* * *
As soon as the volcano tour boat arrived back at the dock in the Old Port, Kathy hurried over to Happy Jack’s Scottish Pub. The watering hole was popular with tourists as well as the English-speaking expat community on Santorini Island. Every Tuesday was Karaoke Night, and on some Thursdays there was Bingo Night, “fer the auld folks,” as Molly put it.
Molly was busy as usual. The slim, friendly, fifty-five year old Scottish woman was serving drinks behind the bar. The front room opened onto the street, with hanging plastic flaps over the windows to cut out the cold—technically, it was a patio and smoking was allowed.
Kathy waved. “Hey, darlin’!” she called, putting on a thick Texas drawl for her friend. “How ya’ll doin?”
“A’m daein fine,” Molly said. “Whit aboot yersel?”
Both women laughed. They never tired of hearing each other’s accents, which they both cranked up to over-the-top extremes whenever they greeted each other. Molly looked past Kathy, noting that Kathy was alone after the tour, and she gave a sympathetic glance and whispered, “Nothin’ on the hook today, eh? No nooner?”
“No, unfortunately, pickins were slim.” Kathy glanced around and said in a lower and less affected voice, “Can I talk to you a second?”
“Aye,” Molly said curiously, and followed her, tossing a small towel to the sink.
Before she’d taken two steps, an Irish man who was a regular grabbed her by the wrist and thrust his empty shot glass at her. “Just a wee more, Molly, if you pr-pr-please.”
“You’re oot yer nut already, and hardly past noon! Get hame t’yer wife, mate!”
“Just a wee wee wee—”
Molly yanked her wrist free and rolled her eyes at Kathy as they continued to the far end of the bar.
Kathy said, “You know that sex education book that caused such a fuss around here?”
Molly thought for a second, and then gave a crooked smile. “Our Bodies, Our Friends?”
“Yes, that one.”
“What about it?”
“Do you know where I can get my hands on a copy?” Kathy glanced at her watch—if she was going to pull this off today, she had to move fast.
“What do you want that mingin’ book for?”
“Just a project for a friend. She’s a teacher. She’s doin’ some research on those kinds of textbooks.”
Molly didn’t believe a word of this, of course, because she knew Kathy too well. Molly was the one who helped Kathy with the setup of Réka at the now famous “reupholstered dinner,” as they called it.
“Well, I wouldn’t use that rag to wipe up British-made scotch, it’s disgustin’, pure reekbeek...but there are some copies floatin’ around town, I think.”
“Try the public library, here in Fira. When the Greek schools refused to take ’em here, the EU forced the library to put some copies on their shelves, and threatened to cut off funding if they didn’t.”
“Oh. Okay, thanks.” Kathy hurried towards the door.
Molly grinned and called out, “But don’t tell the librarian I sent ya!” She looked at Fionn, who was now engaged in a battle with the bar stool he was trying to dismount. “I got a reputation to uphold round here.”
* * *
A few minutes later, Kathy entered the small, whitewashed cube that was the Fira Public Library. She had only set foot in the tiny place once, when she was looking for a novel to read, and she discovered that their selection of English language novels was scant, a few dozen dog-eared copies of paperbacks left behind by tourists.
A pudgy, bearded Greek man with his dark hair pulled into a ponytail was arranging some books on a rack near the counter. Except for him, the whole library appeared to be deserted.
When he saw Kathy, he said, “Hello” in English. From her appearance he knew that she wasn’t Greek and assumed that she was a tourist.
“Where are your English language books?” she asked.
“You must have a library card to check out books, and only for residents of the island.”
“I am a resident of the island.”
“Oh.” Now he looked embarrassed. “I am very sorry. You want English books for adults?”
He motioned to the opposite wall. “The farthest shelves to the left, at the very end.”
“If you need any help, please ask.”
Kathy walked over to the bookcase he’d indicated and began casually browsing through the volumes easily within reach, but cast her eyes upwards, to the very top shelf.
There were books on bird watching, filmmaking, some biographies of Hollywood stars...
She couldn’t remember the exact title of the book, only that it had the word “body” or “bodies” in it...
There it was!
Our Bodies, Our Friends.
There were three copies of the controversial book, sitting side by side, with only the spines showing.
