Sara and Ali talk about terrorists and of what Enver did to Sara.
The drawing teacher arrived two weeks late. Students took him for one of them and did not settle down until they realized that the young man standing in front of the class with his thumbs tacked to his belt was their instructor.
“Hello!” He greeted the class, swerving his head from side to side. "We’ll be working on 'Drawing 1' this year.”
Sara noticed his strong accent, stressing on the last syllables.
“I am Luther Brandt. I dislike giving a lecture as much as you dislike listening to one. Instead, it should be to everyone’s benefit if we shared ideas.”
Luther Brandt's words immediately grabbed attention. When he finished drawing some patterns on the board, he asked the students what each line and pattern reminded them of. A zigzag line was likened to a wave, a snake and a flower stem. In a barely audible voice Sara said, “Bosphorus.”
Luther Brandt halted while pointing his right hand to the board, turned around and faced her. Then suddenly his hand landed on her shoulder. Sara jumped up in her seat, startled. Sitting at the front seat in this class may not have been a good choice.
“This is exactly what I was getting at,” he continued ignoring the giggles from the class. “Seeing the undetected... What is your name, please?”
“Thank you, Sara Dincer. Who else has an original contribution?”
The day was Monday and Sara had to work late after school. While, everyone in the bookstore seemed to be busy with a new truckload of delivery, Sara called Ali. Without getting into detail, she simply told him that the deed was done.
“Let’s have dinner,” Ali offered.
“I have to work late.”
“How about a late dinner then? We could go somewhere around our home base.”
“That is not a very good idea.”
“How about we pick up stuff on the way back and eat at my place?”
To go to his place? Wouldn’t that be improper? But then, she had nothing to lose, did she? After her mother, after Enver, after everything, why should she care? Moreover, she was curious what Ali had on Enver.
“Sure, let’s do that,” she said.
When Sara finished up at her desk in the bookstore and came downstairs, she found Ali waiting for her.
“Will you be doing this every night?” he asked.
“Almost. If I expect fulltime pay...”
“It isn’t safe. Not after all the stores close up in this area.”
“Not really. The boy stays late, sweeping the storage area. Usually we leave together. He says he is afraid to be the last one anyhow.”
Sara looked up at Ali as he held the door open for her. He was wordless and with a frown.
Outside the rain had raised a whiff of cool fresh air like that of freshly laundered sheets drying on the line. The avenue was quiet with a few pedestrians and an occasional car. They walked close to each other as the reflections of the neon lights shimmered in the puddles and headlights of the cars swished by. Sara did not feel the threat of the dark. It had been a long time since she had been frightened of anything, except her nightmares.
The Deli in Taksim Square was open. The man in a grease-splattered apron behind the counter spooned the food Ali was pointing to him into waxed cardboard boxes. By the time he picked up the bags, Sara had paid for the food at the cash register.
“I was the one who invited you,” Ali said.
“I called you first. Besides you paid last time. This time I pay.”
“The only time,” Ali grumbled.
“No, that will hurt my self-image.”
“You are a weird girl.”
“True. In most ways. But in this case I am right.”
He parked his car in front of a three-story house. The billboard of a fruit store, hanging over metal planks, was stretched between the second and third floors. Sara recalled the store from years back. This place was probably ten or eleven blocks inland from where her grandparents’ house had stood. Ali opened the door with a five-centimeter brass key. Inside it smelled of lye soap and scrubbed cedar. The dark hallway led to a bare wood stairway.
“I’m on the third floor,” Ali said.
They wiped their feet on the mat at the bottom of the stairs and started to go up.
“Ali, is that you?”
“Yes, I have a friend with me. We’ll be working on a project.”
A young woman, probably in her late twenties, appeared.
“How are you, Sister?” She asked politely with a not-totally-cured Anatolian accent, as she offered her hand.
“Emel is my landlady. She’s afraid of intruders,” Ali said on their way up.
Second and third floor apartments had improvised partitions with plywood panels nailed in at each landing. Sara recalled a book on old architecture in the library of the Academy. This house had to have been built at the turn of the century. These types of wooden buildings looked caved in from the outside and some even would bulge out in the middle, as if they had a heart beating there. Her grandparents’ house and also Madam Arakian’s were of the same type.
Ali used another small key for his apartment. Once inside he took her raincoat and hung it on the wall on a strip of polished wood with hooks.
“Don’t take off your shoes,” he said.” I never do.”
“But it is raining out.”
“So? Don’t worry about it.”
“Nice quiet street, yours is,” Sara said.
“It comes alive during daytime.”
They emptied the food onto plates in the kitchen.
“I’m amazed. You’re so neat,” Sara said.
“Don’t you believe it. Sometimes, Emel does all the tidying up.”
“Uh huh. I couldn’t care less. Let’s go eat in the other room.”
The other room had a divan with pillows and slipcovers, straw-woven high-backed chairs, a chest and a bookshelf. An incandescent light bulb without a shade dangled from the ceiling and the windows were hidden behind one large graphite-colored blind.
“I like this room,” Sara said. “It has personality.”
“Thanks,” Ali laughed curling his lips up. “So the artist likes it. I just dump in what I need.”
After they had finished eating, Sara handed Ali the copy of the document and told him about the verbal fight she had heard.
“I don’t know how we can use this paper,” Ali said. “It is just an agreement between the two. Unless that there is a reason to believe your mother is threatened in some way. What you heard has more meaning. Exactly what, I’m not sure.”
“What do you mean?”
