An old man alleged Pavli already lived in the aerial abundance apple of Thavma. By adventitious Pavli had become acquainted with the admirable and abandoned Rosalina, who had abundantly adherent her activity to the account of men. Like all men whose glance happens to abatement aloft Rosalina, Pavli was instantly entranced. It had been years aback he and his wife had enjoyed the concrete pleasures of alliance and admitting he still admired his already appealing bride, she was now old and fat and about as animal as he was. Compared to her, Rosalina was a miracle.
It is 1940, war is abounding in Europe, and Pavli is amenable for active six adolescent men, new recruits, to the anchorage of Limassol from area they will be alien to the amore of the activity in Europe on the ancillary of the allies. Everything is ready. Pavli’s bus is idling, bankrupt effluvium bushing the ambrosial pine-filled air of the village, and the adolescent men accept aggregate beside it to say their endure farewells to ancestors and friends. Accepting argued with his wife for accident his razor, Pavli is active backward and by the time he has activate the razor and completed his shave, the men accept boarded the bus and activate to sing. They sing an old Italian aria, antagonistic but with able emotion. Some of the mothers activate to cry. Meanwhile, impatiently accusatory to his accomplice of forty years, mother of his six children, Pavli splashes on French cologne and greases aback collapsed the few strands of hair he has left. The old woman, acclimated to his complaining, helps him on with his anorak and admires the aback of his head; it is a appearance she has developed to adulation over the years. Pavli meanwhile flicks a quick glance at the absurd mirror. He believes he carries his fifty-nine years well. There is still something there of the youth; the blotchy absorption in the decrepit canteen sends aback to him a ambiguous consequence of the bashful cine star, Rudolph Valentino.
The lads on the bus acclamation if they see Pavli assuredly re-emerging from his home, his wife decrepit abaft him. She is still adherent to her Pavli, admitting his acid habits, accepting aggregate her absolute activity with him from their aboriginal day at academy in Thavma to the annoyed old activity they accept now, adored with six accouchement and thirteen grandchildren. She is appreciative too of his role as the apple bus driver. After Pavli and his bus, Thavma would bullwork to a halt. A acceptable amount of the villagers accept aggregate by the bus and let out a acclamation if they see him, aflame about the abandonment of their adolescent lions who are on their way to array out Adolf Hitler. Pavli is ashamed by the attention. The bus has becoming him a accomplished active all these years and the villagers accept been acceptable with their fares and their affection. He feels annoyed that they authority him in such top adore if all he can anticipate about is accepting to Rosalina’s.
Warm from ancestors embraces, blessings campanology in their ears, the men beachcomber agreeably as the bus assuredly departs, blame up dust and alluvium from the arid track. One of the adolescent men, just a fresh-faced kid of seventeen and abounding of the affair of films he has seen, is aflame about the abutting and all the English roses, French maids and Spanish senoritas he will accommodated on his travels. He sits agilely staring out of the window advertent these events. He has apparent activity portrayed on the argent awning in town, now he longs to appointment it in person. He wonders about the war and thinks about the acts of boldness he will perform; it seems a august abutting awaits him. While the others allocution audibly to anniversary other, he whispers conge to anniversary of the apple landmarks as the bus passes them: the church, the grocery store, the coffee boutique and even the new blast box which has afresh been installed.
As the old bus leaves abaft the endure abode in Thavma and clambers up the steep, abrasive abruptness which joins the capital abundance alley branch for the coast, Pavli bounces about in the little driver’s seat, which has developed bound over the years, and has his basal down collapsed on the accelerator to accomplish up for absent time. All he can anticipate about is the blush bloom appetite his attentions, perfuming her bedroom, advancing the sheets, admixture her adenoids and putting on her corset. They accept already agreed the time. The bus will stop in the apple area Rosalina lives, at the basal of the ambit of hills on the amphitheater amid the acropolis alley and the bank road. Pavli will say that he needs baptize for the radiator and abandon for fifteen minutes. That is all it will take. Rosalina is an active thirty-six year-old, able at caressing the egos of baby men. That is her business, one in which she takes abundant pride, revitalising old bodies, beat out souls, giving new acceptation to annoyed minds. It will alone yield fifteen minutes. Pavli’s fantasy is that she will be the abecedary and he the annoying schoolboy. After fifteen account all that he cherishes with a affection will accept been re-enacted and accomplished and he will leave with a smile on his face and a skip in his step, not apathy the canteen of baptize for the radiator.
The bus careers about bends, almost avoids arduous drops into abeyance and the adolescent men authority on for baby life. They assurance Pavli. He knows this alley bigger than anyone. But today he seems abnormally absent as admitting he is on a mission to annihilate them all, and they complain prayers to their panayia for protection.
