On a hot Saturday morning in February, Dymas and Spyridon caught the bus to the Clare Valley. They were glad that it wasn’t too far away, as the interior of the bus was like a furnace. They were also relieved that there weren’t too many people on board, because it meant that there were several vacant seats at the back, giving them opportunity to swap places a few times in an effort to avoid the sun’s burning rays as the vehicle twisted its way northwards.
As fast as they wiped the sweat from their sticky foreheads it was back again, trickling into their eyes, over their flushed cheeks and down the back of their necks. Their wet shirts stuck to the crimson leather seats. All the windows were open, and the hot north wind roared through, enervating everyone on board.
The bus dropped them right at the front of Spyridon’s father’s vineyard. They were glad to step out into the open, and feel the movement of the air against their backs. Spyridon led Dymas down the long, dusty red driveway, alongside green vines laden with fruit. Dymas could smell a heady sweetness in the shimmering late summer air, as the sun warmed the maturing grapes.
The house they came to at the end of the driveway was surrounded by a broad verandah. Dymas remembered many warm nights sitting with his father on a more modest verandah.
Spyridon took Dymas into the house. They were unable to see immediately, as their eyes adjusted from the glare of the sun to the dim interior. Spyridon called to his father but the house was silent.
‘He must be outside in the vines somewhere,’ Spyridon explained. ‘We’ll go and look for him, but let’s have a drink first.’
As they drank a long, cool, lime cordial, Dymas took note of the interior of the house. It was large, and tastefully furnished, but was obviously a male abode. There were no feminine touches anywhere, and Dymas remembered that Spyridon’s mother died before the family came to Australia.
Spyridon led Dymas outside and took him around to the back of the property, where more vines were growing. He saw a group of people in the distance and shaded his eyes. ‘Dad’s here. I can see him with some of the hired hands.’
The two walked between the vines, the sun beating down upon them, in the direction of the group of men. As the men saw Dymas and Spyridon approaching, they dispersed among the vines, all except one who slowly walked towards them, removing a broad-brimmed hat in order to wipe his sweaty brow. The man underneath the hat was unmistakably Greek. His olive skin was very dark, after years in the sun among the vines.
Spyridon introduced his friend and potential business colleague to his father. ‘Dad, this is my friend, Dymas Galanos—the one I’ve been telling you about. Dymas, this is my father.’
Dymas extended his hand to the short, dark man. He was about fifty, Dymas thought—bald but for some remaining traces of dark hair, now peppered with grey, circling the back of his head and finishing above his ears. He had a full grey moustache, sheltering the top lip of what appeared to be a stern mouth. However, it was the man’s eyes that dominated his face—not in size, but in their deep, black-granite intensity.