Note: In this story, some Greek words occur. For reference, ĎPipíí means ĎWee-weeí or Ďwillyí, while Ďpoútsií (plural, Ďpoútsesí) means Ďcockí, Ďdickí or Ďprickí. The Greek word for Ďpenisí is Ďpéosí, but it is more a biological than a sexual term. ĎPísinosí means Ďarseí, and ĎPoústisí is a gay man.
The name ĎZeusí for the King of the Gods, is pronounced ĎZéfsíin modern Greek, and will be spelled like that throughout.
My name is Kleomédis and Iím a fighter. Iím the greatest fighter of Astypálea, which is my island, and Iím the greatest fighter of the other islands, Páros, Náxos, Kálymnos, Kós, even Ródos. Maybe Iím the greatest fighter of Kríti, for I have fought on Kríti, and I have won. Perhaps Iím the greatest fighter of the World. May Zéfs help me if Iím wrong, but yes, I think Iím the greatest fighter of the World. I think Iíd better offer a sacrifice for saying that, but not now.
Now Iím in the school garden watching the young ones practise, practise to be fighters. Itís a kind of job for me, and I go every day to teach them about all sorts of fighting, boxing and wrestling, though mainly itís dirty wrestling. Iím watching the littlest ones under their wooden shelter, though they donít really interest me. Still, thereís my young nephew Áris, named from the god of war, and working hard to live up to his name. He has his opponent in a tight, upright grip so he can lift him and throw him down. Yes! Heís done it. His opponent is at his mercy. Heís put his foot squarely on the other boyís guts and heís pushing down with all his weight, which isnít much since he canít be more than eight. Still, his opponent - I donít know his name - is squealing for mercy, though he doesnít get any, and Árisí little naked pipí is sticking out stiff and proud. Heís going to be a winner, that one, maybe even as good as me some day.
Next, thereís the middle group. Theyíre more interesting in some ways, most with a bit of fuzz at the top of their poútses which mostly arenít pipís any longer, some with them out of proportion to the rest of their skinny bodies. Itís a pity none of themís much good. Theyíre all too skinny, too soft. Even when they win, their poútses are all too soft. I donít think Iíve seen any of them squirt, not this year. I donít say anything to any of them. What would be the point? Theyíre all pretty useless. Maybe theyíll improve when theyíve grown up a bit. I praised young Aris and a couple of the others before I left the little ones, though. Soon, maybe, heíll have fuzz at the top of his pipí and itíll grow bigger, into a poútsi. I reckon heíll have a long thin one, not like mine which is long and very thick.
And then thereís the biggest group. Theyíve all got the fuzz, some even under their arms and on their chests and bellies, and theyíre beginning to smell like men. On the whole, theyíre pretty exciting to watch, and they listen to what I tell them. Not all of them, of course. One or two are too fat, a fair number are pretty skinny, some never listen, but there are quite a lot with real potential. They have fine bodies, well-proportioned, muscular, and, generally speaking, they have fascinating poútses. Still, my favourite, the one I reckon will make it, has quite a small one. Actually, I rather like that. When I strip off to join in, his little organ usually stands to attention and, after a bit of grappling, so does mine, though, as I said, mine is hardly small.
His name is Iráklis, and heís wrestling with a fat kid I donít know, though the fat kid isnít doing too badly. I strip off my chiton and join in, grappling with them both, expecting the fat kid to give up and get out, to leave me with Iráklis, but he doesnít. Itís Iráklis who retires, maybe because heís been fighting too long today already, and Iím left with the fat kid. Itís surprising. He isnít bad and, when he gets the opportunity, grabs me by the balls. I, of course, return the compliment, and his poútsi stands, and it isnít small. I really want to play with it, toy with him and, even more surprising, he lets me. Iíve never touched him before, I suppose because Iím not overwhelmed by fat kids, but heís all right, nice, in fact, and I arrange myself to sit on his face, not so as to smother him because, although heís fat, heís nowhere near my weight. And then I find heís got my poútsi in his mouth and heís sucking at it. Iráklis is not impressed, and joins in again.
Heís found his second wind, and, this time, itís the fat kid who retires. Eventually, the others get fed up and go off to swim in the sea, which leaves just me and Iráklis, and we donít go on much longer. I can tell when he wants to stop, because itís either when his poútsi begins to flag, or the sun begins to set. Today, itís the poútsi. I ask him who the fat kid is.
ĎHis nameís Adónis,í he says. ĎHe came from Kárpathos a couple of months ago. I think his fatherís a fisherman. I think heís a shit. Heís fat, and he always wants to fight with me. I could do with something better.í Heís got hold of my poútsi, though his own little thing stays limp against his balls, and he smiles. ĎLike you.í
ĎNot now,í I say. ĎIíve got things to do.í
ĎWhat things?í He sounds petulant.
I put on my chiton and say, ĎThatís for me to know and you to find out,í and I wander off, maybe in the direction of home, my motherís house.
But I donít go home. I go to the beach where the boys have been swimming. Of course, theyíve left by then. Still, thereís a solitary figure sitting on a rock at the far end, wrapped in a chiton. Itís unusual for me to make an approach - usually, they come to me! - but I wander gently along the beach, wondering. As I had suspected, itís Adónis, and he isnít wearing a chiton. He just has a towel, really no more than a bed-sheet, wrapped round him. I say, ĎWhy havenít you gone home?í
There are tears in his voice. ĎHome? Whereís home. I havenít got a home. Well, not here. I wish Iíd never come. It was my motherís idea, for me to train as a fighter, so my father brought me here, to Astypália, because heíd heard about you.í
ĎWhere do you sleep?í I was a bit incredulous.