“He’s putting pressure on her. Since he’s been generous with her in the past and they had a pleasant relationship, this could only mean that someone else could be pushing his buttons.”
“You had told me that Enver had backed certain terrorists. How do you know that?”
“From a few documents given to me when one of them decided to talk.”
“Isn’t what you have enough?”
“Yes and no. What we have is enough to convict him, maybe, but not enough to get to the bottom of the organization. Then of course, there’s that question of justice. Suppose he’s in jail, if he’d get that far, he’d escape or get out with the help of those who back him.”
“Is that why the police holds evidence?”
“No, I do. Not the department. Sara, only I and another guy know about this. We decided to sit on it for a while.”
“But they are killing people.”
“We try to stop them if we ever have a wind of their killings beforehand. Usually the police can only get the hired ones, the assassins. That is, if we are lucky. We need a different regime with swift justice in this country. In the meantime, collecting evidence seems to be the best bet.”
“Is it too much to ask to see what you have?"
"No, it isn’t,” Ali hesitated for a second. “I’d be concerned about you. Sometimes it isn’t to your benefit to know too much.”
“I am not scared. I want to help.”
Ali stared at her in silence. Sara imagined him to be thinking of an excuse to dodge her, but Ali nodded in agreement.
“It’s okay, I’ll show you. I have several copies of these papers hidden in different places, in case some get destroyed.”
He opened the chest, removing the second drawer totally. He reached all the way inside and tugged out a large brown folder.
“Let me start from the beginning.”
He held a five by eight photograph of a slim man with long neatly combed hair, dark bushy mustache, and large black eyes gazing upwards.
“This is Halil Cenk, radical leftist, stopped going to law school during his third year. He believes in communism's success. He thinks things have to get really bad to get better; so he starts trouble any old way he can. In 1977, he and another loser teamed up and started burglarizing and vandalizing big businesses. The idea was that America was behind any big business, and because of the embargo, leftists hated Americans, remember?”
“These guys, they think all businesses have to do with America. Then Enver gets into the picture. How? This is one of those things we have yet to find out. He starts paying them to mess up his rivals.”
“How do you know all that?”
“Good question. Here is something for you. See this list? This is his handwriting. These were their target companies. We have police records of every one of them being hit.”
“How did you get this?”
“My friend, Ahmet found it during one of the raids. They told him to get rid of it from the department, but he kept it.”
“Let me see.”
Underneath the list, there was sentence. It said, ‘I’m enclosing forty thousand liras as down payment. E. K.’
“Why did they, from the department, tell your friend to get rid of it?” Sara asked.
“Enver must have bought someone from the inside. Now, this is very important. These types of guys, ones who commit some of such crimes, are usually contacted by someone else more powerful, and then they are sent for terrorism training to Syria.”
“They are trained for sniper tactics, assassination skills, and things like that.”
“Who’s behind all this?”
Ali tapped her shoulder, “Our friendly neighbors. Who else?”
“What makes you think this?”
“My brother went undercover. He became one of their recruits when he was with our intelligence.”
“They found out about him there in that camp.” He made a gesture dragging his hand across his neck. “Immediately...”He didn’t finish his sentence.
“I am so sorry. You must feel awful,” Sara held his arm gently.
A soft glow flickered on Ali’s face.
“Feeling awful doesn’t help. Getting justice does.”
“Was Enver involved in this one?”
“Yes. See this? This is the copy of the sales slip for a van. Look at the buyer’s name.”
They bent over the papers, shoulders touching.
Sara read out loud, “Enver Kara. That’s him all right.”
“They used the same van for transporting people across the border to and from the camps. On paper, it looks fair and square. He was importing Syrian cloth, brocades, and what-have-you.”
“And my mother was selling them as European imports...”
“Their business practices are secondary. One thing we don’t know is the extent of Lamia Dincer’s involvement.”
Sara looked at him wondering. Was he trying to make it easy on her? How much was her mother involved in this?
“Sometimes they used other routes,” Ali continued. “Here, five used airline tickets from Ankara to Damascus. How we got hold of them is another story.” He handed the tickets over to her. “They were reserved by Enver’s secretary. Here is a handwritten note from him to Halil Cenk saying, -Dear Pal. Thanks for the last deal. I am sending you the five tickets ordered. Good Luck.”
“These tickets were for the assassins for hire, free on the streets. Two were killed. The other three were captured on some other charges but they all escaped from jail within a month. One of them later killed the policeman who could track him down in Bursa.”
“This has to be stopped,” Sara said.
“The worst will come when this terrorism travels. It could spread over the entire continent, even farther.”
“Can’t anyone do anything?”
“The general idea is that it is an internal affair for Turkey, but it is not. It started outside of our country and it will grow.” His voice was soft but controlled.
“And I thought...” Sara inhaled deeply, “What Enver did to me was the worst thing he did.”
“Tell me about it,” Ali’s eyes were searching her face. “At this point, I am only guessing.”
Sara heard the hollow echo of her own voice, as the words tumbled out in a flurry.
“I came home for the weekend, one Saturday last spring, when I was a senior in high school. Mother had gone to Ankara on business and had told Enver to check on me. He came over. I said things that irritated him. He hit me, then he forced himself on me.” Sara turned her back unable to face him.
“Is that why you left your mother’s place?”
She felt his hand stroking her hair.
“No, I left because Mother didn’t believe me when I told her.”
He held her by the shoulders and turned her around, gazing into her eyes. Then he pulled her toward himself and gently kissed her on the forehead.
“We’ll get him,” he said.