Andreas* is in Greece. I meet him on his yacht, the 218 foot Rosenkavalier, built in 1929. He is one of nine children born to a shepherd. He made his fortune in donuts, and later cream-filled pastry puffs. “Come,” he says, “Sail with me. I will give you your own suite. You can do your work on the aft deck.”
I take a photo of him on a wicker chair, drinking champagne.
The light is gold mixed with silver. His face is dark from tanning. His smile is very white. His wife is Orthodox and will not divorce him. In the morning, he sends me a large stately hardcover cloth book, Burke’s Peerage. There is article on him and his rise from donuts.
In the afternoon, he takes me to a boatyard. His new yacht is there, all steel lines, massive as a ferry. “You will sail on it,” he says. “You will write about it.” He is a small man, with a small bullish chest. He has all his hair and kind dark eyes: not dark like coal or iron ore or night. But brown like a dog’s eyes—a spaniel or beagle.
He has four children. His son’s name is Dionysius. I don’t meet his daughters. When I get home to New York, Andreas calls me up. “I followed you,” he said. “I arrive tonight, via Miami.” He has his own plane.
I take him to the Village Vanguard. It could be wonderful, I think, to sail with him, to have my own suite, to work on the aft deck. He shows me the suite – he has a brochure. The bedspread is shiny black. The drapes are gold. Or, “you could have the petal room,” he says. It is delicate, like tendrils, pale green and yellow. “Lalique,” he says, when I touch the bowl in the photograph. “Fantasia.”
At the Vanguard, it is dark and smoky. A band plays the blues and he likes the blues, he says. He understands the blues. “Do you,” he asks, understand the blues? Perhaps not yet.” He lays out his business card. He adds a number to it. “Come tonight,” he says, meaning to the Mediterranean. “Come next week. I will arrange it.”
We don’t eat. He is past eating. We drink champagne. I am twenty-seven and wearing a short skirt. I am wearing a pale peach silk shirt that is shoulderless and wrapped at the neck. The lights lower. The lights lower again. He has his right arm around my shoulder. He lowers his hand to my breast. He takes his finger and his thumb and squeezes my nipple. He crushes it. Although this hurts so much that I hold my breath, I stay very still, very quiet,
I pretend not to notice. What I do notice is that he has warned me. What I do notice is that never will I sail with him in the Aegean. Never will I swim with him or write about him on his aft deck.
Later, he builds the Alysia. It is 280 feet. It has thirty-six crew. Weekly rental is 661,500 Euros ($820,000). He is in Mumbai at a trade show. He leaves his boat in the harbor and goes in search of a curry to eat. It is 2008 and he dines at the Palace. Islamist fundamentalists overtake the Palace. He and his fellow guests are locked in the basement. Andreas uses his cell phone to call his family and then the BBC. His last words describe a lull in the bombing. You can hear them online**: “All we know is the bombs are next door and the hotel is shaking every time a bomb goes off. Everyone is just living on their nerves.” He is shot five times and dies at seventy-three.
*Andreas Liveras, dies 11/2008
** This live recording could be found online in 2014
Previously published in 52 Men, Red Hen Press, 2015.