Forcibly removed from their home and all their possessions seized, each member of the Manos family must now find his or her own way to pick up the pieces of a shattered family existence and forge ahead. While Costa buries himself in work in Toronto, Zach, now disillusioned with his life in Canada, returns to the land of his family's origins. In the tiny and idiosyncratic rural village in Greece, Zach embarks on a journey of self-discovery that will lead him to unearth the truth about his roots, his family's homeland, and the horrible string of crimes perpetrated throughout the world of the Greek Diaspora.
With the help of an old family friend with a mysterious past, Zach and his family begin to unravel the tangled web of misdeeds to its source. Together, in a quest for justice, they orchestrate a shocking revenge upon those who had considered themselves too high to fall.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.19(d)|
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Gods of Greektown
By John Karrys
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 John Karrys
All right reserved.
Chapter OneLive at the Apollo
God, he wishes he was stoned.
"Costa! Yammoto chirstoso, you cocksucker!"
Especially when working for his dad.
Costa's attention is on mixing two records spinning on the turntables. In his mind, he is not only a master DJ: tonight he's a musical alchemist. But his father, Diomedes Manos, the sole proprietary owner of Apollo Restaurant and Banquet Hall, sees from across the hall a master at jerking off. He marches over to the DJ table and shouts, "Costa, what time?"
Slowly, dramatically, Costa takes off his oversized headphones. "What?" he asks smugly.
Greek fathers with businesses don't appreciate it when their sons attempt the Socratic answer-a-question-with-a-question routine. All Greeks with businesses draw their inspiration from the great and the not-so-great military dictators of history. In this man's mind, work is war, and time is currency. "Your brother. When the fuck is he coming?"
"In ten minutes. He just paged me." Costa grins at his father. "Ba, for a change, try to enjoy life a little. Just relax."
Costa turns around to grab his pack of cigarettes. Staring right into his father's eyes, he stylishly pops one into his mouth and quickly lights it with his Satin Chrome X3 jet turbo flame lighter. "You want one, don't you? Here, Ba, take one. I won't tell Ma."
Diomedes shakes his head and studies his youngest son closely. What he sees is a mild reformation of a style that was supposed to have died with rap and hip-hop in the late 1980s. Incredibly, the Gino has made it into the twenty-first century. But Costa is a Gino in denial, in spite of his blowout haircut slicked with gel, his VIP membership to tanning salons, and his olive skin gleaning with manly-scented body lotion. Right now he's wearing dark dress pants and a white designer ribbed tank top over his lean, muscular frame showcasing his well-developed biceps and an impressive handcrafted 24-karat yellow gold Greek key necklace. Then of course there's his smile: with it, he owns the world.
However, at this moment Diomedes is a little irritated by his son's cocky maga constitution. He's proud of him, but will never let him know it.
"What are you, stupid? Do you know what kind of a malaka you look like right now? Go put a shirt on and go help Tasso at the bar and stop smoking. Don't you know that this stuff can kill you?"
Yeah, this coming from a man who smokes two packs a day, Costa thinks. But he only dares to think it; being a smart ass does have its limitations. Diomedes doesn't tolerate lip from his employees, let alone from his boys. To a Greek father, sons in their early twenties are still boys.
Costa takes another drag and puts out his cigarette. A handful of guests have begun to file into the hall. He stops his kickass fusion of downbeats and puts on the village Greek music. He pulls out a crisp white dress shirt and starts buttoning it up, leaving the two top buttons undone. Reluctantly, he makes his way to the bar.
Costa Manos hates socializing with most of the guests who've been invited here tonight. Ever since he was little he has maintained an undefined cynicism toward most of these socialites that parade as the elite of the Greek community. There always seemed something disingenuous, two-faced, in the way they spoke to him.
Costa takes his position behind the bar. He already feels like another cigarette.
"Hi, Costaki! You know what kind of drinks we like?"
In every family and generation within Greeklish society there is always one aunt who tries so hard to look modern and sophisticated, but has an androgynous voice that resonates with the dark arts of witchcraft.
"Sure, Thea." Costa lines up two glasses, preparing himself for his aunt's interrogation.
"So, Costa, what are you doing with yourself these days?"
"Working. Saving my money. Trying to enjoy myself."
"That's nice. Do you know that Despina is in law school?"
Like most aunts, Thea Sophia asks questions as an excuse to brag about her children and her life.
"Wow, that's great, Thea."
"Why didn't you continue school like your brother Zach?"
"I didn't like school."
"Did you finish high school? I don't remember the story."
Thea Sophia thrives on the opportunity to manipulate a discussion in order to secure the upper hand.
"Yeah, I finished with high school a long time ago."
"But did you graduate? Anyways, it must be nice to have a business like this to fall back on."
"Here you go, Thea." Costa passes her the two glasses.
"Well, you are a handsome bartender. I heard that Zach has the most gorgeous girlfriend. Are you dating anyone?"
She knows the answer to this one too. "Nope." Costa smiles. "I'm still enjoying my freedom, and I don't think Zach is officially dating anyone right now."
"Well, there are a lot of good girls here tonight."
