Red Riding Hood


"It sounds like the Centaur is a nasty creature."

"Nobody likes him. He's not just nasty. He's very aggressive. He had an affair with an older woman last year and beat her husband up when he tried to put a stop to it."

"But if he's an aggressive predator, why doesn't Yaya just tell him to pack up his tent and leave?"

"Yaya is a nice lady, but it's rumoured the Centaur keeps her company from time to time."

I was surprised by this revelation. Wolfi had got to Grandma! Far from being a safe place for Red Riding Hood, Grandma's was all set up for an ambush. In return for some horse cock, Yaya was turning a blind eye to whatever Wolfgang was up to. He probably felt very confident that no one could get at him.


I finished my assignment for Eleni that morning and we signed it off before lunch. Eleni was clearly concerned about me and suggested that I should be careful if I decided to go up against the Centaur.

She was surprised when I told her that the first thing I needed to do was to take a trip to Athos to use the secure teleconferencing facility at the business centre in the Hotel Hermes. I explained that I urgently needed to go over some technical translations with a client and that I intended to take the ferry to Athos that afternoon. Eleni kindly phoned her contact at the hotel and made a booking for me to use the teleconferencing facility the next morning. She asked me if I wanted her to book me a room at the hotel at the same time, but I told her I would make other arrangements.

I skipped lunch and caught the midday bus back to Kalumnitissos, where I did some food shopping and purchased return ferry tickets at the shipping agency. I just had time to return to the hotel and leave a short message for Susie. I know I could have texted her, but I didn't want her to get my message until after she got back from the beach. It was important to make sure she would be on her own.


Believe it or not, there is some order amongst the chaos when the inter-island ferry docks. The ferry company needs an accurate record of who is on board, so the bar coded passenger tickets are collected and scanned into the onboard computer system to produce the passenger manifest.

I sat and waited on the pier in Kalumnitissos until the ferry docked around 4pm that afternoon, then I joined the embarking passengers and handed my Aramis to Athos ticket to the crewmember who was gathering them in and checking them. I went up the stairway on the starboard side, crossed the aft passenger deck, descended the stairway on the port side and walked off the ship with the last of the disembarking passengers.

As far as the records were concerned, I was on that ship. If something happened and it sank, then I would have some explaining to do. However I figured the odds were in my favour on that particular bet. I was less certain about other things as I sat quietly behind a stack of fishermen's nets, waiting for everyone to leave the pier. When they had all gone I got up and left the village, walking westwards into the hills.


Have you any idea what it's like to wrestle with a small goat? It wasn't difficult to find an irritable little goat up there on the hills and it was easy to provoke it into attempting to butt me, but after that I had to make sure it didn't damage me while I pinned it down, twisted its head and broke its neck. It wasn't really a fair fight - a large, angry man versus a small, annoyed goat. Goats stink and wild goats stink particularly badly. So it was just as well I had a change of clothes in my backpack.

That evening, with the body of the small goat slung over my shoulder, I made my way back down the hill towards the coastal path that led from Kalumnitissos to Yaya's place, using Susie's walking stick to help me. At the point where the coastal path rounds the headland and emerges at the top of the cliffs, there is a huge rock buttress that stands like a sentinel overlooking an almost sheer drop onto the rocks at the side of the bay. All I had to do was wait.

It was getting quite dark, although the starry sky and a pale quarter moon cast some light over the landscape. Concealed in the shadow of the buttress, I had a clear view of the path. I had no idea when Wolfgang might happen along, but I was fairly certain that it would be around midnight. I was fairly certain that although they had been fucking on the beach, Susie wouldn't want to be seen out and about with him. The taverna closed around 11.30pm and he was always the last to leave, according to what Eleni had told me, so I shouldn't have long to wait.

I saw the beam of a small hand torch coming towards me and I was able to identify Wolfgang before I stepped out of the shadows. I had to make sure he couldn't get close enough to grab me and I didn't hesitate as I thrust the point of the walking stick into his midriff and pushed him sideways. I won't ever forget that look of surprise, sudden recognition and then panic, as he toppled backwards, his arms reaching out towards me in a forlorn attempt to save himself. Then he was gone, toppling over the edge of the cliff, screaming as he fell. I threw the body of the small goat after him.

I had no idea whether anyone would hear his scream. Someone would eventually find Wolfgang and the goat on the rocks at the foot of the cliffs. I was hoping they would draw the appropriate conclusion, but I wasn't hanging around to find out.


Hiding out for a day is easy when you are on a sparsely populated island and everyone thinks you are somewhere else. I had two bottles of water, a packet of biscuits and some chocolate. I followed various hill paths to avoid Kalumnitissos and found myself a little rocky cove to the west of the village as the sun was coming up. It looked like it would be a glorious day.