ĎMy father arranged for me to stay with a friend of his, Érmis. I expect you know him.í
ĎÉrmis with one arm?í
ĎYes. Thatís him.í
ĎSo whatís the problem?í
He sniffles a bit. ĎThe house stinks of fish. Our house on Kárpathos doesnít stink of fish. My mother wonít have them indoors. My father has to keep his catch outside in a pool of seawater. I canít stand the smell of fish so Iíve been sleeping out here. Thatís why Iíve got this blanket.í
ĎBlanket?í I laugh. ĎDoesnít look like much of a blanket to me.í
ĎItís all right. It isnít cold.í
I donít really think when I say, ĎYou can come back to my house if you like.í
Now, my mother knows Iím not one for the girls. I tried to have sex with a woman once, but it just didnít work. It was embarrassing. Luckily, it wasnít here. It was when I was in Kríti. If itíd been here, Iíd have a real problem, with all the ĎBlack Granniesí talking and probably laughing behind my back. Anyway, my mother knows I like men more than women, though Iíve never taken one home. Now Iím hoping heíll say ĎNo. Not tonight,í and, Zéfs be thanked, he does.
Itís the next morning now, though only just daylight. Iím thinking Iíll go and find him on the beach, so I do, but he isnít there. I suppose he must have found somewhere more comfortable to sleep. Funny, all of this. Why should I be so preoccupied with this fat kid? I donít even know if heíll play properly. Anyway, Iím going for a swim. Even though itís not much after dawn, itís pretty warm. Later, I go to the school, like I always do. When I get to the Ďbigí group, Adónis isnít there, and neitherís Iráklis. Very interesting.
A couple of days later, I come home from training. Iíve been working on my own, lifting weights - I use stones in bags made of hempen sacking so I can be sure two bags are of equal weight - and running. Sometimes, I work on speed and flexibility, sometimes I shadow-box. The trouble is, apart from the kids, there really isnít anyone to train with. Thereís old Aristofánis, but heís really past it. He was good fighter in his day, and he bears the marks to prove it. I, on the other hand, am hardly marked at all. Thatís how good I am. They never get the chance to scar me, though Iíve given away a few scars in my time.
My mother comes to meet me, which is pretty unusual, and sheís really in a flap, so I ask her whatís the matter.
ĎMr Sokrátis has been. He wants to see you urgently.í
ĎI donít know. He wouldnít say. Youíd better get over to his house straight away.í
ĎSlowly, slowly,í I say. ĎIíve only just finished training. I need a drink and a wash before I do anything else.í
ĎHe said it was very important. I hope it doesnít mean trouble.í
My mother has known ĎMrí Sokrátis all her life, and I donít think Iíve heard her call him ĎMrí before. I suppose itís because heís become important. These days, heís the Ďmayorí of the whole island, not just the village. There are quite a few villages on the island and each has its own head-man, the Ďmayorí. A few months ago, all the mayors met together and decided to have one Ďbig cheeseí for the whole island, and Sokrátis was chosen. So I suppose heís important now.
I have my wash and drink some goatís milk and plenty of water, and then I walk to his house, which is right in the middle of the village. Our house is on the edge. Sokrátis is sitting outside with a wine-jug and some cups, and he gets up to greet me. ĎAh, Kleomédis, my boy,í he says. ĎSit down. Let me offer you some wine.í
ĎNo, thanks. I donít drink wine. It slows you down.í
ĎGood, good. You need to be quick. Water?í
He goes inside for moment and a boy I donít know comes with a jug and to fetch water from the well. Heís wearing a purply-coloured tunic. I suppose heís about twelve, thirteen, maybe a bit older, and I wonder why he isnít at the school. Perhaps he is. Perhaps he just doesnít like fighting. There are some that donít. Heís very pretty. Anyway, I ask Sokrátis why he wants to see me so urgently.
ĎTheyíve sent to me from Athína. Thereís going to be a great games at Olímbia and they want all the islands to be represented one way or another.í
ĎWhatís that got to do with me?í Of course, I know whatís coming next. Iím not stupid!
ĎI should have thought that was obvious. Who better to represent us than you? Can you think of anyone else? I could do with sending someone else for the running. I know you can cope with the fighting, but even you canít do everything. Do you know anyone?í
ĎWhenís all this happening? There are a few of the oldest kids in the school with promise, but they need training up.í
ĎItís not till next Spring. Plenty of time. So are you happy to be in charge of our Ďteamí? Itíll be something of an honour, and there are plenty of prizes to be won.í
ĎReally? What prizes?í
ĎMoney, mostly, not that thereís much to spend it on down here. Youíll have to use it to buy yourself things in Athína. So will you do it?í
ĎYes. All right.í I want to sound reluctant, though Iím not really. Of course Iíll do it. I wouldnít miss the chance to fight at Olímbia, or to go to Athína, for that matter.
ĎCome and see me next week. Let me know if youíve found any more athletes.í
Iím on a beach, not the one I usually use, just a rocky cove that isnít far from Sokrátisí house. Itís still hot and Iím hungry, but I feel the need for a little swim on my own. Sokrátisí serving boy is there, though, swimming pretty far out, but I know itís him because his tunicís on a rock, and itís a very distinctive colour. Heís a damn good swimmer. I wallow about for a while and then I see heís coming back to the beach, to talk to me, I expect. As he wades from the water I can see that heís probably older than I thought, because thereís a proper bush round his poútsi. He slips his tunic over his head so I can see the fuzz under his arms, and runs off straight away. Heís a pretty nippy runner as well as a good swimmer. He didnít speak to me at all though, so Iím feeling a bit miffed. The feeling isnít helped by my stomach rumbling. I shall trot off home to get something to eat.
