“It’s Cold As Ice” by Panayotis

Cold as Ice
Cold as Ice

It’s As Cold As Ice and I had just gotten home from work, after parking my car next to a snow pile, which seemed to be the size of the iceberg that sank the Titanic. I entered my house and called out “hello, anybody home?”
“I’m in the kitchen dear,” said my wife. I hung my overcoat on the hook in the vestibule and slipped my rubbers off. I grabbed the mail that was lying on the floor as I walked into the kitchen and sat down at the table.

“How was your day at the office dear?”
“Alright I guess, Tom asked me if I wanted to go to the hockey game tomorrow night and I told him that I might, but I wasn’t sure. By the way, where is Peter?”
“What a coincidence that you say that, it reminds me that I need to talk to you about hockey.”
“Really!” My wife continued speaking, but I heard nothing. Some women would say it’s a man thing, I don’t know. All I know is that I always seem to lack the ability to pay attention to my wife. It’s funny because I love my wife. She’s the love of my life, but when she starts talking about all that woman-stuff, I seem to tune her out.

As I went through all the mail, I could hear her still rattling on, it seemed like she was speaking a million words a minute. “I’m sorry dear, did you say something?”
“Were you not paying attention to what I was saying?”
“I was, honestly and I was just wondering where Peter was.”

I glanced at my wife’s face as she gave me that stare. You know the kind of stare that a woman gives a man, that rattles the spirit of all men – big or small. “What dear, is something wrong?” I desperately attempted to divert a catastrophe, as I quickly changed the subject, hoping that the fire
shooting out my wife’s eyes would slowly extinguish itself. , leaving me with a chance for survival.

“When is supper going to be ready, I’m famished?” My wife started to set the table when my son Peter came in the room. “How was school today son?”
“Just find dad, I got one hundred percent on my math test today.”
“Great, I am so proud of you.”
“Hey dad, tomorrow night I’m having a hockey game, you promised me that you would come to my next game.”
“Oh wow son, that’s too bad, I’m going to the hockey game with your uncle Tom tomorrow night, maybe the next one, okay?”
“Yeah, sure dad, maybe the next game.”

I purposely didn’t look at my son; I didn’t want to see the disappointment on his face. My eyes moved to my wife, that was a mistake. I could see fire shooting out of her eyes again and this time I saw no hope of surviving. “What, what’s wrong?”

‘You are going to Peter’s hockey game to see your son play like you promised, because if you don’t….” I’ve heard that tone of voice and the threats from my darling wife before. Without total obedience on my part, the good life as it now exists for me would dissipate into thin air. Not to mention, that it would get very cold in here. I could already feel the shivers racing up my spine. Therefore, I cowered, as I spoke to my wife
and I told her that I changed my mind, I would love to go to Peter’s game — lies, all lies.

The next night I was standing beside my son’s coach, it was cold as hell waiting for the game to start. Man, it was cold! Why couldn’t the teams play in an inside arena, where it is warmer and where they had seats to sit on. I can’t wait for this game to finish.
“Hey coach, I’m Peter’s father, nice to meet you?”
“Pleased to meet you.”
“So, my son’s a good goaltender?”
“I’m sorry!”
“I said no he’s not.”
“Let me get this straight. My son is not a good goaltender.”
“Then why is he …?”
“Because no one else wanted to be the goaltender.”

I stood there confused, trying to figure out the of the coach’s logic. It was too cold for me to think.  The hockey game started. I turned and looked at Peter, as he stood steadfast in front of the goal, giving the impression of being as solid as the rock of Gibraltar. As I looked at him, I noticed that his goaltender equipment seemed a little large for him. His shin pads were so big that they covered half of his chest pad. I asked the coach about the pads seeming too big for Peter.

“They’re the only ones the park has; they have to fit all the teams. From the Mosquito league up to the Juniors. Listen can you help me?”
“Yeah, I guess. What do you want me to do?’
“Well when your son falls down, can you go and pick him up.”
“Huh! What do you mean?”