Costa gives his aunt a disarming but courteous smile and continues to serve the other guests.
"You know my girls married really rich and successful men. I saw Despina's house the other day and I have to tell you, I have never seen anything like it."
"Yeah, I know. I helped them move in." This is a tactical lie to stop the onslaught.
"What?" Thea Sophia pouts as Costa's clever counterattack has reversed her usual campaign to belittle his ego. Costa has poured the drinks for his aunt and she—predictably—still isn't finished with the interview. However, from his front pants pocket his cell phone is vibrating, meaning his brother Zach is outside.
"Holy shit, the big surprise is here," he mumbles. Costa springs out from the bar to look for his father.
"Which big surprise?" Thea Sophia picks up her drinks and walks away.
Outside the restaurant, Zach sits in his car scanning the packed parking lot. He shakes his head, still having difficulty containing his giddiness as his plan progresses toward perfection. Tonight is the 35th anniversary for the Apollo Restaurant and Banquet Hall and all the guests he wanted are here. To him, they are the elite, the top of the pyramid, and he wants to earn a seat. Since he just graduated with his MBA and has as many blue chip offers, he saw this night as the opportunity to make a statement to the Greek community and secure his social standing as a future community leader.
Zach gets out of the car, breathes in the early spring air and stares at the Hellenic craftsmanship on the exterior of his father's restaurant. It isn't the typical columns and busts you might expect, but a panoramic architectural expression that tells the story of his father's life through ancient Greek mythological archetypes. Every painting, drawing, and design is intentionally placed in a certain chronology that starts with Diomedes, Achilles, odysseus and Poseidon, and then finishes with Apollo, Dionysus, Zeus, and Prometheus. His father has refused to reveal to anyone, including his wife, what it all signifies. Zach has always wanted to find the time to deconstruct it and decipher its meaning.
Zach turns around and notices his mother and his grandparents approaching from one of the parked vehicles.
"Hi, Papou, Yiayia!" Zach greets his grandparents, exchanging hugs and kisses on both cheeks. "How was your flight?"
"First class? How much did that cost you?" his frugal grandpa snaps.
"Oh Yianni, I haven't enjoyed a flight like that in such a long time. Thank you Zachy-mou."
"You deserve the best. And don't worry, Papou, I have connections, remember." His Papou mutters something to himself then goes inside with his wife.
A huge black limousine abruptly pulls in. All the guests have arrived, especially this last key invitee: a special childhood friend from Germany whom his father talks about all the time and has not seen since he was eleven years old.
A man emerges from the belly of the giant vehicle studying the exterior of the building and the numerous cars. This is the first time Zach has seen him, and is taken aback by the immediate impact of his presence. His clothes, his jewellery, his shoes; he resembles a refined gentleman from a different era. A refreshing kind of class is about to be revealed at the Apollo tonight. "Hello. I'm Zach Manos." Zach extends his hand and prepares to shake a good first impression.
"You mean Zacharias?"
"Technically, yes. But I just prefer to be called Zach."
"I see. Themistocles." He smiles and shakes Zach's hand.
"Well, Themistocles, I'm so happy you could make it here tonight. When I spoke to your assistant, I was a little worried that you wouldn't be able to make this trip. My father has told us so much about you."
"I've heard a lot about you too, and they're right, you are a good boy."
"A good boy? Really? Ah, don't believe what they tell you."
"I don't." He pauses with a reassuring smile. "I know what I see."
A slight blush colours Zach's cheek as he speculates how rare a compliment from a man like this is.
"Hi, Themistocles. I'm Athena."
"Diomedes's wife? Yes, of course." Themistocles smiles warmly.
"I never believed in miracles until now. Diomedes is going to be so surprised."
"A banquet of surprises, indeed," he says ominously.
"Why would you say that?" Athena asks.
"Because that is precisely what I feel at this moment."
"Do you have any particular surprise in mind that we don't know about?" Athena laughs nervously.
"Alright, Ma, don't start with the questions. Remember the plan? Go in."
Athena shoots him a death glare.
"Sorry. Please, Mom, could you make your way inside?"
"I thought about your plan, Zach, and I've come up with a better one," she replies matter-of-factly.
Mrs. Athena Manos is the type of woman who makes her husband a better and more organized man. Without her, there would be no business. She's the strategist, the one who manages the business side of the operation, and the one who keeps a keen eye on the accountants and lawyers so that everything continues to function by the book. She has also been instrumental in raising her boys to be good men.
Diomedes and Athena's philosophy was for their boys to learn at an early age the value of hard work and to develop a conscience. Demonstrating a sense of honour, integrity, and empathy for others while working in the banquet hall is something they both modelled to their sons. Throughout the years, whether it was weddings, baptisms, or showers, Zach and Costa watched with amazement as their parents sympathetically and skilfully handled difficult customers and employees. So, when Mommy intervenes with a change in plans, Zach is smart enough to listen.
There are roughly seven hundred people in tonight's crowd. Impressive silk flower arrangements with parrot tulips and butterfly orchids have been tactfully placed throughout the hall, giving the evening a festive touch of spring. The musicians take their place on stage and await their cue.