On the way I meet Iráklis coming in the other direction, and heís got Adónis with him. Of course, I stop to talk to them, ask them where theyíve been, not that itís any of my business. Iráklis says, ĎAt home. Having supper. Adónis has moved in with us. My mother doesnít mind, and my father doesnít get much say. You been busy?í
Iím wondering if I should tell them about The Games, but I say, ĎTraining. Listen, thereís a boy. He seems to work for Sokrátis. Do you know him? Iíve never seen him at school. Heís got a strange, purply-coloured tunic.í
Itís Adónis who answers. ĎI know him,í he says. ĎHe doesnít go to school because he canít talk. His nameís Dimosthénis. Heís only little, but quite a tough cookie. I wouldnít want to pick a fight with him.í
Iím thinking, ĎI would!í but I say, ĎWhy canít he talk?í
ĎI think it may be because he canít hear.í Iráklis is getting fidgetty. ĎWeíve got to go.í
ĎSwimming. Weíre going swimming, arenít we Adónis?í and they trot off.
Iíve turned to watch them go, and I notice their hands are touching. So Irákis has got himself a chubby boyfriend!
Theyíre at school the next day, but theyíre not fighting together. Iráklis is wrestling with a kid called Adámos whoís really quite good. Adónis has picked himself another fat kid whose name I canít remember, and theyíre boxing. The other kid isnít doing too well, and you can see marks where Adónis has slapped his body. That kid can pack a punch! Iím really surprised at how good he is, so I step in to give him a bit of advice about putting your feet so you canít lose your balance, well, not so easily. Then I join in with Iráklis and Adámos, but Adámos chickens out pretty soon, and I get to grips with Iráklis. Itís probably jealousy on my part, but I really want to hurt him.
Iíve got him in a fairly comfortable hold, well, comfortable for me if not for him, and Iím putting on the pressure. I havenít noticed heís still got a free arm, though, until he grabs my balls and squeezes hard. Iím furious. It hurts like hell. I lift him with all my strength, and throw him down on his face.
Oh, Zéfs! Heís not moving. I must have hurt him, really hurt him. Heís still breathing, but shallow breaths. Adónis has stopped boxing and come to see what the matter is. He doesnít say much, and he goes to get some water. When he comes back, Iráklis is stirring. I think he just caught his head and knocked himself out for a minute. Iím kneeling beside him, and Iím saying, ĎSorry about that, but when you squeezed my balls, it really hurt.í
He rolls over and sits up to sip some water. Then he smiles and says, ĎIt was meant to. I was only taking your advice. You know, if youíre going to win, someone has to lose, so that someone is bound to get hurt.í
A couple of days later, Sokrátis calls for me again. He seems to have developed a habit of coming when he knows damn well I wonít be there. Well, I suppose heís only done it twice, so far, but I bet heíll do it again. This time, I take a bit more time to get to his house, and my mother doesnít make such a fuss because, this time, she knows what itís about. I expect everyone does, though I havenít made a point of telling anyone, even Iráklis.
When I get there, Sokrátis isnít outside, I suppose because itís beginning to get dark. I donít mind the dark, in fact I rather like it, specially when thereís a moon. I often run at night. Itís much cooler. Anyway, I scratch at the door and the boy Dimosthénis comes to let me in. No point in talking to him, now I know he canít hear. Thinking about it, he canít have heard me scratch at the door. I suppose Sokrátis much have told him to open it. Anyway, Sokrátis motions me to sit down. ĎHave you found any more athletes?í he says.
ĎI told you,í I say. ĎThere are some at the school worth training up.í
ĎThen do it!í I donít much like his tone. ĎWho are they?í
ĎThereís Iráklis and a new kid called Adónis. Heíll have to lose weight. Thereís one I reckon as a runner and swimmer, but he isnít at the school.í I indicate Dimosthénis.
ĎHim? Heís stupid.í Sokrátis laughs rather nastily.
ĎHe may be stupid, but he can run like hell, and heís a very good swimmer.í I donít want to admit that heís probably better than me.
ĎPlease yourself. I donít know how youíll talk to him. Díyou want him to go on staying here?í
ĎI suppose heíll have to. He works for you, doesnít he?í
ĎThat doesnít matter. He doesnít do much.í
ĎHow does he come to be here? Heís not from Astypálea.í
Sokrátis grimaces. ĎMy wife. He was on a ship and she thought they were treating him like shit, so she took pity and made him her house-boy. We donít pay him anything. Just bed and food. I think he may be from Kríti. Thatís where the ship came from.í
ĎI donít think my mother would mind if he came to stay with us. Then I can get him into training. Iíll have to show him what to do I suppose.í The expressions Ďget him into trainingí and Ďshow him what to doí can probably be interpreted in two different ways!
ĎIíll have to check with my mother. If itís all right with her, Iíll collect him in the morning.í
ĎFine. You can go now.í I really donít much like his tone.
Of course, Iím talking to Iráklis and Adónis. Iím telling them what the deal is. I decide that they should enter for the wrestling and Iíll do the boxing. Iráklis says he wouldnít mind doing some running, and I donít try to put him off, even though itís Demosthénis Iíd put my money on, though I donít tell them that. I say Iíll see them every day at the school, and that they should wrestle together some of the time, but pick other opponents as well, preferably big, heavy ones. There are a few, though none of themís much good. Still, theyíll provide some meat to chew on, and thatís one way you get experience.
But mostly I concentrate on Dimosthénis. Iím not quite sure which way round to tackle the problem, I mean, I really want to have sex with him, but I donít know how heíll react, and I really need him for ĎThe Teamí, so I donít want to put him off. Our house has three rooms. Oneís my motherís, oneís mine, and the third is where we eat in the winter because itís got a fireplace. The kitchenís outside, of course. My mother says Dimosthénis can sleep in the winter room, but I say itís all right if he beds in with me, and she doesnít disagree. Heís looking apprehensive, even a bit frightened, and I take him by the hand and lead him into my room, though itís still morning. I show him where heís going to sleep, and I know he understands because he puts down his bundle, though he stands, maybe shivering a bit. I make movements like swimming, and he smiles and follows me out.
