Roger Morrison spotted Jordan in the clinic and called him over. Finding a little corner as much out of the way as was possible in that busy place, so they could talk. “Well, your two months are up,” Roger smiled. He was a likeable guy and very good at his job of running the Christian Aid Clinic.
“Yeah, I guess I’ll miss the place,” Jordan replied, returning the smile.
“Really? All this chaos and disorder.”
‘Yeah really,’ Jordan thought to himself. “It kind of grows on you,” he replied.
“Maybe. I suppose that’s why I’m still here.”
Jordan knew that was not why Roger was there, it was much more a case of dedication to the task, and a desire to make a difference. For a boy from Virginia, being in Turkey for two months had been one almighty change and not all that easy, but Roger had helped ease him into things.
“I have a Jeep for you to take to the coast. It needs to be at our office in Antalya on Friday. They will give you your ticket to fly home from there.”
“Okay, that sounds good,” Jordan replied. He already knew about the Jeep, but he didn’t bother to say.
“Come and see me later and I’ll give you the address.” Roger turned around and went off towards the crowded dispensary.
Jordan watched him go, now realising he’d soon be on his way home. The journey from Gaziantep would be a long one, he reckoned it must easily be a day to the coast, but he didn’t need to rush. He could even make a stopover on the way.
That evening, when he’d finished work at the clinic, he had time to reflect on things. During the last month or so he had been delivering supplies to a Christian run refugee camp, and he’d also walked the streets in the slums of Gaziantep, part of an initiative to round up and help orphans.
Jordan had never really questioned his Christian upbringing, he had followed his parents and family through the church, joining in everything that was going on. It was a way of life.
Turkey had opened his eyes, how could it not? But he was surrounded by his fellow Christians and he had his faith. Only Jordan, strange as this sounds, never really had any faith, he just went along with everything. That had more or less worked out fine.
He didn’t really know Firas very well, but he seemed like a good kid. The two other boys he’d only met that one time at the clinic, but he figured that if they all wanted to go with him to Antalya, well why not? There was space enough in the Jeep. He wondered what the kids would do when they got there, but thought it couldn’t be any worse than staying here.
Amar knew Firas would not leave the old man on his own. Although he had told him they would stay, he wasn’t sure. He’d had plenty of time to think about it, and it seemed too good an opportunity to turn down – a free ride to Antalya. He didn’t really know where that was, except it was a long way further west, and a step closer to Europe.
As things turned out, no one would need to make that decision. Perhaps it was only Firas who was really aware of just how ill Burhan was. Firas and Burhan himself of course. The old man never complained; he even seemed to pick up with the boys around. Amar would catch him smiling at them naked in the shower.
Over the month leading up to their departure, they had all got to know one another quite well. There was a routine of work, home, supper and bed. Burhan was always in bed immediately after supper, but they talked whilst waiting to eat and during the meal. One night they had even talked together lying in bed, before falling asleep. That night Burhan had recounted an adventure he had with a young man he’d met, someone who was visiting a relative in the town where he lived. They met at a party given in honour of a birthday, where there was nearly one hundred guests. By chance, or so he said, Burhan found himself alone with the young man, and seduced him with his charm. The young man was reluctant at first, wary. Not wanting to get caught, or make trouble for his hosts. But as Burhan described it, the touch of his hand on the young man’s thigh melted his resistance.
That was an amazing story Burhan recounted in exquisite detail. So much so, both Amar and Samir, although tired from work and from staying up later than usual, needed to quench the desire Burhan had aroused.
The two boys had hardly made love at all, but they had grown very close, and that night was different. In the darkness lying next to each other, Amar reached his hand towards Samir’s face. He felt the warm breath on his skin as he gently stroked the young boy’s cheek. They looked at each other, their eyes locked in an unbreakable trance. Amar watched his friend smile and his fingers touched those beautiful lips. The chill of the night could do nothing to douse the heat from his body. In unison, their arms wrapped around each other as their bodies felt the warm contours of the skin beneath thin garments.
The arousal of both boys was intense. Their hard erections pressed into each other as Amar moved his hips, and Samir responded. A hand slid over Samir’s back tracing the curve of his spine, coming to rest on those exquisitely rounded orbs. Amar squeezed and gripped Samir, pulling his body into an even tighter embrace. Samir moved his hips, pushing his aching penis against Amar’s own erect manhood.
It was Amar’s hand that slid inside Samir’s underpants and gripped his erection. Then Samir had his own smaller hand wrapped around Amar. Both boys were hot and excited. Amar’s lips found Samir and his tongue licked the boy’s bottom lip. Samir opened his mouth and their tongues touched. So began a dance of lust and love making, a night full of passion, a night destined to change things forever.
Dawn broke to reveal Friday morning with a clear sky and a hint of warmth to come with the rising sun. Samir was woken by the muffled sounds of stifled crying. It was not from Amar who was still lying asleep next to him. He looked across the room and was drawn to the shape of the boy sitting up next to Burhan.
Firas had his legs drawn up, his arms wrapped around his knees, and his head buried. Samir noticed the tiny movements the boy made as he sobbed. He stood up, careful not to disturb Amar, and crossed the room to kneel down next to Firas. The other boy must have felt his presence, because he raised his head. Although Samir did not look directly at Firas, he could still see his tear stained face.
Instinctively, Samir moved closer, put an arm around the boy’s shoulders and hugged him. This action by Samir caused tears to flow once again. Firas turned his head towards Samir and nuzzled his shoulder. Samir brushed a hand through the boy’s hair, he looked up and over towards Burhan. His own eyes welled up with tears. They hugged each other as the tears flowed freely.
