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A Good Day on the River

Short Stories

A Good Day on the River

The sun is high in the blue sky with strokes of white here and there. A yellow Ford speeds on the ring road. Listening to the wind rushing past his window, Alexander pushes his Ray-Ban sunglasses up on his nose and runs a hand through his short hair. He glances at his brother, Phaidon, who sits deep in the passenger seat, his long hair hanging around a tired face. Alex strokes his goatee and lets out a silent breath.
      The two men are on their way to see their aging mother without her knowing it. They haven’t seen her for twenty-five years. They heard she had recently lost her second husband to a heart attack. Their aunt broke the news to them up in the village in the mountains while they were drinking coffee in the shade of a chestnut tree.“Her fat husband went over in his chair and breathed his last in front of her eyes.” She made her cross. “I was waiting for it, though. Your mother’s paying for her sins.”

      They drive past cars for sale parked in lots, buildings, and empty ground-floor spaces with For Sale signs stuck on their tarnished windows. In the scorching sun stand half-built houses, and spades protrude from dunes of sand beside rusted concrete mixers.
     “Greece is falling apart,” Phaidon says, rubbing a hand over his face as if to wipe the crusted fatigue from his eyes, and from the pocket of his trousers, he pulls out his smoking paraphernalia. “I don’t recognize Thessaloniki anymore.” He rolls a cigarette and brings a Zippo lighter to life.
      The car eases to a stop at the traffic light. Alex watches a few dogs cross the street. They look like they have come back from a battle. Two of them have clipped tails, and Alex sees every rib in one of them, its spine pushing against blotched skin.
      Alex moved back to Greece a couple of months ago, and his brother came from London to visit their father. More recently, when the brothers were sitting at a tavern in the shadow of a plane tree, partaking of appetizers and white wine, Alex suggested they visit their mother.
      “What the hell,” he said. “She’s our mother.”
      Phaidon didn’t say anything. He smoked and watched the people go by. The last time they’d talked with their mother was years ago when they were both living in London and had called her from their coffee bar. She was glad to hear they were doing well.
      “Keep in touch,” she said but didn’t ask for their numbers.
      When the light turns green, a man in a van right behind them leans persistently on his horn.                    Phaidon turns and glares over his shoulder. “What’s your problem, you idiot?” He waves his hand at the driver angrily.
     “Calm down,” Alex says as the car lurches forth with a roar.
     “Fucking Greek drivers!” Smoke shoots out of Phaidon’s mouth.
      Alex gives a silent sigh. “Can you roll me a cigarette?”
      Phaidon thrusts his hand at his brother. “Here! Take this one. Do you want it or not?”
      Alex puts the cigarette in his mouth with a grin.
     They reach the outskirts of Peraia, a good thirty kilometers from the city of Thessaloniki. The air here smells of pine trees and the sea.
      “I’m doing this for you,” Phaidon says.
      “What you mean?”
      “You know what I mean.”
      Alex smokes idly as the car passes through a tunnel of tall trees. “You’re doing this for both of us,” he says and glances sidelong at his brother.
     Phaidon sighs and lets his brown-eyed gaze drift with a few clouds traveling east. The car drives past rusty swings, and vertical roads lined with houses, cafés, restaurants, and shops. When he sees the sea and a ship near the horizon, he wishes he were on it. He sits up in his seat. “How far is the house?”
      “About an hour’s drive.”
      “I need a coffee.”
     “Coffee again?” Alex draws on his cigarette and shifts the car into fourth gear. A long, straight stretch of road unfurls before them. On either side sprawl tawny fields and scattered summerhouses with fences covered in ivy, jasmine, and bougainvillea, then lines of olive trees, their fully bloomed, light-green leaves shimmering like silver beads.
      His eyes straining, Alex tucks his sunglasses into the pocket of his denim shirt and squints in the sunlight. “I need a coffee too. And the car needs gas.” As if to punctuate the decision, his steering suddenly feels out of whack, pulling hard to one side. “I hope that’s not what I think it is,” he gripes and sees his brother screwing up his face. Half a mile down, he pulls onto a narrow shoulder.
Phaidon lights another cigarette and watches his brother walk to the front left fender and study the flat tire. A car drives past with its horn blaring.
      Under the scorching sun, Alex says, “Don’t just sit there like a brick! Give me a hand!”
