Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wish You Were Here (1.5)

gross misrepresentation

Istanbul, three weeks into my trip.  She could have been anyone.  I don't know.  Lack of sleep combined with rattled nerves made for a dangerous cocktail, I suppose.  In retrospect, I probably shouldn't have trusted her, but I'll chalk it up to a learning experience.  There's a certain type of woman your archnemesis keeps as company.  Stay away from her.  She's no damned good.

I met her down by the docks in a place Lagan was known to frequent.  Drinks were consumed, trust was gained, and before long, a few of my dollars met the wallet of a loose-lipped bartender.  He pointed in her direction: a dark-haired beauty with ashen skin, and eyes of coal burning from within.

“Her,” he hissed disdainfully, his lip curled.  “I heard he keeps company with her.  That one with the black hair.“

“Know anything about her?”

“I know that if she did not ever come back in my bar again I would not be upset.”

She was his type all right, and I've never been given a reason to distrust a bartender.  I made eye contact, brought her another bottle of Efes, and prayed she spoke English.

Merhaba,” I said.  “Speak English?”

Squinting, she eyed me up and down, and my mind was peeled open like the top of a soup can, while I was hit by an unexpected bout of vertigo.  I gave my head a good shake.

She parted her lips to speak.  “Got a cigaret?” she asked.

That voice.  English.  Cockney accent, I was sure.

“London?” I casually enquired.  “East End?”

“Yeh and naw” she answered. “More like southwest.  Now, 'ow 'bout that smoke?”

I sapped open my silver case of rollies.  “Roll my own.”

“Don't care,” she replied, and grabbed two, putting both between her pert lips.  There was flame, and my mind twitched, a record skipping, a screen flickering.  A flame appeared to issue forth from elsewhere igniting both cigarets.  She puffed on one, and offered me the other.

“Uh, thanks,” I mustered.
A condensed version of the evening: a few hours spent in the darkened corner of the bar, me maintaining a view of the room with my back against the wall, and she not caring about a word I said.

“Lagan,” I repeated once more.  “Arthur Lagan.  Sometimes goes by Artie?”

“Never 'eard of 'im.”

My brain felt kneaded like a hunk of bread dough.  We were at a standstill.  And perhaps she really didn't know him.  I was increasingly convinced she wasn't trying to hide anything.  That accent – she could have disguised it if she desired.  Her easy admission of being from London.  And she'd already admitted to why she was here: to have a good time.  Perfectly reasonable for a young woman such as she.

“I'm gonna jet,” she said at last.  “It's getting late.”

“Listen, I'll walk you home.”

A squint turned her eyes into two alluring, bottomless black slits.  She smirked.  “Got another cigaret?”


“I'm in Levent.”

A walk from one world to another, the maze of old winding streets in Bebek led to the shining new glass towers of Levent.  Talk turned easily from academics and a yearning for travel, to Bogazici University and the trials of campus life, to the Bosporus and the difference between Europe and Asia.

At some point, I skipped out of consciousness for what seemed like only a split second, and when I came back, the girl was kissing me.  With her tongue in my mouth it was hard to speak, but with some effort I was able to push her back a little.  I asked her what she was doing.

“What do you think?” she asked, pulling me close.

She mashed her lips into mine, sticking her tongue back into my mouth.  Things were hot, and I don't simply mean in a lusty sort of way.  It was quite literally hot.  I was burning up, scorching, from the inside out.  My blood was actually rising in temperature, my brain matter cooking.  In retrospect, it sounds so awful, but there is no denying that at the time I found myself absolutely, undeniably, uncontrollably excited.

Kissing me frantically, violently, she turned us around, and I wound up with my back against a crumbling plaster wall just inside the mouth of a shadowy alley.  Dust and dirt clumps rained down upon our heads and shoulders.

Listening for noise, I found only her heady breath in my ears, and managed once again to push her face from mine.  Asked her if we should talk first.  Get to know each other.

“Don't speak,” she breathed.

I stopped trying.

My back roughly scraping the wall, the girl manically sucking at my neck, I threw my head back and found the sky framed between rooftops.  My eyes met the moon there, remaining fixed for an eternity as this strange girl's tameless growls filled the whole of my soul. 

A grainy film clip still loops through my mind of the next scene: she, walking away into the moonlit street, smoothing her dress, wiping her mouth on the sleeve of her cardigan.  Trying to call after her, I found my voice hoarse, unable to make a sound.  She rounded a corner and I stumbled trying to follow.  With bruised pride, my bloodied knees uncooperative, I stood swaying for a moment, lost.

Back in the street, I lost her in a boisterous crowd where the main drag splits in Levent.  I stood there like an idiot, wildly scanning around – making an easy mark of myself.

I didn't even see it coming.

The shuffle of feet through the crowd, soft shoes grinding sand into the concrete.  Shattering like glass in my mind's eye, a vision of a white casual suit set against hellish, leathery wings.  Time stretched, and eternity broke into a long, drawn-out, yawn.  There was a slow motion turning of my head, just enough so the ensuing blow landed as a painful strike on the jaw instead of a potentially killing blow to the base of my neck.


I awoke in the back of an ambulance, face and pride pummelled.  Was he there?  Was he there the whole time?  At the bar?  The walk home?  During that kiss.  I rolled over, violently vomiting onto the medic's shiny shoes.  I puked past the point of spilling yellow-green bile onto the floor, purging until there was nothing left but dry-heaves.

What was my first mistake?  Trusting the bartender.  Trusting that girl.  Trusting anyone.

An anxious rifling of pockets found my wallet gone.  Goddamnit.  A short prayer.  Please no.  Yes, my passport, too.  So stupid.  I'd have punched myself in the face if I could've lifted my arm, if I could've only made a fist.

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