Category Archives: Tales of Ruins

The Stumble

It was one more ordinary day as always. A day, that he would woke up at seven o’ clock in the morning, would wash his face with cold water, would hastily drink a coffee, would dress up in a hurry, with one of his pair of jeans and one of these unforgettable sweaters that his mother had made for him, and have stayed for years in the closet, would take a look to see if his grandfather was alright and if he sleeps peacefully in his bed or have already opened up the TV and being informed early in the morning, about the mess in the country and finally would take two trains, one suburban and one subway, to go to his work at Marousi.
He arrived in the family business, where he worked as an IT operator – apart from all the other things he was doing for the business – at nine to ten. Always punctual, always right. On time. The big boss was there early in the morning as always. His children usually arrived lately, from ten o clock and after that. He said good morning to the big boss, who smoked a lot and drank Greek coffee, being as usual moody and with a long face, but he got no answer. He sat at his desk, opened the computer and started working.
He did not understand how time passed. It was half past ten a.m. It was the time that the daughter of the big boss entered the office. She had at least the “courtesy” to say good morning to him. She always said good morning to him. Hey asshole, how is it going eh? Good morning! Have you printed the e-mails? Do we have any new order?
He often thought that her father had spent a fortune for her studies in England. Bachelor and Master’s degree in Economics and so on and on. But she never obtained manners though. He thought of his own father, who spent a fortune in women and card games. He was prone to passions and addictions, spending in general. He never spent any money for his son’s education nor care for his current plight. He spoke with him rarely and by pretending that everything was fine, in the phone. He had now grown old and lived alone, widower for five years now, in the province with his pension. And so his son never went to college, nor had “typical” qualifications. There was no “Certificate” in his hands. The only qualification that he had was what we call simply ‘experienced’. In that way he struggled to survive.
We had an order. From the state of Bironas. He replied to her and immediately printed the relevant email. He marked with bright color the background information for her. They wanted everything printed. They burned down whole forests, and put many papers into huge binders. They did not care. They had money. After a while her brother also appeared. He was along the same lines as his sister as well.
Good morning. Is my father inside? He was always smiling ironic and not respecting anyone. He only feared his father that he had the money and made the shots. He was not counting anyone else.
Yes … he replied. He’s inside his office.
Go and tell him that I arrived, but I will leave again so as to go to the bank.
And so he did. He could not do otherwise, anyway. He got up from his chair and headed for the boss’s office that was at the end of the corridor. Before having made five steps, suddenly and without realizing anything he was sprawling on the floor with his face down. He didn’t even have a clue of what had happened. He had stumbled somewhere? Stepped on something? Did he slip over? But where?
No sooner that he even stood up and searched for the cause of his fall, he heard hysterical laughs. It was the boss’s son. He burst into the laughter because of his fall. He was staring at him, waiting for him to get up. Just to see his reaction.
For God’s sake! He had stumbled him! Oh well! Wasn’t he supposed to go to the bank? How did he get back there, and why? When did he managed to go from the other door to the hallway? Did he lie about the bank? Was it true, but before going to the bank he wanted to make some fun? Why he stumbled him? Why did he stretch his leg like that, while he was hiding behind the door? What’s for him to blame? Were they children in the primary school? Maybe in the context of his duties, also was a jester’s service.
His sister also arrived soon. What have happened here? Ah well you both are total animals! And she laughed with the well-known ironic style of the family, while she was doing the masturbation gesture.
He stood up without speaking, without protesting, without making any comment. Fortunately he wasn’t injured. He swallowed it and returned to his office. He continued his work as if nothing had happened. Embarrassed. Embarrassed against himself, against his grandfather who hosted a forty year old man in his house. For a moment he remembered the past. He was married to Olga once. For ten years. Having no children. They divorced. Just like that. It wasn’t getting anywhere. He never saw her again. They lived quite well then. He had his own business. His own business with men’s clothes that left him flat broke. Fate had ruined him back then. He returned briefly in the present time.
We had a second order. From Piraeus this time.
And what are you waiting for? Print it out and bring it on here! The daughter said.
And the day passed like that. As always. He was there in front of the computer and the bosses, both younger and older ones, identical and unchanged, sometimes carried on by nerves, sometimes disparagingly, sometimes sarcastically, and that day also tripping.
It was almost noon. He was getting hungry. He took the toast with cheese and tomato that he brought from his home. The son entered the office. He had indeed gone to the bank. After tripping him. After the joke.
I was late but it was crowded. I also went to the tax office too. Crowded and there … Hey! Your salary! Take it! Count them. Six hundred euros. Take them and spend them well…
It was 25th of the current month. Payday. Fortunately it was always consistently. Six hundred euros. He looked at the son, he said shyly a “thank you” and looked intensely at the computer screen once again.
He finished his work as always, at five o clock. He got again two trains to go home. One subway and one suburban. Before returning home, he passed from the supermarket to shop some necessary things. He opened the door of the old ground floor apartment in Ano Liosia and saw his grandfather watching TV sitting in his armchair in the living room.
Good evening. I brought you, your favorite cookies. The round ones with the chocolate chips inside. Let me make you Turkish coffee as well like the way you like it. He asked him tenderly waiting his the positive nod.