Phaidon clenches his teeth and squeezes his eyes tight. He pushes the door open with a snappy movement as his brother rolls the spare tire over the hot asphalt. The air is warm and thickened by the sound of crickets.
      Alex jacks the car up and puts the lug wrench on the rusty bolt. After several attempts, he stops and takes a few deep breaths. He can’t unscrew the bolt. He goes at it again, but nothing gives. The veins on his arms and his temples bulge and sweat beads on his forehead.
      With the cigarette wedged between his lips, Phaidon says, “Give it to me,” and yanks the wrench from Alex’s hand. After a few unsuccessful attempts of his own, he makes a face and throws the lug wrench on the ground. It bounces and lands in a ditch. “Why the fuck do you want to see her now?” His anger moves to his gaze, and he glares at his brother, who moves to collect the lug wrench. “Why now?” He balls his hand into a fist. “You think she cares? You think she’ll be happy to see us after all these fucking years! Hey! Look at me when I talk to you!” He bangs the top of the car with his fist.
      Ignoring Phaidon’s jabbering, Alex tries to turn the lug wrench again. Once more, nothing. He curses silently for not having bought a newer car, but he wasn’t sure at the time whether he would stay in the economically broken Greece. “After the summer, I’ll know the score,” he said over the phone to his friend. This friend owned a cocktail bar in New York and wanted Alex to become his business partner.
      He stands, bends into the car, and picks up a canteen. As he takes a sip of water, he glances at Phaidon, who stands at the shoulder of the road, hands tucked in his pockets, and tells him that he’s going to walk to a gas station.
      “Why don’t you call roadside assistance?”
    “Because by the time they get here, I’ll have come back from the gas station, which is two kilometers away. I saw a sign.”
      “You think she gives a shit about us?”
      “For Christ’s sake, can you please fucking drop it!”
      Alex slings the knapsack over his shoulder and slaps on a baseball hat with the initials NY, then sets off along the shoulder of the road. Phaidon watches until his brother’s image disappears behind a bend. Rage burns in his heart. As he turns his angry gaze toward a slice of the sea behind the hills, he lets out a frustrated scream.
      At one point, a truck comes to a stop alongside the shoulder. A fully-grown pig encrusted with mud lies in the bed of the truck, and an old man with a sunburned and wrinkled face sits at the wheel and adjusts his weathered straw hat.
      “You okay, friend?”
      “I’m fine.”
      “Need any help?”
      “I’m good.”
      “You sure?”
      “Thanks for stopping.”
      “As you wish, young man.” The old man drives off.
     When their parents broke up, Alex was nine years old and Phaidon was seven. Their mother said that she couldn’t go another step. She was an artist who wanted to paint the world. She left their father for a poet, but the new relationship didn’t last long. Right before Christmas, she asked their father for forgiveness, but he turned her away. For years, she drifted in and out of relationships with artists, but in the end, she found a good man who owned a fish restaurant and moved into his house on a knoll facing the sea.
      After the breakup, their father sent the boys to live with their grandmother in Siatista, a town two hours by car from Thessaloniki. He went to see them every chance he got. They went swimming and fishing in the river, and in the summer, they went to the sea. He taught them how to play poker and backgammon and, most importantly, how to hold their heads high. As teenagers, they went to live with him in an apartment in Thessaloniki. Their father had a lorry and transported wine throughout the Balkan region. He was a simple man, spoke little, and minded his own business. After becoming a pensioner, he moved to Siatista and now keeps busy by growing a vegetable garden, a few cherry and chestnut trees, and a vine field, always in the company of his best friend, Max, a German shepherd.
      The door of the car stands open. Phaidon smokes and listens to James Brown sing “This Is a Man’s World” on the radio, growing more impatient.
      Finally, a van slows to a stop alongside the shoulder, and Alex climbs down from it.
     “What took you so long?” Phaidon says. “I called you three times.”
     Alex tosses his knapsack in the back seat of the car. “The lady who drove me here was busy with other customers.”
     “What the fuck you got?”
      “It’s a spray.”
      “What does it do?”
      “It fixes flat tires.”
      After Alex fills the tire, they roll down the road toward the gas station to change the flat tire and get coffee. Seeing Phaidon close his eyes, Alex knows that the fight between them isn’t over. A feeling of dull doubt creeps into his heart. Perhaps my brother’s right, he thinks. What’s the point of this trip?
