycles. Ben was there too. Ben’s car is red and small. Ben is trying to play football at a college or something but hasn’t yet. I walk into the garage door that’s pulled open.

– – – –

Oliver is driving and Alex is in the back seat. I’m in the passenger. Election Day is tomorrow. It’s Trump and Hilary. Since we have tomorrow off from school, we drive around stealing all the signs from the lawns of the houses in my town. None of us like any of the candidates but we can’t vote anyway so we just steal everything we see.

– – – –

It’s Tuesday. It’s November. I’m still broke from Greece but back in Italy. Some of my roommates, Enzo, Chris, and Matteo, are going to this concert with me at the club near where my other friends would go on walks. We got to the club and Matteo insisted on buying us drinks. We had already drunk plenty earlier. “I’ll buy drinks.”

I think Matteo had money to spend. Matteo is with this dark dressed girl I used to think would go nice with me.

“Ok”. There are supposed to be these three girls who I go to classes with at this concert but I can’t find them. Matteo ordered drinks. I had a rum and coke.

– – – –

By the time I got home, I had received a message from my bank pointing out a strange transaction. I had checked my email after eating dinner.

Indonesia. Some guy out in Indonesia had gotten his hands on my debit card details and scammed me out of 300 dollars. I didn’t even have 300 dollars so the bank charged me an overdraft fee as well. I figured they’d refund it all sooner or later. I was broke from then onwards. How do I pay for my laundry?

“Can I borrow 2 euro to do my laundry?”

In the morning, my friend Emma lends me some euros and I put them in my pocket and throw my bag of laundry over my shoulder.

– – – –

On the ferry, there isn’t much to do other than sleep, eat, and talk. I think we all want to have a drink or two but I don’t think any of us wanna be the first to do it. The drinks are expensive on the ferry. None of us drink.

There is not much to do on a boat in the sea other eat, drink, sleep, talk, and stare out the window. The view from the window is a nice view. The sea is the kind of blue you’d like all of the ocean to be. I stare at Jane too. We had only just stopped seeing each other. The islands are all dry and look like piles of muted brown sand with small patches of bright green shrubbery, but the buildings on them are alive and bright. We didn’t talk much. On the piles of dirt, there are smaller piles of rocks and terraced hills. The hills are so steep that the roads wrap around and back.

Greece is a mysterious country of strange people with alcohol that tastes like liquorice. The language is so far from anything I can understand. We arrive in Santorini and take a taxi from the port to the villa we had booked. The taxi ride is a fucking rollercoaster. The ups and downs and the sharp curves bounce your stomach. When we got up high enough on the hills, we can see the little white buildings with blue roofs that dot the hills. They look like snow sitting on mountains if you’re far enough away. The orthodox churches stand out with mounted bells.

I’m happy to be out of Athens. At night it can be a sketchy place. You could buy a lot of drugs there if you wanted to. I would not wanna be alone on the lousy side streets of Athens. Three of my friends had already been pickpocketed in Athens.

– – – –

Kira and I are walking down the street from the bar. I can tell she wants to kiss me or something like that but I’m not in the mood and I don’t really like her like that. There are these three guys standing by this hotel called the Apollo that look like its straight out of the fifties. We walk by them.

“Ciao Americano”. Italians always know I’m American. They come up to us and start singing in Italian. They sing “Bella Ciao”. The dance, and put their arms around us.

“O bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao ciao ciao!” I don’t think they knew what it was about.

They try to pickpocket me and I notice. I ask for my wallet back and say “E vuoto.” “It’s empty.” There is one with long brown hair and a small moustache. They are all young, the same age as me I’d guess.

He opens the wallet and pulls out my driver’s license. He looks at it.

“Va bene, Americano.” He gives it all back. They walk away singing.

“Una mattina mi son svegliato,

O bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao ciao ciao!”

Their voices fade. Kira looks at me. She says “Charlie” and giggles. I laugh and we walk back to my apartment.

– – – –

At the cafe where the dog lived, Jane asked me, “How do you spell the word grey? With an a or with an e?”

“With an e.”

Jane wears dark colours. Lot’s of black. But she’s not goth or anything like that. She’s real vogue. She thought about what she was wearing, maybe too much. I wouldn’t dress that dark.

