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Mon May 24, 2010 3:43 pm

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Santa's knife in the Grand Bazaar is interesting travel story from the country Turkey. I hope you will enjoy to read this story !!!



Tales from the Bul (Wearing a suit does not suit. A tie but a millstone crucifix, to advertise aspiration. To greed. A singularly foolish piece of clothing. And what possible purpose could it serve, other than acting as a slight aid to hanging oneself in a nasty public lavatory on a particularly dark benighted day? An absurd bit of apparel; that I don more often not, in order to choke some loot (great bit that in Joe's autosodography, that bit in the bog where nine blokes are all...............) out of my employers; and unstrangle at the earliest possible opportunity with sanguine relish. I need not no leash nor lead; nor halter, noose or neckline corset. To strap down the feral predator.) Thessaloniki, Kavala, Alexandropoulis - a grand day to be on the way to Constantinople. A charged day. An electric day. Alone. And alarmingly good to be alive. A bottle of ouzo, a book of sand, a Bosphoric, phosphoric drifting desire; the wheeling sun. (Gallipoli; Ixion; Phaeton.) Unspeakbly happy. Beside myself. Just before Arshad. Arshad. Impeccable English, well-coiffured - if that is one's bent, a silky conversationalist. Altogether a thoroughly nice chap to fall in with....from the point of view of a startlingly naive young lad. That was me many moons ago. Arshad, a son of Pakistan, currently entrenched as a third secretary at the embassy in Athens. We were as unlikely a pair of companions as could be imagined, as different as chalk and cheese, as the expression has it. (And I the cheese, if not the Gorgonzola of old, at least a rapidly ripening Brie, since washing was rigourously excluded by my 'road ethics' of the time). We had almost nothing in common. Save that we were both on the way. Bound, though not gagged. To Byzantium. And so it came to pass that before dawn, on an icy December morning - the 23rd to be precise - I found myself seated, and not a little reeking, in a plush leather (though not bound) armchair, in a swanky hotel in Galata, Istanbul. Having tea with my new found friend from the subcontinent (who later proved incontinent). And a swarthy, bearded Iraqi gentleman who had mysteriously appeared from the shadows, plumped himself down, and struck up conversation with Arshad as if they had been brothers. It all seemed a little odd to fuddle-headed me, but I put it down to dysfunction of the cerebral matter at such an early hour; an hour at which I am normally deeply and snugly comatose). Even when the talk dropped to a whispered sotto voce, and a sizeable plastic package of white powder was only half-furtively pushed across the marble table top, bells did not ring in my brain, nor did pennies drop. It had begun to snow outside, just as the bag of Freud's favourite nose candy slithered from hand to hand. (Then again, it might have been heroin, but for all the difference it made to me, it might equally well have been chalk. Or cheese!) Tired, and all too wrecked, it seemed perfectly natural to slope off and check into a seedy hotel with Arshad. Quite natural. (natural n. 2 archaic a person mentally deficient from birth.) Simply natural. (simple adj. 5 foolish or ignorant; gullible, feeble-minded.) But then there has always been a thick (thick colloq.7 (of a person) stupid, dull.) streak of naivete in me. And he seemed such a pleasant fellow. After a couple of hours crash, we were out and about. Into a labyrinth of alleys, teeming with throbbing, colourful life. All was magical to our callow youth; a feast of sights, sounds and smells. Spices, cloth, jewels. And leather. Hookahs, hookers, hoodlums. And leather. Mosques, muezzins, madmen. And leather. (And I don't mean of the Imperial variety). Leather, leather everywhere Which Arshad had to touch Leather, for the fetishist So Arshad rubbed his crutch. I don't know how many leather outlets we visited that day - having studied sums at university, I am reasonably adept at reckoning - but to say it was countless would not be far wrong. Arshad interminably fondling leather jackets with rapt affection, again and again caressing the objects of desire, seemingly unable to find the perfect partner. Curiously, our endless trawling, trudging and traipsing through the shops and bazaars was punctuated by intermittent pit-stops at the Istanbul Hilton or Sheraton; with Pavlovian regularity. I, the faithful hound would wait as instructed in the lobby, distinctly - (the hoity-toity do not wear loon pants) - and aromatically not a resident, wondering how it could possibly