    If Phaidon ever found out what Alex said to their mother over the phone when he was a teenager, he might never forgive him. Alex told her to neither call nor visit them again. He told her she had made her choice and had to face the consequences. On that day, Alex was very angry. And he stayed angry for many years.
     The car pulls into the gas station. The warm air smells of oil and gasoline and, under that, pine trees. In the shadow of the gas station’s shed, a one-legged man sits in a chair by a table. He wears dungarees and a white T-shirt. His slightly wrinkled face is tanned, and his hair and beard are gray. With a pair of pliers, he works on the knee clasp of a worn-out wooden leg. A pair of crutches is propped against the wall.
     Alex emerges from the car, stretches, and hears his joints crack as a young lady in dungarees, her black hair tied in a ponytail, moves toward him. She is tall and athletic. “I’ll change the flat tire first,” she says and opens her palm to catch the keys as Alex tosses them to her.
     Alex looks over at his brother, who is shambling toward the shed, then lets his gaze drift over a wrecked car-wash machine, the old man putting a match to his pipe, and a dog stretching. At the far end of the lot, he spots a house with its rusty gate open. One side of the house is in the sun and the other stands in the shadow. Behind the house are olive trees, and further away, tawny fields.
    The air in the restroom smells of chlorine. Alex runs the tap. The cold water feels good on his face and nape. In the cracked mirror, he notices wrinkles near his green eyes. His brother’s words come to his mind. Do you think she cares?
     Alex exits the restroom and finds his brother sitting with the old man at the table under the shed, legs crossed at the ankles. He sits in the chair across from him.
     “I ordered Greek coffees,” Phaidon says with a smirk. “The man’s daughter’s brilliant at reading the cup. She may tell us what to do, right? Maybe the flat was meant to be. Maybe she’ll tell us that I’ll go back to the city and you’ll continue your journey.”
     “Brohim, drop it.”
     The old man draws on his pipe, and through streaks of smoke, he studies the brothers. Rubbing his chin, he says in a husky voice, “I’m Dimitris.”
     The brothers introduce themselves in turn.
    Alex lights a cigarette, enjoying the coolness of the shade. The men smoke and look at one another as if waiting to hear some news from afar. When Alex sees the young woman approaching the table, wiping her hands on the oily cloth, he stands.
     “I changed the tire and filled the tank. It’s forty-five euros.”
     Alex puts a fifty-euro bill in her hand. “Keep the change.”
    “Thanks.” She smiles.
    “You’re my seventh customer today,” Dimitris says. “And it’s almost six o’clock. Five years ago, at least thirty to forty cars would’ve pulled in by now. I don’t know what the hell we’re keeping this gas station open for. Nowadays people don’t even have money to put bread on the table. Even though in this part of Greece the sea water is crystal clear, people go to places closer to the city instead. If I were your age, I might’ve moved out of Greece.”
     A gust of wind blows and rattles the sports section of the newspaper lying on the table next to a skipper’s hat.
     Alex says, “For many years, I lived in London, but I moved back a few months ago. Our father’s getting old. But my brother still lives over there. He’s here on a holiday.”
     Dimitris regards Phaidon with curiosity in his young eyes. “What line of work are you in?”
     “I have a café bar.”
     “How’s it working out for you?”
     “I can’t complain. But I’m weary of the weather. It rains a lot.”
     “I feel you, young man. I was in England forty years ago, when the Beatles were hot—you know, singing the famous ‘Let It Be.’ I was working on a tanker. We’d docked in Liverpool. What a place, huh?” He thinks and smiles. “I had the weekend to myself, and I rode the train to London. I remember the fog and the rain. I can still feel the damp cold in my bones. But I had good fun. I saw Big Ben, the Thames, and the Greek marbles, drank in a few pubs, and ate fish and chips. I was as strong as a Spanish bull. Back then, I had both my legs.”
     The brothers smoke and watch Dimitris fiddle with the clasp of the wooden leg. The young lady sets a tray at the corner of the table and serves them coffee and cold water. Alex smells suntan lotion on her skin.
     Phaidon says, “I hear you read the cup.”
     “Who told you that?”
     “Your father.”
     She puts her hand on her hip and says with humor, “Father? I’m not a cup reader.” Her black eyes seem to be smiling.
     “Eirini, I said it to keep the men here,” he says in a playful voice, and with the pair of pliers, he returns his attention to the wooden leg.
