Greek-American Stories: Drinks Were on the House 

July 29, 2018
Phyllis “Kiki” Sembos

Kipreos appeared highly agitated when he entered Dixon’s that Sunday. He, barely reached the table when he announced, “Something’s happened to Yiannis, I think.”  Dimos asked, “What do you mean?” Kipreos explained, “Well, he came to the hotel where I work and saw that there was a wine tasting exhibition in the lobby. It was crowded with people tasting and sampling stuff. He decided to go and sample a few. And after a while, he was nowhere.” 

“Doesn’t mean anything,” Dimos shrugged. ‘He probably went home.” Kipreos doubted. “I don’t think so! When I got home I got a phone call from Areti asking where Yiannis is. I told her I didn’t know.” John asked, “When did this happen?” Kipreos answered, “Yesterday, the hotel was having the wine festival for buyers and salesmen. I mean…” he looked very anxious “…he didn’t go home. I should have kept an eye on him. But, I was working. Areti is frantic!”  John patted his shoulder.

“Don’t blame yourself, Kipreos. Yiannis can take care of himself.” George sipped his coffee and listened, unperturbed but thinking that Yiannis enjoyed the festival since the drinks were on the house. But thinking of Areti, he suggested they call and ask her for any news.  “He may be home by now.” Dimos volunteered to phone her from the cafeteria’s wall phone.

They waited while he made the call. Dimos returned looking grim very grim. “What’s up?” asked John. Dimos told them, “Areti got a phone call from someone who told her, ‘we’ve got Yiannis’. They want fifty dollars from her for his safe release. She’s a nervous wreck.” “Ra-ran-ransom!” Kipreos stammered. Disbelieving that anyone wanted Yiannis, George told him, “Fifty bucks! For Yiannis? You should have offered ten! Tops!” Ignoring him, Dimos told them, “We’ve got to do something, and soon!”  

They all went to Yiannis’ apartment where Areti told them the latest. She explained that much of what the kidnappers demanded was the money, she understood in her limited English. She showed them a piece of paper where she, clumsily, had written an address where Yiannis was being held. She added that she heard Yiannis singing loudly in the background. “He’s trying to keep up his spirits. Maybe we should call the police,’ John suggested, seriously.

Frantic, Areti, quickly, informed them that they warned her not to include lawyers or anyone else in the issue. They told her none of that was necessary. All she had to do was come to the address with the money and they’d release him unharmed. Scratching his head, George said, “I would expect them to pay us to take him off their hands.”  

Giving the matter serious thought, Dimos volunteered to go to the address, alone. “Listen! There’s no telling how desperate these guys are.” George muttered, “Yeah! Desperate to get rid of him, I’d bet!” “Wait here! If I’m not back in an hour, call the cops! Give them the address.” He left while the others remained to soothe poor Areti’s shaken nerves. She made coffee for them and they all sat in the living room, sighing with Areti who wondering if she’d ever see Yiannis again. Believing Yiannis invincible, George made a mental bet that Yiannis would cause a riot if he knew how much money they expected him to dish out. 

The address led to an old, brick building with high steps and a red lantern over the door. Dimos pushed open the heavy doors where he approached a huge desk.  After a lengthy process, the hour passed and in another hour they were on their way home. When they arrived, they noticed Yiannis was quite normal and in good humor while Dimos was frazzled and disheveled. 

“Was it very tough?” asked Kipreos, full of concern. “Not very!” replied Dimos.  “Was the place they had him in, bad, like a dungeon?”  “Some of it, yeah!” Checking Yiannis’ nails and face for signs of torture, Kipreos said, sympathetically, “We’re glad you’re alright, Yiannis. We were just about to call the police.”

Dimos responded, “Not necessary.” George asked, “I want to know, why Yiannis?” Dimos told them, “Why not? That’s what happens when you’re drunk and disorderly.” “WHAT?” they cried out in unison. “Where th’ hell was he?” asked John. Dimos announced, “At the Police Station!” Dimos turned to Yiannis and said, “You owe me a fifty!” Hearing that, Yiannis, grabbing at his chest, turned pale and close to becoming very ill. 



Before plunging into a controversial and polarizing rant about the pandemic, I’d like to begin with a couple of disclaimers: first and foremost, I am profoundly saddened by all the suffering the virus’ victims and their loved ones have endured.

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