Kathy glanced over her shoulder at the librarian. He had gone back to work on his display, squatting, arranging the titles. She had no time for library cards or filling out forms today.
She stood on her toes, slipped one copy of Our Bodies, Our Friends off of the shelf and then quickly stuffed it under her windbreaker, which was zipped up.
“Excuse me, Miss?” he said.
She slowly turned around, holding her forearm against the book to keep it from slipping.
“Do you already have a library card?”
“Uh...no I don’t.”
“Would you like to fill out an application for one? All I need is your name and address, and I can make one while you’re looking around.”
“Uh, no thanks,” she said, “I’m in a hurry today. I’ll come back next week and get it.”
* * *
Within the hour, Kathy was back at the villa behind her locked bedroom door, flipping through the pages of the book she had stolen. There had been a couple of tense moments smuggling it out of the library, but she had gotten away with it.
She was shocked by what she saw on some of the pages of Our Bodies, Our Friends. She stared at what she supposed was meant to be an artistic photo of two naked women in a 69 position, with the caption Same sex couple enjoying each other’s bodies. Kathy turned to the next page, which showed a photograph of two men in the same pose.
My god, she thought, what are they teaching the kids these days? She looked back at the front cover. APPROPRIATE FOR AGES EIGHT AND UP.
Unbelievable, she thought.
Alexander’s home schooling schedule was tightly structured, and Friday was Reading Day. On Friday nights, Spyro always quizzed Alex on his comprehension of the reading supplement for the week. Gwen had set her lesson schedule so that Alex would read the supplement the last thing on Friday afternoon, before they went outside and played basketball, so it would be fresh on his mind.
A few minutes ago, Kathy had sneaked into the den and found that this week’s supplement was still sealed in the envelope, unopened, and snatched it. Using an iron she kept in her bedroom, she steamed opened the envelope and removed the booklet. There was an APPROVED BY AEI sticker on the cover, done in bright green lettering like a GO traffic signal—the stickers were on all the books that the Atlas Education Institute sent out in its home schooling package.
How did Dinosaurs Become Extinct? was the subject of this week’s assignment.
Kathy didn’t know, but she knew exactly how Governess Gwen was going to become extinct, at least around here. With a devious smile on her face, she carefully applied the green sticker to the copy of Our Bodies, Our Friends.
Kathy held the book away from her and admired her handiwork—it looked just like all the other reading supplements from AEI.
Spyro would go through the roof when he found out his flawless Gwen had given Alexander this trash to read! His opinion of the young Canadian would plummet to zero. He would think she had terrible judgment, and/or assume that because she was gay herself, she was trying to push her progressive values on his son. Spyro Leandrou was as conservative as they came.
Kathy carefully slid the book into the AEI envelope and sealed it again.
Now all she had to do was return it to the den without anyone knowing.
That same evening, when they all sat down for dinner, Kathy was so agitated that beads of sweat began to run down her stomach and tickle her skin. In her nervousness, she thought she might burst out laughing. If the bomb that she had anticipated setting off the first night was a stick of dynamite, this one was indeed a nuclear warhead. Kathy was confident that it would wreak total destruction.
One part of her was actually concerned for Gwen’s safety, yet, as before, another part almost giddy with anticipation.
As it was a Friday night, the meal was longer than usual. Fenia served an appetizer of marinated eggplant with capers and mint, which Spyro ate slowly while he blathered on about the trip he was taking Alex and Gwen on to Mozambique next week.
The appetizer was followed by a main course consisting of leg of lamb roast seasoned with garlic and rosemary. Spyro consumed this dish even more slowly, asking Alexander how his karate lessons were going.
Kathy kept waiting for him to realize that this was also Friday, and Reading Day, but he seemed to have completely forgotten it. She considered trying to say something that would remind him, in some roundabout way, but she didn’t dare. She was so nervous she didn’t trust her own voice.
She also thought that Gwen had given her a few long, lingering gazes while they were eating—but when Kathy glanced at her, Gwen quickly looked away.
Was Gwen getting suspicious? First the “accidentally” dropped five hundred euro note, and then the travel agency calling?
No, that was impossible. There was no way Gwen could put those things together.
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