Marina Apostolou

You can flnd the original short story written by Marina Apostolou in Greek Language right underneath

Continue reading The Stumble

Andromache Street

She looks him in the eyes. She cannot take her eyes of him. Even if he doesn’t know what he is saying, within his delirium. It is not obvious what she likes in him. Incomprehensible with what he pulls her close to him.

Only the three of us have stayed. They are now in the center of my frame. Shadows, more than human beings.

The station deserted. The whole town deserted.
Moonless night. The darkness gets inside us.

Two dogs are ripping a mattress in a park. The two of them sitting in the terrace. He wants to drink more, and she is trying to prevent him. In vain. His stubbornness hasn’t left him still. Suddenly, he gets up to leave. She gets up and starts to follow him.

My journey begins.
I remember my love. We have lied on the pebbles. Proudly trees would send us the “Hail” and willingly meadows, in the seduction of the wind, with flowers we have left in our path. My beautiful eyes, my world was created for you, and how can I even forget you?

A bottle breaks, and the pieces of it reaches me. Silent laughter, she is still in his side, and always look him straight in the eyes, the night deepens.
I’m on the seabed. I have uninsured my eyelids and I can hear the sound from your big seashell. My body doesn’t exist anymore. A coral that doesn’t move, I am standing here waiting for you, my love.

And now voices that turn to screams. The sky is ripped in two! Heavy words, countless hordes are coming upon her, really, for how long he had well hidden his words, terrible words that break her heart, words of no return, but still bears. Her castles are collapsing, one by one, she insists, there upright still.

Andromache Street. At the traffic lights. Boldness without wisdom is destroying.
Silence. Only his breath to fizzle like a horse’s, now frantic.

And she? Her eyes that did not stop staring at him? What is she going to do?

She said nothing. She only caressed his hair. A faint smile, that didn’t stood joy than sorrow. And then she turned and disappeared into the black night.

Lefteris Deverakis

You can read the original short story written by Lefteris Deverakis in Greek Language right underneath

Continue reading Andromache Street

Love Can Save You

I was sitting in the old armchair that have faded within the years. Bill for sure would have picked her from the rubbish, definitely. My head terribly ached and I thought it was going to break so I was clasping it in my two hands. I had already shaved it completely and I could see the veins casting angrily like they wanted to get out and leave. I was six days clean from drugs and dirty, almost a week without having a shower. Six days without drugs, incredible. I had to endure this time, I had placed a bet with myself. I began to tremble, though it was warm enough inside the room and on the top of my body I was not wearing anything. But that is the deprivation.

