Ta Delphinas (Part II)

Lost Boys — By on August 18, 2010 at 4:00 pm

By David Rozgonyi
Special to the Lost Girls

Continued from part I

*****

An Austrian family who is very well prepared for camping indeed has decided to play a little Bocce ball. For those who are ignorant of this very popular game (especially with coordinated flocks of Netherland auto campers), the object is to toss a small red ball a certain distance away, and then everyone tries to toss larger balls as close as they can to the target ball. Sort of like airborne curling in shorts.

They line up with great excitement, loosen the shoulders and neck with a few quick stretches, the son claps the dad on the back and tells him (we can only assume) that the old man better be on his game, cause he’s gonna kick his ass this time for sure. The wife lifts the boccino to eye level, aims carefully, takes a breath through widened nostrils, and gently lobs it over the barb wire fence that bounds the camp and into the steep brush below. Her family’s shoulders slump and they all shuffle wordlessly back to their tents. The Italian’s jowls quiver with mirth.

Yasu, mio amico! What a beautiful day! Who needs a hand with something, because I have two hands and a willing heart, ha ha!” Yannis punctuates the silently throbbing afternoon like the drum solo in a bebop number. The orchestra conductor, the master of the vessel, the owner of the Ta Delphinas rollicks shirtless and hairy twenty times a day through the dreamy tableau of his own creation—sun-browned bodies, blue and black sky, the laughter of travelers, the odors of dust and heat.

Ejecting great laughs and dispensing brutal handshakes to go with his wide-eyed encouragement, Yannis is a one-man carnival of happiness. And why wouldn’t he be? He has lived on this bluff high above his crystal cove since, well—he was born here, in the same house which he now willingly surrounds with foreigners, so he’s been here forever. Even the most casual observer can tell he loves every second of it; he’s obviously not in it for the money, for he charges only five Euros a night. The Italian, no casual observer he, shakes his bulldog head within infinite grace when Yannis screws his face up against the sun and cries out joyfully again.

The day is growing sunburned and weary, and life begins to slow. But then, just when the cicadas are panting in the heat of the latest afternoon, all heads turn toward a new sound: A frightening rumble emanating from the bottom of the bluff. All growls and creaks, it shakes the very hill upon which the campground sits.

Everyone is abuzz; it sounds like a freighter running aground down there! But then the chuffing of an overblown motor gets louder, the gravel scratches to escape monstrous tires grows ever more frantic, the sound of branches cracking in agony, and then, something incredible broaches the horizon and blots out the sun. The olive trees can scrape only midway up its sides; the cicadas flee such a brutish advance in shrieking swarms of cellophane. This wildly rocking machine it less a camper than a prime mover, something the UNHCR would use to deliver rice to Sudan, that is if they had painted it “adventure” yellow. As high as the box trailer of a semi and almost as long, its spare tire is hung with a crane and looks as though it had been stolen from something that dwells in the bowels of a strip mine; its sand ladders could be used to rescue an infant from a blazing third floor. It is a behemoth, the Million Dollar Folly, a Titanic steaming ever closer to the terrified iceberg of the bathhouse. Springs groaning, transaxle howling, all four wheels grubbing at the earth, an olive tree splintering in surprise, and then the beast finally comes to a steaming rest.

The one-man German Pass Kontrol, hardly able to comprehend the size, the importance, the glory of his mission, puffs out his moustaches, gives his newspaper a decisive roll, and brings himself to his full erect height. Two women (Where did they come from? the Italian asks himself with a grunt) lingering over their candlelit dinner before a tent like a bright red bondage game gone wrong glance away from one another’s eyes for the first time in hours, the Yorkshire lads pause in mid-strum of their guitars, the Austrians lower the books they had been reading in their many hammocks, the old fisherman sticks out his teeth and makes fish faces, his little dog yawns. A door is unlatched from somewhere high up in the clouds, breaths are stilled far down below in anticipation of the alien that might emerge from this UFO, this unidentifiable obscenity.

When the captain of this immense ship trembles down the ladder, eighty years young and wearing nothing but a lime-colored speedo, Yannis bellows a great laugh and claps the newcomer on the back hard enough to start his heart; the German, with visible regret, unrolls his paper and angrily rereads the page, although it is almost too dark now to see. The Italian, perhaps only now noticing the newcomer’s attire, claps his hands and applauds.

The sun is almost gone, the cicadas are falling into whatever wide-eyed sleep in which a cicada dreams, and the night is cooling down at last. The Italian winks at his Hungarian neighbor, whose many idiosyncrasies would take far too long to describe here.

Cinema,” the Italian whispers, and holds out a bottle of wine
whispers, and holds out a bottle of wine

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