take twenty minutes to have a shit, and why he needed to evacuate his bowels every other hour. Diarrhoea? Craving for ultra soft toilet paper? Need to lave his delicate hands in warm water with Imperial Leather soap? I was too delicate to enquire, and too fascinated by the 'Bul to worry at such a minor pecadillo. (Not for one moment did it occur to me that repeated countersinking and chamfering of what Genet refers to as 'the eye of Gabes', had so wrecked the rectal sphincter muscles that having a pooh-pooh had become a very messy operation). How can I describe Istanbul? Evidently, I cannot. For description is not my forte, and neither is it my purpose. Istanbul is but a staging post on the highway of memory - the gateway to the seductive, sensuous heart of Asia. The Asia that is only in the mind, the Asia of the Arabian nights that never existed. Once in Constantinople, there is no further need to be there..........Teheran is calling, Baghdad is calling, Kabul is calling, Delhi is calling........and the final Shangri La.........Kathmandu. Where to arrive is death, since one only awakens to reface the emptiness, and the realisation that one more dream is gone, relegated to the musty files of memory. Joy is not being anywhere, it is going (and coming)..........laden with the baggage of self......going alone in search of one's shadow. In search of compassion. Drunk, half-mad and inexorably driven. Tethered to the mast of destiny, yet retaining the illusion of control. 'Makhtub'. It is written. That I should be standing in the pulsating light on the edge of Taksim square, traffic whirling dervish-like. Standing mesmerised. Beside Arshad. Waiting for what? Somehow I have a feeling it's not for Godot. Arshad reassures me against a vague anxiety. Is it not pleasant just to be here? I rather suppose it is. Cars, lights, cars, lights......spinning around and around. And around again and again. One car. Around and around. (kerb-crawling was not on the syllabus at Cambridge). And then the merry-go-round slowed as if a hallucinogen were finally wearing off. Languorously, inasmuch as it is possible for a vehicle to be languorous, the car pulled up, to pick us up; and the music of the spheres stopped. A grinning, heavily bearded - (lot of bearded fellows in this tale aren't there?) - visage beaked out of the driver's window. His eyes positively sparkled. A fisherman of the night, trawling (and crawling) for whitebait. (whitebait n. the small silvery-white young of herrings esp. as food.) I glistened silvery-white. And young enough. What are they saying Arshad? What do they want? (Who would have been a better choice of word, but I didn't know that at the time.) No answer. Animated, guttural conversation. Not Turkish, my smattering of the lingo was enough to tell me that. Persian? Urdu? Pushtu? Arabic? Whatever it was, the sounds swirled in the still night air. I was hooked. Arshad. Who are they? Do you know them? Oh, Julian. These very kind men have offered to give us a night tour of the city. Gosh. That's very nice of them. Are you sure it's no trouble? (That trouble should have had a capital T). No trouble, meester, said Abdul - for that seemed to me to be his name. The circus had begun, and I was to have a ringside seat. (Leaving aside a close shave with something bent on entering my ring.......). The second man - (shades of Joe Orton's cottaging experience on the Islington high road) - obligingly vacated the passenger seat, slithered soundlessly into the rear seat, promptly followed by Arshad (who was about to have his arse had). The door slammed shut. And we were off. Hurtling - (yes, that word again) - down through the lanes of Galata, across the Golden Horn (and did Arshad already have the horn, or was he preparing to take the horn by the balls?) up into Sultanahmet. That eez the Blue Mosque. And so it was. Illuminated to the hilt. Very fine. Right. Veer right. Right fork. Right fork. And the Blue Mosque. Again. As fine as before. That eez the Blue Mosque again. And so it unquestionably was. Left. Veer left. Round the roundabout. Left. Tight left. Isn't that the Blue Mosque again?, I asked with just the faintest tad of trepidation. Yes, indeed. Different view. The Blue Mosque is worth seeing...... and by the third time it had become hypnotic. The lights, the mystery. The East. The lights. And then, without warning. The darkness. A sharp, sharp turn, screeching into a pitch black nothingness. No more lights. And then suddenly, finally, at long last, the red lights exploding in my head. No cosh, no Mickey Finn. Just the nasty realisation that I have walked into this blind alley. And something is very awry. Arshad, what is happening? Where are we going?, a voice bleated