A cigarette would be just great right now. But I did not have any. I searched the room carefully, nothing. I went to the other room where Bill was sleeping. He had slept for two days now, I do not know, he may have died. However cigarettes was not something that he had. I bent over and looked under the bed. On the edge I saw a half-butt. I snuggled beneath, stretched myself and with my fingers I reached it. Great joy. I lit it immediately and I sucked what have left of the cigarette with just one breath. That was good, it would keep me for a while and I would probably chill up a little bit, and maybe get some sleep. I went and sank back into the old chair.

I finally woke up after five hours, and it was almost dark outside. My head was feeling heavy still. I felt like I had a heavy bag on top of my head, like the ones, they have these black women in Africa. I went to drink some water. I felt very weak, my legs kept me no more. I laid back in the armchair. Deprivation was really intense now. I could not stand still and my body reacted in a bad way. What would I do? I was in a furious state. My eye caught, a white classic, simple keychain. It had been given to me by the rehab sessions I have been. To be honest, I went there just once. They gave other colours as well, but the white meant that I haven’t taken my dose for one day. One day. No big deal. Bullshit.

I had to do something. I did not have money for even one dose. I went inside and began searching Bill’s pockets hoping that I would find something, but in vain. A dose would be alright, and would keep me for a while. I said that I will not backslide again, to fool myself. But we all know that if you have been addicted, several times with a hundred times has no difference, and you backslide again. I sat back in the chair and tried to think of something. Until I looked at my fingers, my wedding ring with which I mechanically played. I was wearing it even it was about one year, almost, that I have broken up with my wife. I used to say to her that I would stop taking my dose and now I haven’t even stopped. Now I do not need my wedding ring I thought, it is completely useless. I took it and I lifted up. I looked inside. We had carved the date of our wedding. Does she still have her own? It was pure gold, it would give me good money. I have put it in my pocket, I wore a T-shirt that I found in front of me and I took my coat. I began to walk, until the pawn shop.

I was hurry enough in the road because time has passed and I did not know if I would anticipate it open. What would I do after? I was in a desperate situation. The pawn shops must stay overnight like the pharmacies, I thought. After twenty minutes I had arrived. It was the entrance first, and in the middle of the room there were bars. It was like entering a cell. In the background behind it was safe. He never opened the cell to get out. You were passing him through the bars, whatever you wanted, he then was taking it, weighed it and after all these he was giving you the money. He knew me, because sometimes, I brought other crap. Nothing important, but trifles.

“Hi Makis, what you brought me today? Some kind of pin again.”
I pulled out my wedding ring and gave it to him. He took it in his hand and weighed it, quickly. After he lifted it to the light and looked at it with the lens.
“Sixty euros Maki.” He said.
“What? But I bought it a hundred and fifty euros! Pure gold. Come on?”
“Sixty euros Maki.”
“Yeah, well take it”. I was pissed off with that slimy guy.

He went to the safe and opened it. He put inside the ring and he gave me the money. He has given them through the bars. I hastily grabbed them and left without even saying hello.

Sixty euros, I thought. The thief, he is taking advantage of people in need. Anyway, I took sixty euros that make us, two doses. I went straight for the dealer piazza that was on the other side of town. I felt the strength of my legs to drop slowly. I was almost dragging my feet, I was no longer walking. I arrived after almost an hour. I found the dealer.

“I want two” I said.
“Sixty,” he answered.

I give him the money and he walks away. That was the way of dealing drugs now. They won’t keep the doses in their standing place. Many times things went wrong and they had lost a lot of money. Luckily the prices have not changed and I was able to get two doses. Lately, though the doses were not strong enough and two doses were needed in order to get high. The dealer came after a minute with two small papers in his hands. We shook hands and then I left. I went straight home. I could not wait to take my dose. I felt like a little kid who’s been given a gift and I could not wait to open it.

