Part Two of Three: The Kingdom of Fife and the Island of Symi

If you’ll remember, I talked Conspiracy into have a reading, and he bargained me into having them after work and near his house. I found a library in a neighbouring town to his village, who agreed to host the event. They put up fliers, and I begged Conspiracy to send around some emails and put it out to his friends asking them to pass it on.

I had to take the bus toSt Andrews, and then another bus to the town. I had a box of books in a small shopping trolly (you know those ones that old ladies take to the shops that are covered with tartan cloth), and I totally got lost in this town trying to find the library. I finally got there and who was walking in the same time as me? Fife.

He came to support Conspiracy, who was pacing up and down the street smoking like a mad man. I went over to say ‘hello’, and he just snarled at me, ‘I never even wanted to be published. I just wanted to write.’ He was wearing a t-shirt that said, ‘I am Ignatius Reilly’. I don’t know what that means, but I have a feeling HarryPotter would find it really funny.

Before Conspiracy went into the hall, he stubbed out his fag on a bin and said,  ‘Why couldn’t you just wait until I was dead to publish them, like I requested.’

In all, at the event, there was Conspiracy and his wife, Fife and two library workers, and four old dears from the blue rinse brigade. Not good. Not good at all. Conspiracy’s writing is quite edgy. It jumps voice (although he does it well) and it’s about a psychic prostitute-detective in a post-apocalyptic Scotland. Okay, his book’s not really about that, but it may as well be, because the old dears seemed very uncomfortable with the reading. Well, in fairness, Conspiracy is the worst reader. Here’s the problem with author’s reading their work, they’re not always good actors. Just because the wrote the thing, doesn’t mean their voice can bring it to life.

Fife, thank goodness, asked some questions as did one of the library workers, which livened things up a bit. One of the library frequenters even bought a book. (The only reason these people turned up for the book signing, was because they were at the library anyway, evidently they’re there fairly frequently, like every day.)  

After everything wound down, Conspiracy’s wife – let’s call her Saint, because you’d have to be a Saint to be with Conspiracy – came and told me thank you. I told her that I wasn’t sure if we should go ahead with the other book signings, and she asked me to continue on with the plan. She said that Conspiracy gets a bit closed off, and getting out is good for him. Even if no one shows up – especially if no one shows up — being here was good.  She said that he’d never admit it, but he wasn’t just nervous, he was really excited about tonight. I told Saint that I would continue on with the other events, but he’d have to help us market them. She said she’d see what she could do.

I left the building and it was starting to rain. As I rounded the corner I saw my bus rambling off. Because I was in the back end of no where Scotland, it would be another hour before another bus. I was standing there debating whether or not I should go find a pub and have a pint while I wait, or if I should just hunker down in the bus shelter incase another bus comes along. (Why another unscheduled bus would come and rescue me I don’t know, but I had hope.)

However, it wasn’t a bus that rescued me, it was Fife.

He pulled up in this ancient Citron and told me to get in. I asked him if he could take me to St Andrews so I could catch the bus to Dundee, and he refused. He insisted, instead, on taking me all the way to Dundee.

On the floor board there was a child’s knapsack, and then I vaguely remembered, back in Greece, him saying that he had a kid. He said it oh so casually, like ‘I should bring little Timmy back a souvenir’ or some such.  God, I hope he has a kid, or else that knapsack on the floorboard is creepy, and possibly disturbing. 

We spent the ride catching up.  He saw me in Greece when I had planned on traveling until mid July, then working in London. So he was surprised to find me on his neighbour’s doorstep last week. I told him that I continued to travel for quite a bit longer, but for some reason, and I don’t know why, I didn’t tell him about Pete.

I then explained about the Agency’s new set up, and Loraine coming up to Dundee. He said that Conspiracy had signed with the Agency while Fife was in Greece, so when I told him – even back then —  that I would be working for the Agency, he didn’t know at that point his neighbour would be signing with my future employer. Anyway, it took us until St Andrews to fill in all the blanks, and as we drove to Dundee we reminisced about our meeting in Greece.

I had been visiting B in Italy, but she had to teach so I decided to take a ferry over to Greece, and she’d meet me four days later when she was off for Easter break. I came to Rhodes first, but was looking for something a little more…well, a little more sun and sand, so I headed over to the island of Symi. The funny thing about Symi, most all the beaches are only reachable by water taxi, so that was me sans sand and beach afterall.

