Up till now, the day had been going pretty well. The Cretan belief that just being in a good mood could invariably challenge Lady Luck, and provoke any number of mishaps, varying from mildly irritating, bordering on serious, rang out in his head like Sunday church bells. Vags cussed his previous good mood, which he could swiftly see disappearing in a cloud of cement dust.
The darned Minotaur jumped and bucked like a mad bull over the impossibly uneven, cobbled, donkey path. He pumped the brakes furiously, clinging madly to the steering handle, the veins on his forearms bulging with the effort of trying to keep the machine from careering over the ridge. The image of himself impaled on barba Yiannis`s ancient olive tree boughs, flashed through his mind. The wall was hurtling towards him at such a rate, that he knew the collision would be severe.
The shuddering thump, as the Minotaur slammed into the wall, jarred the teeth in his head. The rear end of the trailer lifted with the momentum, as the little workhorse attempted to continue it`s downward passage, crumpling the front end into a mass of warped tin. The machine`s “handstand” sent a cloud of sand and cement grit to assault his bare neck and shoulders, which brought another flurry of curses and swear words to his lips.
Surprised that he`d remained in the seat of the machine, and relieved that he appeared to have no injuries, his shoulders relaxed. Automatically, his hand reached for his pocket, pulling out his pouch, he rolled a ciggie. Lighting up with a match, through the puff of smoke, he saw old yiayia Poppy appear in the doorway of her house, leaning heavily on her stick with one hand, and the other holding tightly onto the sun-bleached door frame. A tense, worried look on her face spoke before she actually uttered a word. “My boy, what in heaven`s name was that? I thought it was the shaker visiting again. Are you ok? Do you want to come in for a raki?”
“Ochi” yiayia, I was just testing the brakes on this contraption. It would appear they`re not working too well. He gave a wry smile and continued puffing on his rollie.
Vags knew he`d be in for a rocket when his father learnt he`d crashed the only means of transporting materials up these hellishly steep donkey paths. He wondered how many types of malaka his father would find to dub him with and cringed quietly, wondering what the best course of action should be.
He could scarper. A not unknown phenomena for young Vags. But then he`d lose his pay, quite potentially the whole week`s pay if he abandoned his babba in the middle of the job. Plus his father would work him three times as hard when he eventually got him back to work. No, perhaps that wasn`t the answer.
Pretend he wasn`t even on the Minotaur? That somehow, it just took off on it`s own and collided with that wall? Hmmmm, maybe, he perused.
But I fixed the brakes babba, I got Manolis to check them too, he said they were fine! Yes, perhaps he should go with this one, throw the blame on his big brother. Despite his unending love for him, the underlying resentment for Manolis pushed to the surface. It was always he who was in babba`s good books, the clever one, the apple of his eye. The one who always did the right thing and never got into any mischief. Well, so his parents thought. Vags knew better though.
After taking yiayia Poppy up on her offer of a raki, or two, purely to steady his shaken self, he felt fortified enough to face babba.
Of course, his father`s chastising came in the form of a verbal torrent of name calling. If he hadn`t been on the receiving end of this deluge, he would have been quite impressed with how many different uses the word “malaka” lends itself to.
Suitably chastised, with head hung low, young Vags reluctantly finished off the day`s work and walked down the shadowed cobbled lanes with his father close on his heels. Arriving on the main road through the village, his father looked up and down the road with a slightly confused look on his face. Seeing his confusion somewhat lessened Vags`s wounded feelings, but he then realised that his father`s car was nowhere to be seen. They both wandered up and down the road, albut scratching their heads in bother. With slow, forlorn understanding, his father dashed to the embankment which led down into the olive groves below the village.
The front wheels hubs were immersed in the brackish black water of the village ditch, with its back wheels sailing high in the air, the undercarriage bared for all to see.
His father remained rooted to the spot. Speechless.
Vags hid an ironic smile, before joining his father`s fixated stare at the upended vehicle.