After another hour I have finally arrived home. As I walked quickly I became really sweaty. I removed my blouse over me, and threw it on the chair. I went into the kitchen to get the paraphernalia. They have been always there, hiding in the coffee cupboard. Bill was still asleep- now I was sure that he had died. I returned to the room and placed the things needed on the table. I put out the two doses from my pocket, and I slowly began to prepare. It was difficult to find a vein. All of my veins have been destroyed by the needles. Finally, I found one that has escaped. It was down in the leg and I took my dose. I immediately prepared and the second, and I did it also quickly. Anyway, with the first one, I did not understand a thing.

It began to travel really slowly inside me and I felt the freeze in my veins as I felt the effect of my dose. My body eased now, and at the moment I found my sobriety. After a while the headache passed that kept for almost three days. So I left everything on the table and went to fall again asleep in the worn armchair. I smiled a bit and then I thought, what a low level have I reached to give my wedding ring so to take my dose. It was certainly the first time I have done something like that. Love has saved me other times as well. From tomorrow I will stop taking drugs, like the other times. I felt asleep in the armchair….

Spyros Voltakis

I was born one day. It was January the 1st, 1990 and I started traveling. Suddenly on my roαd I found my words and began to gather all of them so as to make a treasure that people would see and make them lose their train of thoughts.

You can find the original short story written by Spyros Voltakis in Greek Language right underneath