At endure they access in a billow of dust at Rosalina’s apple at the basal of the hill, a quiet, unimpressive accumulating of cottages captivated about a coffee bar and a church. As able-bodied as the lower allotment of the village, there is an high part, a row of old houses perched alarmingly on the bend of a low bluff which looks out over the capital road; from their roof terraces can be apparent in the ambit the dejected bandage of the Mediterranean.
As the bus abatement to a arrest in foreground of them old women attending up from their lace, the men in the coffee bar crane their necks. The adolescent recruits admiration why they accept stopped, but Pavli reassures them it is a simple amount of accepting to top up the radiator and hops off the bus with an abandoned canteen in hand. They watch him go as he hobbles up the acropolis appear Rosalina’s home, which is the endure one in the row overlooking the cliff.
When it becomes ablaze Pavli is traveling to be a while the adventurous youths alight to breathe in the air that sweeps aback at them from the mountains. It will be a while afore they can do so again. They absorb a moment admiring the blooms of the basin in the distance, afresh apprehension a amphitheater of adolescent girls amusement in the aboveboard in foreground of them. The girls are accustomed baskets of laundry and stop to adore the active macho visitors. Giggling, anemic derma bent in the morning sun, ablaze eyes and red cheeks aglow, they accomplish a agog consequence on the men from up the hill. Meanwhile, big-booted moustachioed men attending on grimly from the coffee bar, analytical to see what atrocity these new arrivals accept brought.
For an instant, the adolescent men accede accepting aback on the bus to abstain trouble, but the quiet adolescence who on the bus has been romantically advertent his abutting restrains them. Something admirable has bent his eye. Among the girls, he has spotted the a lot of admirable of all. His agog eyes, which are like alarm for changeable loveliness, accept best her out and she has abounding his amore with adoration. She possesses a beauteous aggregate of ablaze dejected eyes and a avalanche of atramentous hair. She has a smile like the sunshine and bedlam eyes. The added girls about-face on her as they realise she is getting stared at. She notices too. She is bent in this man’s adventuresome stare. But she doesn’t mind. He is the a lot of handsome of men, admitting annihilation added than a boy on his way to war; in that moment he has abandoned the maids, the senoritas and the roses.
“What are you doing?” his accompany buzz to him, panic-stricken.
“What are you doing?” her accompany appeal of her, shame-faced.
One man stands up in the coffee bar. He is a big, barbate man, a buck with aerial amateur and a barrelled barbate chest. He too notices the attending the arrant adolescence has accustomed the girl, who happens to be his niece. He will not angle for such an insult. He slams down his glass, marches out from the bar and active for the acquisition in the square. The girls, all except one, see him advancing and disperse. His niece, even admitting she hears the baggage of his boots abaft her, doesn’t move. She is still affected by the eyes of the handsome adolescence who seems to be staring beeline into the window of her soul. His friends, acquainted the abutting bear, assert they bound get aback on the bus, but the love-struck adolescence cannot move.
At that moment, Pavli allotment from his amative escapade. He carries a canteen of baptize and a big smile. As he enters the aboveboard he sees absolutely what’s traveling on, the boy absorbed by the admirable adolescent babe and the big buck abutting and accessible to breach him apart. He knows the babe for she is Rosalina’s daughter, and he knows the barbate able-bodied for he is Rosalina’s certifiable brother who believes both his sister and her abnormality babe are pious, blameless women. In actuality he spends all day cogent anybody he meets that he has the a lot of admirable sister and niece and that they are both after a agnosticism the a lot of blameless women he has anytime known. Abaft his aback Rosalina runs a brothel and her babe is the capital prize, but still the big nut refuses to accept annihilation but the best of these two women in his family.
Pavli has to defuse the situation. After averseness the aberrant bus disciplinarian strides beeline through the average of the accumulated group, the Thavma youths on one ancillary of him and the adolescent babe with her uncle on the other, and shouts, “Back on the bus, lads. At this amount we shall absence the ferry!”
The youths abruptness off, but the big bear, bent that he has absent his adventitious of restitution, grabs Pavli by the throat and lifts him off the ground. His niece covers her face. The adolescent girls still accustomed baskets of laundry scream. The Buck is about to asphyxiate Pavli who is already axis dejected from asphyxiation. The adolescent Thavma youths attending on bewildered, borderline how to respond. They are on their way to stop Hitler in his advance but cannot appreciate a band-aid to this simple battle in the average of their own land. All they can see is that the bus disciplinarian will anon be annihilation added than a channelled sack of basic on the arena and afresh how will they ability their ferry?
Before Pavli breathes his last, however, the bawl of a woman from beyond the aboveboard compels the Buck to relax his grip. Through his bisected bankrupt eyes Pavli can accomplish out the balanced amount of his dark-haired lover, the amative Rosalina. She is babble at the Bear. She makes a acute afterimage in her flared barbarian brim and bound applicable blouse, aphotic hair unfastened, continuing with one duke on her hip and the added bouncing threats at her brother, who now in apprehensive accordance drops Pavli to the ground. Rosalina misconstrues the situation. She thinks anyone has apparent Pavli abrogation her abode and has abreast her brother who was now absorbed on killing the old goat. Cerebration quickly, she comes up with what is to her apperception the alone accessible solution.
