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by Trudy (5/1/2010)


‘Get out of here, get lost, I don’t want to see you here ever again’. The high-pitched voice with these harsh words is still echoing in his head. He can see the cynical look on Lilian’s face very vividly. He looks around him, a small suitcase and two plastic bags full of clothes and other personal belongings: that is his world. He doesn’t need to look inside his wallet to know he has hardly any money. He picks up the bags and walks away, to where? He doesn’t know this city, this strange land. He wanders around the streets without any goal, suddenly realizing it has become dark and becoming aware of the low temperature. A little further on, he sees an open spot under a bridge, next to a pillar. He goes towards it; it turns out to be an inlet behind the entrance to the bridge-master’s office of the bridge above him. Apparently, there have been people here before, because there is litter on the ground. The space isn’t lit, only the lamppost behind him gives some light. With his feet, he pulls away the old newspapers lying on the floor. The stench of urine and vomit immediately becomes stronger. He pulls away, full of disgust. Is this where he has to spend the night? He walks back to the entrance, looking at the streets in front of him. Hesitating he looks around, the streets are empty, people who were walking there hastily only a short time ago have all gone behind the front doors of their houses. Disappeared into the warmth and light with people around them who care. He sighs, tomorrow he will look for someone to help him, it’s now too late. He picks up the papers, more disgust on his face, the first thing he needs to do is clean up this mess as well as he can. He rummages around in one of his bags, finds a small towel and uses that to sweep the floor a bit. He puts his suitcase and plastic bags against the wall, takes out a couple of old sweaters and puts them on. It is cold here now in November. Another old sweater serves as a rug. Leaning against the wall, he thinks back to how this all started. Slowly he lowers himself until he sits on the concrete floor. His mind wanders off to six months ago; it was a lovely day in May.


The sound system is at its maximum capacity, lights are blinking on and off, the place half full of people. Talking, dancing, smiling, and drinking. It is warm today, the doors to the garden are open and also there are many people outside. Tourists mostly, you can see that very easily when you look at their clothes. No decent Turkish girl would dress like these girls and women. No self-respecting Turkish man would go out in shorts and wrinkled clothes. ‘No, when we go out, we take care of ourselves so no-one can comment on us,’ he thinks to himself. A buzzer sounds and he gets up, his short break is over again. Back at the bar, his colleague looks reproachful: ‘Where were you? I’m hungry as well!’ He shrugs and walks towards one of the waiting women. ‘What can I get you?’ Time goes slowly tonight, it seems as if the hands of the clock are stuck. It is quite busy tonight so he doesn’t have much opportunity to think. Completely automatically, he taps beer, pours wine, and mixes cocktails. Suddenly he hears a cheerful voice behind him: ‘Can you get me a beer? I’m thirsty.’ He turns around and sees a blonde woman dressed in a pink top and shorts so short they left nothing to the imagination. ‘Of course, one moment please.’ He hands her an Efes, smiling because that is part of his job too. No matter how you feel, be sure the guests have a good time, is his boss’s motto. The woman picks up her beer, winks at him and walks away. He continues, starts cleaning ashtrays, wiping the bar. Happily it is almost 3 o’clock in the morning, in a while the bar will close and he can go to sleep. Slowly guests are leaving and together with his colleagues, he can tidy up the place.


When his job is finally done and he walks away to go to the old apartment he has to share with six other barmen, he hears a sound. ‘Pssst.’ He turns around to see where it came from and on the other side of the street, he notices the blonde woman, leaning against an advertising column. She beckons him and tries to stand, oops, that doesn’t seem very balanced. He hurries towards her, supports her as she stumbles. Her breath smells of alcohol, lots of alcohol. ‘Which hotel are you staying in?  I can take you there.’ The woman keeps silent. Suddenly, without any warning, she collapses and vomits, he is just in time to avoid the stuff smearing his clothes. Another tourist who doesn’t know how to behave decently. He takes her hand and sees the dark blue plastic bracelet on her wrist. Good, that will tell him the name of her hotel. Hotel Rosa it says, not too far from here. With some effort, he can get the woman standing up again and with some urging, he manages to get her walking. He puts his arm around her shoulders; she is so drunk she cannot walk by herself. Fifteen minutes later, they arrive at hotel Rosa. The night porter runs towards them when he sees them coming. With a few words, he explains what has happened and leaves the woman in the care of his colleague. He hurries home, in only a few hours a new working day will start so he tries to get some sleep.