Continue reading Love Can Save You

To Peiraeus

Since I was a little child I had the tendency to write. As my parents never bought me the camera that I always asked as a teenager, I was determined to imprint with paper and pencils – which were always plenty in my drawer – my own little world, with the people and their own stories. Writing, moreover, was giving me another advantage that didn’t take me long to realize. To be able let the fantasy go out in the streets and get into houses, the known and the unknown ones, and paint simply enough with thousands of colors the voices, the lives and the ideas of every human being. And afterwards to catch the dreams with any kind of shape and place them into colorful worlds made of paper.
That is why anyway, I chose in my life to occupy with the profession of the journalist. People say it is a great happiness to make your hobby a profession. And that is something I truly believe it is right, although sometimes the responsibilities and duties that a profession like that carries with it, really scares me.
And that is exactly what happened to me at work a few days ago. The last couple of days we have been preparing a kind of tribute to Piraeus for the magazine that I am working for.
I was tidying up a few files in my computer doing in the meanwhile some corrections when I felt someone to hit my back friendly. It was Kostas the chief editor of the magazine. “I am looking for a man” he said. “I do not want only photos, surveys and descriptions”, he continued, “I am looking for someone with flesh and bones”. “You know” he added and made a friendly gesture towards me. ‘You have five days, five! Time is pressuring us!” he said as he walked out of the office.
I was trying since then to find that guy. But I was feeling that inside my mind everything was blank and with no inspirational thoughts. I was creating heroes that they clearly wouldn’t survive. Empty words, lifeless. Words without meaning. Words only to be said and lines only to be written because it is a must. I created people who collapsed in the same moment that I added a characteristic of reality in them. Fake figures, sometimes truly ordinary and some other times as crazy as hell. Unable to carry the burden of reality.
The fourth day was about to pass, when I decided to go back to Piraeus, in my desperation mood. Piraeus was the neighborhood of my childish years. I decided to go and meet again the houses, the roads, the people passing by and the memories.
The 040 bus route leaves me in Hroon Polutechneiou Street, just opposite of the ancient ruins. I pass through the street, out of Lancia’s car workshop and I enter the small street behind a supermarket. As I am walking by I hope that someone from any balcony, from any of the parked cars, from any small street, will come out and make my thought clearer. As I am walking I turn left and there I am in the Pilis Street. I haven’t been here since we moved from Piraeus. I stay still, for a few moments watching the changes, since the last time. The old and the new characteristics into a balancing combination. No, that tall buildings with the small apartments have also popped up here. But within the isolation that road is always the same. Karaiskou Street, Alkiviadou Street, Euripidou Road… familiar names, like the scenes of a tale. And the road in the end is counting the same countless red steps.
I stay for a while to only stare at the road of my childhood while a cool breeze is playing with my scarf. The pharmacist with a woman from the neighborhood are standing and staring at me intensely. Suddenly I hear my phone ringing. I answer it while I am moving on. I said that today I am going to be late.
As I walk, the street reminds me of the old times. I stood a bit to a small step, when I saw an old man, not that tall, wearing an old coat and a beret that looked like a navy one, to turn in the opposite street.
“Captain Miltiades” I am about to talk but I silence. It cannot be him. The old man without even looking at my side opens the door of a huge building and walks in.
But I finally know. I go back in that little step and sit down. I tasted the success and I am not going to let it now. I see the colors of the road changing slowly and I feel like the houses have finally started to talk. I set my memory free and start to write down, notes, slowly.
Captain – Miltiades was not from here. He was born to Lemnos or Lesvos I think. There he grew up, got married and made his own family. They said that he was educated but the sea was his great passion. People said that he was a hard worker. Within a little time he managed to own a ship and traveled from the Aegean to Pontus and Odessa. His work seemed to go well but the decade of ’40 crashed him down. He was on a voyage. The German’s found rebels hiding in his house. By the time he reached the island he learned everything. He didn’t even managed to see the grave of his wife and son. Someone took him and put him into a small boat. Nighttime it was when that little boat left him here in Piraeus. He just stayed in the marina watching the boat getting lost through the horizon, and his dreams and his whole world were vanishing with that little boat.
In the same morning, people said, that he arrived here devastated carrying only a small bag with his belongings. Mrs. Melpomene, his sister that was many years married here, found him knocking her door.
People said that he never got over that tragedy. He never again asked or desired to see the sea. And in that neighborhood, it took many years to compromise, get to know the neighborhood and finally get used to the people. He lived a lonely life, absent of the sea and even of life itself. His only companions was an old navy notebook and his sister.
She treated him well, my grandma always used to say, while my mother was waving slowly her head to show that she agreed.
Only Antonis, Melpomene’s husband never accepted him.
“That Filth” he mumbled in the years of war, “only God knows what kind of trouble he will cause us… remember my words…”
He was a quiet man, citizen, paterfamilias, didn’t want any kind of trouble!
“Sailors they say. You speak like you know in what kind of shit he was involved with. He must have been a smuggler. That is why the Germans killed all of his family” said after the end of war.
“The rebel! Took the old age pension of a fighter. At least I won’t feed him, it is more than enough to keep him all of these years inside my house”, he never lost a chance to gossip him inside the coffee shops.
The captain used to hear of all that. He did not react, he was only writing, and writing, and writing. Antonis of course, never had the courage to tell him all that face to face, but with the one or another way he understood.
In the holy day of Epiphany, he found him purring with hate, holy water outside of his door.
“Just for luck, for luck” he angrily said, looked straightly at him and then left.
I have once met him around ’85. The adults didn’t really wanted him in their companies, but we the youngest ones were waiting when he would come out to get close to him.
He wasn’t happy but we admired him. He looked to our eyes like the great hero Sinbad the Seafarer. A hero that have finally left the world of fairy tales and have joined our world. Unknown within the unknowns, to sing the tales of the sea. He was siting many hours close to us telling stories. Something between the reality and fairy tales. Captain – Miltiades wasn’t a scary one but with his stories we were in awe. There was something different in him. Through his old, colorless navy clothes and behind his tired face – that hard armor of a stormy life – we found in him something that now, I would call authenticity. And that authenticity, we could only feel it within our childish innocence.
Around ’92 things started to get rougher for him. He had some medical issues, with his heart and he had to visit the national insurance department. Only Mrs. Melpomene was there for him. But either for her the medical issues were going well.
A rainy night of the December of ’93 she had a heart attack. Only the captain was left behind, mourning her.
They didn’t even let him be present to her funeral service. Antonis threw him out of his house like he was some kind of dog.
“You Filth” he shouted at him while he was leaving the house, “you are the one who’s dragged her to death little by little all of those years”
Then he buckled tight his black jacket and closed with anger the door behind him.
A window makes some noise a few steps away. The sun is about to set. I stand up and start to climb stairs. I hesitate four stairs, before the last one.
It is like I see the captain. Over there.
Twilight. Christmas Eve. December’s frizzing my open eyes and he climbs the stairs with lots of try.
“Captain Miltiades” I talk to him with a terrified voice “do not leave, where are you going to go?”
“Give me your hand my child to help me climb. They do not want me here” he says to me.
He shakes my hand and starts to climb and continues walking slowly, holding an old kitbag and a pack with old almost destroyed papers.
I am not moving at all. It is like I see him getting lost again in the twilight.
No one was ever interested in the neighborhood about him. And we moved after a while. I never found out what happened to him.
Back then he reminded me of Miltiades the Athenian one. A story that I have discovered in an old book. After the glory of Marathon. When the Athenians drugged Miltiades almost dead to the court – not far from here – and he was apologizing with his devastated voice while his swallowed by the gangrene leg, was dripping black, thick blood.
A man is passing by, right next to me. I wake up. I go back to the Central Street and going towards Pasalimani. After all those things, my article is almost ready. I do know if I have indeed succeed or what the publisher is going to say. People do not like stories like this in our days. But I think that I found the person they were looking for.
I stand for a while close to the big clock. I place the cup into the pen and put my notebook in my pocket. I walk across the street and keep walking for a while in the beach street right above the ruins of the ancient wall. I have almost reached Freatida and the passers are now very few.
Across Metaxas Hospital I can see from a distance the lights of the ships coming and leaving the harbor. The coast seems like an endless lighthouse. The city is like a scenery full of fireflies.
What can really have happened to Captain Miltiades?
Loneliness always places me in a mode of thoughts. I do not know how the tribute will finally be. I have spent a lifetime with my education and all kind of files and papers. I take one more look in my notes and for a moment I imagine that I have in my hands the same old and ripped pages that he once kept in his own hands…
Christos Tsangaris

