Within a minute, I found myself face-to-face with the Greek police. I raised an eyebrow noticing that they also happened to be three handsome twenty-something rookies, each sporting the typical young Greek masculine look: short, dark brown hair, and scruffy, day-old facial hair. Dressed alike in crisp, navy blue uniforms and black combat boots, they stood up at the sight of us. Two had stopped swinging their koumbolois, a string of rosary- like beads that Greek men carry around, oftentimes clicking and petting out of habit. The third police officer put down his iced coffee, which Greeks called a frappe.
The officers eyed me up and down as the ticket officer caught them up on the story of my transgressions. I yearned to catch some meaning, but the Greek sounded like Greek to me and too fast.
“Mr. Panos say you left your wallet at home,” one officer said in perfectly clear English. Finally, there was someone who spoke my language well. Perhaps, there was hope. “You walk in Greece with no diavatirio.” He cleared his throat before he corrected himself. “Passport?”
“All of my ID cards were in my wallet and I was in a rush,” I said, wide- eyed. “Besides, I’ve been living here for seven months now.”
He looked unimpressed. “Name?”
“Um, thirty.” I bit my lip wondering why that mattered.
“Really?” He narrowed his eyes at me. In my rush out the door, I threw on a pair of baggy jeans, a green T-shirt, and my blue Converse. I looked like a college student; adults my age usually dressed to impress. But I hadn’t been feeling very adult lately, to be honest. It was clear that this officer thought I was a complete liar. My hopes sank.
“Thirty, yes,” I confirmed.
The officer glanced at his two co-workers who gave him a look I didn’t understand. He composed himself to return his attention to me.
“Married?” he asked quite professionally.
Silly question but it was a common inquiry even among Greek strangers, so why not from a police officer?
“Yes, my husband isn’t in Athens this week.” I resisted the urge to add something about the fact that Greg was never home lately. But I had enough sense to realize that airing my marriage’s dirty laundry probably wasn’t going to make the situation any better.
The officer lifted his dark brows with interest. “He is a Greek?” “No, we’re both American. I’m from New York and I’m here with Greg Brown, my husband.” The officer shot me a glance, his lips pressed flat. Did he not believe me?
Then it came to me. “Oh, I never changed my last name. He’s Brown and I’m Martin, but we’re together…together forever,” I heard myself say in a singsongy voice.
He looked at the bus officer then back at me, his face emotionless. I cupped my hands together in front of me. “He’s in Rome, I think.” My voice began to crack. Why did I have to say his name? Why did I have to talk about us? Maybe, I just gave up too much information. I talked too much sometimes. In any case, Greg and I had hardly talked, Skyped, Facebooked, Vibered, Whatsapped, or even e-mailed for the past two weeks. I wished he could’ve helped me but he wouldn’t have even answered his phone if I had called.
“How we know you say the truth?” The officer’s blunt question jolted me back to reality. “I promise,” I said, realizing that it sounded entirely lame. “I swear. I’m American, and lately, I’m behaving like a total moron.” As if promising and swearing to be an American moron could be a legitimate argument. I flinched. Gosh, I’d put me in jail.