through the gloom, as the car drew to a halt. The engine switched off with an ominous finality. Silence. Then breathing, becoming panting. And the unmistakable sound of a zip. Being unzipped. A pants zip perhaps. More panting. No doubt a prelude to underpantory exploration. The driver's hands are now free. Free to freely fondle. The right one firmly gripping my left knee, and bent on heading north. Probably no further need to ask Arshad what was going on.......or coming off. Nevertheless, I felt the urge to make sure. Just in case. A glance over my left shoulder was enough to confirm that, as suspected, Arshad's cock was quite definitely exploring the depths of the second man's throat. In up to the hilt, tickling the epiglottis, epidermis nuzzling into the recipient's ample facial foliage. Neither were about to strike up a conversation with me. (In any case it's not good manners to speak with one's mouth full. Luckily I was scared. Not shit scared. (Speaking of which, Arshad had not emptied his bottom for some time....). Nor scared stiff (since watching blokes being sucked off has never been my idea of a turn on). Just sufficiently scared to pull out a small African knife from the lining of my greatcoat. Not clearly knowing what I was going to do with it, beyond saving myself from imminent impalation. Naive, yes, but I had read enough of Genet's paeans to poophole promiscuity to know that becoming a catamite was strictly not for me. Brandishing - (it was more probably a feeble waving, but permit me a little artistic licence in my hour of need) - the blade had the immediately required effect. (Memory tells me I screamed, Fucking get off me, at this juncture, but memory is a notorious liar). The paw was removed from my knee. No further attempt to touch, cajole or restrain. It might have just been a little misunderstanding; however, not wishing to discuss this improbability, kiss and make up, I hastily beat a retreat into the inky blackness, back down the tunnel we had come, not daring to look over my shoulder. Lest I turn into a pillar of salt, pursued by grievous bodily harm. Running as one does when scared........bloody fast. Bursting lungs pumping back in to the light, exploding through a throng of humanity, barely putting on the brake before thudding into the side of a jam-packed dolmus taxi. A mesmerised crowd stared at the light-haired, blue-eyed, infidel madman. Not a good time to stop for a breather methought. And plunged on into the stream of erotic, threat - how was I to tell which ones were not leering hopefully at my fast-receding buttocks - jogging, weaving, dodging a danse macabre. Away. Until I can run no more. Heart pounding, legs ready to give, stomach in major turmoil; but not blind. At last, I espy the promised land. It is a holy place of the Lord Efes Pilsen. A garden of beer. Two and a half mugs of the magic draught later, and a semblance of calm has returned. By the end of the fourth, I am positively happy, gloating to myself about this foolish little adventure. The other side of a natural cowardice, is an inbuilt ability to recover equanimity as soon as danger has passed, then to become bloated with Dutch courage. The euphoria abates a little on the realisation that I no longer know where I am, and that if I do manage to get back to the hotel, sooner or later, Arshad will return (his arse assuredly well had.) I could check into a different dive I suppose - overlooking the fact that I have exceedingly few spondulicks - but that would not be the done thing. (Whatever else may be said of the latter day British Imperialist,one may be certain that he at least knows what is 'the done thing'; (even if not always when to do it.)) To slither off away from the action would be below the belt, would it not? Simply not cricket. Nor playing the Great Game. (One is full of nonsense at 22; and more so at 38, when age, far from making one wiser, has simply dulled the already fuddled wits.) Getting 'home' proved easier than expected, even without my map. Trusting my friendly guide, I had deemed it unnecessary. And this is one mistake on the road I have not repeated. I mean, leaving behind my map. Now, always there is the map, though I don't know where I am going. (Naturally, trusting has been an oft-repeated error, yet without which one could truly get nowhere.) En route a bottle of raki was purchased. The temptation to fall into a belly dancing place of entertainment was resisted (which was undoubtedly provident as my funds would barely have covered a glass of water.) Arshad was not yet 'home'. Safely locked in the room, tiredness washed over me. So I unstoppered the medicine, poured a third of a bottle of lion's milk down the gullet, decided stuffing the cork