Burhan lay next to them on the mattress, he was still. When Samir looked, it seemed to him the old man had a smile on his face. Samir could no more stop his tears than could Firas. They gripped each other tightly.
Samir’s mouth was next to Firas’s ear when he whispered, “He’s in paradise.”
The previous evening had been so special, in so many ways. Burhan had been happy recounting his youthful adventure, the boys had all somehow felt part of the same odd family they formed. The night culminated in amorous bliss for Samir and Amar: something changed in their relationship that night. The following morning Burhan was gone. Only his body remained as his spirit had flown. Samir felt close to Firas—a closeness he’d not felt since the loss of his family.
The three of them slept together on the floor after Burhan had been buried, the other side of the room remained empty. It was odd in the house, they all felt it, and it was forgotten by Firas that Samir had spoken.
They packed up what little they had. Two small bags with some old clothes, the battered little saucepan, the gas ring, and of course the teapot and glasses. What didn’t fit in the two bags went in the plastic shopping bag Samir was carrying.
They had arranged a time and place to meet Jordan, who had been at the funeral, which was quite a surprise. He was waiting, standing next to the Jeep. When he saw the boys arrive, he smiled and couldn’t help thinking, ‘What will I do with these kids?’
In the immediate, there was the two-day journey to Antalya, because he planned on stopping overnight. But what about after they arrived? Jordan was having difficulty imagining pulling up on some city street and watching the rag tail bunch of kids get out. Leaving them at the side of the road like hitch hikers, as if they had some place to go.
“Okay get in,” he grinned and gestured. “You understand English?” he added looking at Amar and Samir.
They both wore a blank expression, but knew they had been invited to get in the Jeep. Amar turned back to look at Jordan, returning his grin, and he said, “English mister, very good.”
This made Jordan chuckle, he reached over and placed a hand on Amar’s shoulder. “Yes, very good.”
Amar and Samir sat in the back, with Firas in the front with Jordan.
“How long will it be?” Firas asked, turning towards Jordan.
“We will stop overnight, about halfway. So we’ll arrive tomorrow afternoon, I guess.”
Jordan turned the key and the engine came alive. He looked in the mirror at Amar and Samir.
“Alright in the back?” he asked.
“Yes,” Amar answered in English. “Very good.”
Jordan had to smile at the boy, but he wondered about the younger one, who seemed very quiet. “The little guy doesn’t say much, does he?” Jordan addressed Firas as he pulled away down the street.
Firas suddenly remembered the morning he was crying over Burhan. “He doesn’t speak,” he told Jordan, but he knew that wasn’t true.
“You mean he’s dumb?” Jordan was steering the Jeep out onto the main road, heading west.
“He’s not an idiot,” Firas replied defensively.
“No, that’s not what I meant. I meant he can’t speak… dumb like deaf, no speech.” Jordan reflected on how easy it was to get misinterpreted. You really had to make an effort here to be sure you got the right meaning across.
“He’s not deaf,” Firas told him, wondering why Jordan thought Samir couldn’t hear.
“No, no, I know he’s not deaf… never mind. You want the radio on?” Jordan had found that sometimes things were easier if you didn’t try too hard and just dropped it if it wasn’t working.
Firas leaned over, pressing the buttons on the radio. He skimmed through the stations until he found some music he liked. Then he had his arms in the air dancing up and down, and lifting his bum off the seat. He turned and laughed at the other two in the back. They of course joined in the fun, mimicking the same actions. Jordan thought it was hilarious watching them doing a sort of seated belly dance.
Pretty soon they were leaving the city behind. The suburbs slowly gave way to countryside. The music on the radio had changed, and things settled down. There was calm, which was animated only by the music and changing scenery.
Jordan checked his watch, it was around half past one, he was surprised they had been driving for a good three hours. He slowed, turned off the highway, and pulled into a large dusty car park that surrounded a restaurant.
There were lots of trucks as well as a few cars.
“Let’s get some food,” he told Firas.
“Jordan,” Firas looked back at him looking embarrassed. “We don’t have money to eat here.”
“I know you don’t,” he replied, ruffling the boy’s hair. “Don’t worry about it. My treat.”
Jordan got out of the Jeep. All three boys just looked and didn’t move.
“Come on,” Jordan made a sweeping gesture with his arm. “Come on, I’m paying.”
Firas turned to Amar and Samir. “He’s paying,” he told them smiling.
The next second they were out of the Jeep, and following Jordan to the restaurant. He turned and pressed the key, the lights flashed, the horn beeped. They headed over to the entrance.
This was a wholly new and unexpected experience for all three of the boys. They found themselves seated at a table and were quickly served with a large bowl of soup the waiter brought over. Jordan served them using the large metal ladle. By the time he was finishing serving himself, the waiter was back with some bread.
“Eat,” Jordan said, while looking across the table at Amar and Samir.
Nobody needed to be told twice, and the boys finished their bowls of soup and most of the bread in record time. Jordan noticed as he emptied his own bowl, they had left one piece of bread, which he presumed was for him.
The main dish was mutton, in a thick stew with chunks of vegetables. Samir found it hard to remember when he had last eaten like this. None of them had eaten this well in a very long time. It wasn’t that the food was any different, but it was really well cooked, seasoned and tasty.
A small sweet pastry ended the meal and Jordan ordered tea for everyone. The waiter served the tea, which he did with the same style and panache as Burhan used to. Lifting the teapot into the air letting a long stream of hot tea pour down into each glass.
Jordan paid the bill, as he nodded his thanks to the waiter.
This was probably one of the best times they had had in more than a year. Certainly since before they all ended up in the camp. Both Amar and Samir stole glances at Jordan. They were both wondering if it was real, and what he would want in return. A free ride was one thing, but a free meal was hard to believe.