     She turns gracefully and leaves them to their coffee.
     Eventually, Dimitris puts the wooden leg back on, stands, and stamps it on the ground a couple of times. “Good as new,” he says with a hearty laugh. He pulls the pant leg down, and the wooden leg disappears.
     In the coming hours, they drink coffee and beers and talk about the Greek economic crisis, the roughneck politicians, lobbies, and the World Bank. Dimitris learns how it feels to live and work in a foreign country for so many years and how life in England compares to the Greek reality and tells the brothers interesting stories of his travels around the world.
     While the men talk, Eirini fills the tanks of a few cars, makes coffees, sweeps and mops the shop, then listens to the news on the radio.
     When Dimitris comes back with more beers, Phaidon rubs his hands on his knees and stands up. “Gentlemen, I enjoyed your company, but it’s time for me to go back to the city.”
     Alex smirks. “To the city, brohim?”
    “Dimitris, could you call for a taxi, please?”
    The old man sets the beers down on the table. “You sure you don’t want to have one for the road?”
     “Thanks. But I’ve got to go.”
      “Hey!” Alex sits up in his chair. “I thought we were going someplace.”
     “Look, I don’t want to meet her now, not ever. Can’t you get this into your thick head?” He stares at his brother, his gaze determined, hard.
      Dimitris watches the scene with mounting curiosity.
    Phaidon paces to the edge of a gravel road leading to the fields behind the gas station and watches the heavy, red sun sink into the horizon. A car zips past the gas station at high speed, and Greek music streams from its open windows, reaching Phaidon’s ears in a burst of distorted sounds.
    Alex gets to his feet and, with bravado in his strides, follows his brother to grab hold of his shoulder and yank him around. “Why are you so difficult?”
     “You’re the fucking difficult one.” Phaidon glares at him.
     “You’re acting like a brat! I’ve had enough of you!” The veins in his neck and temples bulge out.       “I’ve had enough of you, too! Leave me the fuck alone!” Phaidon pushes his brother in his chest, hard. Alex trips back, and before he has time to regain his composure, Phaidon pushes him again, harder this time, and watches him fall over, scraping his elbow. “Get the fuck up!” he shouts, and spit comes out of his mouth.
      Dimitris hurries toward them. “Hey, give it up!”
     The commotion takes shape. His eyes filled with rage, Alex punches Phaidon in his chin. Eirini dashes out of the shop with an expression of worry and wonder. As Phaidon makes a headlong dash toward Alex, she shouts, “Stop it!” and rushes over.
     The brothers throw amateur punches at each other. Some connect, others don’t. Alex feels a strong pull. It’s Eirini. “Take it easy, man.”
     When Dimitris grabs hold of Phaidon’s arm, he tries to jerk it free, but the old man’s grip is too strong. Blood trickles from Phaidon’s nose and some of it has stained his shirt.
     “Settle down. What the hell is wrong with you two, huh?” His eyes dart between the brothers.           “Settle down!”
      Phaidon takes a step forward and jabs a finger at his brother. “Look, she never cared for us!            Never! She’s selfish! Don’t you get it?” His eyes are filled with intense judgment.
     “Settle down.” Holding his elbow, Dimitris steers Phaidon to a spigot beside the gas station to wash his face. Eirini sets a roll of paper towels on the table, and her father draws up a chair. “Sit down. Please. Sit down.”
      Alex’s hands tremble, his chest heaving with emotions, and his face burns as he sits. He can’t believe he punched his brother. The last time they came to blows was when they were kids. Fuck me, he thinks as he wipes his face with the paper. Pull yourself together. He tastes blood in his mouth.
     There is silence. Alex and Phaidon face each other across the table. In the middle sits Dimitris, who pushes tobacco into his pipe. Eirini tucks her hands in the front pockets of her dungarees and studies the brothers as they wipe their faces and shoot regretful glances at each other.
     Dimitris says, “Eirini, could you please bring us the bottle of ouzo and clean glasses?” He puts a match to his pipe and lets the smoke dribble from his mouth.
     A gust of wind blows, and dogs bark in the distance.
     In a moment, the men watch Eirini fill the glasses with ice cubes and ouzo.
     Dimitris says, “Drink. It’ll calm you down. It always does.”
     They pick up their glasses and drink.