of the bottle up my ring was probably not really necessary, huddled deep under the blankets - it was barely above freezing point outside, and the cell was unheated - and promptly. Passed out. Good morning, Julian. Did you sleep well? Coma faded, throat screaming for water. Who is that distinctly dark-skinned fellow grinning from the bed opposite me? Where, oh where am I? But I am not totally stupid. In a flash it all comes back. You are in Istanbul. It is Christmas Eve. The esteemed Pakistan gentleman, glistening like the Sultan's favourite greased eunuch, is of the other persuasion. (Bisexuality was only a vague theoretical concept to me at that tender age.) And there are two empty pairs of trousers on the floor between our beds. Which are rather too close for comfort. I am leaving for Izmir this evening. Shall we go there together? (To Smyrna with a smarmy pouf. What could one say? What, dear reader, would you have said? The type who would have said, Bugger off you fucking queer, is presumably lacking in the degree of literacy required to get through a tome as simple as this.) Er....... I don't have enough time. When do you go back to Greece? Twenty ninth. Then there is enough time. But I have almost no money. How much money do you have? Look Arshad. I'll think about it, right. Why couldn't I just have said 'No'? Full stop. Breaking up is hard to do? Parting is such sweet sorrow? Deeply repressed homosexual desires? Most definitely not. But because Izmir - and Smyrna - are names of magical power. (Names like John - sorry John - Tom, Harry, and let's not forget the ubiquitous Dick; do nothing for me. Likewise I get no kick out of hearing Brighton, Eastbourne, Skegness or Cleethorpes. But thrill at the sound of Hunza or Zahedan, Quetta or Quito, Iquitos or Qom.......) And nomadness is prone to take the wrong path; the third fork; the excluded middle of nowhere. No need to decide till 4 p.m. Six hours to savour indecision, soul between A and B. (Soul - the refutation of two-valued logic; 'between' the horns of the dilemma. Defying the law. Of the L.E.M.) So we decamp to travel the leathered lanes once more. In search of the ultimate hide. (Arshad seems genuinely surprised that I do not shower.......and not only to enjoy 'the delight in stinking'.) Our progress is once again punctuated by diversions to five-star hotels, the journey a faecal via dolorosa. I acquiesce. By now it has dawned on me that only the very best toilet tissue will do for this man, and the frequency of the visits may be due to a certain sphinctral laxity. Well, as the saying goes, one man's meat....is another man's meat. Around noon we take the story ferry ride across the Bosphorus, and I at last set foot for the first time in Asia, without an inkling that I will still be here 18 years later. The very idea of being in Asia sends me into a state of rapture, mind scheming all manner of fabulous voyages. That begin here. Passing the imposing frontage of the Haydarpasa railway station - (sounds more exciting than Clapham Junction to me) - the mere thought that it is possible to board a train here, for just a small fistful of dollars, that runs all the way to Teheran, gives a foolish frisson of delight. With a beer down my neck and the scent of Homer in my nostrils, the scales are tipping gently toward his birthplace, down by his wine dark sea; tipping away from the flagrant insanity of a whirlwind, non-stop ride to Iran and back. For the hell of it. But somehow, it was not written. Back on the European side we made tracks for the office where I could purchase my bus ticket. Arshad was a little fatigued - fagged out perhaps - so I agreed to a halt in a side alley coffee shop. No sooner had we stepped inside than a young, eminently pretty youth regaled Arshad effusively in faultless French. He unashamedly rattled off a bewildering catalogue of homosexual lascivities and debauched contortions that verily boggled my innocence. How grateful I was to Mr Marriot, a school French master who had managed to lead me, via the springboard of Maupassant, to a fabulous treasure trove of vernacular vulgarities. I would have liked to shake his hand to let him know that his efforts had all been worthwhile, that his linguistic exertions had finally come to fruition here by the Golden Horn. Arshad was dumbstruck. And I learned for the first time that it is quite feasible for a very dark-skinned person to flush. (The toilet frequently.) Nay even crimson blush. In the natural course of our conversation on our ride through Northern Greece I had complimented him - in a suitably imperialist way - on his impeccable English, and discovered that he also owned to being'quite good' at French......a diplomatic diplomat's way of