After that, it’s a smooth afternoon of waves lapping the beach, pebbles rolling with a mineral sort of click-clack against each other, and chitchat. Nothing personal, just an exchange of banalities, in fact. And we don’t look too much at each other, alright. But still. It’s better than having to deal with unexplained grumpiness.
The ride back to the hotel is just as smooth. Our frequent silences seem to connect us more than they separate us.
I can’t explain why I feel so glad about it. I guess it has to do with my tendency to want people to love me. A penchant I’m unable to overcome. It’s as if I wanted others to prove me that my vision of myself is wrong, perhaps. Whatever. That is a slippery line of thought; one I’m not eager to pursue.
Therefore, I pick up the first unrelated thing that comes to mind. “Tell me, Hazim,” I say. “I’ve been wondering…”
Hazim shoots me a sideways glance. “About what?”
“Don’t take it wrong, please. But we both know that… Murat simply can’t resist the temptation of a handsome young lad.”
He nods, tensing up again.
“Listen, forget it,” I say. “I don’t want to spoil everything with my stupid questioning.”
“No, it’s alright. Go on. What is it you want to know?”
“Well, I find it odd that he’s never tried to… bed you.”
Hazim turns off the car engine and just sits there, still and unreadable. Then he replies in a low voice, “There’s nothing odd to it.”
“So he really never tried to…?”
“Well, uh… okay. I just wonder why.”
He turns to look at me. “If you must know it: because he’s my uncle. Sort of.”
“Oh. Your… uncle. Oops. I didn’t mean to…”
I was hoping that he’d have dinner with me. Maybe even show me the nightlife of Hiçbiryerde or something. Just to stop me from being lonely.
I think I can forget that now.
I go through the next motions like an automat. Take a cold shower, check my mobile. There are no new messages, which I take for a good sign. I watch the news on BBC. Apparently, the French IMF-director has been caught forcing a cleaning lady to give him a blowjob in a hotel in New York. Or so they say. The man’s in prison now.
That story is so pathetic that I switch off the TV, disgusted. We are governed by dicks, I’m thinking. Because, apparently, we don’t deserve better.
I get dressed, black and Armani; I apply perfume. Then I order dinner to be brought to my room. I eat it on the balcony, surrounded by the balmy, still night. Minutes drip by like solitary blobs of treacle, sticky and thick, while I’m floating down boredom alley again.
At half past nine, I decide it’s time to do something. To leave this lonely place, go out and see people.
I walk through the empty hotel park, heading for to the swimming pool area. The pool bar, bathed in a sallow, apathetic light, is dozing. Unnoticed, I slip out through the little door and follow the narrow lane.
When I reach the main street, I’m surprised. The hotel area was so empty that I’d thought the whole little town would be, too. But no. Cars drive by, people stroll around, looking purposeful and satisfied. I make out a few tourists near the souvenir shops, but most of the night walkers are locals who have finished their work and are looking for entertainment before going to bed.
I choose the loudest bar, a few steps down the road. Blaring music will drown the blues in my head.
The bar is rather crowded, but I seem to be the only tourist. Everybody turns and stares at me as I enter. Well, they’ll get over my unexpected presence. Eventually. I walk over to the main bar and sit down on a stool. “Gin-Tonic, please”, I tell the barman.
Then I look around. The crowd is mostly male, with a few young women in alluring clothes who seem to be very friendly with the customers. Four scantily dressed chicks wiggle it on the dance-floor. The girls, faking to ignore the hungry look they provoke, are professionals; the way they gyrate their hips, strike lascivious poses, lick their lips leaves no doubt. Three are blonde, with high cheek-bones, false smiles, cold and calculating stares.
The fourth rather stands out. She keeps to one of the concrete columns, around which she evolves, holding on to it with one hand. It’s supposed to be some sort of pole dance, I reckon. She has dark, wavy hair, the short, black dress looks far too large for her bony body, she seems to have a hard time remaining on her feet, wavering and stumbling along with the music. Her eyes are wide and all black pupils. I don’t know what she has gobbled or injected, but it must’ve been strong stuff.
Despite her out-of-it condition, she notices me watching her. Trade radar, I guess. She puckers up her lips in a broad, silly grin and winks at me, almost loosing her balance.
A big, square guy with a beasty face steps closer to her and prevents her from falling. He clutches her shoulders and says something. She nods like an obedient doll and answers, her head wobbling vaguely in my direction.
The guy leers at me before strolling over just as I’m served my drink. Close up, his face looks even fouler, his sneer so dirty and suggestive that he makes me want to slap it off his face. He leans forward, enfolding me in his cheap, strong cologne, and shouts in my ear, “American?”
I shake my head, sensing trouble ahead.
“Deutsch? Du deutsch?”
“I’m French,” I shout back between gritted teeth. Then I take a sip.
“Ah—Français! French! Good, good,” he shouts. Then he points out his drugged-up tart. “You wanna company? You pay my lady a drink?”
I shake my head again. “No, thanks, I’d rather be alone.”
“She good woman! You pay me, you can fuck her.”
The situation is so ridiculous that I’m about to laugh out loud. I don’t pay for sex, that’s what I’d like to tell that ugly lad; I usually get paid for it. Yet I doubt he has a great sense of humour so I swallow my answer, preferring to shake my head a third time.
The barman glances at us, then quickly looks away.
“What, you no want my girl?” the ugly dude shouts, moving closer still. He isn’t smiling anymore; if anything, his face is contorted in a threatening, brutal way.
“Listen—,” I lay a hand on his broad chest to keep him from invading my private space any further, “—I’ve just come here to enjoy some music and a drink. So please leave me alone!”
He whips my hand away, his eyes dangerous slits, and shouts, “You a sissy boy? You not want my girl, you a sissy boy?”
My God, why are they all so obsessed with gays, today?
From the corner of my eye, I notice three other guys stare at us, ready to come and help their comrade. One of them stands up and lifts his chin as if to challenge me. I decide that a prudent retreat will be the best idea. “No,” I say loudly, “no, I’m not gay. I just usually don’t pay for sex, okay?” While talking, I get up from the bar stool and move backwards toward the exit.
But the guy follows me. “You not a sissyboy, you pay my girl a drink!” he hollers, his face red with anger. His three friends are moving toward me, too.
I’m not a coward—at least, I think I’m not—, but the violence hanging in the damp air right now almost makes me sick. The situation leaves no room for discussion or negotiations. I have to get out of here, the faster the better! It seems to be a question not only of physical integrity but of life and death.
My back collides with something—the wall, I guess, or one of those darn columns—, and I know I’m trapped. The guy comes closer, his hands clenched into fists, there’s no escape…
That’s when someone snatches me by the collar, slams several dollar bills on the table at my side, then drags me outside, almost suffocating me.
“What the fuck…?” I croak and tear at the strong hand holding my collar from behind.
“Shut the fuck up, and follow me! Quick!”
I recognize Hazim’s voice. Relief floods through me. As soon as he releases the collar, I turn around, see him running ahead of me, and chase after him.
There are loud voices and angry screams in my back.
I don’t care to look what it is all about. I just leg it.