Blue Heaven by Chris Green
The man and the woman arrived at the resort late in the evening. They were the only ones aboard the transfer coach to be dropped off here; most of the others were headed further south to the beach-party resort. Having made something of a detour, it was with an air of indignation that the driver deposited their cases by the side of the road in front of the apartment block.
After a few moments, a gaunt woman in a blue overall appeared out of the darkness and hurried them past a swimming pool and along a murky corridor. She opened the door to apartment number 9, and without ceremony disappeared. The man and the woman had wanted to ask questions, or at least strike up a conversation, but the woman in the blue overall had the harassed look of someone at the end of a long shift. Not only this but also the aura of someone who had lived a hard life and wanted others to share the experience.
Blue Heaven was a small block with just thirty two apartments, on two floors. ‘In a tranquil setting, for those seeking a quiet holiday,’ the enticing description in the brochure had said.
They switched on the light and looked around the sparse white apartment. It was smaller than they had anticipated, little more than a room really, and there were no features to remark on, no attractive little alcoves or pictures of seascapes on the wall. The twin beds were a long way apart and a large wardrobe seemed to take up most of the room space. Neither the man and the woman made any reference to the shortcomings of the accommodation, as if by not showing disappointment, they might not, after all, be disappointed.
‘It’s so hot,’ said the woman instead, repeating what she had said when they had got off the plane. 33 degrees the captain had told them, shortly before they touched down.
‘And the shutters are down. There’s no air,’ said the man who despite the delayed flight, the mix up over the cases, the insufferable ‘hard house’ music on the coach, and now the smell of pine disinfectant in the room, was hoping for some passion.
After a walk in the moonlight along the road that hugged the beach, past apartment blocks that, had they been finished, would have looked out onto the sea, they found a bar that didn’t advertise Greek dancing. After a bite to eat and a half a bottle of the local wine, the woman felt more relaxed.
‘It’s quiet. All you can hear is the waves. We’re going to like it here,’ she said.
The man agreed. He felt their block was far enough from the plate smashing quarter of the resort. He felt relieved. They had, he remembered, when they had booked the holiday on a stressful Saturday in March, chosen to ignore the fact that the Bouzouki Musician of the Year Qualifiers were being held on the island in a nearby resort.
They arrived arm in arm back at the apartment. It seemed a little airier and more welcoming now that the shutters were open. And the room offered a lovely view on to an olive grove, with a church on a hill visible in the distance.
The woman hung up her skirts and tops on the wire hangers in the wardrobe, and lined up her cosmetics in the bathroom while the man pushed his case under the bed.
They were just getting undressed when they heard the menacing drone of a mosquito in the room. The woman located the mosquito repellent they had brought and started spraying the room.
‘I think I may have got it,’ she said.
The man poured them a refreshing glass of the cranberry schnapps they had bought at the UK airport. They sipped their drinks and began to settle. They sat on the bed and kissed.
‘It’s so nice to actually be here,’ said the woman.
‘Our first real holiday together,’ said the man.
There was a sudden searing rasp from upstairs, followed by another. And another. The grating, scraping sounds of wooden furniture being pushed repeatedly across a tiled floor. The man and the woman speculated that the beds, the table and chairs, the dressing table, the wardrobe, and perhaps a flotation tank were being rearranged.
The man eager for an innocent explanation suggested that the couple upstairs might be into ‘feng shui’.
‘In quite a big way,’ said the woman, searching for the wax ear plugs she was sure she had packed.
The rep on the coach had told them that a majority of the arrivals to the island were on Friday night and the early hours of Saturday morning, so although they could not sleep, they tried not to be too alarmed by the continuous hubbub of furniture on the move. After all, hadn’t they themselves moved their own twin beds together straight away? Sometimes there would be a few quiet minutes but then the squeals started up again.
Unfamiliar with the layout of the apartment block, they reasoned that perhaps the furniture moving outbursts did not have a single source but were the result of lots of other couples trying to get a little closer to one another. At least, the scraping sounds drowned out the clatter of the primitive plumbing. And the nocturnal network of barking dogs. And the dance music from the club that opened at 2am. And probably most significantly, the woman felt, the roaring of the fridge.