acknowelging Gallic fluency. As an accomplished master of repartee, I reciprocated, Quite good French, said I, and appalling Latin. Thus perished the trip to Izmir. Et tu Arshad? Qui tu a fait recemment?, or something to that effect. Silence. Deux cafes, s'il te plait. Nous sommes presses, quoth I, heavily stressing the familiar te form. And the silence shattered into shards of embarrassment. Five minutes later we left, and shortly thereafter, we parted forever. He walked out of my life and on to these pages at a distance of 16 years. If I had gone to Izmir, my life would have been different, even if only minutely so. I wandered back to Galata, bought a copy of 'Nausea' (Sartre), for a princely sum, and settled into a corner of a beer garden, intent on revisiting choice passages of that novel which had thrilled me when I had stumbled on it by chance at the age of 16. A teenage infatuation with existentialism seems to be another sine qua non for the nomadman. After a few pages it occurred to me that to be a real existentialist, one should be being not reading. I dutifully closed the book and practised staring at cigarette ends. Then the beer glass, which stubbornly refused to communicate with me. So more beer, and more beer, and with it the unfailing delusion that one is approaching THE TRUTH. (The beauty of this illusion is its permanence. Beer is a religion, of this make no mistake). And more beer.........dissolves THE TRUTH......erases the need for truth........and meaning.....and sanity. Drunk with joy, tumbling down through the streets of Galata, comes the idea that life is a mode of motion. There are those who plod, those who walk steadily, those who run; and those who dance. Dance merrily into the minefield of tomorrows, oblivious of all danger. Dance. To the ends of the earth. For no reason. Dance, crash, collapse, weep and scream for a way out. Those who would not die in their beds. Accursed. Nomadmen. Back in the hotel room I prepare the last rites. (This particular room has two beds, a bedside table, a threadbare carpet, two windows hung with heavy curtains, a rudimentary shower and a single bare overhead bulb. As hotel rooms go this is more than adequate, receiving at least three and a half stars on my personal Michelin scale, despite the fact that it is not even accorded a passing mention in Baedeker; but I race ahead of the tale, for discursion on luxury and the meaning of rooms must wait). On the bedside table, taking pride of place, my sole Christmas card - from myself, to myself......with love as ever; the travelling library - 'Nausea', 'The Magus', and 'The Will to Power'; a photograph of the most recent woman who could not endure me any longer......(though she claimed to love me more than ever); and the corked genie....poisoned god of the false religion. A glance at the watch. Only 10:30 p.m. Oh, fuck time. Unstop the Turkish chloroform. Glug the deadly potion. And it seemed that it was good. Glug.......glug.....glug...goodnight (go not gently in to that good night goodnight). Brainsplitting headache, blazing bare bulb, raging thirst. I'll never drink again, playing on the internal monologue, grating across the grooves of the scratched record. Water,water. None, there never is when you actually need the wretched stuff. (Ask the Ancient Mariner, he knew all about that). Adam's ale...blast his eyes. But wait....there is water....in the shower. Saved. Swivel the single tap......the last drips....nothing more. Curses. (Shit! Bollocks! Fuck! Cunt! Arsehole!, if you must know). Lick the floor of the shower?! Just in time I remember I have recently pissed on it. Not being overly fond of drinking slash - yes, you correctly infer from that grammatical structure, that I have sampled the delights of a branch of urophilia - I pass on this occasion. Yet hark! No, not the herald angels singing. Much better......it is raining. Drops from heaven. Burst open the window, thrust the head into the rain, try to gather a cupful of the blessed, bastard stuff......even as before my very eyes.......it solidifies........a white bleeding Christmas! Oh, fuck it! Merry Christmas Mr. Julian effendi! Glug......glug......glug. Good morning! 10 a.m. Half dead, summon energy from beyond the grave. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1......go vertical. Still no water in the shower......hot nor cold. Brush the teeth with a finger oiled with raki. Down and out, stopping briefly at reception to swap some useless Greek drachma for some even more worthless Turkish lira. The manager gives me 15% over the bank rate, at which I feel mightily chuffed. (I was 22, but had yet to have heard of the mighty greenback.........I wonder when I will be a 'grown-up'? Peter Pan - hebephrenic schizophrenia - all part of the equation; and quite necessary). Lurch out into the slush, into Istiklal Cadessi - in Tunel - down Yuksek Yildirim past the Galata Tower, into Karakoy and on to the Galata bridge across the Golden Horn, bound for Sultanahmet. Pit stop at the Yeni Cami (New Mosque), then up the Hamidiye Cadessi, (somewhere passing a spot where three sets of butchered limbs, torsoes and heads had been retrieved from a largish dustbin three days previously), on and up to the splendid, splendid jewel. Aghia Sophia - church of the holy wisdom, then a mosque, and now a museum. Inside the vast vault of emptiness, the massive shields hanging from the inner surface of the dome inscribed in magical, dancing Arabic script, the fearsome mithrab - a sinister staircase leading to a pulpit halfway up a wall, and the tangible presence of good and evil. All of these. Make me thirsty. Lolloping along Divanyolu (F divan or It. divano f. Turk. divan f. Arab. diwan f. Pers. divan anthology, register, court, bench) without a care in the world; careless in fact. Eye contact with a swarthy (yes, there really are a lot of swarthy Lascar-like Turks struting the streets of the 'Bul), genial(though I had yet to speak to him), bearded (by the prophet!) fellow. He has read me in an instant. Homo erectus biblis buffoonus. A walking open book, and naive to boot. As I avert my eyes - already aware that I am too late - he claps me on the shoulder. My name is Mehmet. Friend, shall we go for a drink? The correct answer to this question is 'No'. Er, yes, why not? (Why not indeed?) Within five minutes we are happily ensconced in a stand-up bar, ice cold beer finally slaking the fire within. Halfway through th second beer all the routine questions had been exhausted, the dialogue now, many years later, an all too familiar ritual, (in a language which often, though happily not always, spells trouble with a towering capital 'T'. It runs thus: What is your name, friend? Julian. Ah Julian. Very nice to meet you. I am Mehmet.......Where are you come from? England. Oh, very fine country. My uncle's sister studying economics in London. Oh, really. Where you stay now? In Tunel. Ah, Tunel......too much expensive. I know good cheap pension near here in Sultanahmet. Is very clean, very good. No thanks, I'm OK. OK.......when you go back England? I won't. I live in Greece. (Mock horror). Oh. Very bad people, very wicked country. I rather like it. Very bad people..............Why are you coming Istanbul? I'm not really sure. So ends the overture. (There are many minor variations on the theme, but I have played my part in that conversation countless times since that long lost day.) My last throwaway answer has him stumped (not clean bowled) for a few seconds, then the curtain rises on Act One: You want to buy carpet? (Only if it's a bona fide magic one.) No thanks. You no like carpet? Turkish carpet very famous, very good. Yes, I know. But I have no money. (Which was the truth - I had the equivalent of less than 40 pounds sterling in a mixture of Greek drachma and Turkish lira, which even back in 1979 was never going to break the bank at Monte Carlo.....nor repay my eternal debt to Mr. Burrows.....whom the acute reader will remember as the simple fellow who subsidised my brief career as a scraper of S-bends.) How much money you have? I give you very good price. No thanks. In spite of the perfunctory (LL perfunctorius careless.........) nature of my replies, the mood of the ale-greased dialogue is decidedly friendly. And he orders a third round of beers to further oil the negotiations. And we start the next lap. (Always have been fond of mixing my metaphors, but then is a theatre not also so to speak an arena, and thus also a stadium in which the way goes around and around?..........And alliterating alleyway allegories gory allegretto.....) Would you like to help me? What do you mean? I want to sell some carpets to my friend in Germany. But ees very difficult. Why? Ees not easy for me to take carpets to Germany. Why not? Because I am Turkish man. So. What is the problem? (I still hadn't cottoned on.) Ees very difficult for Turkish person export carpet. So? You are not Turkish. Cross border. Customers. For you. No problem. Finally the penny dropped, though ever so slowly (defying the laws of gravity), and settled in the hypothalamic sediment of my fast-fuddling brain. I give you carpets. You take train to Stuttgart. Deliver carpets. I pay you four hundred dollars. You are happy. I am happy. We are both happy.......very happy........And if you like. Take more carpets. Magic carpets.........The door to Ali Baba's cave swinging open......Sesame......Hey presto......Abracadabra.......The beginning of a new life as a carpet smuggler. Exotic. Pseudo-erotic (carpets are prime spots for shagging, especially if you happen to have a resident harem).