The next evening he is working in the bar again. Automatically, he fills hundreds of glasses, washing the empty ones. He hates this job but he has no alternative. In his village in the mountains, there is no future for him. Then he feels a hand on his shoulder and he turns around to see who is touching him. It is the blonde woman from last night. ‘I would like to thank you for taking care of me,’ she says while blushing a little, ‘I know I didn’t behave very well. By the way, my name is Lilian.’ He also introduces himself to her. ‘It was no big deal,’ he fends off her apologies, ‘please don’t worry.’ ‘I would like to invite you for a drink with me and some friends after you finish work,’ she says. He hesitates, to be honest he doesn’t want to accept this offer but tourists need to be kept happy. What if she tells his boss he declined? ‘Ok, I’m off earlier tonight, at midnight.’ ‘Then we’ll meet at midnight,’ Lilian answers and she walks away, swaying her hips. He looks at her, she is not that pretty, a little too tanned for his taste.


At midnight, he says goodnight to his fellow workers and walks away. ‘Hey,’ he hears a voice, ‘are you leaving without us?’ He sees a group of four laughing young women. ‘Of course not, but I didn’t know where you were,’ he lies smoothly. Lilian comes towards him and puts her arm around his shoulders possessively. ‘He is mine, ladies, my saviour.’ He accepts it stoically. Together they walk to a beach bar, one of the few already open late, this early in the season. Lilian taps on his chest: ‘Don’t be so shy, we’re going to have fun!’ A moment later, she gives him a glass of red wine. ‘Don’t worry; your drinks are on me, as a token of my gratitude.’ Though he doesn’t drink that often, he likes a glass of raký once in a while. Refusing the offered wine might make her think him rude. After a few glasses he feels sleepy, a beach chair looks very comfortable. Only a moment later – he thinks – he looks up. Where is everyone? The terrace of the beach bar is empty, everyone is gone. He gets up quickly; his watch tells him it is half past four in the morning. Next to him is Lilian, a strange, almost cunning, look in her eyes,. Suddenly he feels her hands on his chest, her face close to his. She pushes him back into the chair. ‘Relax, let me surprise you.’ The alcohol has clouded his mind and only a few stammered objections leave his mouth. He feels her hands, her lips, lower and lower and with a click, he hears her opening his belt.


When he wakes up, it is light again. He does not know where he is, looks around him and realizes he is in a bed in a hotel room. Next to him is Lilian, her eyes closed, but the moment he tries to get up, he feels her hand on his wrist, pulling him back. ‘I don’t think so,’ she giggles, ‘I had fun tonight and I want more.’ The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak and he does not protest very hard. Lilian does things he only dreamt of. The afternoon slips by, finally he gets up, he needs to go to work again. He doesn’t know what to say to her but it turns out it is not necessary. She smiles and pushes him gently out of the room. ‘Bye, I will see you later.’


That night in the bar, he thinks back to the afternoon. He hasn’t always been a good boy but this? No, he never experienced anything like that. In his heart, he hopes Lilian will be back tonight. Indeed, at eleven o’clock she’s back. ‘Here I am again.’ Also this night Lilian takes him with her when he has finished working. And every evening after that. Of course they talk too, and he knows a lot about her now and he tells her his story as well. They have exchanged telephone numbers and e-mail addresses. He slowly feels himself falling in love with Lilian. She is funny, intelligent, curious and much more attractive then he first thought. He buys her little presents and she accepts them with joy. He writes down Turkish sweet little nothings and laughs about her accent when she tries to pronounce them. Then, two weeks later, Lilian has to go home again, her holiday is over. She promises to come back in August; she can have another holiday then. Their farewell is passionate, he can hardly let her go but the bus that will take her to the airport is waiting, the driver honking his horn. She gets in, waves and blows him kisses. In his pocket he feels his cell phone vibrate. On the little screen he reads: ‘Aským, sen çok güzelsin.’


