from my novella Sonny’s Guerrillas (2011):
Sonny shrugged, unbuckled his backpack and let it thump to the floor. “Let’s go to breakfast. My treat.”
My belly and wallet were nearly empty. I didn’t refuse.
We walked in the general direction of Monastiraki. The clashes of the previous night had left husks of burned cars on the streets. Nearly every shop had shuttered its roller doors. The only place we found open for business was a café in a narrow street off Adrianou. The café was run by a greasy–haired old woman. I ordered a big breakfast – bacon rashers and fried eggs with a glass of orange juice and coffee. Anastasia and Eva ordered the same. Sonny ordered a glass of tomato juice and took his laptop from a brown leather satchel.
“I need just two assistants to finish this movie,” Sonny said. He flipped open the laptop. Even now, talking to me over breakfast, he was editing the movie. “One guy to operate the camera, another to hold the boom mic. It’s simple. We shoot my Acropolis finale today and then we go to Aegina and finish the fucking movie in three days. By then the Bulgarian money should be in and you’ll be paid. I’m begging you.”
“I’m leaving Athens in two hours,” I said.
“Huh? Where can you go?”
We heard a distant crack. “Rubber bullets,” said Anastasia. She pulled out her phone and checked the internet for news. Her friends from Exarchia were back on the streets.
“This place is going up in smoke,” I said.
We ate quickly. Sonny closed his laptop and shoved it into his satchel. As we were about to leave the café a crowd of perhaps two hundred people swept down the narrow street from Adrianou in a mad panic. It was like a running of the bulls. We heard whistles and then the clatter of a tear gas canister on the pavement. People started yelling. Members of the Hellenic Police in gas masks were lined up to block access to side streets. The protestors were being funnelled in the same direction. The greasy–haired old woman stepped across the threshold of her café to watch the crowd and was knocked over by a teenage boy. She crawled back into the café. Blood was streaming from her nose. Eva took the woman to the safety of the kitchen.
We tried to run against the crowd back to Plaka. Anastasia yelled abuse in Greek at the cops blocking our passage to the side streets. She got caught up in a group of young women. Lots of people were shouting. Somebody bumped me and I fell face–first into the gutter. A heavy work boot stamped on my right ankle. A skinny teenage girl tumbled onto me, slammed her elbow into my right shoulder blade, then rolled off my back. Her head hit the pavement and she began to moan. I tried to crawl to help her but she got to her feet and stumbled off.
Sonny took my arm and pulled me off the ground. I tried to hobble along with him. My ankle felt sprained.
“This is a fucking war zone, man!” he said, scanning the crowd. “I can’t see the girls!”
Then some guy yelled in my ear and somebody’s elbow poked my ribcage. I nearly fell over again. Sonny and I were separated. I saw him lift a bleeding teenaged boy from the pavement and lead him out of the stampede.
Another tear gas canister exploded near me. The air became noxious. My eyes began to weep and I felt like vomiting. I tried to find a wall to crouch against. I couldn’t. My eyes were streaming and I never saw which cop’s truncheon broke my nose and thumped the back of my head.
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