     Once Eirini places salty fish, black olives, feta cheese, tomatoes, and a bit of bread on the table, she draws up a chair and sits as well. For what seems a long time, they all drink and eat in silence as if the evening wind blowing in their faces has taken their voices.
     Phaidon regards his brother. “Look,” he says, “if our mother cared, she would’ve tried to get us to live with her when we were kids. But she didn’t. She could’ve turned to the law. But she didn’t do that either. Did you forget, man?”
     His regret waging a war inside him, Alex sips his ouzo and listens to his brother. “In the eight years, we lived with our grandmother, how many times did she come to see us? I’ll tell you how many times. She came to see us three times—just three fucking times.” He draws in a breath. “She betrayed us. She’s a stranger to me. I have more feelings for these people right here.” He raps the table with his knuckles. “If you still want to go and see her, be my guest. But I’m not going with you.”
     Alex feels lost for words. In all these years, this is the first time he has heard his brother talk about their mother in this way. Whenever he tried to bring up the subject before, Phaidon would either fall silent or start talking about something else.
     Little by little, his brother’s words make Alex realize that he never really missed his mother. Even before she left them, save for a few times, he couldn’t remember any of her embraces or her kisses, nor any of her motherly words. The closest person to a mother in his life was their grandmother. Before their parents broke up, the boys went to the village to see her almost every other weekend, Christmas and Easter and spent every summer with her.
     It was their grandmother who showered them and tended their scraped knees and elbows. It was their grandmother who rubbed their chests down and put a wet towel on their foreheads when they ran a fever. It was she who sat at the kitchen table and helped them with their homework, the one who read bedtime stories and watched their favorite cartoons and films with them. It was their grandmother who got angry with them when they went into the coop and scared the chickens, or the day they rode the neighbor’s donkey to the river and almost drowned the poor animal.
     The sun hides behind the horizon, splashing the sky with streaks of orange and hues of red and purple. The evening air moves in the pine trees next to the house across the lot, brushes over  Eirini’s bed of flowers, and ripples the leaves of her vegetable garden.
     Rubbing his beard, Dimitris studies the brothers. “Is your mother’s name Anna?”
     The brothers look at each other in wonder.
     “Yes, her name’s Anna,” Alex says.
    Dimitris wrinkles his forehead. “She’s a painter, and her second husband, who owned a fish restaurant not far from here, died of a heart attack, right?”
     “That’s right,” Phaidon says and leans forward with a curious expression.
     Alex feels a rush in his blood. “How come you know our mother?”
     With excitement in her voice, Eirini says, “I didn’t know Anna was your mother. I thought she had no children. At least, that has been the assumption around here. We know that woman, don’t we, Father? She and her husband, Manolis, lived in a house half an hour’s drive from here, a house that sits on a knoll facing the sea. Rumors had it that he couldn’t have children. For years, they filled their car with petrol in this very gas station. When my mother was alive, we went to eat fish at their restaurant. Manolis was a good cook and a generous man. I remember that their place was always busy.”
     Eirini takes a sip from the ouzo and tells them that Anna never spoke much. “She usually sat behind the register, smoked roll-ups, and drank white wine. In her low voice, she would ask me about one thing or another. I loved the way she sat and talked, the way she drank wine and smoked cigarettes from a red, leather cigarette case. Her movements were soft, effortless—I would say . . . hypnotic.”
     The brothers listen to Eirini’s words with reverent concentration.
    “I don’t know why, but a couple of years ago, she stopped coming here. About a year ago, I drove by the restaurant, but it was up for rent. And six months ago, her husband died in the kitchen right in front of her. That’s what people say. And imagine her living in that huge house all by herself.”
     Her bewildered eyes shift from the brothers to her father, who rubs his beard again, and after he fills his glass with more ouzo and passes the bottle around, he looks at the brothers and says, “About two years ago, when my daughter had gone to the city, Anna knocks on our door. It’s past ten at night, and it’s pouring rain. She stands under an umbrella and asks if I can fill her car with gas because she must go someplace. She says she’s sorry for bothering me at such an hour. I smell alcohol on her breath, and her eyes are red and worried. I ask her in. She stands in the hallway as I go to turn off a burner. When I get back, she has her face in her hands and sobs.”
