Andreas Economakis

“Wall” (Photo by Andreas Economakis ©2012)

To A Deaf Person From A Blind Person

I thought I needed to gesticulate loudly
confusing my blindness with your deafness
no matter how much I danced
my suggestions fell on deaf eyes
blind ears
so I decided I’d sleep in the kitchen
the refrigerator hum my evening lullaby
a soft wooden bed
my milk bottle filled with beer
empty of beer
awake to the sound of my inner voice
and the sting of cold sweat on hot skin
the torture of tap water dripping
down my cardboard throat
running to catch up to something
I just can’t place my finger on
a boat that never reaches port
a plane I should be on
afraid
brakes that don’t seem to work
a dark ominous room
confused
and I wander outside and listen
to the harmony of dissonance
to the reason of chaos
the silence of sound
and nature
nature
not much to qualify there
and I come to realize
darkness flows on the inside
not the outside
like a molten river under rock
insipid
adding to the hardness up above
but laughter
laughter boils to the surface
along with happiness
but only
only if you’re fast enough to catch
the sly fucker

Nisyros (July, 2012)

Andreas Economakis

 
This piece is part of a collection of words on blindness entitled: The Blindness of Life. The author is not a poet.
 
Copyright © 2012, Andreas Economakis. All rights reserved.
 
For more stories by Andreas Economakis click on the author’s name below.

Andreas Economakis

“Moon Fish”
(photo by Andreas Economakis ©2012)

  
THE LETTER B

when you find yourself avoiding
the letter b in your address book
when your heart feels a foot deep
in heavy liquid
you catch yourself 
alone on the couch
unable to move on
though its been 2 years
cracked pieces on the floor
pissed off at yourself
needing a sorry,
what a sorry ass you are
drowning your thoughts
in booze and work and books
and mindless little things
that no matter what
don’t let you escape
you’re forever in a loop
you reach out and touch the image
and it repeats itself
ad nauseum
ending with the ugly part
until you find yourself
on your couch
looking for an answer
to a question that was never asked
an answer that was never given
a hand that was never held
lips that moved away
eyes that turned to ice
a song you miss hearing
and you ask yourself
why
must I be like that
why
can’t I be like the rest
why
must I be like the rest
and you sit
and wonder
what would it have been like
and you find yourself unable
to escape from yourself
for one minute
a prisoner of the past
in a future already written
wanting so bad to say
I love you.
 
-Andreas Economakis
 
This piece is part of a collection of words on blindness entitled: The Blindness of Life. The author is not a poet.
 
Copyright © 2012, Andreas Economakis. All rights reserved.
 
For more stories by Andreas Economakis click on the author’s name below.
 
 

Andreas Economakis

Blindness

by Andreas Economakis

(It must have happened while I was asleep.) I awake suddenly, short of breath and out of sorts. The dream I was having flutters away before I can grasp its meaning. I look around the dark room. It is still night. Or is it? The neighbor’s dogs are barking, the birds are singing, the Mexican lawnmowers are mowing the chemical green lawns, I can hear the din of morning traffic filtering into my small West Hollywood cottage bedroom. That’s when I realize that it is day. Heart pounding wildly in my chest, I rub my eyes and slowly open them again. Darkness. Electrical darkness. It’s as if someone has placed a couple of dark grey blinders in front of my eyes. The blinders pulsate constantly, a lightning storm that refuses to budge no matter how hard I rub my eyes. Nausea and fear quickly creep their way into my every fiber of my being, my intestines twisting into a sickly knot and forcing their way up my throat. I struggle out of bed, swiping spasmodically at my cat who is rumbling on my chest. I close my eyes and smack my skull with my hand, hoping to dislodge the blinders. I open them up again, slowly, tentatively. Nothing. What the fuck? Tears of panic stream down my cheeks, down my invisible frozen cheeks.