Iím breaking into a run and heís with me. Iím sure he can easily overtake me, but he doesnít, I suppose because he doesnít know where heís going! As it happens, neither do I. I donít want to go the beach where everyone goes, and I donít want to go to the cove near the village. Weíre running along a goat-track though I donít really know where it goes. The island has a narrow bit in the middle where you can see the sea on both sides, and weíre going there. The track does go down to a cove, though itís rocky and there isnít really a beach. Still, thatís where we go to swim, and we swim for quite a while until I get fed up and come out to sit on the rocks where weíve left our clothes and just watch him. Heís like a dolphin, even leaping out of the water. Eventually, he comes to join me, and we sit together just looking at the sea. He brings his face close to mine and breathes gently into my face. His breath is very sweet, or maybe I just want it to be. Anyway, I can feel my poútsi getting hard. I think maybe he wants to touch it, but he doesnít.
Weíre home now and itís almost sunset. My mother has made some food, and weíve sat outside to eat it. We havenít been talking at all. What would be the point? Demosthénis canít hear us. My mother is clearing the things away, itís almost dark, and she says sheís going to bed. Dimosthénis is looking into her face as she speaks. I think he may have understood her because heís standing beside me now, touching my head. Heís taking my hand which seems to mean he wants to go to bed, too. Maybe heís just tired, though maybe not.
My blanket is already spread out on the straw pallet on the floor. I like to sleep on top of it when itís warm, though I wrap myself in it in the winter. Dimothénisí blanket is the outside of his bundle and he spreads it out before he takes his purple tunic off to lie down. I pull my chiton over my head, and, almost before Iíve had time to settle myself, he seems to be asleep. I close my eyes, but I canít get him out of my head. Seems to be asleep. A little later, he rolls towards me and his body is almost touching mine. I canít resist feeling his poútsi and itís stirring in my hand. Heís opening his eyes and looking into my face. I can see in the moonlight from the open window. It isnít my imagination. His breath really does smell sweet. Heís smiling and kissing me.
So weíre going to Athína for The Games at Olímbia, me, Adónis my boyfriend, Dimosthénis the deaf kid, and Kleomédis. My nameís Iráklis, and Iím an athlete. Iím going to wrestle at The Games, and maybe run in some races. Adónis and Dimosthénis are athletes too. Adónis is a wrestler, and Dimosthénis is a runner. Kleomédis? Heís supposed to be our leader and trainer. Well, I suppose he is. Heís a fighter. He doesnít care how he fights, though itís usually dirty. Heís been trying to get up my písinos since I was a kid. He doesnít bother now because heís got Dimosthénis. He canít hear and he canít talk, so I suppose it doesnít matter to him what Kleomédis does. Anyway, heís a pretty smart runner. Kleomédis might go into the wrestling, though itís the boxing heís best at. He can knock shit out of anyone.
Iíve never been off the island before. All the others have. Adónis came from Kárpathos not so long ago, and no-one knows where Dimosthénis came from. Kleomédis has been all over the place, always fighting, fighting, fighting. Heís drawn a lot of blood, I can tell you. They say they chucked him out of Kríti because he almost killed someone, though I havenít heard he actually did kill anyone. Still, none of us has ever been to Athína, not even Kleomédis.
Of course, Iíve often been out in boats. If you live on an island that relies on fish to fill the bellies of its citizens, you have to go out in boats. Not that I like it much. When the seaís a bit choppy, the fish in my own belly is inclined to want to go back into the sea, if you see what I mean. This journey isnít going to be nice for me. I can tell that when I look at the water outside the harbour. Itís rough, decidedly rough, and we put into another island, I think itís Kálymnos. Kleomédis doesnít want to go ashore. Maybe he nearly killed someone there, too.
The journey seems to me to take a lifetime. The rough sea doesnít bother Adónis, and he wants to get into me even though all the men are around, but I canít take it, I really canít. Eventually, we put into a big harbour while itís still dark, and itís Ďeverybody outí, though it isnít Athína. One of the sailors tells us itís Évvia, a big island near The City, and we have to run across to where we can get a little boat to cross over. It isnít very far, he says, and you can see The City beyond. Still, itís another boat, and I donít enjoy the trip again. Then thereís another run, but I donít mind that because Iíve got my Ďland-legsí properly, and there she is. Athína, The City.
The City has a rather strange attitude to visitors, like, theyíre not allowed in. However, Kleomédis has a letter with him which he says is from the man who contacted Sokrátis in the first place. The gatekeeper eyes it a bit suspiciously, and then sends for someone else, possibly because he canít read. I can read. Thatís what I was sent to the school to learn, not fighting. That came later. I donít know if any of others can.
The gatekeeper and his assistants - I think theyíre soldiers - bow to the man who comes to the gate and seems to be quite important. He reads the letter to himself. I donít know what it says because I havenít read it. I didnít even know Kleomédis had got it. It must have said the right things, though, because he tells the gatekeeper to let us in, and in we go.
Iím a bit disappointed. The temples are all shining and beautiful, but the houses where most people seem to live are cramped and pretty poor. There are several market places, but Kleomédis leads us past them until he stops to ask a stallholder for some directions. He must be able to read. That surprises me. He leads us on till we come to a house. It isnít small because it has two storeys, so it seems a bit less poor than some of the others. Thereís an old woman sitting outside, though she gets up when Kleomédis approaches her and shows her the letter. She looks at it and says, ĎAh! Youíre the boys from Astypálea. Iíve been expecting you. Come in.í Iím even more surprised to meet a woman who can read.
