Swampled, a novel, by Manolis Aligizakis

Posted: 29/07/2021 by vequinox in Literature

SWAMPED, a novel by Manolis Aligizakis

(Excerpt)

He returned to planning the coming day. He would have to fit in a meeting with Richard Walden, the stock promoter of Golden Veins, a company Eteo had financed about a year ago. He had purchased a million shares of Golden Veins, an oil startup in Saskatchewan with good prospects, heavy oil but in a good location where several other small producers were located. What made it different was that, besides the ground, this small company had a new technology that a group of engineers in Vancouver had been promoting. They had invented a new sensing apparatus which, they claimed, could find oil in the ground just by driving their car over the property. That had attracted plenty of attention, but Richard Walden had somehow gotten the exclusive use of it, presumably by promising the engineers a good chunk of money if the machine proved itself in the field. The end result was that Golden Veins fed the hungry engineers for a while in return for having the first right of using their exclusive technology on the company’s prospect in Saskatchewan. What had impressed Eteo the most was a comment Richard had made when they had met for the first time year and a half ago. When Eteo asked what the promoter’s goals were, he had replied, “All of it, the estate, the yacht, the works!”

Eteo’s restless mind ran back to his parents again. He hadn’t talked to them for a couple of weeks now, and the thought made him feel sad. The flow of his everyday life forced him to neglect calling them as often as he wanted. He felt unable to help his parents as much as he should from this far side of the globe where he had chosen to emigrate. What had made him go this far away from them? He had always wanted to leave his poor homeland and the dismal chances of success in it after his graduation, but why had he come this far? Was it only because Paul Nikolitch, the guy at the Canadian Embassy, had advised him to go to Vancouver? Eteo had done that without thinking that someday his parents would grow old. He had never imagined how miserable he would feel when he was so far away and they needed him the most. But back then Eteo had only been twenty-six, and he thought he would only stay in Canada for two years. Everybody emigrated for that length of time. They all left their motherland for two years but most ended up staying away for a lifetime.

What was wrong with him, still awake at this ungodly hour of the morning?  He lay in bed with open eyes, but it was too early to get up. Perhaps Eteo was just a man difficult to be with. Perhaps he was the problem. Perhaps the reason his wife left him had been exactly that: it was simply too hard for anyone to be with him. No, Eteo was an easygoing guy who could adapt to anything, who could be happy with anything. Didn’t he put up with his ex-wife going away on her own to India so many times? Who else could have done that without going ballistic and swearing from left to right and from north to south?

As if to cheer him up, a light breeze swayed the curtains into a slow tango. Was it to lead his mind to rest? Perhaps after all he could go to sleep for a while, at least until the morning star called from the eastern horizon. But sleep wasn’t in the cards, and Eteo decided to get up. He put on his robe, walked down to the kitchen and got the coffee going, and soon the aroma of brewing coffee woke him up completely. He filled his mug half way with milk and topped it up with coffee. He added his sugar and stirred it well, then walked to the family room and sat down in his armchair. The aroma of the coffee was delicious, and he took a couple of good sips of the fluid, savoring the taste. His eyes went to the door that led to the deck and he got up and pulled the blinds, allowing some of the early morning light to flood the room. His house faced west but the family room was on the other side of the house and looked east. The world was waking up in the part of the globe where Eteo lived.

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