Turning suddenly towards the play as I heard the crowd standing on the other side of the rink yelling loudly as their team headed towards my our goal. I wasn’t sure if they were really supportive or trying to keep alive from the cold? Without thinking twice about it I also started to yell encouragement to my son as the other team’s player reached the front of our net and shot the puck. It hit Peter squarely on his chest as he fell on top of it.

A huge ovation and applause came from the crowd on this side of the rink. As I screamed and cheered at my son’s great job of stopping the opposite team from scoring.
The whistle blew and the game stopped.
“Okay dad, go pick up your son.”
“What, what do you mean?”
“You need to go pick up your son off the ice.”

I quickly looked at my son. He was still lying on his back on the ice. “His he hurt?”

“No, he’s alright. He just can’t get up. You need to go help him get up.”
I stared at the Coach with a look of confusion. I looked back at my son and saw him still lying on the ice on his back with his legs and arms moving from side to side as he desperately tried to get back on his feet. He looked like a turtle that had the misfortune to find itself on its back, unable to right itself with its short legs It was tragic, but I couldn‘t help but laugh. I quickly jumped onto the ice and tried to run to his side without
falling down and making a fool of myself.

“You okay son?” My son nodded yes, I was looking at him through the grill of his goaltenders’ mask which was really a baseball catcher’s mask. My son smiled at me as he struggled to straighten himself with my help. He was unsteady on his skates. The only way he could keep himself from falling was to lean against and hold on tightly to the goal post.

“You okay son?” He nodded yes, I was looking at him through the grill of his goaltenders’ mask which was really a baseball catcher’s mask. My son smiled at me as he struggled to straighten himself with my help. He was unsteady on his skates. The only way he could keep himself from falling was to lean against and hold on tightly to the goal post.
“Thanks, dad, I’m okay now.”

I stood there and smiled and asked if he would be alright, he nodded yes. Then the referee blew his whistle and signaled me to get off the ice. I told Peter that he made a great save and ran back to my position beside the rink.

It seemed that both goalies had the same problem. Once they made the initial save they were down for the count, and unable to move, laying on their backs resembling an armadillo when they’ve become road kill. So if they hadn’t the luck to fall onto the puck, they were unable to stop the next shot.

As Cold As Ice, But Home At Last

It was a great game, My son’s team won, 15 to 14. Looking at the score, you would think that this was a football game, not a hockey game.
It was late when we finally got home. My wife was in the living room waiting patiently for us to return. My son ran to her.
“Mom, Mom we won, we won.”
‘That’s great, I’m so proud of you. But it‘s late, you have school tomorrow. So you need to get ready for bed, okay.” My son said okay as he gave her a big hug.

“Thanks dad for coming to my game, it was great.”
“Yes, son it was great, I’m very proud of you.” He came over and gave me a big hug, tighter than I could ever remember. For a fleeting moment, I looked at my son as he walked away to his room and then my stare moved to my wife’s face. It was absolutely beautiful as always, and this time it had a large smile on it.
“What do you say we go to bed?”
I nodded yes, as I followed her into the bedroom with a smile on my face.

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Almost The End – A Short Story by Panayotis

Almost The End

Almost the end

By Panayotis

 Almost the end. It was Sunday the fourth of September 1966 and the long Labor Day weekend was almost over. There was a fine drizzle misting down on us, just enough to make the streets slick. My buddy and I were joyriding on our friend’s motorcycle. Our friend did not know that we had borrowed his bike, but what the hell, this was not the first time we had borrowed his bike without his permission. We were going to bring it back, just like we’ve done so many times, over these last few weeks.

In the first place, this weekend was special; I was celebrating my salary raise that I had received on Friday. My salary went from $1.00 to $1.10 per hour. Life was great; I was 16 years old and on my own. I tried to forget that I had just been thrown out of my parents’ house after an argument with my father and was now living in an apartment that cost me seventy-five dollars a month. After the rent was paid there was not much left for the crucial necessities which sustain life, like cigarettes beer and food.

My buddy, Mike asks me where I wanted to go.” We can go downtown and check out the action, or we can go home.” I told him that I would like to go downtown and see what was happening.

“Okay, we’ll go by Atwater down to St Catherine St,” said Mike.