ĎMy nameís Merópi,í she says. ĎIím from Kós. I went to Astypálea for a year or two when I was a girl. Thatís how I know Sokrátis. We were kids together. My father took me. Didnít like it much. Not very green. Kos is very green. Then he brought me to Athína, and Iíve been here ever since. That was years ago. You can have the room upstairs. Iím afraid there is only one, but itís big. Have a drink and then Iíll show you.í She pours us some water which we all drink pretty quickly and says, ĎYouíd better come upstairs before it gets dark.í
Mrs Merópi takes us back outside to the side of the house where the stone stairs are and we climb up to a landing with a doorway beyond which is a big room. Itís a very big room since it occupies the whole area of the house. I know thereís more than one room downstairs because I could see a doorway. She says, ĎIíve put fresh straw down. I hope youíll be comfortable. Good night.í And she goes back down the stairs.
Adónis and I spread out our blankets close to each other and Iráklis unrolls his a little way away. Dimosthénis hesitates and then arranges his mid-way between us and Iráklis. By then itís almost totally black. I donít think the moon is completely dark, but close on. Anyway, within minutes, you canít really see anything, and weíre trying to sleep. I canít, and I reach to touch Adónis. My poútsi is up a bit, and my hand moves across his body. Iím not really surprised to find another body beyond, and then another hard poútsi. Soon, weíre a tangled mass of bodies, but I suppose we must all be pretty tired, because, before I know it, I, at least, am asleep.
Itís daylight, and weíre still a mass of tangled bodies. Mrs Merópi is standing in the doorway. ĎThereís fruit, bread and milk downstairs when youíre ready. Youíd better get some practice in today, because tomorrow, theyíre coming to take you to Olímbia.í
I know Iím deaf and dumb, but that doesnít mean Iím stupid. I can read and write. I learned in Smírni, where I was born. I loved Smírni when I was little. My mother was kind to me, though I donít think my father cared. He treated me like a freak. When I was about eight, I suppose, he sold me to a Persian to do what he liked with, which he did. Still, it left me with a liking for a big, hard poútsi up my písinos. A couple of years later, he grew tired of me, and sold me on to a shipís captain.
He was a good man, and he didnít mess about with me, though most of the other sailors did, thank Zéfs. A lot later, when my pipí had become a poútsi, we came ashore at Astypálea during a storm, and Andrómahi, Sokrátisí wife, saw me, felt sorry for me, and took me in. So here I am. Kleomédis brought me, he said because I can run and swim well, which I can, but mostly, I think, because, although Iím quite old and Iíd certainly have a manís voice if I could talk, with my tunic on, I donít look it. Iím small, you see, but not in the poútsi department! Anyway, Kleomédis doesnít care if the písinos heís into is eight or eighteen, though not much older!
Oh, and about that purple tunic. The Persian my father sold me to gave it to me. He didnít give me much else, apart from the frequent feel of his poútsi, but he did give me that, probably because the clothes my father sold me in were pretty scruffy. He said it was dyed with something only the Finíki know about. Theyíre strange people who live around Smírni. They get about a lot in ships, but they tend to keep themselves to themselves. I think the shipís captain was one, though he didnít wear a purple tunic. I think his clothes were all made of leather. I know he always wore a strange thing round his groin so you couldnít see what his poútsi was like. Pity, really.
Mrs Merópi has come to get us up and has found us in a naked tangle, though she doesnít seem at all put out. We put on our tunics anyway and go downstairs where thereís fruit and bread and milk. Iím pretty hungry, so I eat well. You do after a night with Kleomédis, Iráklis and Adónis! Anyway, the rest of the day we spend training. We all run together to begin with, but then I go on running while the others get into fighting, wrestling at first, but then a bit of boxing. Kleomédis goes easy with Adónis, I suppose because he doesnít want to damage him, but then Mrs Merópi comes out and talks to him. He nods his head, she goes away, Iráklis and Adónis go back to wrestling, and Kleomédis begins to do press-ups and sit-ups. Not much later, Mrs Merópi comes back with a big man, even bigger than Kleomédis, and they box. This time, Kleomédis doesnít go at all easy and, after not very long, the man waves his hands to say heís had enough, and leaves.
Iím still running. I can keep going all day if I have to. Well, really, I enjoy it. Of course I do. The others are doing fitness exercises and donít take any notice of Mrs M. when she comes out to stand by my track and watch me. As I get close to where sheís standing, she signals me to stop. She touches my face and speaks so I can read her lips. Iím actually pretty good at that, and itís very easy with her because she speaks so clearly. She asks me how long Iíve been on Astypálea, and I pull a face and shrug my shoulders. ĎA year?í she says, and I nod my head. ĎDo you like it there?í Another shrug. ĎHow old are you?í Again, all I can do is shrug, because I really donít know. If I try to work it out, I suppose Iím about 16 or 17. Sheís looking at my poútsi. ĎYouíre a big boy, anyway! Who do you stay with? Sokrátis?í I shake my head and her eyes widen. ĎNot Kleomédis?í I nod again. ĎOh, dear. I suppose he messes about with you. I know heís a poústis. Do you mind that?í I smile and shake my head vigorously. ĎOh, well, thatís all right then. Iíll let you get on.í She walks back to the house and it occurs to me that my father might have known I was going to be a poústis when he sold me to the Persian.
Itís only just daylight when the man who got us into Athína comes to send us on our way to Olímbia. Thereís a boy with him whoís going to be our guide. Heís not as old as any of us, still a kid in fact, but heís pretty nippy on his feet, so off we trot at a smart pace. Iíve lost quite a bit of fat since Iíve been training with Kleomédis and the others, and Iíve certainly hardened up, not that I was ever soft. When I first went to Astypálea, I hated it, but, what with training for The Games and getting a good place to bed down and all, I suppose I quite like it now.