I feel my way into my small bathroom with urgency, flicking the light switch on instinctively. A ring of yellow light appears in my peripheral vision. Like a halo. Like a big neon zero. I splash water on my face, hoping, praying. Nothing. I stare into what must be the mirror. The same dark pulsating electrical storm stares back it me. Mocking. Oh god…

Backtrack. Did I do something wrong before I went to bed? Did I drink too much or smoke too much or maybe eat something bad by mistake? Did I insult someone or something I shouldn’t have, thus unleashing a wrath upon myself? What have I done to deserve this?

At a loss for what to do, I crawl back in bed. This is obviously a bad dream. I will wake up from this nightmare and everything will be okay. I click my fingers furtively, pleading for the cat to come back and keep me company in my distress. The cat doesn’t come. I close my eyes, convincing myself that things will be all right when I wake up. The lights will be on, my girlfriend will be home, my cat will be purring at the foot of the bed. Life will be normal again. Glorious, visible life. I drift back into a restless dark sleep, drift into the dark, drift…

–Andreas Economakis

This piece is part of a collection of stories on blindness entitled: The Blindness of Life.

Copyright © 2011, Andreas Economakis. All rights reserved.

For more stories by Andreas Economakis click on the author’s name below.

Andreas Economakis

Mean

by Andreas Economakis

I’m mean.
I drop-kicked one stray cat,
flipped off a dozen motorists in one ride,
busted the tailight of a car,
left garbage at the end of the Kalalau trail,
pissed on the door of a 600 Benz.
laughed about it,
nearly got beat up because of it,
I broke a dozen good hearts,
lied when I was cornered,
stole a few dirty magazines,
buried them in odd places,
didn’t call my mom up for a decade,
ignored one important phone call,
tried to bury my head in the sand.

That stray cat sure deserved it.
He bit the shit out of my finger.

–Andreas Economakis

This piece is an attempt at poetry and part of a collection of words on blindness entitled: The Blindness of Life. The author is not a poet.

Copyright © 2011, Andreas Economakis. All rights reserved.

For more stories by Andreas Economakis click on the author’s name below.

Andreas Economakis

A Strange Omen

by Andreas Economakis

I click the light on.  The metal-caged light bulb sputters to life, scattering velvety brown moths into the musty darkness of the cement basement.  The smell of petrol, rot, old magazines and damp dirt fills my nostrils.  I take a halting step down into the urine yellow light, concrete pebbles crunching under my sneakers.  I can feel the dampness of the room on my bare legs, the blackness of the room’s corners and cavernous depths, monsters hiding in my subconscious, hiding their evil from my fragile eyes.

Behind the dusty green boiler, a ruffling sound and the delicate crying of kittens.  Tiger pokes her head around the corner and looks at me.  She emerges with a trembling tail and dangling pink teets, swirling about my legs with nervous affection.  A cobweb dangles from her ear but she doesn’t notice it.  I kneel down and pet her, peeling the delicate cobweb off of her ear.  She hurries back around the boiler and I follow. Slowly.  Six tiny kittens squirm in a furry ball on an old rag between some bricks and a cinderblock, their necks craning toward their mother.  Next to the cinderblock, a dead lizard with caved-in eyes stands silent watch like a dehydrated sphinx, a tiny vent hole under its armpit a sign of where the worms must have entered. A strange omen.

I pick up one of the warm kittens, his little claws ticking my hands, his nose leaving a tiny cold wet spot on my cheek.  His eyes are sealed shut and his mouth is bubblegum pink.  He won’t stop squirming in my hands.  Tiger bumps into my feet constantly, eyes glued on her kitten.  I hear footsteps by the door and quickly place the kitten amongst its brothers and sisters and mommy, moving the dead lizard accidentally.

“Go back upstairs,” I hear from behind me.

I turn and see her stumbling through the darkness, a bag in her hand.  She is dark, almost black, the open basement door backlighting her.  As I walk past her, the smell the wine and cigarettes mingles with the other smells in the room.  I think of turning back but am too chicken.  I turn for one last look and see her kneeling down by the boiler, Tiger swirling about her anxiously.