When the inter-island steamer arrived that afternoon I was sitting quietly amongst the tourists waiting to board. I had a broad-brimmed sun hat to help conceal my identity. When the time came, I joined the throng and went onboard.

The crew member gathering tickets from the boarding passengers glanced at mine and looked puzzled. "This ticket is from Athos to Aramis," he said.

"Yes," I answered. "I forgot to give it to you when I came on board in Athos. I'm just leaving the ship now, so I thought I better give it to you."

"OK. Thank you," he said, turning to quickly gather in the tickets being proffered by the other passengers.

I took off my sun hat and walked back down the stern ramp and onto the quayside, where I could see Spiro at the back of the pier, where he was waiting to meet me. This time he wasn't smiling, but seemed anxious.

"Welcome back, Jimmy. I'm afraid your wife is not feeling very well. She's okay, but there's been a terrible accident and she's quite upset. A German guy fell off the cliffs last night."


Aphrodite had been grieving for her lost lover and was in a bad state when I got to our room. She sat on the bed, weeping and moaning, looking up briefly to acknowledge my presence. Gradually I managed to coax the story out of her. Her version was slightly different from what I knew had been going on. According to her, Wolfgang had been a kind and considerate companion, waiting for her every day at Yaya's place, entertaining her with all sorts of stories about Greek myths, legends and heroes. Yes, she admitted, he had made several passes at her, but she had rebuffed him. He had become a close friend and she was devastated that he had died so tragically.

I played my part by sympathising with a few kind words and left her to try and compose herself while I went to the bar for a very subdued celebratory drink.


The Greek flag at the stern of the ferry fluttered in the wind as the small vessel gradually picked up speed, pulling away from Kalumnitissos. Susie was below decks in the air conditioned passenger lounge. I stood at the stern railing and looked back at the cluster of white houses and Ilioivasilema, sitting slightly apart to the east of the village, just up the hill from the port. I think it was as I gazed at the restaurant that I finally realised it had seen the sun set on my relationship with my wife.

Susie and I had hardly spoken to one another since well before Wolfgang's fatal accident. It was almost as if our love for one another had also died. I think Susie wasn't sure how much I knew or suspected about what she had been up to with Wolfgang and it became clear that she wasn't going to raise the subject. We both ignored the elephant in the room and the atmosphere was strained whenever we were together.

We were interviewed separately by the police, but it seemed to me they were simply going through the motions of verifying that there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding Wolfgang's death. I have no idea whether or not they checked the ferry company's passenger manifests to confirm my alibi, but there was no follow up. The tragic story of the goat and the Centaur was the talk of the island. We never did go back to Yaya's Place, so I have no idea what anyone there was saying about what had happened.

For the rest of our stay Susie spent her time on the beach in Kalumnitissos, despite the occasional whiff of marine diesel. I spent my days walking the hills and thinking about whether or not I could forgive and forget. On the one hand I had wrongly assumed she would be safe at Yaya's Place and she had been ambushed by Wolfgang, but on the other hand it was her decision to succumb to temptation and she hadn't told me the truth about her dalliance with the Centaur.

I walked to Nissos before we left Aramis and had a long chat with Eleni.


My new life started when I met up again with Eleni in late September in Athens. We had been texting and corresponding by email until then and she even sent me another technical translation during the summer, while she was in Nissos.

My trip to Athens was very successful. After our first date we ended up at Eleni's apartment and the next day I checked out of my hotel. Eleni and I are in no hurry. We will wait until my divorce is final before we decide what happens next. Her parents are lovely people, but quite conservative, so we may have to formalise the relationship if I want to spend next summer with her on Aramis.

Of course Eleni knows I cancelled the booking she made for me to use the teleconferencing facility at the Hotel Hermes, but she says she likes the idea that a little goat toppled a mighty centaur and she's not going to spoil a good story.

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byFredoberto© 55 comments/ 46370 views/ 37 favorites

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by Anonymous

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by Anonymous03/13/19

You are KIDding!

So, what sort of story did you imagine before you wrote this sadly disappointing travel tale?
The story would have benefitted from a storyline and a conclusion. Even Susie giving birth to a baby centaurmore...

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by tkh3nkey211002/22/19

Not up to this author's standards

The first two page read to me like a travel log. I think that the ending was hurried. The author spent so much time with description in the beginning only to hurry the ending. He never addressed howmore...

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by Anonymous01/28/19

I gave it a 3 because of the ending...

Was a good story, but wife got of free...

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