As we raced toward Atwater to make our turn we were forced to stop at a red light. I remembered thinking that it would be nice if we could turn right on a red light, but no such luck, it was not allowed. Quebec was still living in the dark ages. Sitting in the rain it seems to take an eternity for that light to change. I heard the sounds of screeching tires somewhere behind us and turned to see what was causing the commotion.

It must have stopped raining because I could not feel it on my face anymore. I opened my eyes and found myself surrounded by a bright white light. It did not hurt my eyes to look into it but I instinctively closed my eyes against it. I opened my eyes again and a women’s face slowly started to come into focus. Furthermore, she was the most beautiful women I had ever seen. She was surrounded by the bright white light and her skin appeared to glow. In addition, I could not take my eyes off her. I was hypnotized by her exquisiteness.

Her long flowing fiery red hair wrapped itself around her delightful face. Her features were accented by her eyes of deep Mediterranean blue; it seemed that her stare had mystic powers penetrating every part of my soul. This beautiful Angel spoke to me but I could not understand what she was saying. I could feel a wave of serenity flow over me, I felt very much at peace with myself. I tried again to talk to her but my efforts were without success. She just smiled at me, I felt surrounded by love, and I will never forget her smile.

As suddenly as my Angel appeared she disappeared. A dark feeling slowly crept through me, I was very cold and wet, it seemed to be raining again. If what I had seen was an Angel, then I must be dead, but how? That just can’t be. I can’t be dead, I would know if I were dead, wouldn’t I?

Appearing in front of me was a jolly fat man with a blue cap. He also spoke to me, but once again I couldn’t make out what this chubby guy was saying or for that matter what he wanted from me. I tried to make out some of the features of his face but couldn’t. It looked as though he was wearing a uniform of some kind. I wasn’t sure if angels in heaven had to wear any uniforms. As far as I knew of they didn’t, at least I was almost sure they didn‘t. On his cap and on his shirt was something very shiny. I just couldn’t make it out.

Uniquely, I slowly started to hear what my jolly friend was saying, as he rattled off quickly sounds to something or someone behind me. I just couldn‘t see who it was. I concentrated very hard on understanding what the man was saying.The man was no longer looking at me; he was concentrating on whatever was behind me. He slowly looked back at me as he stretched his arm to reach beside my face as he continued to talk. The whole event came crashing down on me. I could now understand that he was talking to me in French. Then the police badges on his shirt and cap came into focus.

He was trying to explain to me that I had been in an accident and I was seriously injured. As I listened to the officer explain what had happened I realized that he was reaching beside me to grab something. It was my leg. It had been so badly broken from the impact of the car that I had landed with my left foot resting against my right ear. The officer straightened my leg everything went black.

Almost The End, Was I Dead?

Later, I found out that I had almost died that night. We had been hit so hard by a taxi that the impact had thrown me twenty yards into a field of tall grass, my buddy Mike had been pinned under the car. If he had lost consciousness that night they would never have found me. It was only after my buddy asked the officers where I was and if I was okay that they realized there had been someone else involved in the accident and they started searching for me.

I don’t consider myself a very religious man but the vision of that night still haunt me. Angels, are they real or not? Still to this day, almost 40 years later I find myself asking if, the reason that I am alive today is because of an Angel.

It was almost the end.

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The Old Spartan, A Short Story of A Man Sensing The End

The Old Spartan

The Old Spartan

By Panayotis

The old Spartan woke up from a deep sleep, soaking wet from perspiration, he could feel the droplets of sweat sliding down the side of his chest. He arched his back up and lifted himself onto his elbows. From that position, he could easily see out of his bedroom window.

It was still drizzling, almost as hard as it had been when he fell asleep. The old Spartan tried to lay there; thinking that today was his 70th birthday. He thought about the surprise birthday party that his family had been planning. As a matter of fact, he thought that the hardest part about a surprise birthday party was going to be convincing everyone that he was surprised.

His mind drifted back to images of his dream that lingered in his mind like smoke swirling in the room. He had this dream many times before, but this time there was something different and something surreal about it. In his dream, he was back in the old country – Greece. The old Spartan was sitting at a table by himself, drinking a glass of wine and listening to the old men of the village. The old men loved to hang around the tavern arguing about politics, religion and of course the meaning of life. Except in his dream today, it was different.