I enter our quiet house, aware of the sound my footsteps are making, aware of the emptiness all around.  I walk into my bedroom and go to the window.  The narrow street down below is still.  The silver-green olive trees are not rustling and the dark grey clouds that are threatening a storm seem frozen in the sky.

She emerges into the yard, the plastic bag heavy in her hand.  She trickles down the stairs, spilling out onto the street.  She walks to our station wagon and places the bag down by the hatchback.  She walks to the driver’s side door and pulls out her keys.  I can hear the muffled tinkling sound of the keys as she opens the door.  She gets in, turns over the car and gasses the engine, metal gears and pistons groaning, straining.

She gets out and walks around the back.  I watch from the bedroom window, the glass wavy and imperfect.  Dread fills my lungs, my heart, my veins, my eyes.  She kneels down by the exhaust and ties the wriggling bag to the tailpipe.  The bag struggles violently and then goes suddenly limp. She unties the bag and tosses it in the garbage.  She turns and walks back to the running car.  I walk to my bed, burying my head under the pillows.  The wet pillowcase feels cold, cold like the kitten’s nose.  I clamp my eyes shut, and breathe hard. I must not forget to keep breathing. I must not let the worms enter.

–Andreas Economakis

This piece is part of a collection of stories on blindness entitled: The Blindness of Life.

Copyright © 2011, Andreas Economakis. All rights reserved.

For more stories by Andreas Economakis click on the author’s name below.

Andreas Economakis

Greek camel (photo by Andreas Economakis ©2011)

Camel Man and the Airline From Hell

by Andreas Economakis

Few things in life are worse than bad breath. Ever been trapped in a confined space with someone who has halitosis? I think jabbing a souvlaki stick under a fingernail is less painful. Ever stop going out with somebody or not ask someone out on a date because his or her breath could kill your cat? Do people with bad breath realize they have bad breath? I suppose they don’t, because if they did they would do something about it, kind of like fixing a flat tire for the first time ever while trying to learn how on TreadHunter.com or pulling out a cactus thorn from their big toe. One thing is for sure: it is virtually impossible to tell someone that they have bad breath. It’s akin to offending one’s newborn or insulting a dead granddad or telling someone that a booger is stuck to the tip of their nose. We all just gulp and breathe through our mouths, praying to God and the high seas and the yellow flowerpot to get us through the encounter without turning blue. My Uncle Ric once wrote a poem about this very issue; he mentions leaving pieces of Dentyne gum around his house every time his halitosis-afflicted friend dropped by for a visit. He said it was like dropping “Dentyne hints” and, frankly, it’s not such a bad idea. Unfortunately people with bad breath don’t generally chew gum or candy. If they did, well, there wouldn’t be a problem would there?

Like most people, I always try to put some distance between people with bad breath and myself. But sometimes there’s just no choice or way around it. And so it was that I found myself flying to Greece one day, on that savage Dutch airline whose fiscal belt-tightening has practically given all its passengers gangrene. They may have cheap tickets but they sure make you pay for it in other ways. They pack you in like death row sardnines and their 747’s seem to be the oldest in the world. I arrived at LAX early, hoping to get a choice seat, bulkhead window or aisle, a seat I could stretch out in for the 12 hour first leg of the trip to Amsterdam. No such luck. The lines were huge as per usual and the cops were jittery like angry navy seals. By the time I made it to the check-in counter all that were left were seats between other seats. Damn. Oh well, I decided to drown my sorrow with a ridiculously overpriced beer from the terminal. (Man, they really stick it to you in airports, don’t they? If I wasn’t so traumatized by all the security I would have snuck in a couple of tall boys and a brown paper bag before the flight, like the good old days before 911…).

