PART 2 of 2: For part one, click ‘back’ for yesterday’s story.
Camel leads me to a door, stairs; women are dancing on poles in the dirty-blue light. Their clothes are on, at least.
We sit in a booth. I frown around. The tables are stocked with older Turkish men fondling eastern European looking teenagers. Men in white dress shirts roam about, one approaches us.
I frown at Camel.
“This isn’t really my kind of place,” I tell him.
He nods. “Whiskey or Vodka?”
“Look, I only have fifty lira.”
He turns to the waiter, a thick set Turk in a white dress shirt.
“Two whiskey,” he tells the man.
“I’m sorry?” Camel asks, turning
I lean closer. “I only have fifty lira!” I call. As I do, the table is laid out with all manner of food. There are cucumbers and peanuts and olives. Two pale glasses of whiskey are set in front of us each.
Camel smiles. “It is okay, I have a card,” he tells me.
“Well is it at your hotel?”
“I don’t have much money.”
“We can go get it at your hotel.”
I frown, feeling a bit sick in my stomach.
“No, I just came for one drink. I will drink this with you and I’ll pay for whatever it costs and go, okay?”
Camel looks disappointed but he shrugs, “okay.” He sits there tapping a finger along the rim of his glass. Then, he looks at his phone.
“Hold on!” he calls. He gets up and walks back up the stairs, out.
I look around, one of the girls makes eye contact with me, one of the men in white shirts grabs her hard around the arm. He points at me. As she gets closer, I shake my head. She turns and looks at the man in white, he looks at me, then points her to a different table.
I look around the room. More large men in white dress shirts are walking around, serving no one. At the door, the biggest of them waits, watching me.
“Fuck,” I whisper into my glass of whiskey. I stand up and sigh. I go to the waiter.
“How much do I owe you?” I ask.
He looks at the table of untouched food and drink. He nods.
“Your friend left?”
I nod, “your friend left,” I tell him. He chuckles, “okay, okay.”
He takes out a sheet of paper and starts writing a whole lot of Turkish. In the end he circles a number. 1,200 TL.
I pull the fifty lira from my pocket.
“Look, I have fifty Lira. I told your friend, and he left. I have no card, so, that’s all I have.” I shrug.
The waiter nods, he calls over a bigger man. He is wearing a black shirt. The waiter tells him something in Turkish. The big man frowns, they exchange a look. I smile, awkward.
“I’m sorry–I” I hold up my hands, “I did tell him.”
The big man takes up my fifty, pockets it. He nods.
The street outside is empty of familiar faces. I light up a camel and start walking back to my hotel. I walk back onto Istikal, kicking up a little dirt. The street is filled with laughter.
It feels as though God has just told some joke and I’m the only one in the room too dumb to get it.
Half way to my hotel I catch something out of the corner of my eye. It is Camel, he is leaning in close to a young English looking guy, getting his cigarette lit. I start toward him then stop. I duck into an alley. The pair begin to walk, I follow.
The streets are crowded with meat, but even through it I can see camel pat his belly and laugh.
He is high fiving this English guy like some old friend. I feel jealous–sick. They turn. I round the bend just in time to see their backs disappear into the club I’d just left.
I stop and stand there. I notice a few men in white dress shirts mulling about outside. I walk passed, cross the street. I stand and wait.
In less than a minute I realize, the men in white have all turned, one is pointing. I look to my left. A man, homeless, is staring up at me. He looks scared.
I frown and look back to the club. There is another man now, that makes four. Someone tugs at my shorts. I step away and look down. The homeless man is looking up at me.
“No,” is all he says. His voice, cracked. My fingers feel cold, despite the heat.
I look back. The men in white are starting to walk towards me.
“Shit,” I say. I start walking, fast. As I go I turn and see that all but one have gone back to the club’s entrance.
After a minute I stop near a police van, I light a cigarette. The man in white passes me by, casual. I start walking, slowly. The man stops. I slip down an alley before he turns. It is riddled with bars, live music, a crowd of hot sticky meat. I make my way through to the end, a bare street. I look toward my hotel, but instead I turn.
I stop. The English man isn’t with him. I smile.
I see his eyes–they aren’t laughing. His face is bloodied. I look at his hand.
“Bad Camel,” I tell him.