At one moment, we turn left and jolt down the bumpy trail that leads to the tree house settlement. After a few metres, the car’s headlamps shine on a pair of faded tracksuit pants, a naked, male chest, a familiar face. I recognize the lazy smile: it’s the young, Turkish guy who has welcomed us to his community of leftover hippies a few hours ago.
Hazim steps on the brakes, stops the engine and lets the car roll behind a bush.
When we get out, the young guy hasn’t moved.
“What are we doing here?” I whisper into the darkness.
“Sessiz tutun!” the guy whispers back. I discern his vague contours, the movements suggest he’s putting a finger on his lips.
Then he switches on a little torch and leads us downhill. I can hardly make out where I put my feet; more than once, I stumble. Yet I don’t complain. I feel beyond complaining, beyond anything. Once intangibility has swallowed you, there’s nothing left. Only blind obedience. I hope the guys around me know what they’re doing. Because I bloody don’t.
Slow steps crunch on dry earth and gravel. I hear odd whistling and rustling. Strange insects and animals must be haunting the dark lands. I can’t see them, but I sense their presence. I feel their preying eyes on me. Eyes of beings that don’t care about me, that don’t want to know who I am, what I am doing, who just wait for me to get the hell out of here, the faster, the better. This is not my place.
And reality slips one stride further.
When we get closer to the settlement, I hear other noises: a crackling campfire, people chatting, a David Bowie-song echoing through the night like the thread of a dream. “Man is an obstacle, sad as the clown—Oh by jingo—so hold on to nothing, and he won’t let you down—Oh by jingo…” A melancholy and muted voice, a softly strumming guitar.
All of a sudden, my chest feels heavy. It’s one of those moments where I’d like to lie down on the ground, stretch out my limbs and let myself fall up into the sky. One last, noiseless explosion, and my atoms could scatter and become invisible dust…
A dream. This must be a dream. A bad dream, a nightmare, whatever. All I have to do is follow the flow. Until I’ll wake up. One always does. Eventually.
We slow down, we turn left. On tiptoes around the settlement, in a large semi-circle, careful now, you must not step on a dry branch, the cracking would give you away, move on, move on, there you are, that’s the forest. Inscrutable and opaque, inarticulate, but I welcome the darkness like a blanket.
At last, we reach the beach. Inky waves come rolling in, gentle but mournful, attacking the shore with dogged determination.
A dinghy is lying on the pebbles. We take off our shoes and heave the dinghy into the water. The young Turk pulls out two oars from the bottom and starts to paddle around the high and glistening rock to our right. This is how it must be. Any other action, any other progression is impossible.
Fifteen minutes later, we approach a little fishing boat with a cabin at the bow, the broad silhouette of a man at the stern. When the dinghy bumps against the broadside, the silhouette leans over to help me up. Hazim follows me. He exchanges a few mumbled words with the sailor, who disappears in the cabin to start the engine.
“Hazim!” I whisper. “Where are you taking me?” I have to ask this question. There will be no answer, I know it. But I’m playing a role in this play, after all. Only as an extra, but even extras are given lines if they behave.
“Let’s go down, first. We must not be seen.” Hazim grabs my elbow and drags me into the cabin. I’d like to wave goodbye to our young Turkish friend, but when I turn back, I discover that he’s already returning to the beach.
The sailor nods at us and opens a small trapdoor next to the rudder. A fishy smell drifts up to my nostrils. “Come on!” Hazim pushes me down. “You go first.”