Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Adventures in Cephalonia 4

Hello. My name is Kostas Economides and I am a lecturer in the Department of Economics at the University of the South of England (USE for short). Well, actually that is not true really as the names of individuals and institutions in this blog have been changed to protect the innocent - and the guilty!

Gus and Heather are on holiday on the Greek island of Cephalonia. After a few days relaxing in their resort of Lassi they rented a car to visit other parts of the island. On the Wednesday night they decided to venture east of Lassi and then up into the mountains in search of a taverna. Here they came across George (a local Greek) and his English girlfriend Rebecca who were restoring an old taverna. They were invited in and the four of them enjoyed a long night of eating, drinking and talking before George and Rebecca got into an argument and George stormed off into the mountains on his motorbike.

Later Rebecca suggested that they should go her favourite beach to see the sun rise, and then go a fisherman's cafe in Argostoli for breakfast.

The breakfast cafe didn't look much from the outside and inside consisted of just a few formica tables with old fashioned Greek chairs. There were three people sitting at one of the tables. Two looked very much like fishermen - lean and very brown skinned. But the third individual was rather different, a fattish pale skinned man in his early fifties, wearing a white jacket. As we entered he greeted Rebecca with a smile and continued sipping his Greek coffee.

Rebecca told us to sit at one of the other tables and she would order our breakfast. She walked to the side of the room where there was a serving hatch and called out "Kalimera". After a few minutes a man appeared. He too was brown and lean and wore a rather dirty white t-shirt and jeans. Rebecca ordered three traditional Greek breakfasts and then went over to sit with Gus and Heather. Heather asked what a traditional Greek breakfast consisted of. Rebecca said that it would be some dried bread called paximadi, olives and feta cheese. You would normally get a herbal tea to go with it but Rebecca said that we would have a Greek coffee instead. She hoped that was OK.

Before the breakfast arrived the man in the white jacket got up from his table and went over to where Rebecca and the others were sitting. "Aren't you going to introduce me to your friends?" he asked.

Rebecca made the introductions saying that Gus and Heather were on holiday and had stumbled across the taverna the previous night. The fat man asked Gus what he did for a living. When Gus told him the man said "Welcome to Cephalonia Professor. We respect educators here". After a bit more small talk the Greek breakfasts arrived and the fat man got up from the table, signalled to his two colleagues and all three left the cafe.

When they had finished their breakfasts Rebecca, Gus and Heather left the cafe and headed back to where they had parked the car. But before they had gone very far up the road a car came racing down the road, mounting the pavement near them causing Heather to stumble and fall. "My God" said Rebecca. "That looked deliberate." They started to walk more quickly but before they had gone very far the car came racing after them again. As it got close to them it slowed down, the back door opened and someone snatched Heather and pulled her inside. The door slammed and the car sped away. "We had better call the police" said Gus, who was clearly very worried. Rebecca burst into tears and said " I know where the police station is, I have been there many times, but it probably won't be open yet"

However to their surprise there was a policeman there already on duty. He recognised Rebecca from the time she had been interviewed about the dead man on the plane. He took down all the details, asking for a description of the car. Unfortunately all they could say was that it was white and possibly a Mercedes. The policeman said that they should go back to the taverna and wait for news. Maybe there would be a ransom note. He wondered whether the group had been specifically targeted or whether it was just a random snatch. Only time woud tell. He told Gus not to be worried. This kind of thing was very rare on Cephalonia and they would do all they could to bring it to an early and happy conclusion. Needless to say Gus was not reassured but tried to remain calm as Rebecca was close to hysterical. It probably helped him get through the crisis having to cope with her.

To be continued.

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