The fine line between dream-life and real-life was blurred. He was sitting in the taverna, sipping his glass of wine listening to the old men when the silhouette of a cloaked man appeared in the doorway and approached him.
The stranger walked with his head held high, as the stranger’s face came into view he could see that it was a face strong in character and wisdom.

The strangers face had the intensity that only a man of greatness could possess. The stranger asked if he could sit with him, he told the old Spartan that he had to talk to him and it was of the greatest importance. The old man was uncertain of the man’s motive, one look into the stranger’s eyes, told him differently, that he could trust the stranger.
A few moments passed and nothing was said, finally, the old man asked the stranger for his name. What the stranger told the old man, left him in awe.

A few moments passed and nothing was said, finally, the old man asked the stranger for his name. What the stranger told the old man, left him in awe.
“I am called Leonides – I am called King of Sparta.”
The old man stared at the stranger sitting across from him, in total disbelief but was still able to muster the strength to ask, “How can this be?”

In the stranger’s regal face, the old man saw greatness and humility. He realized that he truly was in the presence of the great King. The King continued to speak as he explained the purpose of his visit.
“I have gone through many hardships and trials for our people. I sit here in front of you with a chest that is bursting with pride for our small Spartan force. With the help of our allies, we fought and delayed Xerxes’s army from destroying our beloved Greece.”

The King continued that Xerxes would have marched into Greece and would have destroyed Greece and the Greek culture. It would have put civilization back into the dark ages and they almost succeeded.
The old man sat quietly in front of the King as the King continued to speak. “Now we are called again to face an insurmountable task. To defeat the threat of destruction of our way of life.”

“Yes, but why are you speaking to me, I am an old man.”
The King smiled and stretched out his powerful hand and gently held the old man’s hand.

“Your heart and soul are not old, but that of a youth.” Also, he told the old man that his group of three hundred Spartans was not enough to face this new threat. He would need the courage and strength of many more Spartan men.

The old man sat listening to the King, he nodded and hung his head low, seemingly in shame. The old man expressed that it was too late for him. He was too old to go with the King. The old Spartan wished that he could go, but he just could not.

He suddenly remembered that today was his 70th birthday and his family was having a surprise birthday party for him. Not to mention there was no way he could disappoint his son and grandchildren. It was too important for him to be there.

“Yes, it is important for you to be there. So I’ll come back to get you, so you can join your fellow Spartans to help us in our quest.”
The old man forced himself up so that he could sit on the side of his bed. His eyes looked out his bedroom window as he saw the sun struggling to break from the dawn and spill its brilliance upon the old Spartan’s face.

He sat there thinking that his recurring dream always finished the same way. That the King would tell him that he would come back for him and take him with him. Except, his dream had never been so real.
Yes, today was his birthday and looking at the brilliant sun that had partially escaped the horizon as it entered the clear beautiful Florida sky, he thought that – today would be a great day to die. He pushed the dream into the back rooms of his mind and went on with his day.

The old man just got back to his home after his daily walk and opened his front door to the shrieks of Happy Birthday Papou. Of course, the old man put on a face of total surprise as his grandchildren raced to their grandfather to get their hugs and kisses. The grandchildren held their grandfather’s hand as they led him into the dining room. His son came and gave him a hug and kisses as he wished his father a happy birthday with much more to come. The old man smiled as he told his son that all his boys were the biggest pride of his life.

The supper was delicious, the old man could not remember the last time he had such a great meal since the passing of his wife. He sat at the table listening to the hustle and bustle of his family as they passed out slices of his birthday cake after he had blown out the candles. The old Spartan could still see the two candles 7 and 0 on top of the cake.

He decided to have his coffee in his garden that he loved so much, every time he sat in it, memories of his darling wife came back to him.
“Here Dad, here is your coffee, do you want anything else?” The old man didn’t answer, his mind had returned to his dream and King Leonides. The son stood to wait for his father to answer, but none was coming, so he went inside. The old Spartan took a sip of his coffee as he looked proudly over his well-tended garden. He heard someone speak to him from behind him and turned around. It was King Leonides.