When I finally arrived at my seat assignment, my heart sank. Seated by the window was perhaps the world’s fattest man. We’re talking Guinness Book of World Records big here. This mountain of a man was sweating buckets just from the exertion of breathing and he was spilling over into my entire seat. When he saw me looking at him like a deer in headlights he kind of sucked his gut in a bit, trying to reduce the hostile takeover. Now he only spilled over into 3/4 of my seat. I stood there, wondering what I should do, when the stewardess walked by and kindly asked me to take my seat. I squeezed into my seat and became instantly slap-glued to the fat man, who started sweating even more profusely, obviously ill at ease with my dilemma. The man’s unease didn’t last for long. Remarkably, he turned his head to the window and fell into a deep, wet sleep. Like a nervous oyster stuck to a huge rock, I looked over to the empty seat on my left and prayed and prayed that it would remain empty. I even prayed for calamity to fall on the occupant’s head – anything, so long as the seat remained empty. That’s bad, and so providence punished me with a cruel trick in the end. A very thin old man approached and indicated that he was the seat’s occupant. I became instantly enthused by the prospect that at least I could spill over into his seat to avoid the perspiring mountain to my right.

The thin old man slowly sat down, arranged his affairs and reclined in his seat. All was well. Or was it? First thing that hit my nostrils was that all too familiar smell of stale tobacco most smokers have lingering about them. I then noticed the soft pack of Camel Cigarettes in his shirt pocket, kind of like an exterior pacemaker in reverse. Who smokes Camels? The man was obviously terminal. Camel Man then turned his head toward me to say hello. That’s when it happened. First came the long nicotine yellow camel teeth, large like primitive fossils desperately clinging for dear life in deathly grey gums. Camel Man unleashed an unreal nuclear blast of bad breath my way. Halitosis central. My nose hairs shrieked, curled and then dropped dead out of my nose, dusting my shorts. I pressed myself into the wet fat man fearing for my life, like in those cartoons where Daffy Duck becomes paper thin against a wall to avoid a killer car that’s trying to run him over. I became one with wet man. My eyes were watering when I introduced myself to Camel Man, half-gagging. To my horror, he smiled and then fell instantly asleep, head tilted my way, mouth agape, deathly Camel fumes blowing my way like mustard gas. I must have passed out, because I don’t really remember the rest. When I finally got home the next day, my t-shirt was still wet with the fat man’s sweat, white fat-man salt crystals forming wave patterns up and down my shirt. I could still smell Camel breath in my brain. I was a war victim. Would I ever recover? I vowed to never ever take that Dutch airline again.

Two months later, there I was again, a passenger on the same dreaded airline (they sucker punch you in the wallet every time). I had to return quickly to LA for a job and Kyriakos, my travel agent, could only find me a cheap ticket on the cursed airline. I pleaded and pleaded for something else but it was high season and I was out of luck. I would once again have to endure that clog-wearing, holier than thou, why do they all speak fluent English (?), tulip gathering airline. I got to the airport early, fingers and toes crossed. Middle seat again! If there weren’t so many Greek cops with machine guns lounging about (these guys are arguably more relaxed than their American counterparts if all the coffees and cigarettes and jocularity is any indication), I would have leapt up on the ticket counter and done a self-immolating voodoo dance in front of the smiling blonde wooden clog-wearing stewardess. Defeated, I shuffled onto the plane and arrived at my seat assignment.

To my good fortune, the two people on either side of my seat were young, thin, and, I realized upon seating myself, freshly tooth-brushed! Hallelujah! Smiling like a jackass with a fresh bucket of hay, I laughed and settled in for the long ride. The plane took off and just when the “Fasten Seat Belts” sign went off, I tried to recline my seat. Nothing. I pressed the button harder and pushed backwards. Nothing. I jammed and jammed, pushed and pushed harder. Nothing. I looked around for a stewardess for help. By this point everyone in the entire airplane was fully reclined and some had even fallen into a comfortable sleep that would last 12 hours. Desperate, I finally flagged down a stewardess who, after trying what I had tried, apologized. I asked for another seat and she shrugged with a satanic smile. The plane was booked to capacity. “Holy shit,” I thought. She smiled and walked off, leaving me bolt upright, my face millimeters away from the oily bald spot of the man in front of me. Dude was fully reclined and already sawing wood. I could practically smell his dandruff. I swallowed hard. Maybe there is something worse than halitosis after all.