(Carpet-bagger 2 an unscrupulous opportunist............ult. f. L carpere pluck, pull to pieces). Is easy my friend. Also foolhardy, fraught and fantastic. After listening to some of the further details it began to sound increasingly dodgy - as I am sure it undoubtedly was - even to such a callow youth. I need to think about it. We can meet again.........tomorrow. Here. Same time? But the wolf wants feeding today, since tomorrow may never come. (I call as witness the person who discovered the triumvirate of no longer virile persons lodged in previously mentioned garbage receptacle, their manhood cut off in its prime). The curtain falls on Act One. I order two more beers as an earnest - (and it is very important to be earnest if not wild, whilst also keeping a weather (not nether) eye open (sesame) for those of an over-earnest persuasion desirous of entering Fingal O'Flaherty's cave. At Wills.) - of good faith. Shirt lifted. Curtain up. Act Two. You need to change money? No. I give you very good rate. How much? Four thousand, one dollar. I don't have any dollars. What you have? Deutschmark? No. English pound? No. He frowns. We have apparently exhausted all the world's (a stage) worthwhile currencies. Swiss francs? (A hint of desperation here, as if cuckoo clocks and alpenhorns are hardly what makes the (aforesaid) world go round.) I have only drachmas. His face contorts, squirms and oozes pity for me. Just a few seconds for machination behind the grinning Boschean mask. Drachmas not good, not good.........Not good..........but you are friend........I give you seven lira, one drachma. Instant mental calculation. 25% over the odds. Suppressing a smile at my own cleverness, I begin my second excursion into the black, black market. No longer a rookie, I even managed to hesitate a little. (I was almost sure I could hear the strains of Goldfinger being chamber orchestrated in some vast vacuum inside my skull.) That seems fair. (Believe it or not, the concept - oftentimes hideously distorted - of fairness seems to me to still suffuse the British mentality. 'Your' team beats 'my' team at football; is it not then superabundantly fair that I kick in your head to redress the balance.........Is not British justice yet one of the few remaining things of which we may be - justly - proud?) How much you change? I named the equivalent of 25 pounds. His laugh barely disguised his derision Is not very much. Never mind. We go my shop. Where is your shop? In the Kapali Carsi. In the grand bazaar. I couldn't have scripted it better myself. Shall we go? The guillotine blade falls on the unholy innocent. Unnatural Act Three finds us tripping merrily - (God rest ye gentlemen) - along Yenicerler Cadessi, again discussing the possible transportation of woven goods to lands Teutonic. The cold winter sun; the beer; the light (and shades again of L'Etranger); companionship (of fools). It is Christmas Day. (Goodwill henceforth for ever more......) We are friends. I am happy. We are happy. (Yet he is sadly happier than I. Whitebait is once again on the hook.) We enter the hallowed precincts. Piled to the heavens with bronze, copper, onyx, jade, leather (unbound), rubies, emeralds, knives and swords, scimitars and yataghans (yet again), silks (of the road), spices........does this list sound derivative? It should. This truly is an archetypal Eastern bazaar. It is at least possible that somewhere in this honeycomb one could purchase a magic lamp. (Or be conned into doing so by a lad(d) in leather). We weave, woof, weft and wind......on the way. To Mehmet's shop. The intoxication of the bizarre-bazaar goes stronger. I am dancing nicely now. Whirling. Spinning. (Micky Finning - no, not this time.) A top spinning under Mehmet's command. The Pied Piper following the rat. Into the sewer. (Uncarpeted). And upward. The lane thins. The stalls are not there anymore. Gyrating faster upward. Suddenly, a wall appears and Mehmet has gone. I jerk round in surprise. He is there. For a fleeting millisecond his smile reassures me. Before I see the blade grasped in his fist. It speaks to me: I am sharp. I am your death if you choose. Is it written? My stomach a taut, invisible knot.





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Fri Aug 06, 2010 4:17 pm

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amazing story ... i really like it... thnks for sharing



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Tue Aug 10, 2010 5:50 pm

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interesting one....



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