I’m going to the pharmacy in Pefkos, on the island of Rhodes.
It’s usually a busy (and expensive) place, gorging on the English and their holiday ailments and conditions – sunstroke, mosquito bites, scorpion bites, toothache, pregnancy tests, sleep deprivation, anger management courses, blisters, heart burn, over-eating, over-drinking or simply too much exposure to other family members.
Surprisingly, however, on entering, I discover the place empty both of customers and pharmacist.
I wait alone for a while, enjoying the air conditioning and admiring the well-stacked shelves – pills, drugs and ointments for every occasion.
After a while, another man enters. Now there are two of us waiting – in silence, of course. This is a shrine, after all. And we’re good at waiting, we’ve spent most of our lives waiting, it’s OK.
Behind the counter is a short corridor, and a door. Above the door it says, ‘Laboratory – Non Access.’
About five minutes have passed when we both raise our eyebrows at each other, and I decide to go down the corridor.
On reaching the ‘Laboratory – Non Access’ door, I step through…. and in the half-light, discover a body.
There’s a body in the laboratory and it’s lying at my feet.
My first sense is that they are dead. Oh my goodness! Am I on holiday in Midsommer?
‘Are you OK?’ I ask quietly. No movement. I bend further forward and ask again. ‘Are you OK?’
Sudden movement and the body moves, a man in his thirties, pale and surprised.
‘It’s OK,’ I say, wishing to reassure. I’m not sure he knows where he is, or who he is, and he steps back from me.
But as he gathers himself, I can see consciousness returning slowly. He looks around and begins to remember he’s a pharmacist
‘Yes,’ he says. And now I think he also remembers that he runs a shop. And perhaps I am a customer? So I back slowly out of the door and back down the corridor as he staggers forward, still a little uncertain on his legs.
Now he is behind the counter.
‘Are you sure you’re OK?’
‘What would you like?’ he says, ignoring me.
Well, mainly I’d like to ask him why he was playing dead in the laboratory. But the story of the sleeping pharmacist must remain a mystery.
Where’s Sherlock Holmes when you need him?