     With a pensive gaze, Dimitris takes a hit from his ouzo, runs a thump over his lips, and goes on. “We sit at the kitchen table, drink tea, and listen to the rain pattering against the window. Through her tears, she tells me she needs to talk. She tells me about her two boys and that she wanted them to live with her, but their father told her that she didn’t deserve to be their mother and that they’d be better off without her. And she agreed to that madness. She agreed because she was young and immature. She tells me that her head was in the clouds.”
     He clears his throat. “Manolis didn’t know about you guys. Save for her family and a few close friends, nobody else knew. She didn’t tell him because she was afraid she might lose him. As the years wear on, she found it more difficult to come clean. She says it’s way too late for that now. The news would surely shock the family, friends, and the village community. They would think of her as a whore. It’s impossible to tell him the truth. Your mother tells me she’s just happy to hear your voices on the phone. She tells me that she can’t find it in her heart to forgive herself for what she did. She also says she wouldn’t be able to look you in the eye.”
     The brothers sit silently, shell-shocked.
     Eirini’s eyes are filled with subtle delight. “What a coincidence you hear all this because of a flat tire.”
     Dimitris picks up his skipper’s hat from the table and runs his fingers along its brim. “After she wipes her eyes, your mother takes a photograph out of her wallet. She puts it on the table under the light and pushes it toward me, gently. The edges of the photograph are worn out, but the rest looks just fine. In the photograph, two lean boys in swimming pants stand on the bank of a river, holding fishing rods. Next to their feet sits a tin bucket. The river is calm and shines in the sun. Behind the boys, you can see rocks, and further away on a hill, you can see oak trees. ‘They’re my boys,’ your mother says to me.”
     Alex’s face brightens. “I remember that day. She drove us in that Deux Che Vaux of hers with its roof rolled back. We both sat in the front seat. We loved sitting up front. Didn’t we, Phaidon?” He sees a faint smile playing on his brother’s lips as Phaidon leans back in his chair, his gaze faraway as though watching a movie scene. Alex goes on, “We were wearing blue shorts and straw hats. She had a flowery dress on, and her dark hair shone in the sun. She told us how good we looked in those hats. She said that we looked like Bolek and Lolek, those Polish cartoon characters we loved to watch on TV. She laughed at that. We laughed, too.”
     Phaidon breaks in and says excitedly, “We put our gear down in the shadow of a willow tree, we ate cheese-and-ham sandwiches and drank cold apple juice. Later, we went fishing again and caught three trout. One of them was quite big,” he says, spreading his hands and looking at the space between them, and Alex adds, “Our mother helped us to pull the fish out. It twisted and turned and thrust about in the air, water trickling from its tail and shining in the sun.”
     Phaidon looks at his brother with smiling eyes. “And then we put the fish in the bucket, and we all jumped in the river. We swam and splashed at each other with our laughter echoing around the rocks and boulders and the trees. And then she pushed our heads under the water, and after that, we lay down on the riverbank and caught the sun. We were over the moon. It was our mother who took the picture.” His voice trails off.
     A car drives by with its headlights on. The man behind the wheel talks with a woman, who drinks from a beer bottle, nodding. When Alex sees the man turn his head toward them and then back to the road, he wonders, How did we seem to the man? What kind of emotions rose in him, seeing four people sitting around a table? Would the man care if he knew what we are talking about? And does any of it matter?
     From the dark fields behind the gas station, a dog emerges, sniffs the air, and sits next to                 Dimitri’s feet. “Hey, Jack,” he says and pats his head. “Where you been all day?”
     The dog looks at Dimitris, whines, rests his muzzle on his paws and closes his eyes.
    The sky has grown darker, and the wind colder. The lights on the lampposts along the road come on. Two crows sit on the wires between the poles and watch the two brothers, who have just lit cigarettes and smoke quietly.
     Alex feels as though something inside him has started to slip. For a moment, he contemplates the sensation, and then he shifts his eyes out and over the road to bales of wheat sitting heavy on the field. At the far end, he sees a house with a lighted window. Behind the house rise tall trees, and further down, past a stretch of land, lies the sea. But he can’t see it now. It’s too dark. All he sees is a line of flickering lights along the coast at the far end of the horizon.
     Dimitris relights his pipe. “It was a good day.”
Phaidon brings his glass to his lips. “It sure was.” He drinks slowly and looks at his brother, who rubs his goatee and says in a meditative voice, “A good day on the river. That’s what it all was. A good day on the river.”

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