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  • After I left the village I drove toward the highest point on the island. Halfway up the mountain is the small town of Agiasos. I had a vague childhood memory of hand-painted pottery on the approach. Sure enough, the little shop was still there. I kept driving and stopped near the center of town.

    I had cell phone reception up there on the mountain so I called my parents. I told my mother about my encounter, the man in the street, the ghost feeling. I talked to her while I stood there at the side of the road in Agiasos, looking out at some chickens. It had just rained. I remember that at this point I was speaking a mixture of English and Greek with my mother, and she told me I sounded different. Significant at the time. (Why ghost? The old man, or me? My grandfather?)

    A sense of myself. A man who can engage. A man who knows his place.

    But also: an anxious feeling. I had fled. Ok, I had waited. Waited and then left. The ghost encounter was an open-ended story.

    She said my father was out fishing on his boat.

    I felt like I had to confess. I'd been to the village, but I was already gone.

    I called my father's cell phone and told him about the encounter with the old man, the wait at the kafeneio, the unresolved departure. He was quiet, then asked me if I had found the house, the home of his parents. I hadn't, so he started to give me directions, as though I'd go back. The fork at the center of town, where I had gone right, that was wrong. I should go left. Keep going up the hill, until you see a big house on the left, then turn left. That's the street.

    He was trying to complete the story.

    He was fishing with a friend, a greek friend, so I felt embarrassment hovering there, in the background. "Paul's there, he's returned to the village." But then he left.

    "I think you should go back. Go back and look for Maria, she's there on the corner. Knock on her door and ask her how it's going with the house. Tell her you want to see the house." My father was in the process of transferring the deed to the house over to a distant cousin in the village. He had left. He was letting go.

    My encounter with the old man was like a three-way stitch. A thread that leads back to something (someone), a warp-speed link stitched between the eyes of the old man, his view of my back as I walked through his town, and the memory of my dead grandfather. A recognition that I was there, at this moment, for 30 minutes, in order for this to happen. I had traveled to Greece for three months to enable this encounter during my last weekend in the country but here's the thing—the way I told the story to my father was dipped in disappointment. I knew it sounded incomplete to my father.

    "I think you should go back." But I had gone back. I told my father I wasn't sure.
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