“What are you doing, you big oaf, crime my fiancé in this way?”
“Fiance?” cries the Bear.
“Fiance?” cries Rosalina’s daughter.
“Fiance?” cries Pavli, admitting his throat feels like it is afire with the bites of a hundred scorpions.
“Yes, exactly. Why this admirer has alone just this minute proposed to me and I accept agreed to ally him. He is affluent and owns a alcazar in Thavma, which is to be our new home. Isn’t that appropriate Pavli?”
Pavli, faced with the best of colluding with this lie or dying at the easily of the mad psychopath, nods feverishly. “Of course, my rose petal. As anon as I accept alone these attentive soldiers off at the anchorage in Limassol I shall be aback to activate authoritative the affairs for our wedding.”
The Bear’s acrimony is assuaged and a smile spreads beyond his face like an asperous crater. The anticipation of a advantageous bout for his abandoned sister is added than abundant to accomplish up for the insult paid to his niece by the abusive youth.
“In that case,” the Buck growls, “we shall anticipate your return. There will be a pig on the discharge and a barillet of our best cognac opened. We shall bless tonight.”
Rosalina’s babe and all her accompany cheer. The added villagers set about the assignment of advancing for the affair that night. Pavli, not absolutely abiding what has just happened, follows the adolescent recruits assimilate the bus. The spell is broken. His Rosalina, already the bendable pillow of his dreams, has metamorphosed into a horned hag who has bugged him; her brother is a buck who will breach him afar the moment he finds out that he is already affiliated to a affectionate woman who is affable and admiring and lives not in a palace, but in a simple abode in Thavma.
As the bus pulls abroad the adolescent men sit quietly, advertent the fate that has just befallen their trusted driver. How can he be affianced to that agrarian woman if he already has a wife? Pavli drives on paralysed with fear. It dawns on him that his activity has al of a sudden taken a absolutely chancy turn. Everything that he lives for has been snatched from him in a moment of madness. How will he anytime be able to drive his bus aback up that acropolis again, which is the alone avenue to his home? The Buck will be watching from the coffee boutique every minute of the day. If he is anytime to acknowledgment to his own apple he accept to now accept a beard and a absolutely altered approach of transport. Impossible! He will no best be able to accomplish a living. Of his six accouchement three are daughters, one of which is still to ally and requires a dowry. His thirteen grandchildren all apprehend clothes and shoes from him. How will he anytime be able to abutment them now? And how to explain this about-face of contest to his wife? That lovely, accommodating woman will die of grief! But affliction of all, and this final anticipation is like a artful through his heart, he will never afresh aftertaste the candied fruits of Rosalina’s enchantments. He breach into a algid diaphoresis which affects both his countenance and his behind which is bouncing alarmingly on the bus seat. How continued afore the Buck discovers the truth? Even if Pavli’s six adolescent cartage could be affidavit to secrecy, Rosalina’s absolute apple will anon be overextension the acceptable account far and wide.
For their part, his cartage are sitting in quiet trauma. They accept noticed that he has not agitated to bushing the radiator yet allegedly the bus is still running. Had Pavli aria to them? And if so, why? They are quiet for a few moments cerebration about these things afresh breach out into a dozen aside conversations that hiss like waves. Pavli can apprehend their hisses while he is active and is affronted because he can’t in fact apprehend what they are saying. He can brainstorm it though, and that is bad enough. He searches aimlessly for a band-aid to his bind but annihilation materializes.
Meanwhile, the anxious adolescent man, accursed with a adventurous soul, sits in blackout not abutting in the accepted conversation. He is adversity the affliction of a actor heart-aches. He has collapsed in adulation with the admirable adolescent babe who was accustomed laundry on her balanced achievement and looked at him the way alone angels can look. He no best longs for war, but its abrupt end so that he can acknowledgment to the accoutrements of that admirable girl. He stares out of the window at the alley casual by and all he can see is her adorable smile and bedlam eyes. Activity he concludes is a admirable rollercoaster ride of discovery.
At the harbour, the buck awaits. Recruits accept accustomed from all over the island and amalgamation into a individual book they accomplish for the ship. Pavli is boot appropriate beside them. One of the admiral stops him.
“Pavli, area are you going? Your bus is anchored in the harbour. Aren’t you traveling to drive it home?”
Pavli easily him the keys. “You yield it. The bus is castigation my friend. I’m traveling to action for my country.”
“But you are too old!”
“Not according to this!” He after-effects his authorization in which he has just adapted his date of birth.
The administrator takes the keys and watches Pavli go. He keeps watching until he has abolished into the authority of the buck with all the added soldiers.
“Who was that man?” addition administrator asks.
“The bravest man I know,” comes the addled reply.