–Andreas Economakis

This piece is part of a collection of stories on blindness entitled: The Blindness of Life.

Copyright © 2011, Andreas Economakis. All rights reserved.

For more stories by Andreas Economakis click on the author’s name below.

Andreas Economakis

photo by Andreas Economakis (©2011)

“The Daze Of Old”

by Andreas Economakis

You turn yourself on. The images that pop out in front of you are colorful, ethereal. Your mind is fleeting, like the musical notes thumping out of your old Yamaha speakers, the ones your cats have scratched to pieces. You break the bounds of your small East Harlem apartment and head straight for the sun. Sundrenched Jamaica. You lie on the beach with big fat toasty lips. That night you find yourself in a club whose name you don’t know but whose baseline you recognize. For a split second you’re back on the beach. You open your eyes and realize you’re staring at a travel commercial on your 13-inch Trinitron.

Snack time. You haul yourself to the kitchen and crack the door to your refrigerator. Some scary stuff inside stares back at you, making you cringe. You slam the fridge as hard as you can and spend the next twenty-eight and a half minutes trying to find your wallet. You finally locate it under the couch. Now, about your keys… To hell with them, I’ll leave the door open, you think. On the way out you forget about the door and find yourself locked out of your apartment. What a bonehead!

You decide on Chinese, ‘cause it’s closest. When you finally get there (and you nearly freeze your ass off in the process) the gate is halfway down and they’re mopping up. You have intense cottonmouth and can’t help but stare at the shiny poster of steaming chicken legs that’s Scotch-taped to the window. A whole bunch of pedestrians walk by, looking at you. “Check him out, homey’s buggin’… Ha, ha, ha!” You feel like a village idiot. The Village Idiot. Did the Village People have an Idiot? You make a fast break and cut into the Palestinian grocery store two buildings down. Your heart is thumping.

Mohammad says “Hello, my friend!” You gasp “Hi!” in response. Shit, why did I spill the beans? What a dunce. You stall at the beer section. You try to hide behind the indecisive chin-scratching gaze of comparison-shopping. You finally snatch a rack of Buds and a can of minced clams. Then you freak out because you can’t find your wallet. You’re making a spectacle of yourself, rifling your pockets like a junkie looking for his last rock. Your heart is about to jump out of your chest and run for cover. You find your wallet comfortably ensconced in your left hand. Been there the whole time probably. You look around and notice that this big guy to your left is staring at you like he wants to kill you. You look at Mohammad for help.

“Everything okay, my friend?” Mohammad says, suspiciously, as you approach the counter. Blind confusion. You vow to never set foot in this joint again. Better yet, you vow to never ever smoke again. Sam’s stash is bug-out stash. 100% no-doubt-about-it, freak-you-out-like-a-nuclear bomb-to-your-brain-this ain’t-no-medical-marijuana-dope-this-is-the-apocalypse-now stash. You remember the good old days of yore before all this shit. One day these will be the good old days. The good old daze. You bust out into the cold and crisp street and decide to run home. By the time you reach your front door you’re sprinting as fast as you can. There’s a tremendous sense of relief hiding in your own vestibule. Shit… no keys! It gets about fifty degrees colder in a matter of seconds and you’re not sure which part of your face is chattering so loudly. The scent of junkie urine rises to your nostrils and you turn blanch white, like a Disney cartoon. You wonder whether the local shelter has got a bed before you even ponder tracking Jose down, the only other human being with keys to your apartment.

You decide to act quick. You head straight across the street to Jimmy’s under-stocked grocery/dope-dealing front to score a tub of Visine. There’s no way you’re going to confront Jose with red eyes. He’ll barrage you with tricky questions and scan you with that retired cop glare he scans tenants with. Your mind goes blank under that stare. Why on earth does your landlord have to be an ex-cop? Besides, are cops ever ex? You ask Jimmy for the eye juice. His store always carries Visine and Bamboos, if nothing else. While digging for your wallet in your jacket pocket, you find your keys amidst some old Bazooka Joes. You break into a smile and call it your lucky day.

