Where'd you just go? Lina asked him. Don't leave me like that. I'm just a little South African farm girl afraid the regime is going to shit on the whole country again.
His shop was in Syntagma, in a set of alcove stores off Plateia Syntagmatos itself near the intersection of Nikis and Mitropoleos. When he bought it, after his wife was taken from him, it was called Homer's Bibliotheque. But that wasn't what he meant, so first he changed it to Phemius Saved, after the singing bard whom Telemachus saved from Odysseus' slaughter in the hall. That was when books were like that to him. They saved the singing, so were worth saving again, passing on, binding even more from age to age. Then he thought that was more than a bookstore needed to shoulder, so he came up with The Unregarded Seer. That was explained for anyone who got it by the framed reproduction he had over his computer and his international bookseller brochures of the figure of the old diviner, from the east pediment of the temple of Zeus in the Museum of Olympia. The tensely reclining and draped prophet looks on with his hands up in dread at what he sees coming in the future, looking at what will happen first to the king, Oenomaus, in the chariot race with tricky Pelops, and second for the cursed generations of Pelops, like Agamemnon.
In order to get media coverage for their Tuesday post-Epiphany protest against the incursion into Gaza, the coalition burned the second giant gaudy Christmas tree in Syntagma Square, across from the Parliament building. Two weeks ago, the first one burned right down to the pavement, scattering holiday Athenians and holiday tourists. It cost retailers plenty. The government said the coalition was led by the communists. If so, neither communists nor state knew of the participation of the national train network, the OSE anarchists who made the trains run on time. Lina was a kind of fellow traveler with some of them.
Two days later, Lina was back from OSE stops in the Peloponnese. They were walking in the National Gardens on another warm January mid-day, looking for a bright place in the sun to sit and eat lunch. He was anxious to get back to his shop. She was on edge. The Day of the Doors was soon, and things had indeed gone out of Karagiozi's hands, the like of hers, into more dangerous real hands and people whose sense of humor was not nuanced but righteous. Anything could go wrong, she said. He grunted, thinking about the customer he had on the hook for later that afternoon, a Turk with the money to buy the embossed seventeenth-century red Moroccan leather bound Ibn Khaldûn Muqaddimah. This one could pay the rent for a month.
Couldn’t find it. That was before they put a marker on Jim’s grave. The flyer is an important statement. We are glad you are making it in the name of the revolution and all local action.
He was asleep but he heard the glass shattering that far away as if in a tunnel. He dreamed the little puffing explosion tilted over his upright binoculars in the Athenian dawn light. He fought back to sleep, but she came in and got him awake. She was crying, and the caryatids didn't do a damn thing for him.
What was this, he wanted her to tell him, some kind of low grade two-inch pipe explosive especially for a book shop?
Take me on a train, Pfister said. Take me on a train trip. What's a place in this country we can go to together on a train trip? It will be okay if there are stops in between. We can get out at those places, too.