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Greek-American Stories: Gone But Not Forgotten

When Kipreos entered Dixon’s that Sunday, he looked cheerless, and the others were quick to notice. Dimos was first to inquire. “Is anything wrong, Kipreos? You’re not yourself, I notice. You can tell us, you know. We’re your friends.” Kipreos, looking sad, said, “It’s the head waiter at my work, Steve. He’s gone! Never coming back! He was my friend. I’m going to miss him.” Lowering his head, he aid, “who can I ask for advice when something at the hotel goes wrong? He was always there for me with good advice.” He set his coffee down and reached out for the sprinkled donut Yiannis was about to grab but relented when he observed Kipreos’ condition. John, sympathetically asked, “was he fired?” Kipreos shook his head. “No, he was really good at what he did, I thought. He used to help me with the cleaning up so that I could get out earlier. Then, lately, I noticed he wasn’t as happy as he once was. He told me he had problems, very serious problems. He called out sick twice,” he shrugged. “That’s when I knew something was really wrong with him. He started losing weight, getting nervous – and his face was pale and drawn. I told him to go see a doctor. He told me no doctor was going to help him, now. Guess, he was right.” Listening sympathetically, Yiannis asked if he had family. Kipreos looked up. “No! He never married. Maybe, that’s a good thing, I don’t know. What I do know is that he’s left us.” After a pause, he added, “I’ve known him ever since I started working at the hotel.”

Dimos asked if he was old. Kipreos shook his head again. “About fifty, I think. His age isn’t the important thing. He’ll be missed because he was a good head waiter besides a good friend to everyone. To tell you the truth, I didn’t know he was in any trouble. I wish he told me something. Maybe, I could have helped.”

George decided he’d try to console him. “Look, Kipreos! No one is irreplaceable excepting your parents and family members. You have to look at it realistically. He should have realized he needed help at the first sign. He wasn’t stupid, I don’t think. There’s always someone who could help you when something serious comes up. And, then, you have to help yourself.”  “George is right, Kipreos,” Dimos agreed. Hesitant to mention the deadly disease, he asked, “was it something that he thought couldn’t be cured easily, like… you know, cancer?”  Kipreos shrugged. “No, nothing like that, Dimos. But, about him finding a solution to his problems, I don’t know. He said he thought he found a professional who could help him. But, he didn’t help him like he promised. I remember him coming and telling me that he was very disappointed with the person he trusted. Called him a no good bum!”

A silence fell on all of them until John, gathering more courage, advised, “I guess you can expect he’ll be replaced soon, Kipreos. You’ll just have to get used to whoever takes his place. Maybe, he’ll be just as efficient as he was, poor fellow, maybe just as friendly. You never know!” Kipreos thought a while, reluctantly agreeing. Dimos said, “One should be aggressive when it comes to health – important to get help at the first signs! Your head waiter friend, Steve, should have known better than depend on someone who, maybe, didn’t have good references for solving his problem.” Sensing his loss, John, reached out and gave Kipreos’ shoulder a reassuring rub. “Remember, Kipreos! We have to believe that he’s in a better place.”

Kipreos lifted his head, slowly. “I don’t think so!” They all lifted their heads in surprise. Dimos, who never thought Kipreos doubted what religion taught, asked him, “you don’t think so? Where do you think he is?”  Kipreos set his coffee cup down and said, “it’s not where I think he is, it’s where I know he is.” Curious, Dimos asked, “and, where is that?” Kipreos told him, sadly, “in prison!”

 

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