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Hackwriters
The International Writers Magazine: Comment

Montgomery, Magalee and the Magi
• Reed Sterling
A young moon, and old moon, a full moon—I could not make it out, but moonlight fell through veils of cloud hanging over Zambeliou Street. Revellers in other parts of the Old Port were yet at their fireworks. Thus, the sounds of stars falling, worlds colliding, ideologies and idols carving up the moon.

Greece

The parting impression: Aeolian harps, Magalee in red standing under the mistletoe at the bottom of the stairs, Montgomery in his duffle coat on his way out. We shook hands as a whispering wind beyond the threshold of The Minoan Café cooled our radiant faces.

I lit a single candle, and lying in a semi-euphoric state, I watched my room fill up with lively shadows. Firecrackers exploding beyond the walls of my consciousness prohibited me from falling asleep. In waves of thought, I drifted over the events of the evening. Always Magalee, her beauty, her divine demeanour, always Magalee who provided me with dreams. And then as in dreams, the imagery she inspired —                                

                                    Fools in the guise of sages bring me gifts.

                                    Crones open to me like wounded sphinxes.

I lit more candles. I found my journal and picked up my pen, and then right after writing the lines down, the hooting started. I opened the door to my balcony, and peered out. The harbour was oddly refulgent, its shimmering waters full of streaking comets and bits of broken moon. A firecracker went off at my feet just as I saw them.

"We bring you companionship!"

"We bring you offerings!"

"Ja, ja, man, we bring you joy!"

In Venizelou Square, two aspiring idiot savants and one certifiable artist sage yelling and waving at me to come down — Kurt Krantz, Bob Service, and Damen Van Raamsdonk were not to be denied. I snuffed out the lights on the first epiphany, and armed myself for the one about to begin.

When I finally joined them, Damen had completed the mystification preliminaries from the contents of his brown leather purse. He sucked in the smoke with a hiss, and, looking even more like some mystagogue recently returned from the East, passed the twisted cigarette on. The other offerings of joy were the litre bottle of raki, which Kurt Krantz held as carefully as a virgin mother holds her child, and a blue plastic bag which, Service assured me, contained three kilos of sunflower seeds. Sharing the smoke, the seeds, and the raki, we made our way out of the square towards the Pan Pub & Bacchus Bar. Even if Nikos Kalistoulakis had been with them, I’d still have been odd man out.

A large congregation of unmovable, loud revellers had packed into the Pan Pub & Bacchus Bar, so we sat on our heels out on the quay in the vicinity of Trüger's boat. Mandraki, the old Venetian harbour, was a carnival of light. Faros, the lighthouse, was winking at the doings of the night. Occasionally, a small wave would slap spray over us, but we were too much into the moment, too much in awe of our state of being to take notice and move. We hailed banal truths with expletives of wonder.

"The Christmas Eve, for Christ's sake!" Damen offered at one point as a kind of observation as to why we were all huddled there. He poured raki over the butt of a second crooked cigarette and swallowed it like the fruit of a sunflower seed.

"O holy night," said Bob Service.

"Is this not so?" Damen took a pull on the bottle, spilling drops down his chin and on his coat. He passed the bottle to me.

"Yeah right," I said. "I appreciate your indulgence. You know, us orphans at Christmas."

"Wanker!" said Bob Service.

The bulk of rocky Kastelli hung over our little plotty scene like a looming omniscience making plain the trio's intentions. They were playing me, lulling me into a conspiracy of friendship. Half-wittedly I decided to play my part.

"Tell me, Steven Spire, who is the bearded one in the spotted coat?" Damen asked with more coherence than he had a right to at that point. His brown leather purse had grown in my imagination to the size of a loaf of bread.

"David Montgomery? A raconteur and refugee. A knight in tarnished armour."

Balanced over his haunches, his bent python skin pants all aglow, Damen appeared to be bouncing. It seemed forever before the echoes of my astute and clever revelations sunk out in the blackness beyond the breakwater.

"Is this so?" Damen asked, his voice cracking with insinuation.

"As far as I know."

"We learn that the Greek government is what he works for," Kurt Krantz interjected, spitting out bits of shell.

I swigged the raki and quickly passed the bottle to Kurt, thereby masquerading the need to guffaw.

"Get that from Trüger?"

"Ja, ja, Trüger, he knows." Kurt drank, drank again, and then passed the raki to Service. Kurt had serious white in his eyes.

