Warning: “Sex and Homeland” is not for people under the age of 18. If you are under the age of 18 please do not read any further.
Part 1: Autumn
Chapter 1: Ahmet and Engines Running Over White Palace
Ahmet had got the Portuguese translator job with Turkey’s biggest soccer team and his stomach had started to grow. Flying high we drove fast around the city in a team car, followed by a rich Brazilian girl he was fucking. All things were possible! In Istanbul the roads were gold paved! We drove along the Bosphorus, the girl passing us, Ahmet passing the girl. He was speaking to me in Turkish and then she was calling him on his cell in Portuguese. He had a full can of cold beer.
When we first met, Ahmet had had a sales job with ties and shoe shines and 6 o’clock morning rising and 14 hour long days; bus rides and ferry rides with the rest of the commuting middle class clump of Istanbul. Now he was riding high – respected – at 24 he had found his place!
In the quiet times when the car wasn’t roaring over the hills of Istanbul, carrying international Brazilian football players from one restaurant to another press conference, Ahmet waxed whimsical about his past. I felt I had a glimpse into his life; private, something forbidden, shown to me alone. At those moments Ahmet would often remember the bad times out loud. Suffering it again was a holy ritual for him. I felt lucky to be in his presence then.
We drove past Dolmabahçe Palace along the Bosphorus in the Beşiktaş district. Towering sycamore trees lined the sides of the coastal road between the Palace and the rest of the city. Trunks of the trees were brown and red colored marble in the neon night light. The trees changed colors and this city which can be so agonizingly ugly and so painfully beautiful was painful that night. The leaves fell like pieces of silver in the car lights.
Further on, Ahmet revved up the base of a hill, going into the city.
Both of us wanted to do something tonight and we were young and this urge scratched at the back of our heads. The Brazilian girl named Sandra was the one he was fucking, but he wanted something else.
We began to talk about Russian prostitutes and the pimps that Ahmet had met through the soccer team.
I can’t lie and pretend that the movement of a forbidden woman – her sex on the street – is not appealing. I can’t pretend that her body and sexuality don’t stretch my dick into warm orange throb. Perhaps I am a disgusting fool. A pig and wrongheaded. And it is true prostitution is a terrible thing; rapine and mendacious. After the act is done it is empty… But then there is the sex, the process of it. And sometimes a good fuck is pretty goddamned nice. Even if you are in love and the girl loves you, she still has a big pussy that needs to be filled and you have a big dick to fill it. We all want to feel wonderful and used. Maybe we feel a little less used if we love each other but at times, the emptiness is still there.
The prostitute is the fullest extent of the sex moment. I want to understand this. I can’t make sense of it anymore than that. I am drawn to them.
“Let’s go to Aksaray,” I said to Ahmet. “We can look at all the Eastern European girls there. Maybe we won’t buy or anything but I want to see it.”
“All right!” Ahmet exclaimed, speeding up behind Sandra. He passed her on the hills behind Ortaköy. We slid into the lane next to her. A car was coming down at us, going the other direction. We were in the wrong lane and it was all our fault. Going too fast up the hill everyone-will-die then Ahmet brakes and we slide just in the bird’s ass nick-of-time into the right lane, missing the descending car by nano-seconds.
The car trailed off down the hill below, blowing its fading horn at us.
“Well.. maybe that wasn’t the best idea,” Ahmet said quietly, smiling, his bravado lessening a bit. Jesus.
At the top of the hill, in a district called Bebek Yokuşu, we stopped behind Sandra at the front gate of the condo complex where she lived with her brother-in-law’s family. Her brother-in-law was one of the highest paid defensive backs in the Turkish Soccer league.
Bebek Yokuşu is a rich neighborhood. Looking out of Sandra’s brother-in-law’s condo, verdant trees ploomed and spread in dark silver, crowded and closed all the way down to the Bosphorus. You could see the whole damn thing from up there. Far off the Bosphorus was a sliver of black between the lights of Asian and European Istanbul. It was beautiful. Fucking beautiful.
