GR US

Greek-American Stories: Ransom for Yiannis

Αssociated Press

(AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

Kipreos appeared very worried when he joined the others in 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?” and 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, “this afternoon – the hotel was having the wine festival for buyers and salesmen. I mean, Yiannis started talking to the salespeople, slapping their shoulders and laughing. 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 and thinking that Yiannis had a great time since the drinks were on the house. But thinking of Areti, he suggested they call and ask her for any news.  “He may have gone home by now.” Dimos volunteered to phone her from the cafeteria’s wall phone. They waited while he made the call. After a few words with Areti, Dimos appeared grim, very grim. “What’s up?” asked John. Dimos told them, “Areti got a phone call from some man who told her, ‘we’ve got Yiannis.’ They want fifty dollars from her for his safe release. She’s a nervous wreck.” “Ra-ra-ransom!” Kipreos stammered. Doubting that anyone wanted Yiannis, George told him, “fifty bucks! For Yiannis? She should have offered ten! Tops!” Ignoring him, Dimos told them, “sounds serious!”

They all went to Yiannis’ apartment where Areti told them the latest. She explained that much of what the kidnappers demanded was the money. It’s what 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’ voice in the background, either singing or crying. “Maybe we should call the police,’ John suggested, seriously. Frantic, Areti informed them that they warned her not to include anyone else in the issue. 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 Areti to take him off their hands.”

Giving the matter serious thought, Dimos volunteered to go to the address, saying, “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, sympathizing with Areti who wondering if she’d ever see her dear, beloved husband again. Believing Yiannis invincible, George made a mental bet that Yiannis would cause a riot if he knew how much money they wanted from Areti.

The address led to an old, brick building with high steps and a red light over the door. Dimos pushed open the heavy doors where he approached a huge desk. After a brief interview and the money was paid, Yiannis was released and they were on their way home.

“Were they tough to deal with?” asked Kipreos, noting that Yiannis looked completely calm. “Nah! In fact, they were very reasonable,” replied Dimos, calmly. “Was it hard to find the place?” asked John. “The usual place for guys in Yiannis’ condition,” Dimos answered, with a smile. Relieved, Kipreos’s imagination pictured old movies that depicted dark, dismal dungeons. He told Yiannis, “well, we were about to call the police.” Dimos responded, “not necessary.” George shrugged, “Why Yiannis?” Dimos told them, “why not? That’s what happens when you’re a public nuisance.” “WHAT?” they cried out in unison. “Where th’ hell was he?” asked John. Dimos announced, “at the Police Station! Drunk and disorderly were the charges.” Yiannis’ utter relief and profound gratitude and eternal indebtedness, vanished when he heard Dimos say, “by the way, you owe me a fifty!”