Iráklis and I have a lot of sex. Heís a real poústis, but I must say, Iím not too keen on having his poútsi up me. Still, I donít mind the other stuff, and I do enjoy sticking mine into him. Iíve often thought Iíd like to do it to a girl, though, but the girls in Astypálea are a bit untouchable. There was one at home on Kárpathos who let me mess around with her, so I do know what itís about, but she wouldnít let me stick my poútsi up her. Maybe thereíll be some at Olímbia. I know there are some who let you do it for money, so Iíd better win a prize!
Weíre there. It isnít very far, and the sun is only just fully up when we arrive. The boy takes us to see the stadium. Itís pretty impressive, looking down on the arena from the top of the terraces, but we donít stay long. The boy is leading us away, maybe ten minutes trot, to some houses built in a circle near a stream. I suppose youíd call it a river. I donít know. There arenít any rivers in Astypálea, or Kárpathos, for that matter. They arenít really houses so much as huts made of wood, not very substantial, and windowless. He stops at one, and tells us thatís where weíre going to sleep during The Games.
We go into the hut to dump our stuff before we get some training in. Although itís still early, Iráklis is feeling randy, and he strips off his tunic. His poútsi is hard already and he wants to stick it up me. Itís a bit longer than mine when itís up, but itís quite thin. I suppose Iíd better let him or heíll be ratty all day, so we get down to it, even though the others are watching. It isnít long before I feel him squirt inside me, and Iím ready to think, well, thatís it, but it isnít. I can feel my own cream beginning to come, so I tell him, and I get my poútsi into him just in time. Must be the air in Olímbia! That never happened before.
Thereís a bit of training ground near the houses, but the main area is by the stadium, and thatís where we go. Kleomédis wants to see what the opposition is like. I donít know why heís in such a hurry, because The Games donít begin for another four days, but we go anyway. There are men and boys everywhere and Kleomédis and Iráklis are drooling! I wasnít sure about Dimosthénis, but I am now. Even before heís stripped off his tunic, I can see his poútsi is up and hard, and it isnít small. Kleomédis has a big one, but I reckon Dimosthénisí is even bigger. Itís funny, because the rest of himís so little. Maybe thatís why it looks so big. My bodyís big and chunky, so my poútsi doesnít seem so big in comparison. Still, Iím glad itís Iraklisí long thin one I have to cope with. When we have sex all together, I never let anyone else get into me. Itís all hands and mouths. Still, weíre not supposed to be thinking about sex. Weíre supposed to be training, and I want to train because I want to win so I can afford to try it with a girl.
Dimosthénis doesnít seem to mind who sees him naked with his poútsi up, and heís jogging on the spot, maybe looking for someone to race. Or perhaps not, because heís set off at a steady pace out of the flat training field and into the woods behind, not at all in the direction of the Ďvillageí. Kleomédis has stripped off, too, and heís doing flexibility exercises, though heís making sure as many people as possible can see his poútsi. It isnít hard, but itís still pretty impressive. Why am I being so occupied with other menís equipment? Iím suppose to be more interested in girls.
Anyway, Iráklis has come behind me and pulled me down. Weíre wrestling hard, but not too seriously, and a little crowd has gathered to watch. Iíve freed myself and I jump up to stand and face him like us wrestlers do in the starting position. I can see that Kleomédis is shadow-boxing quite near, and heís got his own group of admirers. I think someone has offered to spar with him, but I canít be sure because Iráklis has lunged at me and spun me round. Iíve got underneath him and lifted him, and I can feel his poútsi is up. The temptation to grab him by it and squeeze till he cries mercy is great, but I donít. Error! Before I know it, heís got hold of mine, and our little crowd is egging him on. Eventually, I get away from him, go back on him, and get him down. I can feel his heart going nineteen to the dozen, so I breathe, ĎLetís rest.í We do, and the audience disperses.
Well, all except for one man. Heís quite old, and his chiton is edged with gold, so he must be important. He asks us where we come from, and Iráklis tells him. He asks us if we know Mr Sokrátis, and introduces himself as the President of the Games. ĎWhich of you is Kleomédis?í he says.
This time, I chirp up. ĎNeither of us. Heís over there, boxing.í His current sparring partner has retired.
ĎI didnít think it would be either of you. I need to talk to him.í Mr President - he didnít say his name - leaves us and goes over to where Kleomédis is about to polish off another would-be opponent, and we get back to training. And then Dimosthénis arrives. Heís collected a whole troop of kids. Theyíre following him like ants that have suddenly found out that the one at the front knows where the honey is! I donít know if he really wants them hanging on though thereís not much point in shouting at him. Anyway, heís still keeping the same even pace, so maybe he doesnít mind.
It isnít until that evening that Kleomédis tells us what Mr President had to say. Weíve collected bread, cheese and fruit on our way back to the Ďvillageí, and weíve gone for a splash around in the river with quite a lot of other hopefuls. Itís really odd. Thereís no salt in the water. You can drink it. Iím not used to swimming in drinking-water. The fish are funny, too, slim and shiny, not a bit like the fish we live on out of the sea around Astypálea or Kárpathos. Then itís dusk, and weíre sitting outside our hut eating when Kleomédis tells us whatís happening. Dimosthénis is looking hard at his face, and it occurs to me that he might be able to understand whatís being said from the shapes mouths make. Heís explaining that we canít compete against each other until thereís no-one else left, and that thereís a small prize for the winners in the first round, another in the second, and so on till the final. The winner of that gets a big prize. Iráklis and I are to be in the light-weight section of the wrestling, though heís in the heavy-weight section of the boxing. Dimosthénis can run in any race he likes, since thereís only one of him.