Ahmet and I got out of our car and walked to Sandra’s car. Sandra had a sun burnt swimsuit model’s beauty. Her hair was always too short and too styled. She was hopelessly Brazilian and thus unable to mentally process Turkey. Sandra longed for Rio and Sao Paulo, pining for the vastness and warmth of her country. These Brazilian soccer players and their families accepted the money in this far away corner of the world and were polite and said nice things at press conferences but at heart they didn’t feel at home in any place other than a Latin language speaking country. Ahmet was the closest thing Turkish that Sandra could accept. To her he was a Middle Eastern Brazilian; alien yet speaking safe.
She stood out of her car and kissed Ahmet on the lips, saying goodbye.
She asked us, “What are you doing tonight?”
“Going for a drive.”
She looked suspicious. Maybe she was still weirded out by the almost accident on the highway up to her brother-in-law’s condo or maybe she could sense we planned on seeing Eastern European ladies that night. I’m not sure. You never know with women.
At any rate Sandra got suspicious. Ahmet might cheat on her and she was in love with him and she could sense he might cheat on her.
“Be careful in what you are doing,” she said to Ahmet in English. Warning.
Back in our car he rolled his eyes. “Be careful in what you are doing.” He laughed. “Yeah, let’s be careful.”
We drove back into the heart of the European side, past gleaming Ak Merkez, one of the most expensive shopping malls in Turkey, and down through Mecdiyeköy which 40 years ago was reportedly just farm fields but was now the major hub, a belt buckle of the European side, 4 million people passing/surging/turning every day, hooking everything together, the Bosphorus Bridge, Ortaköy, Şişli.
We drove down to Beşiktaş again and skirting the shore we came to Karaköy. In the daytime the Karaköy port and trade area is a hectic bustle of street sellers, businessmen, cars, trains and ferry boats but inversely at night it was an abandoned monument; deserted, as if the buildings were laid out for no reason. The neon glow of advertisements lit up the centuries old buildings and bricks. The empty port authority and old mosques and churches were dead and austere. We passed a parked car with an open passenger door and off in an alleyway a man was taking a leak; the silhouette of his urine in a curl and the smell of the wharf along the Golden Horn putrid – as black as the night.
We drove over the Golden Horn Bridge into Eminönü and the oldest section of the city. We passed Sirkeci Train Station, the famous end of the Orient Express which in the time of European power ran from Paris to the “Paris of the East” Istanbul.
I said to Ahmet as the cobble stone of the old city ricocheted off the car tires, “I’m really not sure I want to buy a prostitute.. I mean I do find it kind of..”
“What?” he asked. “What is it?”
“I, I don’t know man, I have interest in doing something but I am not sure if this is ahhh, what I want. A good chance I just want to look. A good chance.”
“You’ll want to do more than that because you ARE A MAN!” He said and hit the gas. This was my Ahmet, half the time lost in mediocrity and typical Turkish manhood.
On the other side of the Golden Horn was Aksaray, den of whores and thieves.
Aksaray was a mess, filled with bars and cheap hotel rooms to fuck pussy you paid for. I had only ever passed by in the day time and never entered the district. I was scared. One heard horror stories of foreigners (and Turks even) who had gotten robbed or ‘disappeared.’ As Ahmet and I arrived people were everywhere, passing in front of the local police station.
As we drove a text message came on my cell phone. It was from my other girlfriend, Beril.
Beril’s text told me to have sweet dreams. Ahmet looked over at me responding to Beril’s text.
“It is from Beril.” I said to Ahmet.
Ahmet didn’t say anything, just nodded. He didn’t like Beril. She didn’t like him. To her Ahmet was a Turkish army supporting fascist with pictures of Atatürk lining the contours of his boyhood. To him Beril was a scum-ridden liberal whore without a family. Beril and Ahmet had never met one another but from their comments about the other person I felt I should work hard for them not to meet.
Beril was my “other” girlfriend. My main girlfriend was Yagmur. While Beril was a unique addiction Yagmur was different. I set my heart on her. I was in love with Yagmur.
Yagmur was a film maker. Distant and artistic Yagmur would go days without texting or calling me… Yagmur could be anywhere right now; hiding with her mother from her crazy father or she could be working 22 hour long days on a new Turkish television show. Anything was possible.
The clock on my cell phone said 11:30. I pressed send on a sweetly fake text to Beril and put my phone back into my pocket.
(To Be Continued…)