You’re on a roll now. You beeline for your apartment. By the time you’ve cracked your first Bud, you’re already bored with the TV. Need more excitement. Maybe I’ll ride my bike, you think. Your thoughts quickly drift and settle on the image of Vinnie on his Harley. Vinnie is a small dude with long balding hair, lots of Hells Angels tats, an 883 Sportster, a shiny Bowie knife and a big attitude. Everybody knows a guy like this, right? Guys like Vinnie (plus or minus the Italian name and Hell’s Angels tats) are standard issue to every every neighborhood in the world. You remember yesterday’s conversation with Vinnie. He was cutting down your Honda CM400 when you said: “Vinnie, a bike gets you from here to there, no?” Then Vinnie replied: “Figures a Rice-hopper would say something like that about his ride.” You smiled and recalled the time Santana yelled out “The plane, boss, the plane!” when Vinnie walked by, alluding to Fantasy Island’s small man. It was quite appropriate, considering all the tats and Vinnie’s size. Since then everybody’s called Vinnie “Tattoo”” behind his back. Only Santana can call him that to his face. No one fucks with Santana. Not even little psycho-wired Vinnie and his freaky Bowie knife.

You check the blinking clock on your VCR and it flashes back 12:00 A.M. No, it always says that. You jump up from your couch and head to the kitchen. You woof down some pasta with clam sauce (a bachelor’s best friend) and note the time. Its 11:37 P.M. You pick up the phone and call your buddy Kendall. Kendall will want to go downtown.

Kendall’s machine kicks in with some weird-ass Indian music. You figure he’s probably right below his apartment, in the West End Bar, hitting on the new crop of fresh-women from the esteemed university across the street. Or maybe (and more probably) he’s in the bathroom with Tito, scoring an eight-ball. Who knows? You muffle your voice and leave a threatening message about how Kendall shouldn’t have messed around with your sister and that you’re coming around to square things with him. You hang up.

You’re really bored now. You try juggling some silverware that’s on the counter and a fork flies off and nearly beans Billy. Billy and Kaya are your two plain tiger kitties. East Harlem originals. You recall how when you found Billy under the fire escape, he was all puffed up with worms and crawling in ear mites and fleas. Don’t know why, but you started calling him Baby Billy with the Baseball Belly. You notice that Billy and Kaya’s food bowl is bone dry. You grab some Cat Chow and totally miss the bowl. The smelly stuff scatters all over the dirty hardwood floors, the majority lodging itself under the fridge. You can almost hear the roaches rustling under there with great enthusiasm. ”My enthusiasm? Baseball!” Shit… Deniro’s Al Capone was badass. While cleaning up the mess you turn on the paint-spattered Sony cassette player-radio in the bathroom. The dial’s been frozen on WNWK for a long time now. Cool. Robert Nesta Marley’s in the house, crooning “Chances Are.” You grab another Bud from the fridge and head for your electric green couch. Feet up, your mind begins to drift again (must be the damn couch). You close your eyes and vow to motivate as soon as the song ends. The song never ends.

When you open your eyes you’re driving across country in a green school bus with two miniature white dragons in the cab. Every gas station on the way is out of gas but sells fireworks. When you finally run out of gas you’re in a town you remember from your childhood. There’s a big red brick building on the right. You decide to go in and ask about gas. When you come out the dragons are gone and an air raid siren is going off. At that moment you wake up to the sound of an Emergency Broadcast Systems test and the phone ringing at the same time.