It’s a beautiful island. Everything’s on a hill looking out to sea. The houses are painted bright colours, and the streets are wobbly and slanted.  Symi is actually more beautiful than what I was hoping for in a small Greek island. Isn’t it funny how sometimes you get your mind on something, and what you get is totally different, but better.

I found a cheep room, and settled in at an outdoor café. I wanted a glass of wine, but I don’t speak Greek, and I didn’t want to be the ugly Brit speaking loud English to everyone assuming they’d understand. The waiter came over, said something in Greek, and I started to fuss about pointing a lot and not really saying anything in any language, until the guy at the next table spoke up for me and ordered me a glass of wine…in English.

He introduced himself, and I recognised his name straight away. He’s not a famous author, but I’d read his books. He writes these kind of guy-historic-drama type books. Like James Bond in ancient Greece, lots of running through with swords and togas. They’re not exactly my type of books, but they’re interesting and a fast read.

I asked him to join me, and we started talking about the research he was doing for his current book. It was to the third in a series. It started to get dark, and he asked me to dinner. Well, he didn’t ask me to dinner, he said, ‘I’d hate to see you alone on a night like tonight, and I was going to well…I was going to have some dinner…and if you, well…wanted to…only if you don’t have plans…’ and so on and so forth, until I interrupted and said I’d love to have dinner.

We ate at this little restaurant with the most horrendous food. I don’t mean like, it’s weird and foreign bad, I mean like really, really shit. Over cooked AND, somehow, undercooked. It was horrible.

As we went past Leuchars on the way back to Dundee, we laughed about that horrible meal, and then he reminded me about the night he went skinny dipping. Yes, he went skinny dipping. We’d been drinking slightly (no honestly, not a lot, we weren’t drunk, just buzzing enough to do foollish things) and he said he knew of a beach that you didn’t need to take a water taxi to get to. There was this big villa on the island that had a path that lead down to a private cove. Fife suggested that we sneak over and go. I was up for it.

After falling over a very pointy fence, scruffing through bushes, being terrified that we were going to get caught and put in horrible Greek jail, and then running like the dickens when we saw a light come on in the big house, we made our way down to the private beach. I turned around to put down our bag of towels and take off my clothes (with my bikini underneath), and when I turned back around I saw Fife running out into the sea bare arsed.

I strolled in after him in my bikini. He saw my little green and pink swimsuit and protested that you can’t go into the Mediterranean at night clothed. I disagreed.

He said there was a sea monster named ‘Biteurbuttikus’ that devoured young girls who insisted on wearing bikinis into the sea at night. The only way to escape the terribleness of the Biteurbuttikus was to strip down bare.

I told him that Biteurbuttikus sounded more Roman than Greek, and since there was at least 500 years between the two classic cultures, I didn’t need to worry about it for another half a century.

I was in the water up to my waist. It was a clear night with a near full moon, and the water was smooth. Fife then said, ‘Seriously, watch for sharks. They won’t be big, so they won’t take a leg off or anything, but they might leave a nasty scar.’

Laughing it off, I told him to stop being ridiculous and a sunk down to my shoulders. Some thing nipped me on the thigh, and I practically stood on water, then I stood on his shoulders. I tried to perch on his shoulders like a bird on a wire. He started laughing, hard. And then flung me into the water laughing even more.

I realized that the nip on the thigh was him trying to scare me, so I splashed him a bit and went back to shore. I was settling in on my towel out at the moon on the water, but Fife couldn’t come of the sea, because he had nothing on, and suddenly got a case of the shyness. He asked me to turn around, but I refused. I told him that we didn’t have time for me to turn around, the Biteurbuttikus was coming.

Just then someone came into the cove in a small boat and flashed a light on Fife, which scared the life out of him. He ran onto shore and pulled on his trousers before anyone could blink.

The boat was had four students in it (two from Britain, one from Holland and a Sweed). They had commandeered a row boat from somewhere. When they came on shore, they brought out the wine and weed. It was a good night.  

We crossed theTay Bridge and Fife took me to the flat. He offered to help me up the stairs with the trolley of books, but I wouldn’t let him. However, he did insist on giving me his mobile number, saying that the next time I have to go to one of Conspiracy’s readings to give him a ring. He’s happy to be my chauffeur.

I clinked that trolly up three flights of stairs smiling all the way. In fact, I can’t stop smiling. I had forgotten all about that night in the cove. I am so happy I’ve run into Fife. After I’m done blogging I think I’m going to have a look at my gap pictures. God, I just can’t stop smiling.

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