We finished our coffee and went to go to the museum. It was rainy but we talked about Egypt earlier that week and decided to go to the archaeology museum. It was free. We had just gone to one in Naples with some other friends. There was this nice looking Etruscan thing. The Etruscans came before the Romans and lived around Tuscany. It’s this bronze sculpture of a lion. Its gotta snake for its tail, and a goat head sticking out of its left side. There’s a name for what is but I can’t remember.

“Chimera,” she said.

– – – –

She pushed me away. “I feel like I can’t breathe.”

I left her alone.

– – – –

I walk towards the door in the garage and pull on a hoodie. It’s as humid as God’s ballsack but still cold enough to wear a hoodie. I see Oliver’s mom in the kitchen.

“Hey, Charlie how are you?”

“I’m good, thanks. Are Ollie and Ben upstairs?” My shoes are still on.

“No, they’re in the basement.” I don’t think she noticed or cared about my shoes.

I went into the basement and heard music playing. There’s a bottle of Jose Cuervo and Margarita mix on the table. “My mom drinks that.”

“Look who it is” Ollie wears an old crewneck sweater in navy blue with some obscure place name on it and some grey sweatpants. The basement is cosy and has movie posters on the wall. He smiles.

“Hey, Charlie”. Ben’s hair is a bit curly. All the couches were old outdated but still nice in the basement but still nice. There was no natural light down there so it was a bit like a dungeon but there were Christmas tree lights strung all around the room to give it that warm orange-white glow. Not like that energetic white light that you have in bathrooms and garages and stuff like that. Kinda like a torch or a candle or something.

– – – –

Chris recognised a friend from home and starts talking to him. The rest of us weave our way through the crowd. We dance and drink some more and talk. I leave to find the bathroom.

I go to the smoking area cause it’s quite out there. Chris is out there with his friend.

Some tall brunette American college girl comes up to me, probably 20 or 21 years old. I’m 18.

“Could I use your lighter?” I don’t have one.

“Do you have many friends here?”

Yeah” I said.

She said her name and I couldn’t hear but it started with an M.

I talk to Chris and his friend from home.

– – – –

We drunkenly decide the that best plan of action is to strip down to only our jeans and sneak to his car. We’d only go in our jeans in case we had to swim again. We walked into the forest and into the swamps and into the rivers. Thorns hit our backs and we regretted not wearing shirts.

“I bet this is what Vietnam was like”.

The forest and the swamp is thick. We sneak up to the neighbour and around the dogs. We sneak by the police officers with flashlights and their hands resting in their belts. A mother was talking to her kid, who she was picking up. We see Harry’s car.

We sneak up to the car. It’s out of the cops’ view. Harry unlocks the door and we climb in. One by one. Harry starts the ignition.

“Aren’t you drunk?”

“Not anymore.”

– – – –

In Santorini, there are these hounds that wander the streets. Only us tourists look at them. They chase the stray cats and then get tired and run off to the alleys and corners they came from. An old man shouts at some of them.

At the house we’re staying at, there’s this tiny little stray dog. He’s mostly white, with patches of a muddy orange-brown. One patch s on the left side of his face. The other is on the right side of his torso. We call him a him, but we aren’t sure and don’t bother to check. We call him Paco.

My friends and I started to walk, with the dog following us, to the town and decided to get the bus instead. Chris and Kira called the dog onto the bus. We stopped them and thought we shouldn’t take a stray dog onto a bus.

We walked around the town. We took pictures and talked to locals and looked around this nice little bookshop owned by this guy from England. We sat down for dinner. I ordered a meal that is too expensive. The town, called Oia, is on the top of the ridge of Santorini. We look at the volcanic mountains that wrap around the bay. The big island is in the shape of a crescent. Dotted around there are smaller islands of dirt, terraces, and shrubs. The sky glows at sunset. The streets of Oia are nice.

At the bus station, we open bottles of Greek beer and Greek wine that we bought from a store up the street. The beer is refreshing and the wine is sweet. I put the bottle cap from the beer bottle in my pocket cause it has this nice logo on it. We were talking to some Germans who are also visiting the island. They played music and we laughed at the songs. The bus stop is dark and dingy and fat Greek men linger in white linen shirts.

The bus takes us to the last stop. We get off and start to walk to the house. We walk around peoples houses and then onto the beach. The beach is filled with sand and stones. We take our shoes off and walk in the water. It’s cold but pleasant and we talk.

“We should have gotten off an earlier stop”.

“Oh well”.