Time To Go

“I have come back for you, are you ready?” The old man sat there and said yes he was ready.
He stood up and walked to the King’s side. First, he had to go tell his son goodbye. “It won’t be necessary, said the King.”
The old man turned as he heard his grandchildren speaking to him, only to see that they were not talking to him but was talking to someone in his chair. He watched his grandchildren run to tell their father that Papou was asleep.

The old man started to walk towards the figure in his chair when the King stopped him. He was about to say something when his son came out to the man in the chair as he spoke to him. The old Spartan watched as his son gently touched the cheek of the figure in the chair. Then slowly sank into the next chair as he buried his face in his hands and started to weep.

“You are a great man., loved by your family. An accomplishment that is rarely seen.” The old man watched as his son wept. Similarly, he watched as the rest of his family came into the garden and gathered around the motionless figure in the chair. They too silently started to weep.

Not Alone

The old Spartan looked at Leonides, he suddenly realized that the King was no longer covered by a dark cloak, but was wearing a brilliant gold-covered chest armor. On his head was a beautiful helmet with flaming red plumes. His sword hung by his side as his red cape rippled in the wind.
“Your majesty, how can I help you with your quest when I’m alone?”
The King raised his hand and laid it on the shoulder of the man. “You are not alone my dear friend look around you.”

The old Spartan turned and tried to see, into the growing mist. His vision cleared as many shapes and figures of other men that had risen to the call of the King’s Quest slowly encircled them. He could see men as far as his old eyes could see.
He turned back to Leonides and said, “I am ready my King”
“So be it,” said the Spartan King as the great King of Sparta led his new army, with the old Spartan by his side.

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”Wolf” A Short Story By Panayotis



By Panayotis

The man sat in his office as he looked at the clock on the wall, it was Friday evening and it was already 6:00 pm. No wonder he could not see anyone outside his office. Everyone had gone home by 5:00 pm. He knew that he had to get his paperwork together and get ready to go home.
Grudgingly he promised his brother that he would go with him ice fishing this weekend. He was not looking forward to going. But He loved his brother but his brother was an accident ready to happen. The man sat there trying to think of a way out of his predicament as the phone rang, it was his brother.

“Hey what are you doing? We’ve got to get going.”
Okay, Tom, I’m almost through here, I’ll be ready in half an hour.” His brother told him okay and the park was almost two hundred miles away, so he begged him to hurry.

As he hung up the phone he wondered why he kept getting himself into these dilemmas. It did not take him long to get to his apartment, it was just around the corner. The apartment was small but adequate.  He enjoyed the location; it was downtown and was only a few steps away from major restaurants and the city’s bustling nightlife.

Within minutes, he was home. He changed into some warm clothing and stood to wait at the entrance of his apartment building for his brother. Soon, his brother drove up and they were on the highway heading north towards the state park.

“So Tom, is the fishing good?”
“Good, it’s great. All you have to do is cut a hole in the ice and the fish will jump right out,” Tom sniggered as he spoke, “they just can’t wait to get out of that cold water.”
“Right, I believe you, Tom.”
“Honestly Peter, I wouldn’t lie to you?”
“Not unless you had to, right? By the way, what’s the weather forecast like? I thought I heard that a big storm was coming.”
His brother did not say anything just kept driving.

“Did you hear what I said?”
“Yea I heard you, it will be alright I have a nose for these things.”
Peter suddenly started to get nervous. Whenever he hears his brother say that he is in control, he panics.
“Listen Tom is there going to be a storm or not?”
“Yea, a little one, they always exaggerate, you know that.”

The problem was that he did not know that. The weather forecast was normally right on the money and if they were wrong, they usually underestimated the strength of the storm. He was very angry with  Tom. He should have known better than to trust him.

Snowflakes started to hit the front windshield. They had been driving for nearly an hour, leaving small quaint towns behind as they got closer and closer to the state park. It was now snowing very badly. He could hardly see ten feet ahead of him. He glanced at his brother Tom, as he strained his eye to see ahead.