"Trüger is a better judge of character than I am, Kurt."

Silences. Ambient smells — diesel, feta, wet wool, seaweed, Damen's cologne, and fish bait. I grabbed a handful of sunflower seeds from the blue bag in our midst. One of us snickered.

"The Greek government, who would have thought. If that's the case, his bag of tricks is red, and he's on to you. But I'm not surprised you've found him out."

"Jesus Christ!" Kurt wrapped his hand around the handle of his knife.

"Like the guy's right out of the fifties," I added.

"Vas ist Das? The fifties! Jesus Christ!" Kurt unsheathed his knife.

"Relax, man," said Bob Service.

"Yeah. Right. Kurt. I'm kidding. And you got to be kidding about the Greek government? Why the Greek government?"

Damen shrugged; then he said, "Nikos Kalistoulakis, he say so."

"Ja, also the coat comes here, to the Pan Pub. He asks questions."

"Dig it, man," Service began after a long pause. He now sat straddling the rope securing Trüger's boat. He presented to us the picture of a disembodied duffle coat sending bottles and glasses crashing as questions go unanswered by management, waiters, and all the Pan Pub & Bacchus Bar regulars. "Only a voice. Dig it, man! Only a voice."

"Asshole!" Damen exclaimed.

"Ja, ja, you are the wanker! Nikos does not think this is a joke."

I could not distance myself.

"A girl, Kurt. Montgomery’s looking for one. Check with Nikos," I said to assuage his concern, and after a long pause, I added, "Check with Trüger. Like you said, man, Trüger knows."

"Many things he knows, Trüger, no question."

Then Damen, springing up on snaky legs, and grabbing the bottle from Service, wanted to know what girl.

"A redhead. From Down Under.”

“Vas ist das, Down Under?”

“Australia, Kurt. The girl’s an Aussie. Just picture a redhead riding through olive groves on the back of Nick's big bike.”

“Ja, ja, I see now.”

"Not Magalee?"

"No, Damen, not Magalee. Montgomery loves books. Books, Damen! A real Renaissance man."

"So he's an artist?" More snickering.

"He could be, Bob. Sketches a lot. He liked Damen's triptych tonight at The Minoan Café."

"Is this so?"

"Yeah right, Damen. It is so."

"I thank you for this, my friend."

"It's Christmas, Damen! Besides. That man's a philosopher. A god mechanic. Without the blue cassock and coveralls. You have something in common. Maybe."

"I thank you for this, my friend. And Magalee?"

"Just being Magalee. We all know what that means. Right?"

"Ja, ja, ja!"

"Magalee, she's a wench!"

And when Bob Service enhanced his adulation of Magalee by shagging the rope he was straddling, Damen Van Raamsdonk tossed the raki bottle at him. It flew upright through the air as though in a little acrobatic world of its own. Bob caught it by the neck. We all marvelled at his dexterity. At that point, a cheer rang out from the Pan Pub & Bacchus Bar. I thought the timing of the two events significant, and said, "Wow, man!" I did not want them to think that I was not on their wavelength.

"So, a sensitive man, Montgomery?"

"Don't be too eager," I cautioned.

"Why not so?"

"Unpredictable. Approach him indirectly. A game of chess. Maybe."

"Ja, I see him play at the café."

"Is this so?"

"Ah, man, would you stop sayin that!"

"Very much. So."

"Spire, you wanker, want some more of this?"

"Thanks, Bob. Had enough. Leaving now."

"I thank you, my friend."

I quit them then, loitering on the limits of Yuletide civility. Somewhere near the tourist pavilion, well past the Pan Pub & Bacchus Bar din, I felt the slow, ineffable rhythms of the universe pulsing in my head. The smashing of a raki bottle against the metal hull of a fishing boat sounded far, far away.
© Reed Stirling December 2015
reedstirling at gmail.com

Reed Stirling lives in Cowichan Bay, BC, and writes when not painting landscapes, or travelling, or taking coffee at Bo’s, a local café where physics and metaphysics clash daily. Work has appeared in The Nashwaak Review, The Valley Voice, Island Writer, Maple Tree Literary Supplement, Out Of The Warm Land II and III, PaperPlates, The Danforth Review, Senior Living, Green Silk Journal, The Fieldstone Review, Ascent Aspirations, Fictuary, Fickle Muses, Hackwriters Magazine, and StepAway Magazine. 


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