So I can run in any race I like. That run up into the woods was interesting. I only went to relieve myself in private! I dug a hole in the soft earth so I could cover up the evidence, collected plenty of leaves, and squatted over the hole. I had to strain a bit. I must eat more fruit! Then I saw that I was being watched. There were a couple boys, only kids, and they came right up close to me. It was a bit unnerving, but I couldnít tell them to go away, so I got a handful of leaves and wiped myself before I scooped the earth back into the hole, and ran off, back towards the training-ground. They followed, and, by the time I got there, there must have been a dozen of them. Very odd.
Iíve just won my first race. It was only short, so it was very easy. A man has given me a little silver box with a coin inside. I suppose itíll come in handy. The next race isnít till the following day, so Iím trotting back to the Ďvillageí. I just happen to look round, and I see that my Ďentourageí are still with me. I wish I could work out what it is they want. The others arenít there when I get to the hut, so I go inside to put my silver box away and strip off my purple tunic before I go for a dip in the river. The kids are there already, but theyíre not swimming, just waiting, I presume, for me. They donít follow me into the water either. They just watch. Maybe itís supposed to be threatening. Maybe some opponent along the line has heard about me and has paid them to get me unnerved. No chance!
The others have come back, and theyíve all won their contests, in fact Kleomédis has already polished off four opponents, and it looks as if the boxing will all be over tomorrow. There are a lot more wrestlers, of course, so Iráklis and Adónis will have to wrestle for a few days more. I donít know how long itíll be before Iím in some kind of final. Anyway, thank Zéfs, those kids seem to have disappeared.
That night, Kleomédis seems to be moody and, when we have sex, heís a bit rough with me, in fact itís more like wrestling than love-making and my písinos is pretty sore by the time heís finished with me. I hope it doesnít effect my performance in the next race. I shall be pretty angry if I lose because of Kleomédisí sex urge. I notice the others arenít doing anything. Maybe theyíve got more sense.
Iíve won my next race, and now itís the big one the day after tomorrow. This time, I got a bigger silver box and more coins. The boxingís going to finish today, and Iím watching. The others canít because there are still wrestling bouts. Theyíve done all right up to now, so I hope they win through. Theyíve both got silver boxes and so has Kleomédis. Mind you, heís still in a foul mood. I donít know whatís the matter with him. Heís just flattened his first opponent, but the next eone is enormous. I donít reckon heíll be so easy.
Kleomédis is sizing him up and the referee has given the signal. Kleomédis is laying into his opponent, but the man isnít budging. Heís just taking everything. I reckon heís waiting till Kleomédis tires himself out, and then heíll bash him good and proper. Kleomédis doesnít seem to be tired, though, but heís certainly getting very angry. Very, very angry. Oh, Zéfs! Heís kneed the big fellow in the groin and heís slapping away at his face. Heís done it again, and the man is down, but that hasnít stopped Kleomédis. Heís grinding at the manís guts with his foot, and now heís jumping on him. The man is totally unconscious. Thereís blood coming from his mouth and his písinos. Oh, Zéfs! I think heís dead.
Thereís uproar. People are everywhere, running about, on to the arena, some even running away. I canít even see Kleomédis, there are so many people. I can see that theyíre shouting but, of course, I canít hear them. The crowd is parting to allow a troop of men on to the arena. Theyíre all big men, probably soldiers. Yes. Now I can see Kleomédis. The men are surrounding him, and some of them are pointing spears. Theyíre bundling him away.
One of those kids has come to me and is touching my face. Iím trying to push him away, but he wonít go. Heís touching his ear and his lips and shaking his head. Now I understand. Those kids are all like me. They canít hear either.
Iráklis and I have had another really good day, though only one of us can be the champion. In two more days, we shall meet in the final. Weíve come back to the Ďvillageí, tired but, obviously, happy. I wouldnít put money on whoís going to win. We know each other so well, and we both know, well, you win some, you lose some. Dimosthénis is sitting outside the hut, leaning against the wall. He looks very glum, but I canít ask him what the matter is. Maybe itís the circle of kids surrounding the wooden building.
Heís stood up and put his face close to Iráklisí and heís mouthing words. I ask, ĎWhatís he saying?í
ĎSomething about Kleomédis. I donít like it.í Iráklis is running off, shouting over his shoulder. ĎIíve got to find out whatís happened.í
Heís back pretty quickly and he looks terrified. ĎWell?í I say.
ĎNot well. Not well at all. They say Kleomédis killed someone, his last opponent. Theyíve chucked him out. Theyíve marched him away to put him on a boat and send him home.í
ĎWhat do we do?í
ĎI donít know. You tell me.í
Dimosthénis is up again and heís mouthing words. Heís pointing to himself and then to the ground. Thatís pretty clear. Heís staying to win his championship, whatever. ĎWhat díyou think?í I say.
Iráklis shrugs his shoulders. ĎAll right. I suppose so. At least our champion will be one of us.í
All three of us are pretty lack-lustre, though Dimosthénis goes on with his training and the kids run with him, one in particular by his side. We donít train. What would be the point? We might as well toss a coin, especially as we now have quite a lot. Iíd been intending to spend some of mine on a woman-whore, and there plenty about, but I donít have the heart. I donít know what Dimosthénis intended to do with his. Incidentally, he did win, and it was a lot more money. I wanted Iráklis to beat me, and he did. So we went back to Mrs Merópiís very subdued, and Dimosthénisí boy came with us. She greeted us looking sad because, although I donít know how, she knew exactly what had happened.
That night, we had mutual sex, more for comfort than anything, though the boy stayed out of it, and I let Dimosthénis as well as Iráklis into my písinos. It would have seemed churlish not to. As I said, he has a big poútsi, and it hurt, but I took it. He seemed to be in me for ages, and I suppose I might used to it. Still, it was nice to be in him afterwards. Heís so little, but he knows how to make it feel good, though I didnít squirt too quickly.