Someone on the other end of the line says: “That’s not too cool bro, setting me up like that. You better bring that shit over now.” You recognize the voice from somewhere and it brings you great dread. You quickly hang up the phone. The phone rings again, almost instantly. Hesitantly, you pick it up. “Don’t fuck with me like that, dude!” It’s Kendall. You ask him how he dialed you back so fast. “What are you talking about?” he replies. You ask him about what set up he was referring to. He’s completely lost. Confusion. “Aw, come on Kendall, stop messing with me,” you say and instantly goose bump all over your body. You just placed the voice, the first phone call’s voice, to a face. Georgie. Georgie is your ex-roommate’s psycho drug dealer crackhead gun totting ex-boyfriend who won’t go away. “What the fuck is Georgie doing out of jail?” you mutter aloud. “What’s that?” you hear Kendall say, from somewhere far off. You spit out “Gotta go,” and hang up.

The phone rings again. That’s when you wake up. Back to today. The TV is blaring: Bin Laden is dead, shot in the face by CIA-led US soldiers, Greek national debt is out of control, powerful women are unfaithful in their relationships, gas prices are out of control. You swallow hard and look around. No crackhead Georgie or Bowie knife Vinnie, no wack-out weed or cockroach apartments or electric green couches. No vestibules that smell like urine. Maybe you’re a sap after all, or maybe you’re a romantic. It might sound crazy, but life sure felt simpler back then, more “alive.” That’s the funny thing about memories.

–Andreas Economakis

This piece is part of a collection of stories on blindness entitled: The Blindness of Life.

Copyright © 2011, Andreas Economakis. All rights reserved.

For more stories by Andreas Economakis click on the author’s name below.

Andreas Economakis

"man and ball" (photo by Andreas Economakis - ©2011)

“Size Matters”

by Andreas Economakis

Part 2 (click here for Part 1 of “Size Matters,” or visit the 3/14/11 issue of AIOTB)

I hobbled toward my bike, fishing the keys out of my jacket pocket.  One look at the hard saddle and I knew that I was in for one hell of a ride.  I gingerly cranked the ignition lever, cringing in pain and seriously considering pulling off my tight jeans despite the cold.  The ride into Athens was going to be a journey straight into the Beelzebub’s fiery inferno.  Maybe the winter wind chill factor would relieve my strained boys, kind of like putting them on ice.  After a few excruciating cranks, my pecker almost exploding in agony, my motorcycle started doing its classic boxer jiggle back and forth. I clambered on board, horror sketched on my pasty face.  I was surely going to rupture something down there.  The police report would read something like: “Anemic looking man found next to a gigantic detached penis in gruesome highway motorcycle accident.  Witnesses report that the penis was the apparent driver of the cycle.”  My Ramburglar was beginning to feel larger than the rest of me.  I was now officially becoming an appendage to my penis, rather than the other way around.  Was I the monkey on my penis’ back? READ MORE

Andreas Economakis

“Size Matters”

by Andreas Economakis

Part 1

The pain started sometime around noon, a little before our 45-minute lunch break. The slight tingling I’d been feeling in my stomach suddenly became an intense and nauseating throbbing in the groin area. It felt as if a vindictive Darth Vader was reaching down my throat with his arm, slapping my stomach out of the way for good measure and then grabbing my boys with an iron fist, trying to squeeze the life out of them. I stagger-sat on one of the suicide-car pillars in front of the El Venizelos Airport main terminal for some relief but sprang quickly to my feet. Sitting only made matters worse. I could not shake the intense pain or my increasing distress. Cold sweat trickled down my back and I swallowed stale spit. READ MORE

Andreas Economakis

Yiayia and Boy George (photo by Andreas Economakis)

“Perfect Makeup”

by Andreas Economakis

My grandmother Anastasia, or yiayia as I called her, must have studied Zen. She could spend hours seated motionless in her jewelry store in the Nile Hilton, a geriatric Greek sphinx staring blankly ahead. Overwhelmed by the utter tranquility in her shop, I would escape as often as I could whenever I visited her in the summers, wandering around the dusty and chaotic streets of Cairo for as long as I could stand. I would beat a hasty retreat to the cool sanctuary of the air-conditioned Hilton, with its refreshing “Asir Lemoon” lemonades and overwhelmed pink tourists, only when my feet could carry me no longer through the blazing Saharan heat and pungent city smells.

