Grandmother Julia died two weeks after Kris was arrested. Mairelen was staying at Zena’s apartment in Rethymnon town and when her grandmother died they moved back up the mountain to the old house to be with the family for the vigil. When a Cretan dies, the funeral usually takes place quickly. The night before the burial the deceased lies in their coffin in the family home and the coffin lid is placed outside the front door. Mourners come to show their respect and to say their goodbyes. The Patriakos family was much respected in the district. Georgeos and Julia Patriakos had both been partisans in the war and although they had suffered at the hands of the occupying forces, they had survived to produce a large family, one of their daughters being Zena’s mother and Mairelen’s godmother,a formidable woman called Christina.
It was Christina who insisted that Mairelen stayed in the back kitchen out of sight while the visitors came and went. The fewer people who knew that she was back on the island the better. Although she hadn’t asked outright exactly why Mairelen was taking a ‘holiday’, she had read the newspaper report of Kris’s arrest, had seen the bruises on Mairelen’s face and drawn pretty accurate conclusions. She had shared Anna’s reservations, when they had married, though the match was agreed by both families. Mairelen’s mother had been her girlhood friend and they had stayed close, even when Anna had moved to London with her Irish husband. When Sean had deserted her, Anna had returned home to Crete with her teenage daughter who had fallen in love with the handsome and charming Christantos Argyris.
Christina stiffened as a group of three men entered the room and offered their condolences to Grandfather Georgeos. All three were dressed in the old Cretan style in honour of the occasion. The oldest was stooped slightly with advancing years, his luxuriant moustache tinged with grey. The other two were cast in the same mould, but tall and upright. They had no moustache but were unshaven, as was fitting mourners. The elderly man continued his conversation with Giorgios, offering his condolences, showing the old man the respect that he was due. As they turned aside one of the younger men moved to where Christina was standing,a little apart from the men.
“Καλησπέρα Κγρία Christina , δυλλυπητήρια μου” he offered his condolences in the traditional form and then switched to English, softly so that he would not be heard by the old men. “Ianis and I have come with the old one to show our respect” the look he gave her was not very respectful “ We regret that due to unfortunate circumstances our brother Christantos is not able to be here also” he moved closer and his voice was low and menacing “ However we are confident that he will soon be back with his family and will once again be able to take care of his beloved wife” he drew his finger across his throat and smiled politely.
Zena, who had been standing in the kitchen doorway, stepped back and carefully closed the door behind her. “Did you hear that? Its old man Argyris, your bloody father-in-law and the boys” she made the ‘good luck’ sign and moved as if to spit on the floor. “I think it’s time to head for the hills. You remember where we used to camp out when we were kids? the old shepherd’s cottage? Well, go on up there as soon as it’s light, and I’ll follow you after the funeral with some gear. You’ll be safe here till morning.”
Christina came in then,carrying a rough holdall which she handed to Mairelen” You’d better take this, you know what those καθάρματα are capable of!” Mairelen grimaced as she glanced at the contents, a Glock 22, small but serviceable, with two magazines. “Please God I won’t need it” she shrugged,”but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do…”
to be continued
© Marilyn Hannan 2014 All rights reserved.