For two and a half months they e-mail and text each other. Sweet words back and forth, sentences shivering with passion. He saves his earnings to buy credit for his phone. He knows there are colleagues who ask their girlfriends to buy them credit, but he doesn’t want to ask Lilian. He has his pride. August 20th is the day Lilian comes back. She told him which hotel she will stay in this time and he waits for her. When she sees him, a big smile is on her face ‘Aským!’ It feels as if she hasn’t been away at all, every minute he is not working, they are together. He realizes he doesn’t want to lose her. He loves her, this woman should be the mother of his future children. Unfortunately, this holiday also ends after two weeks. Lilian goes back home and he continues working. Another two months, his boss told him, then the season is over and he will not have a job anymore. His colleagues are laughing about his feelings. ‘Come on, you aren’t still grieving about such an old cow, are you? Plenty of them around, get yourself a new one.’ He has to control himself in order not to fly at them, he hates the belittling way they are speaking about his love. He keeps quiet, they won’t understand. One of his colleagues is looking at him thoughtfully. ‘I need to speak to you later,’ he says. He doesn’t know this colleague very well, he is quite a new employee in this bar. ‘If you really love this woman, I know how you can visit her. A friend of mine owns a truck and he goes to her country almost weekly. I already inquired for you and you can go along with him, hidden amongst the stowage when crossing borders. His price is not that high for this.’ When he hears the amount, he is shocked. That much? He does have enough money though; he has saved it, meaning to use it as a deposit for a little house. However, he doesn’t need much time to think, yes, he wants to go to Lilian and that’s priceless. ‘You realize you are crossing borders illegally, don’t you? If you should get caught, my friend won’t help you,’ his colleague tells him. It doesn’t matter to him, he is willing to take enormous risks as long as he can be with Lilian. He knows where she lives, so that won’t be a problem.


November 6th is the big day. He packs his belongings, a small suitcase and two plastic bags is all he has. Forty-eight hours after leaving Turkey, the truck driver tells him his journey has ended. Border controls were a piece of cake, no-one paid attention to him. The driver points out a street plan at the end of the street to him. ‘I did you a favour by dropping you off in the city you want to go to, but now you have to figure out yourself where to find your girlfriend. It is not a big city, you should find it easily.’ Indeed, with minor effort he finds his way to Lilian’s house. He waits until it is almost dark. What if a policeman sees him? He doesn’t want to draw attention. Arriving at Lilian’s place, he notices her house is completely dark. He puts his belongings next to the front door and sits down. Waiting for Lilian to come home. ‘She will be very surprised,’ he thinks to himself.


Some time later he hears a car door closing and footsteps are coming his way. When she is almost at her front door, he gets up, opens his arms and says: ‘Lilian, it’s me.’ Lilian walks backwards a few steps, hesitates and then says: ‘What are you doing here? Why did you come?’ His heart sinks; he had expected a different reaction. ‘I came for you, to be with you.’ Lilian is quiet for a few moments and then starts to laugh. ‘You are out of your mind. Did you really think you could come to me and stay here without asking? Wrong thought, I don’t want you here.’ His world is collapsing at his feet. ‘But you said you loved me, wanted to be with me. I want to marry you!’ Again Lilian laughs out loud but it’s not a nice sound. ‘Marry me? You were nice to be with during two holidays, you were great in bed but I won’t spend my life with a Turkish barman.’ She steps forward, pushes him aside and opens the front door with her key. Then she says: ‘Get out of here, get lost, I don’t want to see you here ever again’. She goes inside the house and before he can reply the door closes in his face. There he stands, his dreams shattered, his world in pieces. Where can he go now? He doesn’t have any money, he gave his last money to the truck driver. He had hoped he could earn some here.


A deep voice startles him out of his reverie. He feels the cold, hard concrete floor he is sitting on and immediately his nostrils are filled again with unpleasant smells. He looks up, into the face of a policeman. He doesn’t understand the words that are said in a guttural language. The policeman sees he doesn’t understand and continues in English: ‘What are you doing here sir? Who are you?’ He stutters, not knowing what to answer. ‘Can you identify yourself sir?’ He shakes his head, knowing his Turkish identity card will not be sufficient. ‘Come with me please, bring your belongings, we will continue our chat at the station,’ the policeman says. Twenty minutes later, they arrive at a building with huge yellow letters ‘Politie’ on it. Yes, that word he understands, it is not so different from the one in his own language. The policeman leads him down a long corridor and opens a door. ‘Please wait here until we have arranged an interpreter.’ With a grinding sound, the door closes and he sits alone in the police cell, left to wonder how his dream was so quickly shattered.

Tiara, kem_chanh0000, lia_oke2001, Annemarrie, qdemir and 3 others liked this essay

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