My name is Chris Tsangaris, born on 06/06/1997, I live in Piraeus. I'm student of the third grade in School of Zanneiou P.P.GEL. I have participated in the following competitions. 1) Euroscola 2014 2) Youth Parliament 2014 3) Student Olympiad of beneficence (nationwide prize) 4) International Francophonie competition «Un voeu pour la planete» 5) Panhellenic Contest "Gregory Pentzikis" (1st prize) 6) Panhellenic contest E.L.V.E (2nd prize) 7) Panhellenic contest P.E.L (3rd prize) 8) Panhellenic Competition versions Pataki (3rd prize) 9) Panhellenic Contest E.E.L (1st English praise poetry) 10) Panhellenic contest Peiraikos association and magazine Mandragoras (praise) 11) "Sicilian 2014" (special award for all the work submitted, second prize Icon) 12) Literary Contest of "Celaeno '2014 on" Life is a sea "(third prize for poetry)
My name is Chris Tsangaris, born on 06/06/1997, I live in Piraeus. I’m student of the third grade in School of Zanneiou P.P.GEL. I have participated in the following competitions.
1) Euroscola 2014
2) Youth Parliament 2014
3) Student Olympiad of beneficence (nationwide prize)
4) International Francophonie competition «Un voeu pour la planete»
5) Panhellenic Contest “Gregory Pentzikis” (1st prize)
6) Panhellenic contest E.L.V.E (2nd prize)
7) Panhellenic contest P.E.L (3rd prize)
8) Panhellenic Competition versions Pataki (3rd prize)
9) Panhellenic Contest E.E.L (1st English praise poetry)
10) Panhellenic contest Peiraikos association and magazine Mandragoras (praise)
11) “Sicilian 2014” (special award for all the work submitted, second prize Icon)
12) Literary Contest of “Celaeno ‘2014 on” Life is a sea “(third prize for poetry)

You can find the original short story written by Christos Tsangaris in the Greek Language right underneath

Continue reading To Peiraeus