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The Trihead

The Trihead

A young man lies awake in his modest cabin on a small ship, the Tri-head, pondering his insomnia, listening to the crackling noises of the ropes and the movement of the boat in the water. He mulls over his nervousness when the boat, of which his father is the captain and he the sole crew, is in port, his difficulty meeting with people, the physical discomfort he experiences in the presence of humans. He decides to get up and walk around the vessel. He sees his father in a terrible state, drunk, holding all the money they have gained through trading from port to port over a very long time, and rushing out of the boat. He follows him in the dark roads of the port, pleading for him to return, but his father goes in a shabby casino where he puts all the money on one bet, despite his son’s pleas. After losing the money, the father heads for the hill above the port, followed closely by the son; he pleads with the son to leave and let him kill himself, for his hands are awash with blood; he had killed his brother. On hearing this, the son passes out. When he wakes up he sees his father in front of him and thanks him for not throwing himself off the rocks. The other then rushes to the rocks and only when our hero follows him does he realise that he is in front of two identical men - one drunk and ready to jump, the other trying to stop him. A fight ensues and the new man, who explains that he is our hero’s uncle, prevails with the help of the son. They carry the father back to the boat. While the son tends to the father, the uncle secretly sets sail. On the way, he unravels the family history to his nephew. They arrive at an uninhabited island; the uncle, having locked the father in his cabin, takes our hero ashore. He leads the young man through a narrow passage into a cave, and going down some steps through the darkness, they arrive at a wonderfully built dome, open at the top, wherein the secret tombs of generations of family members lie. The uncle recounts that in each generation there are triplets sons who have to fight in the tomb until one wins. The dead are buried in the walls of the dome, while the winner inherits the Trihead boat and has three sons that perpetuate this pattern. He explains what happened in his generation’s triple duel; after our hero’s father killed the third brother, he hit the uncle cowardly during the burial and left him for dead on the island. A passing boat saved the uncle and after so many years of resentment he wants to finish the duel according to the rules. They return to the Trihead to fetch our narrator’s father but they find him blinded after he had attempted to burn the boat. They drag the blind man into the tomb. A complicated arrangement of blindfolding ensures parity among the two brothers and the duel begins. Through a ruse the sword ends up in the hands of the narrator and he kills the uncle. The father instructs the son to sail the boat to an unknown port. On arrival he gives him advice how to get to the house where his own two brothers live. Our hero did not know that he had any brothers. He approaches with trepidation, and overhears his brothers discussing him. Frightened, he tries to run away, but they follow him down to the port and into the boat. The two brothers, similar in looks to our hero, yet much stronger and fearsome, take over the boat and sail towards the island with the tombs. It becomes obvious that the two brothers knew the uncle had informed the father that he was going to finish the duel, but they are unaware of the outcome. The two brothers take their father to the dome and kill him there. Our narrator, full of rage, tries to strangle the first brother and then kills the other, who had come looking for him with a knife. He runs out of the dome and gets on the boat. He sets sail, with the screams of the surviving brother drowning in the noise of the engine as the Trihead gains distance.

Published in Greek: Ο Τρικέφαλος, Stigmi, Athens, 2001.

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