My melon emerges from the lukewarm, briny Aegean. With beach club Principote as our backcloth, hemmed in by hardbodies, Stavros emerges, too, replacing the Tom Ford shades he’d been holding above the water on his drenched dial, his right arm a submarine’s periscope. “When we were kings, Joey, when we were kings…” Here we are, toiling away on the dichotomous isle of Mykonos. “I never really got around to work, Joey; just found it so vulgar.”
Out of the sea we waltz, as two maidens – their spectacle distinctly burdensome to the optic nerve – pass by. “Work it Joey, work it,” Stavros mutters; I hurriedly suck my guts in; too late. At our sunbeds, Stavros’s Instafamous girl is reclined in all of her un-photoshopped splendour, midway through a magnum of Domaine Ott. “I’ll have to ban her from school reunions,” Stavros concedes, towel-drying his legs, motioning for the help. “Not fair on the others.”
Stavros is the 21st Century’s finest composer of profundity in brevity; the lovechild of Kant, Byron and Paul Hogan; put on this earth for Hallmark. He’s been the life of parties he never even attended.
The DJ soothes Madonna’s Holiday, a single last atop the charts only weeks after my lamentable birth.
Forget about the bad times…To release the pressure
Stavros arrived this morning, having couriered four pairs of my slippers (rebirthed by the incomparable Pasquale Fabrizio of Los Angeles’ badlands) on his smoker inbound from LAX – two pairs of Mr Ford’s suede espadrilles and two pairs of Tod’s nubuck loafers (the weight of “the Toddies”, Stavros claimed, were to blame for forcing his pilots into an unplanned refuel on Ibiza). Slumped forward, unprecedentedly self-satisfied, from a single wedge of watermelon (€31 for eight slices) alights one drop of its perspiration on the lavishly-carpeted bridge of my left foot. Stav and Instafamous regard, with some intrigue, the besmirched clog, then bear witness to my lightning passage into and from the five stages of grief. “Son, just quietly, you are a f—ing imbecile.” Instafamous waves for another magnum. The DJ switches gears: Talking Heads’ This Must be the Place:
Make it up as we go along…Feet on the ground, head in the sky
The afternoon dissolves, much like Neddy Merrill’s did – without notable incident, as far as I can recall. Fresh fish is brought, as is more lady petrol. Beside me, the happy couple exchange witty insipidities. I scour the proof of William Boyd’s soon-to-be-published novel, the Ott feeding my sneaking belligerence, all the while our driver running the engine for the air-conditioning. Then, only the SBS test pattern.
I wake, the butler prodding me, the worthy subject of a live coroner’s report squatting in my arid mouth. It might have been days. Utterly mortified by the contents of my outbox, barely coping with the stairs, I emerge, virtually perished, into the inferno of another barbarous Mykonos afternoon. Stavros is poolside, spread-eagled on a beanbag in a pair of Orlebar Browns, a platinum Rolex Daytona glistening obscenely on his right wrist. “Ten to two?! Attacking the day with both hands, son,” he observes, barely static, between draws on a Churchill.
“Thought that watch was only for special occasions.” Miraculously, words, not some scaly creature of the night, escape my mouth.
“Oh this old thing, son? It’s for steadying wobbly chairs.” I roll my eyes, signal to our bartender for a Moscow Mule and dive into the water – to be reborn; or at least brought undead. By no coincidence, Talking Heads is on the stereo.
I feel numb, born with a weak heart…I guess I must be having fun
Following a verbose silence, I confess: “I don’t know what kind of monster I became last night but the trouble and strife has given me the absolute don’t come Monday.”
Another silence ensues before Stav coughs – its intention dramatic. “Listen Joey, I’ve kept a lot of marriages together. I’m not proud of it, son; it’s dark and lonely work. So I’m only going to say this once: if she catches you smiling son, it’ll be grounds for divorce; if you want her to be happy, pray it starts raining sideways – ‘cos if you don’t, she will. They’re a joyride to bankruptcy son, and as it is, you could barely close a door. So for Christ’s sake just throw up the white flag.” Another long draw on his stogie. “I usually charge for this kind of advice.”
My iPhone lights up: my baby brother’s wife has just punched out their first child, extracted via the sunroof. Vincent Matthew Aston; the little prick stole my middle name. On my beanbag, reeking of Cuban, I warble Don McLean with a demented grin.
I could’ve told you Vincent, this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you
“Joey, go back to bed son. It’ll do you the world of good. I haven’t seen you this bad since yesterday.”