So, the next morning, the three of us and Dimosthénisí boy set out for Évvia to find a boat back to our island, wondering how things might have changed since we left, whether Kleomédis would be supervising the young fighters, whether Mr Sokrátis and the others would congratulate us. The sea was smoother than it had been when we came, so at least Iráklis was more comfortable most of the way..
I had wondered if we might get home before Kleomédis, but our journey was very slow and we had to stop at several islands, sometimes to change to another boat. The direct route we had taken from Astypália coming didnít seem to exist the other way. Still, the broken journey suited me. The less time Iím on the sea, the better!
There werenít many boats in the harbour when we eventually got home, which is unusual. I say Ďhomeí, and it certainly is home to me, though I donít know if the others will stay. Now heís got money, Adónis might well go back to Kárpathos or even to Ródos or Kríti. I really donít know about Dimosthénis. The kid heís picked up is deaf, too. Of course, Dimosthénis has quite a bit of money. His prize was a lot bigger than mine. Maybe heíll build himself a house on Astypálea. Iíve asked him - Iíve got to be pretty good at the lip-reading business, what with him and the kid to contend with - but he simply shook his head and said he hadnít made up his mind.
The harbour-front is empty. Thereís no-one there to help with our boat, and weíre having to jump out and help to tie it up. I canít understand where everyone is. I suppose Adónis and I will go back to my motherís house, at least for a while. I donít know about the others. Dimosthénis is beckoning us to follow him, and heís leading up to Sokrátisí house.
Mr Sokrátis is sitting outside as we approach, and heís got up to come and meet us. ĎIt must have been terrible,í he says. ĎAre you all right? Were you there? At the boxing?í
Iím shaking my head. ĎDimosthénis and his friend were. We didnít find out till later. Is Kleomédis here?í
ĎYes, but I donít know exactly where. Heís not at his motherís. I think he may have gone right into the middle, where no-one lives. Iíll tell you one thing, though. I saw him when he got here. They sent soldiers with him. They just chucked him out of the boat and sailed on, and I could see why. Heís mad. Heís gone completely mad. No-one here could get near him.í
Adónis says, ĎIs that why there was no-one at the harbour when we arrived?í
Sokrátis says, ĎProbably. Afraid he might come back.í Dimosthénis is looking into his face, mouthing words. ĎYes. I donít think itíd be a good idea for you to go to Kleomédisí motherís house. You can stay here if you like, you and your . . . Ďfriend.íí Heís turning to us and saying, ĎMy wife would never forgive me if I didnít offer. Sheís got a soft spot for Dimosthénis, and his . . . Ďfriendí wonít take up much room.í
Then I ask him, ĎHow did you know his nameís Dimosthénis?í
ĎThe sailors on the boat he was working on told my wife. Whatís his Ďfriendí called?í
I say, ĎI donít know,í and I turn to Dimosthénis and mouth, ĎWhatís you boy called? Whatís his name?í I think heís mouthing back, ĎPérsefsí or something like it, and I tell Sokrátis.
The next morning, Adónis and I go down to the school to watch the boys wrestling. There arenít too many of them, and theyíre all together, big ones and little ones, under the wooden shelter. We watch for a bit, until I see that one of the little ones is looking scared. Suddenly, thereís a great commotion, roaring, shouting, swearing, we look round and pull Pésefs and Adónis out of the way, because itís Kleomédis, and heís mad. Whichever meaning you put on the word, heís mad, though he isnít aiming at us. Itís the kids heís after and heís bashing down the wooden shelter so some of them are trapped. Heís caught two that tried to get away, and heís crushing them, simply crushing them. Heís jumping and stamping on some others. Some little ones are running, screaming, from the main school, and heís attacking them, whirling and flailing. Now heís picked up a huge boulder and heís bashing away it the wall of the school. Itís made of mud-brick, and itís starting to collapse. There must still be some kids in there, but he doesnít seem to care, and he doesnít stop until the building has collapsed completely. Now heís stopped and heís looking at us. Heís still holding the boulder, and, frankly, Iím so scared, Iíve wet myself, but heís thrown the boulder down, spat at us, and run off.
Of course, weíre trying to get kids out of the mess, and one or two still seem to be alive. Not many, though. I suppose we shall spend the rest of our lives wishing weíd tried somehow to stop him. Although, I reckon, if we had, there probably wouldnít have been any Ďrest of our livesí to wish in. Anyway, no-one has ever seen Kleomédis again, well, not on Astypálea. His mother went away, I donít know where, and maybe heís with her. A storyís grown up that heís still on the island, and mothers are inclined to use him as a Ďbogey-maní to naughty children. We helped to rebuild the school, and now we help the kids with athletics. Kids like to rough-and-tumble wrestle, but we donít encourage them. Adónis and I still live at my parentsí house, though my fatherís hardly ever there. Dimosthénis has built a house for himself and Pérsefs and, I suppose, life goes on. Adónis says he thinks about Kárpathos sometimes, and maybe weíll go there. Weíll see.
Further notes. It seems likely that Kleomédis was a real person. Itís certainly documented that a man from Astypálea was disqualified from the Olympic Games around 400 B.C. because he killed an opponent, and the local legend has it that he came home, knocked down the school, and killed all the children. I havenít taken Kleomédisí crime quite that far! All the other characters in the story are purely fictional. I hope you werenít too confused.
Astypálea is the most remote of the Dodecanese Islands on the straight-ish line betweek Kós and Santorini. Itís still pretty hard to get at, though Ďshuttleí flights from Athens go there via Náxos, and there are quite a few ferries, mostly via Kálymnos. Anyone wanting to know more will find it on Google or is welcome to email me - firstname.lastname@example.org - and Iíll post on a brochure.