Kipreos, The Star

Kipreos, anxiously, informed the group gathered around their usual table in Dixon’s that his Cypriot Societywas planning to present an opera about a Cypriot hero. “That’s grand, Kipreos!” Dimos told him. Theyall wanted to know more about it.

Kipreos informed them, “Auditions are soon.  Meanwhile they want me to be in it. I…I can’t sing or act or anything. I don’t know what I can do.” George, grinning, said, “Maybe, they’ll choose you as the hero.” Kipreos, slim in build and non-aggressive, said, “That’s what I’m afraid of! But, everyone has to show up tomorrow. A well-knownCypriot playwright is coming to help with the casting. I don’t think I’d like being on stage for anything; not hero nor enemy.”

Yiannis told him, calmly, “Maybe, you’ll just be a fill-in on stage. Or, you can pass out programs.” Kipreos, shaking his head, told them, “I was looking forward to seeing the soccer game between the Cypriots and Armenians who are going to play in Astoria Park on the day of the opening of that play. I have tickets. They cost plenty.”

Yiannis’ attention perked. Setting his coffee and donut down, he sputtered, “Plenty? Oh, now that’s unfortunate! No wonder you don’t want to be in the play. I don’t blame you! It’s been advertisedin the National Herald. All tickets are sold out.”

Georgesuspiciously observed Yiannis’ sudden interest whenexpensive tickets were mentioned, and said, “What good deed can you do for our good friend, here, Yiannis?” After some tall thinking, Yiannis proposed, “I’ll think of something.”  All attention was focused on him as he explained, “I can sell those tickets for you if you’re selected at the auditions. No losses to you!” Kipreos considered Yiannis proposal. But, badly wanting to see the game overcame relinquishing the tickets. John advised, “Wait until the auditions, Kipreos. Maybe, you won’t be picked for anything. Maybe, there will be so many who wish to be on stage you won’t be necessary.” Dimos agreed.

So, the following Sunday found a very sad, disappointed Kipreos sitting among them, stirring his coffee, distracted, until it grew cold. “What’s the news, Kipreos?” Downcast, he informed them that, since he was neither actor nor singer, he was chosen as the dead hero. “All I have to do is lie on a bier and pretend I’m dead.” George, offering solace, said, “Hey! Yiannis could do that, easily. He’s been practicing for a part like that for years.” Ignoring him, Yiannis offered, “Maybe, you can listen to the game with ear phones attached to a radio.” Shaking his head, Kipreos said, “Suppose I sneeze, cough or feel an itch.”

Yiannis offered a solution. “I could give you a pill to take that would relax you. You wouldn’t sneeze or cough or …anything. You’d be completely relaxed.” John said, “It might work.” To give him support, they all promised to attend the play. So it was thathis loyal friends all sat in the center, four rows back where they saw Kipreos, lying on stage, as the fallen hero of Cyprus,covered to his neck with a heavy blanket so that breathing wouldn’t be detected. Beforehand, Yiannis had given him the pill, had sold his ticket for a profit, intending to give Kipreos the price of the tickets, keeping the profit for his trouble.

The chorus surrounding the corpse raised their voices in a mournful,melancholy tribute to the fallen hero, touching them, deeply.Then, the magic of the moment dispelled, they froze asthey watched a man, who looked suspiciously like Yiannis dressed asguard, stroll up to the corpse. He bent close to Kipreos’ ear as if in prayer and whispered, “Cyprus -8, Armenians -3”, before walking away. As the soldiers came to carry the corpse off stage the audience broke into sudden laughter as the body of the fallen hero was heard to snore like a buzz saw. “A resurrection!” cried someone in the audience, bringing laughter.

“I’m a disgrace!” cried Kipreos that Sunday in Dixon’s, as the others tried to console him. “It was that pill!” Dimos, suppressing an urge to laugh, told him, “Aw, don’t take it so hard, Kipreos! Think of it this way; you didn’t make an impression as corpse but you made a huge impression as comedian.”  John added, “I’ll bet you’ll never be asked to audition ever again.” George said, “You got the most applause at curtain call.” Kipreos finally smiled.