Greek-American Stories: Friendly Fools

(AP Photo/Petros Karadjias, File)

Sunday morning Yiannis woke up, stretched, saw the blue sky and felt fine, until he saw the calendar. March 31st. Hmmm! Tomorrow is April fool’s Day. “I’ll bet the guys are planning something. But, what?” he worried, seeing that Areti had gone to church early. His thoughts were preoccupied as he thought about it. But, wondering and worrying became exhausting. So, he went back to bed.

Areti came home, woke him up with hot coffee and his koulouraki. “Dimos and his wife were in church this morning. They said they had some news for you. They’ll tell you at Dixon’s, they said.” A sleepy Yiannis blinked, drank his coffee and began doing some tall thinking. “They’re up to something. I know it! But what?” Near afternoon, he telephoned George’s wife and asked, calmly, if she knew anything about, anything. She said she had heard nothing. Maybe, he was being too suspicious. It wasn’t April fool’s day, anyway. But, he would be on his guard as stealthily as a fox.

There was 100% attendance at the table where Kipreos, John, Dimos and George sat, a plate of donuts in the center. He surveyed the donuts. Were they ok? He was greeted with the usual enthusiasm as he sat among them. Looking across at Dimos he asked, “Areti said you had some news. What’s up?” Dimos, reaching for a donut, said, “Oh, yeah! My accountant that did your taxes asked to see you as soon as possible. Today’s ok.”

“Today? Sunday?” Yiannis’ suspicions rose. Dimos nodded. “It’s important, he said. But, his office is being renovated. So, he’ll be in his brother’s deli that has an office in the back.”

“Office in a deli?” Yiannis’ eyes narrowed. John urged, “You’d better see him, Yiannis. It may be important.” Feigning avid concern, he nodded and nonchalantly reached for a donut. “I’ll take care of it right away.” Dimos handed him his business card with the deli’s address. But, Yiannis grinning, wasn’t buying any of it. “Huh! Deli! Sure!” After leaving Dixon’s he went to the super market, bought 3 lbs of baloney, wrapped it and had it delivered to the deli with a note that read, “This is what you’re full of! Yiannis Pappas.”

Later that day, Yiannis got a call from Dimos who told him that the deli owner wasn’t amused. “What made you do it, Yiannis? The accountant doesn’t want to handle your taxes ever again.” Shaking his head, Yiannis said, “Come on, Dimos. You know and I know, it was an early April Fool’s Day joke.” Dimos responded, “In the first place it’s not April Fool’s Day until tomorrow. But, if that’s what you think, then, that’s it! Don’t blame me when the IRS comes after you. I did my part.” Monday, George called Dimos, “My wife got a call from Areti. She was frantic! She said two big guys with badges came this morning and took Yiannis downtown, and he hasn’t been back since. She asked if we knew anything about it.”

George explained about Yiannis’ package. “The deli owner must have thought the package was meant for him.” Dimos continued, “Do you think he went after Yiannis? Some deli owners may have ties to mobs, I’d heard.” Growing apprehensive, George suggested they meet at Dixon’s to discuss the problem. Kipreos was working. John soon joined them, offering, “I thought Yiannis would just walk in, be told by the deli owner his brother’s not in today and just leave. I didn’t think he’d…”

“First, let’s find out where Yiannis is. Then, we’ll do something,” said Dimos. They left Dixon’s and took a taxi downtown where the IRS office was situated. Inside, they made inquiries, giving the officer at the desk details. Raising a dark brow the officer told them it sounded like a misdemeanor case but they didn’t have anyone by that name, then, turned to go. Detaining him, Dimos explained the situation more firmly. The officer, growing annoyed, told them, pointedly, “I told you there’s no one here by that name.” “Are you sure? Did you look at the list, officer?” Repeating his response he asked them to leave, or be escorted out.

“Let’s go to back to Dixon’s, relax, have coffee and try and figure it out,” John offered. They hailed a cab and arrived in front of the cafeteria. Inside, at their familiar table, sat Yiannis who looked up, grinning widely. “Hey! Did you guys forget what day it is? I didn’t!”