Thea Sophia brings the drinks to her table and sits down. Seated at the table is her husband Frank, Father Pavlos—whose nickname is Father Hollywood—as well as Nick Ammonitis, the priest's closest confidant and the most feared legal weapon inside Toronto's Greek community.
The four of them sit together and engage in small talk, but all the while their eyes are on Diomedes as he happily mingles with guests. They all manage to straighten up and force a smile as he approaches.
"Yiasou, Niko. So nice to see you. Eh, where's your lovely wife?"
Nick makes a brave effort not to look nauseated at the rivers of sweat that pour from Diomedes as he leans over him. "Eh, yiasou, Diomedes. She's around here somewhere." Nick abruptly stands up and scans the hall, pretending to look for her. "Did you see my Stacy?"
Eventually, they both look toward the bar on the right and notice Stacy and Zach conversing closely together.
"Congratulations, Niko. Your daughter has grown into a beautiful young woman and it looks like Zach only has eyes for her."
"Yes, it certainly appears that way."
Father Pavlos and Frank nod, giving Diomedes the comforting smiles of friendship and trust that he has always counted on.
"I'm so happy all of you could be here to share this with us. I don't know how we could've stayed in business without your support. You know, Niko, Zach really looks up to you."
"Zach is very special. He has such a bright future."
Diomedes loves it when men like Ammonitis praise his son.
"So, Father Pavlos, when is that new church going up? I don't mind giving, but I don't understand why it takes so long. You know I love the work you do with the Sunday school, the picnics, and all of that. I hear Zach has helped raise a lot of money for you."
"Yes, Zach is an angel. And don't forget Costa, he does a lot for the youth."
"Ah, Costa. I wish he would've finished school like Zach."
"Don't lose your faith in him. You know you are blessed with this family, Diomedes."
"Yes, Father." He slaps his hand on Frank's shoulder. "And Frank!" Diomedes laughs, "How's the sex life?"
"You can be so ignorant sometimes," his sister Sophia says.
"I don't mean you, I mean his real wife!" Diomedes pulls out his right hand and counts the fingers. "Jack, Joe, Trifonas, Vagelis, and Mike!" He mimics masturbation.
"That's disgusting!" says Sophia.
"You know I'm joking, right, Frank?"
"Right." Frank Maritsos produces a smile.
"This party is a celebration for everyone, not just for us."
"Well, Diomedes, you know what they say . . ." Sophia interrupts.
Here it comes. Everyone, including her husband, rolls their eyes and prepares for the inevitable: Sophia Maritsos must always have the final say.
"What do they say, sister? Come on, get it out of your system."
"There is always a bill to pay at the end of a party." Sophia is the only one laughing.
Diomedes looks up, pauses, bites his lip, wrestles in his mind with that statement, and then says, "I don't get it. Frank, she's your wife, can you translate that shit for me?"
Frank gives his wife a murderous look. "I'm sorry, Diomedes. Like most of us Greek men, I have stopped trying to understand the thinking of a Greek woman, especially this one." Frank sighs and takes a sip of his vodka.
"Don't worry, Frank. I stopped listening to her a long time ago too." Diomedes smiles, slaps his brother-in-law on the back and rushes off to the other side of the room to help pour drinks and mingle.
"Zach, it's amazing what you've done here," croons Stacy Ammonitis, leaning with an exaggerated casualness against the bar.
"I can't take all the credit."
"I applaud your humility." She smiles and pretends to fix his tie.
Zach is not amused with anyone fixing his tie. He knows before he left the house that he looked good. He pulls back, "Stacy, I heard you got a job."
"Yeah, it helps to have connections. But let's talk about you."
"Me? There's nothing new to report. But wow, it just hit me that we've been friends for so long now." Zach crosses his arms.
"Is that how you see us, Zach, as just friends?"
Zach pauses for a moment in an attempt to anticipate which direction this rookie litigator might take this discussion. He's had a crush on her for most of his life, a fact not unbeknownst to the ever-coy Stacy. In fact, once her parents were made aware of the courtship, she allowed her mother and father to coach her with a playbook on how to dangle his young heart on a string.
"Well, Zach, you're more than just a friend to me."
Zach scans her elegant black dress, soft olive skin, long brown hair replete with tasteful highlights and his heart begins to beat faster. A part of him resists this temptation because their friendship has always had an underlying ritual of flirtatious teasing. It has been a while since he has succumbed to this ritual, and the humbling rejection that inevitably follows.
"What do you mean 'more than a friend'? Could you perhaps be a little more specific?" Zach tries not to look her directly in the eyes.
Stacy leans closer to his lips where he can feel her breath and can almost taste that cinnamon spice perfume that has always consumed his imagination. "I mean, I think you know what I mean."
"Why tonight then?" Zach steps back.
"Zach, tonight, what you've become is a dream come true for me." Stacy moves seductively toward him.
Zach pauses and recalls the numerous times she stood him up on dates, left him in the cold, and how crushed and disappointed he was. Sure, they were teenagers but the scars still remain. He knows her words have no depth but—God—she looks so damn hot!
Excerpted from Gods of Greektown by John Karrys Copyright © 2011 by John Karrys. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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