The next day, despite their tiredness, the man and the woman were out and about visiting the Top Ten Sights on the island recommended in the guide book and did not spend much time in the apartment, but that night, the screeches and scrapes from upstairs were even louder and more persistent than they had been the first night. Previous explanations seemed redundant.
As they lay awake they compared the cacophony to amateur violinists tuning up, a large sea mammal giving birth, an angry elephant, the death throes of a buffalo, or Björk in the recording studio.
As the night wore on their humour diminished.
They began to blame each other for choosing the holiday.
‘If you hadn’t been so concerned with price we could have taken a villa,’ said the woman.
‘If you had listened to what I found on the Internet, we would have gone to the north of the island,’ said the man.
The disturbances upstairs continued.
‘And you didn’t pack my meditation CD.’
‘Would you like to listen to Miles Davis on my Ipod?’
‘And we’ve run out of mosquito spray.’
‘Would you like another glass of ouzo?’
At 4 am, after several unsuccessful attempts to heal the rift, the man could take no more. What chance was there of any intimacy?
He called the travel company’s 24 hour resort helpline, only to be told by someone from the Indian subcontinent that office hours were 9 to 5 Monday to Friday, ‘please be leaving a message after the tone.’ A complaint the following morning to Lefteris, who despite a remarkable resemblance to a beach bum appeared to be the proprietor, revealed only that Lefteris understood no English words except ‘beer’ and ‘football’.
The resort rep, Dale, who they finally tracked down the following evening at the opening of the new karaoke bar between Spiros Bouzouki Tuition and Athena Quad Bike Hire, was little better. He seemed much more concerned about the girl in the day-glo belt and bra, who wanted to know where to find the ‘club scene’ on the island.
Despite trying foam plugs rather than the wax ones the man and the woman had another sleepless night. Too tired to venture out, they decided to take it easy and lie on the sun loungers by the pool. Most of the guests had gone out for the day. Perhaps it was the day of the travel company’s island-hopping excursion or maybe the glass-bottomed boat trip. In the bar, Lefteris, with his crusty locks and grubby red Che Guevara t-shirt drank a beer and watched the football (Brazil versus Argentina from the previous evening). He had his feet on the bar and seemed to be doing his best to ignore his customers. Not that there were many, just the older couple from Gateshead, or perhaps it was Newcastle, who had the next apartment. The man asked the man from Gateshead or Newcastle if they had been kept awake by the nightly clamour.
‘Ah divvnae heaah owt, Ye knaa wa ah mean leik. It wez kwiet las neet, wez it ne, pet?’
Given the language barrier, the man decided not to pursue the matter. He managed to attract Lefteris’s attention during a commercial break.
‘Many goals Brasil, good football,’ said Lefteris.
The man agreed and reeled off the names of some players.
‘Yes,’ said Lefteris, ‘good many goals’
The man took two chilled beers back to the poolside, where the woman had removed her bra and was tanning her back.
‘We could have an early lunch at Aprhrodites’, and then a siesta,’ suggested the man.
‘Sounds good,’ said the woman, ‘Could you rub some more sun tan lotion on to my shoulders?’
The morning passed quietly. Occasionally the bronzed couple that lived on the sunbeds at the other end of the pool changed position. The two gays sauntered past in new hats. The young couple with the piercings and the tattoos nursed their sunburn under a parasol, and one or two of the other guests came or went.
‘Are you hungry yet?’ asked the man.
‘I think I could be persuaded,’ said the woman. ‘Could you just rub some factor 15 on the backs of my legs?’
After swordfish, squid, dolmades and Greek salad with a chilled bottle of rosé, the man and the woman returned to Blue Heaven.
The apartment was quiet. Very quiet. Not a murmur from the plumbing and even the fridge seemed more subdued.
The man saw a window of opportunity and seized it. The woman was pleased that he had and responded with lively abandon. Her sighs and moans built gradually into a crescendo. They climaxed together in a frenzy of thunderous passion. Afterwards, they lay together in one another’s arms.
The brief silence was shattered by a forceful thumping like an Eminem bass-line. It took the man and the woman a few seconds to realise that someone was knocking at the door.
‘Keep the noise down in there, will you!’ shouted an angry voice. ‘We’re trying to get some sleep upstairs.’
© Chris Green 2014: All rights reserved