Greek-American Stories: Dues Due

Αssociated Press

(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

George informed those seated at the table in Dixon’s that Sunday that Areti telephoned his wife saying she needed Yiannis home, immediately. “But, he’s, probably, on his way here,” Dimos said. “Is it something urgent,” George shrugged. “Something like that.”

“How do we get him to go home,” questioned John. Kipreos offered, “tell him he has to buy the donuts today.” After some thought, John said, “then there’ll be no donuts.” “Let’s tell him Areti needs him badly, that’s all,” Dimos insisted, shrugging. George shook his head. “It might panic him and cause an accident. No, we’ve got to tell him something that will make him leave here and head for home.”

“What if he leaves here and goes somewhere else? How do we make him head straight for his home?” Dimos said, stirring his coffee. George gave that a long thought for a few seconds and then said, “nah! Lunch time, remember. He always goes home from here; I know for a fact. Areti has his lunch ready. Wouldn’t skip that for anything.” And, it wasn’t more than a few minutes when Yiannis strode in, got his coffee and sat in the seat that was empty.

After the regular greetings, Yiannis, stirring his coffee, looked around and noticed that no one was discussing anything. He asked, “what’s new?”

“Nothing”, muttered John, without looking up. “Flowers aren’t selling so fast. But, that’s how it is every summer. A birthday or anniversary, maybe. That’s it!” Another brief lull made Yiannis turn to Dimos, who shrugged. “Same old stuff, Yiannis. Got a new chef. Name’s Kosta. Other than that...” Yiannis looked across at Kipreos who merely shrugged, reached out for the sprinkled donut before Yiannis could snatch it and remained silent.

Yiannis had no choice but pick up the plain donut, then, noticed George, whose mind churned for an idea to get Yiannis to leave. “What about you, George?” George, needing more time, continued silent. Yiannis gave him a nudge. “Hey! I asked if you had any news! Something wrong?”

Then, George, looking up, said, “nothing’s wrong, Yiannis, except that there was something I was suppose to tell you and I can’t think of what it was?”

Biting into his donut, Yiannis said, nonchalantly, “then, it couldn’t have been important.” George shook his head. “Just give me a minute.” A little time passed and then George, lifting his head, grinned widely. Yiannis quipped, “looks like you just remembered what it was, right?”

“Right!” George assured. Turning toward Dimos, “Dimos! You mentioned you got a letter from the Marousanakislaki Society recently since you were made an honorary member, right?”  Dimos caught a revealing wink in George’s eye, hinting that he’d found a way to get Yiannis to leave Dixon’s and head for home. He set his coffee cup down, smiling. “As a matter of fact, I did get a letter just a few days ago. They’ve raised the rates, you know. But, I don’t mind. They do good things with the dues. I’m honored that they want me as member.” Turning to Yiannis, “did you get that letter, too?”

Yiannis’s donut froze in space. He blinked, repeatedly and was thoughtful for a few seconds. Then, he recalled that Areti had mentioned something about a letter that announced his membership had ended due to negligence in paying past dues, but that he could be reinstated when some payment is made. “Oh, yeah! Areti said something about a letter a few days ago.”

George decided to discuss the subject, further. “Didn’t that letter mention something about finding an accountant, Dimos?” Dimos, observing George’s blinking eye, grabbed the hint and decided to play along. “Yes, it did mention something about an accountant they needed. In fact, I told them I’d be here today. A good chance to give them the address of an accountant I know.”

Yiannis looked up. Looking at his watch, Dimos said, “they should be here soon, I think.” Yiannis appeared concerned. “Here?”  Dimos nodded. “Here’s the best place, Yiannis. My restaurant is not a place to conduct a meeting.” Suddenly, his eyes scanned the entrance of the cafeteria, and the donut was abandoned. Yiannis looked at his watch and got to his feet. “Almost lunch time, guys. See ya’ round.” Confused, John asked, “are they really coming here?”

George laughed. “Not likely! They’re at his house now, to discuss his dues.”