Karagiozis and the Four-Headed Beast

Mrs. Chrysoula and her little boy, Takis, had taken me in after my father—may the earth rest lightly on his bones—had been executed by the occupying Germans. He’d stolen a few squash, can you imagine? Such a crime! The shock of his death had made me lose my voice. Not long after that, Mrs. Chrysoula also took in Mrs. Sophia and her son, Stelios—refugees fleeing the awful roundup of Jews in Athens. Mrs. Chrysoula was hiding the mother and son in her basement.

We were like a little family, seeing the war out as best we could during the time the Allies were taking Italy. From what we’d heard on the shortwave, Americans were all over our neighboring peninsula, using it as a point from which to bomb the Greek military base occupied by the Germans at Tatoi, north of Athens. What had happened to Mussolini? No one seemed to know. It wouldn’t be until after the liberation of Greece that we’d see the newsreels of Il Duce and his mistress hanging by their heels in a public square filled with laughing Italians. The camera caught one grinning man leaning over the edge of the roof where the bodies were hanging, just touching the dictator’s shoe and looking so proud of himself. Ah, what we won’t do for a bit of notoriety. It would not be the last opportunity in that grim decade for such dismal fame.

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