Cairo has a peculiar odor. Anyone who’s ever visited this ancient bustling city of 17 million or so souls will attest to this. You become aware of the city’s pungency from the very moment the airplane doors crack open on the sizzling tarmac of Cairo International Airport. I’m not a smell specialist, but if you put me in a headlock I guess I’d equate the city’s smells to a batch of ripe tropical fruit fermenting in old petrol smog. The Hilton was a natural haven from all this, a controlled oasis of sorts. Like any desert wanderer, I would invariably end up at the oasis when on the verge of heat stroke. In fact, I think the Hilton’s café was named The Oasis, if my memory serves me right.

There was a bookstore next to my grandmother’s shop and I started buying and feverishly reading anything I could lay my hands on. I would sit in this red and white vinyl chair behind the spotless glass of the jewelry store’s front door for hours, my head buried in Hemingway and Kazantzakis and London and Marquez. Occasionally, I would peak out at the crowds of sweaty tourists that drifted by, chuckling to myself, knowing full well what state the poor sods were in. I’ve never been good at playing salesman and I generally ignored my grandmother’s pleas to help with the odd customers who walked in, preferring my role as family bookworm. My grandmother would yell at me for reading so much, telling me that it was bad for me.

One day, I looked up into the Hilton lobby and saw Boy George walk by. I couldn’t believe my eyes. There he was, in his black robe, jewels, long hair, bangles, make up and signature bowler hat. “Dirty, filthy hippie!” my grandmother blared out, shifting uncomfortably her seat. “I bet he sleeps with dogs!” she added. I stared at my grandmother with wide eyes, not so much surprised at her comment but at the fact that she had moved in her seat. I explained that he was a famous musician, a very rich, dirty filthy hippie. “Really?” she asked all bright-eyed and bushy tailed. My grandmother might have been conservative, but a fool she was not. Visibly excited, she asked me to bring him into the store so she could meet him.

I ran out into the lobby and caught up with Boy right before he went into The Oasis. “You’re Boy George!” I said, eyelashes batting up and down over the big stupid grin that was plastered all over my face. Boy stopped and turned toward me, smiling. A pleasant smell overtook my nostrils. 150 degrees outside but the man smelled like a bouquet of freshly cut flowers. I told him that my grandmother wanted to meet him and pointed to our shop. He courteously followed me in and I made the introductions. Boy’s presence seemed to overwhelm my grandmother. It was as if an alien from planet Zork had stepped into her inner sanctuary. She totally forgot that she wanted to sell him some jewels. The only thing she could think of to say to Boy was that his make-up was perfect. Her own was always too heavy, gooped on as if with a builder’s spatula.

Perhaps feeling awkward at all the silence, Boy smiled and excused himself. My grandmother sprang back to life and asked me to ask him if I could take a photo of the two of them together. Boy said of course and I trained my pocket Hanimex on them, snapping what was to be my first “celebrity” photograph. Boy kissed my breathless grandmother on the cheek and exited with his invisible bouquet of sweet flowers. I ran up to Boy in the lobby to thank him. Right then another member of Culture Club walked up and looked at me with a mischievous look. Then Boy asked me if I wanted to join him and the band for a drink up in his room. They all giggled flirtatiously. I kindly declined and wandered back to my grandmother’s store as Boy and the band headed to the elevators.

“A nice man,” my grandmother said, “even though he dresses and smells like a girl.”

“Yeah,” I replied, my eyes trained on a white poodle that was being led through the lobby toward the elevators by a tiny bellhop in a silly outfit. The bellhop and the poodle followed a giggling Boy and the band into the elevator.

“But you can’t judge a book by its cover,” I added, just as the elevator’s doors closed with a ding.

–Andreas Economakis

This piece is part of a collection of stories on blindness entitled: The Blindness of Life.

Copyright © 2011, Andreas Economakis. All rights reserved.

For more stories by Andreas Economakis click on the author’s name below.