Once we’ve reached the relative safety of the hotel compound and the wan lights of the pool bar, I need to sit down on a deckchair. My heart is racing, my head spinning, my breath comes in raspy pants. The filtering system of the pool gurgles, the turquoise water sloshes against the edges, the night air whispers of serenity.
Hazim stops, too; he walks back to where I’m trying to recover and stares down on me, his face expressionless.
“Thank you,” I gasp.
He shrugs. Then he asks, “What were you doing in that bar?”
“Make an educated guess,” I reply tartly.
He continues to stare at me.
“I just wanted to have a drink,” I say after a minute.
He sighs. “Why that bar?” he asks. “It’s a place with prostitutes. A bar that attracts dangerous men.”
“You don’t say!” I answer. “Anyway, how could I know it was a hooker bar?”
“The thick curtains before the windows? The dim, red light? The people in there?” He starts to loose patience.
“I didn’t pay attention, to be honest…”
“You never do, I think. That’s one of your main defects.”
Now it’s my turn to get edgy. “Did I ask you to sit in judgment of me, huh? Did I? I think not! I’m grateful that you rescued me, but don’t overstep the mark, okay? And tell me: what were you doing in that bar? Have you been following me?”
“And what for?”
“Murat asked me to watch over you.”
I can’t believe it. “Did he? Why so, pray tell?”
“He thought things might get out of control. As they did.”
“Oh, that…” I shake my head. “Just some hot-headed bullies. Shit happens, you know.”
“Hot-headed bullies, you say?” Hazim leans down and hisses, “I can tell you one thing: those weren’t mere bullies. Nor pimps. Those were hit men. Everybody knows them in the region!”
“Oh come on!” I try to laugh, but don’t succeed. An icy shiver crawls up my spine.
“Believe me,” Hazim says flatly. “Or don’t. Doesn’t make a damn difference. They were out to get you.”
“Please—why would they?” Is he pulling my leg, or is he serious? He looks serious enough, for sure.
“Intimidation? A warning? Maybe they were paid to hurt you. I don’t know exactly.”
“But—who are they? Who hired them?”
“How should I know?” Hazim’s voice gets steelier every minute. “It’s your business, not mine. So you should tell me who and why!”
“I don’t know. Honestly. I have no idea.”
Hazim doesn’t reply. His attitude shows what he’s thinking, though. That this is another of my defects.
Abruptly, I stand up and walk away. But after a few steps, I hear him behind me. Spinning around, I snap, “Leave me alone, you tight-assed jerk!”
My words hit him like a slap. When he regains his composure, he only says, “I will bring you to your room, sir. That’s what I’m paid for.” His voice is weary and sad.