As he was telling his brother, “Don’t you think you should slow down a bit, the visibility…” his brother slammed the brakes on the car. The car skidded out of control as soon as the tires made contact with the ice surface that lay hidden underneath the snow.

The car crashed through the guardrail as it momentarily became airborne. It grazed a snow pile on its way to a large evergreen tree. The crushing sounds of the hood of the car were the last thing the men heard.

Peter slowly opened his eyes, awakened by a loud blaring sound; he felt sweat rolling down his face. Suddenly realized that he was not sweating, but was covered with blood. He then saw the site of his brother’s blood covered face as his eyes focused and it came into view. His brother’s body leaned against the stirring wheel. He pulled his brother off the stirring wheel as he spoke to him. There was no response; his brother was breathing, yet unconscious. He tried to see how badly his brother was hurt. There didn’t seem to be any bones broken, but he could not be sure.
He grabbed his cell phone and tried to dial out only to find that he was unable to get a signal. He wasn’t surprised, the weather was miserable outside.

Then he heard for the first time the howling. Thinking to himself that it sure sounded like a wolf. Boy that was all he needed. Looking at his watch; he must have out cold for almost an hour after the impact. Dam he was freezing, he tried to see outside the window but couldn’t, it was covered with snow. So he opened the door with difficulty, it was blocked. With a strong heave, the door gave way and opened. He got out of the car and looked around. But he could not see very much, it was dark, the moon was hidden behind the clouds. He noticed that the snow had slowed down drastically to what it had been. Trying his phone again, still no signal.

The tree that they hit was enormous; it had to be at least one hundred feet tall. The car had never got to the truck of the tree. The huge branches had stopped them. He walked towards the enormous pine tree as he slid under its branches to a large clearing protected by the tree. He knew that he had to get his brother out of the car or he would freeze to death.

Here he could use what he had learned as a Boy Scout and start a fire. Yes, that was what he was going to do, so he headed back to the car and opened the door, his brother hadn’t moved. As he tugged on his brother, he heard the howling of the wolf again, he was certain that the sound was closer. The snow had practically stopped as he looked up to see the moon escaping the clouds. The area lit up. He slowly dragged his brother as they disappeared between the branches, he had not noticed the killer eyes in the distance.

He had the fire going in a short time after he laid his brother on a layer of pine needles, covered with a blanket taken from the car. The fallen branches from the tree were very dry and ignited easily. He checked his brother, who seemed comfortable as he walked around picking up some of the fallen branches. His arms were full as he turned around and was terrified at what he saw.

A wolf was slowly moving towards his brother with its jaws wide open. It looked like the wolf could taste its next meal. He dropped the pile of sticks on the ground, which startled the wolf. He quickly grabbed a branch from the fire and attacked it. The wolf momentarily held its grounds as a heart retching growl came from it. The animal wasn’t afraid of the man, but the fire was another thing altogether. Suddenly, the head of another wolf came into view with two more right behind it.

Seeing them, he grabbed another branch and with one branch in each hand, he charged the wolf. The wolf was too scared of the fire that it ran back the way it came with the rest of the pack right behind it. With the wolf gone, he rushed back and brought more wood for the fire. He wanted to make sure that the flames were big and hot. This was the only chance they had to survive.

He turned as brother spoke.“What happened?”
He quickly explained what had happened and the predicament they were in. He tried again to use his cell phone. A smile came across his face as he heard a dial tone. He called 911.

The next few hours were the scariest of his life as they waited for help to reach them. It had started to snow heavily again and he knew the roads would be blocked everywhere and he didn’t know how long before help would arrive. All he could hear was the movements of the wolves around him as they continued to look for a way to attack.

What he heard next was what sounded like a gunshot. There was a rustling sound as the head of a trooper came into view.
“Everybody okay, we’ll have you out in a few moments. He smiled as he looked down at his brother.

A few moments later, they were in the emergency vehicle. The paramedics made his brother more comfortable as they took care of him.
As they drove away, he glanced out the window as he saw the moon again escaping its prison. He could see in the distance the pack of wolves, with their haunting eyes gleaming in the night.

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