We got back to the house and the dog was still at the door. We let him in and we opened more bottles of strong red wine and drank. Our lips are stained purple. My lips always go purple when I drink wine. My mind is fuzzy now and I’m tired. It starts to rain. I go to my room to sleep. The door to the balcony is slightly open and lets some of the wind into my room.

– – – –

Kira is from Chicago. She has brown hair and wears striped shirts often. We are in a small town in the hills at an olive oil farm where we are staying for the week. There are a lot of us here.

We go up the hill and sit in an opening in the olive trees. We look out into the green and brown Tuscan countryside. We drink out of a cheap bottle of wine.

“We should play a game,” Kira says.

“Like what?”

“Any game.”

– – – –

Enzo yells in my ear “Can you help me find my necklace?” His mother gave it to him.

I put on my flashlight and pointed it at the ground and looked. He turned around. The room is twice as crowded now. The upper VIP section is packed. There’s no space in-between me and every person around me.

Enzo asked this short chubby about his necklace who is standing next to this guy who looks like Jonah Hill. Matteo found the pendant for Enzo’s necklace but not the chain.

The club gets more and more crowded and the rapper who we were here to see hasn’t shown up. He’s not even that big of a deal anymore. I looked up at the VIP section and saw people covering their mouths with their shirts and pushing their way out. I got Matteo’s attention and pointed at them and he looked confused. He pointed at the door and I nodded, he got Chris and Enzo and we started to leave. I pulled my shirt over my mouth and walked towards the exit.

I got to the ramp and was shoved into a railing by about 30 people. I can’t move. There are girls laying on the ground screaming, underneath the crowd. Everyone is screaming. Tear gas filled the air and it got harder to think and to breath.

– – – –

I’m in my bed in the house and my mind is fuzzy. I can’t stop thinking about this girl with dark muddy eyes. The wind is harsh, and it got cold.

I can hear my friends talking gently in the room across from mine. You can learn so much about people by the way they talk if you really listen. Everyone says everything different. The clock is in military time.

I’m reminded of Cape Cod. Gulls in the morning and waves in the night. The clouds are grey, or gray, and the sun is painfully bright and heats the sand.

– – – –

As hot as the sand is, I stole notice the tremendous amount of large pebbles sticking to my bare feet. The seals float in the blue water. Great whites swim underneath, waiting to stain the water with a pastel red. Everything in Cape Cod is pastel, even blood. Girls from Boston wear pastel outfits, and the hoses have faded pastel wooden boards. There are pastel surfers with pastel surfboards sitting in the pastel waves.

It is very humid, like God’s ballsack. It’s also very salty. The salt sticks to your skin after you get out of the waves. I lay down on my pastel striped towel.

– – – –

It’s hard to fall asleep, but once my eyes start to drag it’s easy. I start to think things that don’t make sense and I know I’ll be asleep soon.

There are stray hounds and cats Mykonos too. It’s not as mountainous there though. In Pompeii, there were stray dogs too.

– – – –

Not much is going through my mind as the railing snaps that I’m pinned to. As I move, the weight gets heavier on my back. I look down and see a boy crying. He’s trampled underneath people escaping from the club. I try to pull myself free but can’t.

A club employee walks by. I reach out and tap him on the shoulder. I ask, “can you help pull me out.”

“Mi spiace” “I am sorry”, he replies and runs out the exit. I try to free my legs. I bend down and pull off my shoe. I am now able to slowly pull one leg out, and then the other, and I follow over the railing and land on my back. I leave.

– – – –

We drive away. We drive away fast. We drive away from the party, where the red and blue lights flash. We drive away from the yacht club, where my car is and my t-shirt and my shoes. We drive away and leave the lake. Harry shouldn’t drive. No one should drive. We should be in bed. Where our parents think we are. We should be asleep and at home and safe.

We drove down the winding roads and we all started to realise that Harry is drunk and shouldn’t drive. “Hey, we should pull over or something.”

Ollie says “I live close by, we’ll go there.”

We pull into Ollie’s driveway. His parents don’t care much about 4 teenage boys smelling like swamps and wearing no shirts coming to their house at three in the morning. My parents would care. We smoked in the basement and slept on the couches. We woke up early in the morning and decide we should go home. We drive back to the yacht club and pull in. We go into the shack, and Ben and Alex are asleep on the couches. We forgot about them. They are incredibly still. They look like wax figures. We wake them up. Alex says that “you guys won’t believe the fucking night we had.”

I go outside and vomit. I never met the girl who had the party.


by /u/GPAndru

From: Reddit


 

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